GlossyBox Harrods Edition and YSL Forever Youth Liberator Serum

GlossyBox is a service where you pay £10 for a pretty box full of cosmetic goodies to be delivered to you. They also have a box for men. There are a number of these schemes on the go at the minute (including, Joliebox, Carmine beautybox and latest in beauty along with many others!

GlossyBox contains a mix of high-end beauty products and perfumes for you to try (mostly sample sized). Although I realise schemes like GlossyBox are a crazy moneymaking scheme (as they make you pay for samples that beauty makers want to give you for free to encourage you to buy more). I couldn’t resist. The lure of a beautiful box, in stunning packaging, containing beautifully smelling goodies was too much. I was very excited about receiving it, and it didn’t disappoint. This month they teamed up with Harrods to bring me this….

Harrods GlossyBox

Inside it contained some very pretty packaging

Harrods GlossyBox

and then

Harrods Glossybox Contents

My GlossyBox contained:

  • Narcisco Rodriguez – For Her – Eau De Parfum (sample)
  • Molton Brown – Heavenly Ginger- Lily Moisture Bath & Shower (sample)
  • YSL – Forever Youth Liberator Serum (5ml)
  • Burberry Beauty – Minature Lip Mist Copper No202 (sample)
  • Clarins – Extra Firming Body Cream

After the initial excitement subsided I started thinking about the contents of the box, I also noticed a leaflet in the box about Harrods ‘Anti-Aging’ and my skeptical brain started waking up… what is this? And what does the YSL- ‘Forever Youth Liberator Serum’ do?

YSL - Forever Youth Liberator Serum GlossyBox


The ‘guide’ to my samples, contained in the GlossyBox says that the, Forever Youth Liberator is, ‘A powerful serum enriched with 3 glycans to help increase youthful activity in skin cells (In Vitro Test).’ I like that they state that this claim has been tested ‘In Vitro’ but, does the general beauty lover know what In Vitro means? In Vitro means, ‘within glass’, it means the testing was carried out not on a full living thing, but on an isolated part of that thing, in a lab. Here it means that they tested the properties of the glycans/or the serum on cells in a dish. Good for them calling the testing method out, but more detail (and clearer language) would be better.

The serum comes with a leaflet of instructions/information. This states that ‘Youth is a state of mind that cannot live without science’, a slightly strange statement. I can agree with the first part, but youth not living without science? It does, and will.

‘After DNA and stem cells, Glycobiology is recognised as one of the breakthrough sciences of the future. It provides a new understanding of biological mechanisms’ – OK but what does that mean?

‘Glycans, “YOUTH KEYS” are naturally present in the skin and are able to”UNLOCK” cellular activity helping to liberate the skin’s youthful potential. With age, the quantity of Glycans decreases, the skin regeneration process is slowed down.’ – Glycans are not just youth keys, they have a number of different functions (more info below)

‘On the surface, signs of ageing appear: wrinkles, loss of firmness and uneven skin tone.’

‘Glycanactif (trade name) is a scientific complex, exclusive to YSL, which works as a genuine “youth key” that helps stimulate skin’s youthful capacities’ (again, they state, ‘in vitro test’)

YSL glycans in the Forever Youth Liberator are synthetic, i.e. created for use in the serum and not taken from an animal source.


  • Effectively targets signs that determine the appearance of a young face

And that is about it! Although including some flowery language around the product, the scientific claims are fairly balanced. They are pretty clear about how the product has been tested. They have worked with respected chemists at the Max-Plank Institute, who (quote lifted from this article on the serum on the Huffington Post), “He said the complexes in the cream had been shown to have “clear beneficial biochemical changes” on the skin.”

The website for Youth Liberator clearly states the product testing and methods:


YSL. SKINSCIENCE has developed a patented1 powerful serum enriched with a combination of 3 glycans to help increase youthful activity in skin cells.²


  • 88% agree skin looks more luminous³
  • 72% agree fine lines appear less visible³
  • 72% agree skin feels more plumped³
  • ¹ Patents pending
  • ² In Vitro Test
  • ³ Self assessment on 50 women’

Like I said previously, they could clarify what an In Vitro test is, but I think that YSL are pretty clear about what their product does and how they tested it to create the claims that they put forward for the product.

Glycans are popping up in other anti-aging formulations too. But what are they? What is the evidence that they work?

Glycans are sugar molecules found in the body (also found in other animals). They are a number of different types and they perform a number of different roles in cells and the body. They are found on the surface of all mammalian cells and this is where the skin part comes in.. the glycans contained in Forever Youth Serum (according to the sources I could find) bind to receptors on the cell and stimulate changes in the cell behaviour. The information I can find on the serum is rather cagey about what they actually mean by ‘liberating skins youthful potential’. What the changes are in the cells that were tested with the glycans is not clear. The full mechanism isn’t available.

Here lies a problem for me, I would like to know what exactly is being changed, it could for example be causing an increase in moisture in the skin and creating a moisturising effect. Moisturising effects can be achieved in various other ways. This product does not state that it is any better than any other similar products (and it does come with a hefty price tag).

I would also like to know how the glycans penetrate the skin, this part is key as the glycans need to get to the right parts of the skin (what that is, in this instance, isn’t clear) in order to have beneficial effects.

Some quotes from experts in the area that I found on Lois Rogers blog,

‘Richard Gallo, professor of dermatology at the University of California in San Diego, carried out much of the original science now being developed by cosmetics firms.

“The study results are surprisingly good, but we don´t know if these molecules are really getting into the skin or how the beneficial effect works. We need more studies,” Gallo said.

“There are a number of companies looking at this area. The optimistic side of me says it does have the potential to provide an effective topical cosmeceutical, but the pessimist in me says it might be just another piece of hype.”

Chris Griffiths, professor of dermatology at Manchester University, pointed out that the effect on skin would be measurable only after years of use, but said cosmetics firms were adopting a much more rigorous scientific approach to the search for anti-ageing products than they had in the past. Dermatologists generally believe that an effective anti-wrinkle agent is within reach.’

So, although the claims of the product are fairly reserved and clearly state how the product was tested, the results and outcomes of the testing are not so clear. They really did an excellent job in drumming up hype for the product though.. check out this story in The Telegraph stating that the ‘holy grail of skin-care has been found’.

It is an exciting new area for skin care, but I wouldn’t say we are quite there yet with how or what benefits glycans can potentially have.

As for GlossyBox, I will continue to buy their boxes. A great way to try out new products and see what exciting things are out there!

I struggled to find any relevant scientific literature on glycans the skin and ageing. If anyone spots any please leave a comment below and I will include it in the post.

Edit – I found some more information on an Elle Blog. They state that, “This amped-up glycan activity, YSL claims, will result in better production of hyaluronic acid, promote thickening of the epidermis, speed cell turnover, and fortify the intercellular structure, resulting in firmer, more even-toned skin.”

Where hyalruonic acid is present naturally in the skins connective tissue, it binds water and helps keep moisture in.. it is a natural moisturiser.


About skeptical beauty

The Skeptical Beauty blog is written by an anonymous beauty product addict. A scientist who loves data and has experience of working for the biggest cosmetics products producer in the world. Knows all the insider secrets.
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6 Responses to GlossyBox Harrods Edition and YSL Forever Youth Liberator Serum

  1. I just read your comment on my blog and I too have the YSL Youth Liberator, so I suppose I will be able to give it a (limited) test and see if it lives up to the hype. I understand using glycans in skincare is not a new concept as some glycans in skin attract water and keep skin plump. However these synthetic glycans that YSL have created, can also bond to the surface of ageing cells and stimulate them to create (amongst other things) new glycans. Excuse my very sketchy scientific knowledge there – you may be able to correct me! It doesn’t seem that there is an awful lot to justify the huge price tag though – at least to the average consumer like me who doesn’t fully comprehend the science – and it would be more beneficial to see some results from long term clinical studies. We shall wait and see…

    Very glad to have discovered your blog though!

    • Thanks for the comment!

      What you said in essence is correct. I am not clear (and I don’t think it has been communicated by YSL) what the actual effects of the bonding of the glycans has on the cells. I presume it is a number of different effects which all help make skin appear more ‘youthful’ ? It could be the production of more glycans or other things too. We just don’t know.

      I am sure if there are any long term clinical studies that show benefits of this product we will hear about it… if there are ones that don’t show that however, we may not! 🙂

  2. Bee says:

    I like this post! Thanks for the twitter follow 😀

  3. Pingback: URL

  4. Arnie Moen says:

    Well-written and informative article. But…I still don’t know if the YSL product will enhance my skin and reduce obvious sagging and wrinkles. Perhaps we were born a generation (or three) too soon. Keep up the good sleuthing.

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