We Tried This Cult Facial Oil and Here’s What We Thought

Would you pay £150stg for an active botanical oil? Beauty editor Sarah Halliwell speaks to VINTNER’S DAUGHTER founder April Garguilo to find out what makes her products so special – and covetable …

Escada SS19. Photograph by Jason Lloyd Evans

Vintner’s Daughter is a small artisan brand that’s grown by word of mouth recommendation, and it’s constantly selling out. The Active Botanical Serum is what make-up artists use behind the scenes; I know of at least one top creative director who uses it both on her own skin, mixed in with moisturiser, and for shoots. Saying that, we really don’t want to love a facial oil that costs £150stg. We tried it out, and here’s what we thought …

I spoke to founder April Gargiulo on the phone from New York, and she talks with passion about her active botanical oil “that can deliver everything your skin needs. It’s actually incredible value for what it is – yes you can buy an oil that’s half the price, but it won’t offer this level of actives.” But what makes it so special? “My background is in fine wine making – I grew up in Napa Valley, and my family still makes wine today. It’s an organic enterprise that’s dependent on the seasons, and I’m deeply inspired by it. With Vintner’s Daughter, which is based in north California near the winery, I’m trying to make the finest in the world. It’s an audacious ambition, but that’s what I’ve grown up with – the idea of quality above everything else.”

 

“I’d always struggled with my skin and when pregnant I started looking at ingredients, as many of us do at that time. I found that so many products contained such small percentages of active ingredients and the rest was low-quality fillers – much of the time also toxic – even though the products were called luxury and had a price tag to match. I didn’t want to take the faster, cheaper way. So beginning with my first ingredients, they had to be the best they can be – uncompromising in their quality, effective and totally safe.” It was five years before Gargiulo launched, by emailing 100 people. And because it “transformed women’s skin”, word grew organically, and fast, about the oil. There’s a five-week process involved in making every bottle. “Sourcing takes months, and we begin with whole plants. There’s a three-week infusion process; most skincare is made in hours. I know there’s no such thing as shortcuts, just as if you were making a Château de Rothschild wine,” says Gargiulo.

 

The ingredients list for the Active Botanical Serum sounds like something on a menu, with a garden-full of fruit, seed and nut oils, from grapeseed and hazelnut to bergamot peel and avocado oils. There’s evening primrose, rosehip seed and turmeric root oils. And there’s no fragrance or fillers. So it’s pure, rich and suitable for sensitive skin. As a result, this oil smells incredible, there’s no two ways about it. It’s a pleasure to apply, a real ritual, and makes you spend longer massaging it in, which is a good thing. I’ve been using it in the morning, though you could use in the evening too (at night it just seems a shame to waste the glow it creates) and my skin just laps it up. Honestly? There are not many things I try out that make me actually double-take at my skin – but this really does feel soothing, and restoring, and I can see a really virtuous-looking glow and polish, as if I’ve drunk gallons of water all week. I think it’s especially ideal for ages 45/50 as it really helps with hormonal and dry skin, without being too heavy. It’s by no means a cheap addiction, but then I’m not doing Botox, so I’m more open to investing in a luxurious natural option that actually makes a difference. And actually I’d be happy to shelve five other bottles of serums and creams if I could just use this oil. Sorry, but it does live up to the hype – this is lovely stuff.

The Vintner’s Daughter new Active Treatment Essence is already sold out. But don’t expect to see a whole line of products being trotted out. “We’re skin-driven rather than profit-driven, and want to constantly deliver the finest product, not just fill the shelf,” says Gargiulo. There’s also been a charity angle from day one: two per cent of every bottle sold is donated to charitable causes.

Available online from Net-a-Porter, and due to be stocked in SpaceNK stores from autumn. www.vintnersdaughter.com

@SarahHalliwellBeauty

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