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I Hate How Much I Love This $185 Face Serum

When I hit my mid-20s, I somehow tricked myself into thinking that meant my skin would be in its prime. I was too old for acne yet too young for wrinkles. That was a lie.

It was more like: annoyingly persistent pimples, oily yet dehydrated skin and a general dullness. I was impatient to find a fix. So, six months ago, I shelled out $185 for the much-lauded Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum

Admittedly, that’s more than I’d feel comfortable spending on a pair of shoes. But after reading glowing reviews, then hearing from a close friend that it was a miracle in a bottle, I wanted to give it a try.

The product is made from a laundry list of 22 essential oils sourced from around the world. They’re extracted from whole botanicals in a traditional, weeks-long process, inspired by fine winemaking, to achieve maximum nutrient potential. Each ingredient, from blemish-fighting anti-inflammatories to skin brighteners, hydrating oils and antioxidants, performs multiple functions and is meant for all skin types and ages. Read: It will (purportedly) solve every complexion woe, from pimples to wrinkles.

Upon first glance, the serum—a deep amber, intensely floral oil housed in a minimalist bottle—seemed too thick and oily for my blemish-prone skin. Had I spent $185 to clog my pores? Nevertheless, I followed the instructions: I cleansed and toned, then massaged five to six drops into my skin, let it absorb and wondered whether I’d wake up with a massive zit or the face of a poreless angel.

In the morning, my skin was shockingly clear. More than that, it looked…bouncy? Was that a glow I detected? To have not a single blemish on my face was a rarity. And yet, there it was: a hydrated but not greasy, brightened, balanced complexion. I reapplied, and again that night…and every night for the last six months.

Admittedly, I wanted to hate the serum, if only to spare my wallet. But dammit, it’s good. Call me shallow, but a glowing, zit-free face makes me happy…and that’s proof enough that it was worth every penny.

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