Here at SELF, we’re suckers for Glow Recipe launches, because the beauty brand knows its way around effective formulas at accessible price points. The new Glow Recipe strawberry serum combines a one-two punch of exfoliating powerhouses that smooths skin, dries up zits, and hydrates—all at the same time. I got my hands on a bottle before the serum launched at the tail end of March and put it to the test on my hormonal acne-dotted skin. Keep reading for my thoughts after testing it for a month.
What are the active ingredients in the Glow Strawberry Smooth Serum?
The Strawberry Smooth serum relies on what Glow Recipe calls its Clarity Acid Complex: 2% BHA or beta hydroxy acid (salicylic acid) and 1% AHA or alpha hydroxy acid (mandelic acid) blend, 3.5% strawberry (water, enzymes, and leaf extract), 3% azelaic acid liposome, and 0.5% succinic acid. Take a look at our acid cheat sheet on how to pick skincare acids to learn more.
Essentially, these ingredients work as chemical exfoliants to slough dead skin cells, clear blemishes, and reveal a smoother, more even skin texture over time. The serum is also formulated with hydrating hyaluronic acid, soothing niacinamide, bisabolol (a derivative of chamomile), and vitamin C.
Who should use this serum?
This is a versatile, good-for-almost everyone serum that has skin-loving ingredients catered to most skin types. Even folks with dry skin should be able to tolerate it, though we suggest using it 1-3 times per week to start. If you decide to scoop up this AHA/BHA serum, be sure to wear sunscreen, as chemical exfoliants make you more prone to sunburn.
If you have sensitive skin, this serum does have naturally-derived fragrance/parfum, which may exacerbate irritation. Take a look at our chemical exfoliants for sensitive skin recommendations for more gentle options. Lastly, if you use retinol, it’s best not to use products with AHAs and BHAs at the same time.
How I tested:
For one month, this serum was the only new product I introduced into my skincare routine in an effort to reduce any variables while testing. Six nights out of the week, after cleansing with my go-to CeraVe facial cleanser, I used the Strawberry Smooth serum in tandem with my favorite hyaluronic acid serum, followed by a CeraVe PM face moisturizer. The other night, I used a squalane-heavy sleeping mask—my favorite way to slug! Each morning, I cleansed with the same CeraVe cleanser, followed by a vitamin C serum, lightweight moisturizer, and a daily mineral SPF.
About my skin:
I have normal oil production and an acne-prone skin type. After going off the birth control pill late last year, I’ve been managing gnarly hormonal breakouts on my cheeks, around my jawline, and on my chin. At the time I started testing the Glow Recipe strawberry serum, I was also dealing with residual dark spots from healed (errrr, popped) pimples, congestion around my T-zone and forehead, and dehydration from my second life as a sweaty fitness instructor.
Does the Glow Recipe Strawberry Serum work?
After using the serum for one month, my acne all but disappeared (save for the few zits that crop up during my period). It also helped to lighten dark spots for a more even skin tone, decongest my pores, and make my skin feel baby smooth. The hyaluronic acid (paired with the HA serum I used in addition to the strawberry serum) has helped to plump my skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines. I also found myself waking up with a glow—even when the rest of me was still in sleep mode.