Before we get started, a quick confession: I am absolutely ashamed at how long overdue this review is. Not only was this product sent to me roughly two months ago by the kind people at Meet Unni, but I freakin’ LOVED this serum, and I should have rhapsodized about its virtues ages ago. Allow me to make up for it by spreading to you some of my new skincare gospel: everyone, I’d like for you to meet the Natural Pacific Fresh Herb Origin Serum. Need a TL;DR? It’s pretty freakin’ great.
This serum makes a lot of broad claims about its abilities. According to the description on Meet Unni this is a “highly enriched antioxidant serum” that also has anti-wrinkle and brightening capabilities, as well as helping to shrink enlarged pores and improve skin texture. Supposedly it can help protect your skin from the outside elements that serve to weaken our skin barrier. Those are a lot of claims to be making for one product, at least in my humble opinion. I can’t possibly see how a single serum can address all those issues, but having dabbled in writing copy myself in the past, I understand the pressure to massage the truth a little when it comes to promoting a product. The Fresh Herb Origin Serum is intended for all skin types, particularly those with dry skin, or skin that has been weakened by oxidative stress or pollutants.
Can the Fresh Herb Origin Serum live up to all the bold claims it makes? Well, let’s take a peek at the ingredients first:
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water, Aspalathus Linearis Extract, Glycerin, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Punica Granatum Fruit Extract, Ficus Carica (Fig) Fruit Extract, Morus Alba Fruit Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Nut Extract, Hippophae Rhamnoides Oil, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Fruit Extract, Citric Acid, Aminobutyric Acid, Zanthoxylum Piperitum Fruit Extract, Pulsatilla Koreana Extract, Usnea Barbata (Lichen) Extract, Sodium Chloride, Tocopheryl Acetate, Adenosine CosDNA
Pretty sure I may have wept tears of sweet, sweet joy upon reading the ingredients list. It’s basically a fantasy come true for me. Just look at all those plant extracts and oils! I’ve gone ahead and put them in bold so you can see they really do make up the bulk of the ingredients. Feels a bit like an angelic chorus ought to chime in every time I glance over the list. Not all extracts are created (or utilized) equally, however. For example, I believe the Zanthoxylum Piperitum Fruit Extract, Pulsatilla Koreana Extract, and Usnea Barbata (Lichen) Extract are included as preservatives in the formulation, not necessarily for their skin benefits. Much as I would like to get into the details of every last one of these ingredients, for the sake of brevity (and my sanity) I’ll mostly be focusing my attention on those that appear in the top ten:
- Aspalathus Linearis Extract – You might recognize this plant as the source of the popular rooibos tea. Data on the efficacy of rooibos extract is currently limited but research is interesting so far. A mixture of tea (Camellia sinensis) and rooibos was found to help reduce wrinkles according to a 28 day study (source). Two other studies on mice seem to indicate that topical application of rooibos may help prevent skin cancer (source, source). It is the only known source of aspalathin, a potent flavonoid and antioxidant, but according to my research aspalathin is not known to penetrate the skin well.
- Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil – Contains high levels of vitamins A, D, and K (source). Sunflower seed oil is a rich source of linoleic acid, and has been demonstrated to help improve the overall health of the skin barrier (source). It’s highly soothing and well-recognized for its emollient properties. You really can’t go wrong with this stuff short of having an allergy to sunflowers.
- Hydrogenated Palm Oil – You’ll find palm oil in practically every packaged product here in the US, and it certainly has some major benefits for skin: palm oil has tons of vitamin A and and is a plentiful source of the uncommon toctrienols, a powerful form of vitamin E that serves as a skin-soother and an antioxidant. It has considerable anti-aging and moisturizing properties which make it an appealing ingredient to be sure, but the palm oil industry is highly disruptive and damaging to the environment (source). If you are currently boycotting palm oil, this product is best avoided.
- Punica Granatum Fruit Extract – Better known as the pomegranate, this fruit has some impressive merits when it comes to skincare. On a study performed on mice, topical application of pomegranate fruit extract “significantly reduced incidence of skin tumors” (source) and it is believed to have a photoprotective effects due to the polyphenols present in the fruit (source). Pomegranate extract may also improve wound healing (as demonstrated in this study on mice) and is known to be an anti-inflammatory.
- Ficus Carica (Fig) Fruit Extract – Figs are a fantastic source of phenolic acids, which have significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and may help reduce the effects of hyperpigmentation (source, source). However, due to the presence of psoralens, this ingredient may cause photosensitive reactions in some (source). Perhaps also best avoided if you have a latex allergy due to its natural presence in figs.
- Morus Alba Fruit Extract – White mulberry is an antioxidant, but it is often more well-regarded for its skin brightening properties. It is believed that mulberry inhibits the activity of tyrosinase, which causes hyperpigmentation and melasma (source). Mulberry may also possess antibacterial and antifungal qualities (source). Mulberry extract oil proved effective at treating melasma in this study and showed potential as a treatment for atopic dermatitis in mice according to this study.
- Ginkgo Biloba Nut Extract – Although I had difficulties finding studies relating to ginkgo biloba nut extract in particular, extracts made from the leaves show evidence of anti-inflammatory activity (source); ginkgo is also believed to help moisturize and smooth the skin (source).
- Aminobutyric Acid – Supposedly this is the ingredient that puts the “scream” in the “scream serum” nickname, thus why I’m covering it here despite the fact that it appears fairly low in the list of ingredients. It’s an amino acid that may soothe skin and help it retain water. I couldn’t find much more information, unfortunately. According to Natural Pacific’s ad copy, “the tingling you feel when you apply the product is due to the absorption of amino butyric acid and natural elements.” I have NO idea if this is a load of nonsense or not and I’m not qualified to make any judgments on it, but there you have it.
It is also worth noting that the Fresh Herb Origin Serum includes aloe leaf water instead of just regular water, but given the aloe plant is 99% water to begin with essentially, I’m not sure this makes all that much a difference. This is not a negative nor a positive observation, I genuinely couldn’t find any research to support the use of Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water over regular water. If anyone could provide me with some more information I’d be super appreciative!
Moving on, I’ve seen this serum advertised under a variety of monikers: the Scream Serum, the “Damn” Serum, the Cursing Serum, the Stinging Serum. All seem to imply that you’ll experience a certain degree of pain when using the Fresh Herb Origin Serum. This caused me some serious trepidation when the package first arrived on my doorstep. I distinctly remember staring at the perfectly innocuous bottle in my bathroom, wondering if my obsession with skincare had finally driven me to full-blown masochism. Eventually I managed to screw my courage to the sticking place and I popped it open, removed the dropper, and slapped some of the fragrant amber-colored liquid on to my face.
I waited. Seconds ticked by and with each moment that passed I reluctantly steeled myself for the promised influx of pain. After the twenty second mark I started to feel a little foolish. Thirty seconds later and I was carrying on with my routine, completely unharmed. All that drama for nothing! That being said, I have read reviews where this product did sting — sometimes quite intensely. The amount of pain you experience is allegedly tied to how damaged your skin is and how many “cracks” are in its surface; again, I’m not qualified to tell whether or not there is any truth to this, but there you have it.
The first thing I noticed about the Fresh Herb Origin Serum is that it smells like pure botanical sunshine. It’s a warm and assertive fragrance, filled with notes of zesty citrus and — well, fresh herbs! The amazing aroma of this serum might actually be my favorite aspect about the product. I’m not exaggerating or lying when I say there are some days I’d open this serum up to take a whiff, despite the fact that I didn’t end up using it in my routine that day. I just find the fragrance so fresh, bright, and invigorating. It really does smell like a newly cut garden, and that’s all the more impressive when you remember that the serum doesn’t include “Fragrance” in its listed ingredients, meaning it comes from the ingredients themselves. Nice! Just be aware that it is not a subtle aroma.
Natural Pacific’s Fresh Herb Origin Serum comes packaged in a simple 50ml glass bottle fitted with a glass dropper. Side note, I did a fair amount of running around with this bottle and it never leaked or shattered, much to my surprise. Obviously I don’t recommend chucking it around carelessly, but it’s good to know the glass is of sturdy construction. Still, I would recommend either decanting the liquid for travel, or else packing the glass bottle very securely.
The serum itself is a lovely amber-gold shade in the bottle and the dropper but it dispenses mostly clear. I mentioned before that this is a very fragrant liquid — chances are you can smell this serum even before removing it from the box. I’d say it has a more watery consistency than it does an oily texture: it’s very drippy with a low viscosity, almost like a toner. There’s no raw, oily feel to it, at least none that I could detect.
Once applied the serum takes less than 30 seconds to absorb. I find pressing with my fingers and gently patting helps it absorb quicker and more completely. It doesn’t sit on top of the skin or leave any sort of residue — none that I could discern, anyway — but it definitely imparts a glossy sheen. It’s that healthy sort of radiant glow that seems a popular finish in most Korean products, and I personally love how it makes my skin look and feel. But be aware that applying too much of the product did skew my skin more towards the oily side of the spectrum, so you can be pretty sparing with how much you use.
Applying the serum couldn’t be easier, but there is one thing you must always remember: shake the bottle first. More specifically, shake the bottle gently. There are separate oil and water layers that you can distinctly see in the bottle. Once those layers are combined you’re good to go! Thanks to the convenient pipette included, it’s easy to measure out the 5-6 drops required to cover my entire face. I find the simplest method is to dot the serum directly on to my skin with the pipette and then work it in with my fingers. You can also apply the serum to your hands and pat it in to your face. I imagine you could also mix it into a moisturizer and it would apply beautifully, although I have not tested this method myself. Originally I worried that the product would be too oily for use in the mornings, but the formula is wonderfully, magically nongreasy — feel free to slap it on both AM and PM! I would recommend using this serum after you’ve applied your water-based products (toners, essences, etc) and prior to any occlusive steps.
I tested this product consistently (twice daily, for the most part) for around a month, and then off and on for another month. I didn’t notice any particular improvements to my pores at any point in time, but my pores are frustratingly stubborn and nothing short of physical scrubs and clay masks seem to work on them, so I’m not surprised by this. Applying this to the uneven skin on the tip of my nose did improve its texture, leaving the skin less rough and less oily overall. I don’t live in an area where pollution is an issue, so I can’t say whether or not the Fresh Herb Origin Serum would be an effective measure to protect and heal your skin after being exposed to contaminants. However, based on the ingredients themselves, I would think this serum would provide some serious antioxidant benefits. It certainly left my skin feeling thicker, plumper, and more radiant!
In my mind the Natural Pacific Fresh Herb Origin Serum is something of a gateway drug. Prior to testing it, I didn’t think that oils and skincare mixed — at least not for me. My skin is naturally somewhat oily, and as the weather turns warmer it only gets worse. I’d always assumed that oils, despite their many studied benefits, would only make my face a shiny cesspool of shame and horror. In fact I made it a point to steer clear of any products that did include oils outside of my oil cleanser. But this serum isn’t purely an oil, it’s a combination of water-based and oil-based ingredients. This seemed an acceptable compromise — a chance for me to tentatively dip my toes into an entirely new aspect of skincare without diving in headfirst.
Suffice it to say, the Fresh Herb Origin Serum has inspired me to take the plunge. Oils are my newest skincare addiction, and I’m constantly on the prowl for new (affordable) options to add to my growing collection. But despite some exciting new additions, I often find myself coming back to this serum. It just works for me. I won’t pretend it does everything it claims to do (because it doesn’t, at least on my face) but I love how healthy, nourished, and soothed this leaves my skin — without feeling like I could power a city purely with the oils oozing from my pores.
If you haven’t already gathered from the fact that I gushed about this product for some 2500+ words, I would recommend it. I would recommend it highly. In fact I question why you’re still here, reading my pointless drivel, when you could be ordering this serum and applying its wondrous majesty to your face. Unless you’re allergic to something in the ingredients, I really do think this serum would be perfect for anyone — and it’s particularly well-suited for people like me who are uncertain about including oils in their routine. I love this stuff. Sincerely, I really do love it. You can pick up the Natural Pacific Fresh Herb Origin Serum yourself from Meet Unni where it’s currently on sale for $19.60. I consider that a mere pittance for something of this quality. Be sure to let me know what you think if you do end up adding it to your routine!
Do you use any oils in your routine, or are you as hesitant as I was to start? If you’ve got recommendations I’d love to hear them!