Vintner’s Daughter: Luxury, Bottled

Gone are the days when green beauty was crunchy, modest and homespun. A discerning consumer is now spoiled for choice with luxurious and effective green skincare that easily rivals and even exceeds its conventional counterparts. From elegant packaging to impeccable formulae, green brands are raising the bar on luxury and quality. Still, even the most profligate of green beauty consumers like myself have a certain threshold of acceptability when it comes to the price of skincare. Which is why the arrival of the Vintner’s Daughter serum on the green beauty scene caused me to raise an incredulous eyebrow. It’s not that its price ($185) is particularly excessive when compared to traditional luxury skincare from the likes of La Prairie or Cle de Peau, where prices routinely pass the $500 mark, but it did seem higher that anything I had ever paid for even the most advanced of green beauty serums and oils. So when I was given the opportunity to give Vintners Daughter a try, I set out with a rigorous testing process to determine whether it is, in fact, worth it. After nearly two months of testing and with my sincerest apologies to your wallet, the answer is a resounding “yes”. 

The first thing I learned as a green beauty consumer and blogger is that ingredients matter. The right combination of oils and herbs creates a synergy that can decrease inflammation, amp hydration, plump up fine lines and even diminish the signs of aging. The second was that the quality of the ingredients matters as much. Quality is the reason why many brands stake their reputations on exquisite single ingredient products, like Kahina’s argan oil, La Bella Figura’s Barbary Fig seed oil or Cocovit’s coconut oil. Quality ingredients are what separates high-end brands like Yuli, In Fiore and Josh Rosebrook from the many lovely green brands sold on Etsy that do a perfectly fine job, yet may lack that extra oomph. My conversation with Mary Ahern of Bottega Organica also made it clear that the treatment of ingredients might be especially important when it comes to herbs: with some that need to be infused in the sunshine and others that are happiest in the dark, it takes a deft hand and a deep knowledge to create the most potent and effective infusions.

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Thankfully, Vintner’s Daughter has a heavyweight in its corner: In Fiore’s brilliant magician, Julie Elliott, whose ingredient brilliance truly shines in this formula. The carrier oils comprising the serum, are lovely and though not especially exotic, they are all skin-improving superstars. These oils combine with the highest quality (and thus costly) EOs like rose absolute and jasmine CO2, as well as herbals such as calendula, dandelion and nettle. It’s a thoughtfully crafted and tightly edited roster of high-quality ingredients and with its gorgeous, deep golden color and beautiful, but in no way overpowering jasmine scent, the serum both looks and feels expensive.

 

Here’s the thing though: all the expensive ingredients in the world mean absolutely squat if they don’t improve your skin. One of the things I learned after my switch to green beauty is that oftentimes, luxury skincare brands jack up prices simply because that is what their consumers expect. A cream that costs as much as a Botox injection will never work as well as a Botox injection, but it will probably come in a very pretty jar and, much like a Chanel purse, serve as a status signifier for its user. I used to buy into the “more expensive means better” rhetoric with unbridled enthusiasm (though I never came anywhere close to paying as much for a cream as for a designer handbag), but these days I want the price tag to reflect results.

Because of the serum’s cost and because the entire brand consists of a single product, I decided to subject Vintner’s Daughter to my own version of a “clinical trial”.* I used it as my nighttime oil non-stop for a month and used no other oils, serums or creams. I chose to use the serum only in the nighttime because some of its ingredients could be photosensitive and I was in an especially sunny environment and spending most of my time outside, though you should be fine using it in the daytime (I have done so since coming back to New York). I also stuck to a consistent and well-worn routine for my daytime skincare, so as to ensure that any positive (or negative) results were not influenced by another new product.

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I also strictly followed Vintner’s Daughter’s application instructions and here I must digress. If I had to find one bone to pick with Julie Elliott, it’s that her usage instructions are often so involved and, frankly, cumbersome, as to make it seem that she makes skincare exclusively for ladies of leisure with nothing but time on their hands. This serum is no exception: rather than haphazardly slapping on a few drops of the oil on my cleansed and misted face, I had to spend a full minute coaxing 8 drops of the serum (more than what I would usually use) into my skin, using the special Push/Press Technique. Now look: I know this seems ridiculous and unnecessary, but there is a method to Ms. Elliott’s madness. As I wrote in my review of the In Fiore 4-2-4 cleansing method, the complicated routine actually makes an appreciable difference to my skin. Same too with Vintner’s Daughter: the extra time spent helping the serum absorb means that more of it ends up in your skin and not on your pillow and the pushing technique acts as a lifting mini-massage. Ultimately, we should all be able to take one minute out of our harried lives for a little self-care.

Now. Back to the clinical trial. I and my wallet wish it were otherwise, but here is the truth: Vintner’s Daughter made me look radiant. One morning, about two weeks into my new routine, I walked into the kitchen of my mother’s Spanish house after a night spent having Facebook arguments about Cecil the Lion. No, really. My life is often absurd. Anyway, I felt like an argumentative zombie and when my mother stared at me for an uncomfortable length of time, I figured she would tell me I looked like one as well. What I got instead was “You look so beautiful this morning! Your skin – it’s glowing!” The compliments continued, but I didn’t really need them: I could see it in the mirror.

The crazy thing is that this radiant glow isn’t even the most impressive result of my trial. I was in Spain for 5 weeks and after about two weeks of my sun-drenched vacation I (gasp!) kind of gave up on sunblock. Now, don’t get me wrong: I still looked like Casper every time we went to the beach and I used my beloved Josh Rosebrook Day Cream on a daily basis, but I couldn’t quite bear having to reapply sunscreen after every jump in the pool or during a day spent at a water park. As a result, for the first time in years my face got tan. It was responsible tanning, which meant that instead of a peeling nose and ruddy cheekbones I got a lovely, golden color, but I was freaked: my skin is prone to hyper-pigmentation and I knew that when the flattering tan vanished, it would leave in its wake far less attractive dark spots. Here’s the thing though: my tan is long gone and it disappeared without a single trace! I couldn’t quite believe it, until I remembered that Vintner’s Daughter contained a number of ingredients purported to inhibit melanin production and diminish sun damage. I have seen these ingredients before, but I never had results as striking as these: this powerhouse serum actually made a lasting, positive change to the condition of my skin under extreme conditions.

When all is said and done, a fact remains: Vintner’s Daughter is expensive. I will not tell you that you cannot take proper care of your skin without this product or that it will change your life for the better. I can’t even promise that it will be the right fit for your skin – as always with green beauty, the sheer number of ingredients means that the serum might not work for every skin type and, if possible, you should try a sample before committing to a purchase. But this is a powerful, beautiful serum that changed my skin for the better and it made me into a convert. Proof? I just bought my second bottle.

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*The science nerd in me demands I make clear that what I did in no way qualifies as an actual clinical trial, since I had the sample size of one and since, you know… I am not a trained lab scientist. That said, I remain unconvinced that it was all that much more unscientific than many of the clinical trials being touted by major skincare brands.

Disclaimer: the serum was sent to me for review by Vintner’s Daughter. I am not yet finished with my first bottle, but, as stated above, I already bought a second one. Am properly hooked. Ah well.

33 responses to Vintner’s Daughter: Luxury, Bottled

  1. Jill

    Any idea how it is for skin that is prone to breakouts? I am in my late 30’s and have dealt with breakouts most of my life…some serums feel thick and end up being too heavy for my skin. Is the texture of this lighter like say Kahina’s brightening serum? Or thicker like MUN’s?

    • TheHermesHippie – Author

      Well, Kahina’s Brightening Serum is not an oil serum, so it’s always going to be much lighter. I know that Sarita Coren, who struggles with breakouts, reviewed this and she didn’t have an issue. I’d suggest that with serums like this one you use a very small amount. Maybe 4 drops? You could also mix in a few drops into a lighter product to get the benefit of the actives. I wouldn’t say this is especially light: it’s quite a rich oil. I don’t find it too heavy though (for reference, I consider May Lindstrom’s Youth Dew and OLO’s Vitamin C serum to be heavier serums).

  2. I am soooo darn bummed. I feel like I’m the only person in the history of the world for whom this isn’t working out. OK, that was overly dramatic 😉 I just really wanted it to work, after hearing so many lovely things about it. I recently purchased one of the generous trial sizes from Seed to Serum, and was beyond excited to try it. But I have used it about 4x now and it really makes my face feel sensitized, with a mild irritating or burning feeling that lasts for hours. Today I tried making a micro-emulsion with some Kypris Antioxidant Dew, and that did cut the irritation somewhat. But I think I am just going to have to accept that it isn’t for me. Rats! Kypris’ 1,000 Roses made me feel sensitized, too (although not as much), so I’m starting to realize that sometimes my skin doesn’t play well with certain oils. Now to figure out what they are!

    I loved hearing about your trial, HH. 🙂 Sometimes it is so hard to be patient when you have a slew of new things to try.

    @Jill I would agree, Youth Dew, et al are definitely heavier. The first time I used Vintner’s, I tried it on its own just to see what my skin would feel like and it was not enough hydration for me. I’m 44 and my skin falls somewhere in the spectrum of balanced to dry at any given time (leaning more towards dry these days). So this one might very work very well for you if some oils are too rich for your skin.

    • TheHermesHippie – Author

      Ah, yes! It’s the worst when a fabulous product doesn’t work for your skin (hence my many disclaimers). I had that happen with an oil from one of my favorite brands and I was so. bummed! Still, doesn’t matter how much you *want* to like a product, it’s not worth the inflammation. No worries though: there are plenty other lovely products out there. And it’s so great that there are retailers offering such great trial programs! Xx

  3. Christie

    @Jill I too am in my late 30’s and deal with breakouts (oily/combo/sensitive skin) and I tried The Vintner’s Daughter ( I followed the push/press technique) and it broke me out. Mun broke me out too. Only because they were mentioned, neither the Youth Dew nor OLO’s Vitamin C broke me out. For whatever it’s worth, those are my experiences with these four products. Aster & Bay’s Purify Serum along with Meow Meow Tweet’s Face Mask and Spot Serum cleared me right up after the breakout so that’s good. I really was hoping The Vintner’s Daughter would work for me because the ingredients are wonderful and people are raving about it. My wallet is pretty happy it didn’t though!!

    I did find it interesting that The Vintner’s Daughter reminded me (smell and look) of Yuli’s Liquid Courage, which is one of my all time favorite products (and brands) and it never breaks me out.

  4. maryann

    Hi I have been using this for the past few months . I am 52 but still have acne prone combo skin with large clogged pores. I have tried retinols, and glycolic acids and benzoyl peroxide in the past these were horrible , Recently I decided to ditch everything for cleaner products. This doesn’t aggravate my skin and does give you a beautiful glow , which I think is key to looking fresh. I would love to know the rest of your routine and if you can recommend anything for large pores I always enjoy your column all the best

    • TheHermesHippie – Author

      I’m so glad it’s working for you! My routine changes all the time, but at the moment, I am using Aria and the TNB Pacific Retinol Serum for sensitive skin at night and Vintner’s Daughter with either the Josh Rosebrook Day cream or the Graydon Face Glow during the day. And I vary the cleansers and face mists (mostly Yuli’s Cocoon Elixir and De Mamiel mist, plus TNB Pacific mist at the moment). For large pores, you want to exfoliate and refine, so maybe a combo of a physical exfoliant you like, plus a gentle chemical one like the TNB or Kypris Midnight Catalyst.

      • mary ann

        Thanks so much !! Your suggestion sound great will look into them have a great weekend

  5. Jeanne

    I’ve been flirting with the idea of ordering this for a few weeks and your ringing endorsement gave me the nudge that I needed. I will check back with my thoughts in a few weeks.

      • Jeanne

        I also have reserved the serum for night time use only, and the jasmine scent has quickly become a great signal for my body to slow down and ready for sleep. I like the push/press massage, it is less to remember than some other of the other techniques I’ve used, and makes me take a moment to fully focus on my skin.
        I do let my face tan in the summer, and usually September is a tough month as my skin adjusts to the cooler weather and less UV with rough texture and some spots. This past month was a different story. I felt the texture and clarity of my skin was much improved and several bigger sun spots have all but disappeared. I don’t combine with any other products now (that may change during the winter) and my face looks smooth and feels great. I use six drops and it all is absorbed and the residue on my palms is nice to cup under my nose when my head hits the pillow.
        This serum feels like a treat and I will for sure purchase again.

  6. Amy

    How would you combine Vinter’s oil with Bottega Organica’s night cream? On the Vinter’s package, they suggest that if extra face cream is desired, it should be applied after (on top of) Vinter’s oil. But shouldn’t we use creams before oils bc the oil will act as a barrier and prevent the creams (usually with water) from being absorbed?

    • TheHermesHippie – Author

      I always use oils under creams. I know there are some conflicting opinions on that front, but I definitely think that the creams are the bigger occlusive (and Caroline Hirons agrees). I think the reason people think oils act as barriers is because the only oils that used to be available were either mineral oil (bleargh), which just sits on the skin like cellophane, or maybe coconut oil, which has a larger molecule size, so doesn’t absorb quite as well. A well-formulated oil should actually penetrate the skin and I find that the creams help with that when applied on top.

  7. Veronica

    Great review! I have been using Vintner’s daughter serum for over a month now and I really like it. I do use several other products along with it but I find that my skin has more glow since I started adding this serum to my routine.

    My problem is that I don’t want to give up old favorite but I don’t want to stop trying new products either! I tried to rotate them so that I am not piling on too many products but sometimes it is hard for me because they all work well in different ways.

  8. I love a good quality facial serum, but I must admit that the price of this one is a bit steep for my budget. I definitely wish I will have the chance to try it one day though! The ingredient composition is wonderful and it has garnered quite an impressive number of glowing reviews and promises of glowing skin.

  9. Kelly

    The citrus oils is a no no for me, especially during the day. I know you said you didn’t get sun damage from your trip but sun damage doesn’t show up over night, it takes years to show.

    • TheHermesHippie – Author

      Well, citrus oils are only a problem if used during the day because they can be photo-sensitive. Which is why, as I mentioned, I used the serum overnight. Unlike, say, retinol, citrus oils don’t cause ongoing sensitization, so their use wouldn’t cause sun damage as long as they are not used in the sun. When using in New York during the daytime, I use it under sunscreen and on days when I spend 90% of my time indoors. As for sun damage, sadly it has a number of lovely symptoms, from dark spots (that, for me, show up immediately) to premature aging and skin cancer. I simply said I didn’t get dark spots (possibly thanks to melanin-inhibiting ingredients in Vintner’s Daughter). I’m sure my skin will end up paying for my lackadaisical sunscreen use, but VD will not be the culprit.

      • TheHermesHippie – Author

        Oh it’s good to be paranoid when it comes to sun damage! 😉 But I think in general, you’re pretty safe when it comes to citrus oils and the sun, as long as you use them overnight (the good rule of thumb is to leave about 12 hours between use and sun exposure).

  10. Ouh I have to try that one! But I’m also very interested in your mentioned Push/Press Technique.. I have no idea what this is? In my opinion this could be used with every oil based Serum? Could you explain this technique? 🙂

    • TheHermesHippie – Author

      I’m sure you could use it with any oil serum, yes 🙂 It’s on the Vintner’s website under “directions”, but basically you put a few drops into your hands, warm them up (which I am not a fan of because some of the product absorbs into your palms) and then press your hands into your face from the bottom up, pressing the oil into the skin and pushing up. Hope that explains it 🙂

  11. I wasn’t able to use my sample due to the strong scent of jasmine, but I’m glad to hear you think it lives up to the hype! I’ll be interested to see what else turns up from this brand.

    • TheHermesHippie – Author

      Yeah, it’s definitely very jasmine-y. I sort of feel that the entire In Fiore line would be off limits for you because it’s so jasmine-heavy (and Vintner’s Daughter has the same formulator). X

  12. Curious to hear your thoughts about how you would rate this oil against De Mamiel oils. I have De Mamiel Winter Oil and LOVE it…just bought the Spring Oil and thin it’s okay. Are these oils pretty similar, or would you recommend one over the other? Xx

    • TheHermesHippie – Author

      I think it’s tricky to make a comparison because the De Mamiel oils differ so much from season to season – there isn’t really a baseline for comparison. I suppose if you are looking for consistency, then Vintner’s Daughter is the ticket 🙂

  13. just_claire_page

    Really enjoyed reading that, fan writer. I’m off to search for you on IG. I’ve just purchased VD – excruciating price. So I’m hoping for big things from this product. My problem at the minute is using too many new products haha I have no restraint. I’m 39, acne prone, very acne scarred and oily. I’ve been following Caroline Hirons and the skincare routine has helped so much. Thanks for this post – I’ll stop prattling now.

    • TheHermesHippie – Author

      Oh, you’re too sweet! I am so delighted you enjoy the blog! And I would say that if your skin is acne prone and reactive, you may want to avoid overloading it with product. I’d say you should use VD as the only product (I mean post cleanser/tone) and see how you get on! 😉

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