Valjean Labs RESTORE and HYDRATE Serums | Review

At the end of this past semester, my skin was pretty temperamental: very irritated and dull with a lot of clogged pores and whiteheads. I blame the stress of finals and the late nights at the library, both of which forced me to strip my usual skincare routine to the bare bones in order to save time. I prioritized my grades and my sleep schedule over my skin, which is a choice I don’t regret.

Coming home for winter break, however, I made it my mission to restore my skin to its pre-finals state. I didn’t intend to incorporate any new products into my routine, but as I was browsing the skincare section of my local T.J.MAXX, these adorable bottles caught my eye.

Valjean Labs Hydrate and Restore Serums

I hadn’t heard of Valjean Labs before, but I was intrigued by the simplistic label design and sturdy glass bottle. (Also, I’m a huge Les Mis fan, so extra points for the name!) I immediately added to my cart the two serums that would work best for me: HYDRATE (with hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5) and RESTORE (with niacinamide and zinc). Hyaluronic acid helps your skin to retain moisture (which I need during dry winters) and niacinamide and zinc together treat blemishes, congestion, and dullness.

Price: It can’t be beat. Urban Outfitters sells these serums for $15 each, which is already very reasonable, but T.J.MAXX was selling them for $5.99 each (plus tax). God. Bless.

Packaging: It was definitely the packaging that caught my eye first. The matte frosted glass bottle, the simple label, and the silver dropper all made the serums look very expensive. The dropper is also glass and the slim point makes dispensing separate drops very easy.

valjean labs restore serum dropper

Consistency: Both the HYDRATE and RESTORE serums have a very thin consistency, just a touch thicker than water.

One drop of the serum
The serum spreads very easily

Smell: There definitely is a chemical-like smell with both of these serums, but it’s faint and dissipates very quickly. It’s not my favorite, but I don’t mind it and I actually prefer it to products with added fragrances because I’m always worried about a bad reaction.

Application: I use the RESTORE and then HYDRATE serums in the morning after cleansing and toning, and before eye cream and moisturizer. They can definitely be used at night, but I like to use my acidic products (think AHAs and BHAs) at night and you aren’t supposed to mix acids with niacinamide. (I’m no scientist but I believe using the two together inactivates both of them and could cause facial flushing.)

Because of their watery consistency, I like to apply them to one section of my face at a time — three drops on each cheek, two drops on the forehead, and one on the nose and chin. Both serums smooth on nicely and feel very lightweight. They may feel slightly tacky at first but are absorbed fairly quickly. Also, I haven’t found that the serums make my makeup apply abnormally.

Effectiveness: I have been using these serums almost every day for about two month now, and the results are pretty great! My skin looks and feels much healthier than it did before I began using these products. The first thing to note is that I did not have any negative reaction to these products. My skin is moderately sensitive to both new products/ingredients and to physical touch, so there’s always a chance of a mini-heart attack whenever I try new products.

The RESTORE serum with niacinamide and zinc claims to treat large pores, uneven skin tone, and blemishes, and I have to say it definitely delivers! I typically have very large pores and texture on my forehead and recently, the skin looks smoother and less congested. I also haven’t gotten any new pimples since I began using the product, which is uncommon.


The HYDRATE serum with hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 claims to improve the skin’s firmness and elasticity while locking in moisture. My skin definitely feels plumper, but I don’t think it feels more hydrated. I still have to use a good moisturizer after applying it, although my skin is much drier during the winter.


Conclusion: RESTORE gets a 9/10 and HYDRATE gets an 8/10.

These serums are such an affordable addition to any skincare routine if you’re looking to improve the texture and dullness of your skin! I will definitely continue to use these serums in my everyday routine and repurchase them when I run out. (Fingers crossed that T.J.MAXX still has them in stock when I finally do!)

Valjean Labs also two other serums called CALRIFY with vitamin A and witch hazel and GLOW with Vitamin C and magnesium. After my experience with RESTORE and HYDRATE, I’m super curious to try them out and maybe write another review!

Lastly, I have seen a few people compare these serums to the Glossier serums and say that they’re basically dupes or work even better. I personally haven’t tried the Glossier serums so I can’t make a fair comparison, but honestly, I probably won’t try them any time soon because the Valjean serums are just so good! (On a side note, Glossier’s marketing is pure genius and the marketing nerd in me is in sheer awe just thinking about them!)

Have you tried the Glossier serums? Do you think they’re worth the price tag or is it all just amazing marketing?

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3 thoughts on “Valjean Labs RESTORE and HYDRATE Serums | Review

  1. I haven’t tried the serums, but agree that Glossier marketing is on another level. I know rationally I don’t need much of their products as my skin is more high maintenance than they offer and their makeup is for the minimalistic (not me haha) but they never fail in making me feel the urge to buy everything anyway! X


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