My Honest Verdict on This New 'Smart Serum' That Sounds Too Good to Be True


I try a lot of skin care so maybe it's just me, but my default attitude towards new products these days involves a healthy level of... scepticism.

Oh, you reckon you can transform my face in one night? That's lovely, but how? Show me. Bring it. Wow me.

This is honestly how I felt when I read the tagline for Dermalogica's new 'next-gen smart serum', a hydrating, brightening, soothing AND firming product that promises to know what your skin needs before it's even visible to the naked eye.

Too good? Or too good to be true?

Below, you'll find a translation of this product's techy marketing speak (i.e. what the serum actually does, and how), plus my Dermalogica Smart Response Serum review after a month of daily use.

What Is the Dermalogica Smart Response Serum?

Dermalogica Smart Response Serum 30ml is an all-in-one soothing, firming, brightening, and hydrating serum.

Its promise? To know what your skin needs before you do to deliver a personalised response every time you use the serum, for healthier-looking skin over time.

Essentially, this serum says it's so smart, it can read your skin 'triggers' to determine which of its ingredients will be 'activated' to address issues like redness, irritation, dehydration and dullness in different parts of the face, and at different times of the day/week/month etc.

An independent study also showed the serum is clinically proven to provide a personalised approach and significant improvements in the skin after just four weeks of use.

How Does It *Actually* Work?

Yeah, yeah, but what makes this serum so smart, you ask? Same.

No literally, I asked Dr Angela Murphy, Vice President of Technology and Development at the International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica because I genuinely didn't know what to make of the whole 'smart serum' shtick.

Dr Murphy says Dermalogica Smart Response Serum "micromanages your skin" to work on four key skin concerns: Dehydration, dark spots, and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and redness.

"It does this using SmartResponse technology comprised of four smart actives [active ingredients in your products that ‘actively’ target a specific skin concern]. Our team worked on the actives for this product for two years before they even started on the serum itself."

"We looked into the fact each skin condition gives off its own unique micro signals. The actives are designed to detect these signals and address the skin needs. If there are no signals, the active doesn't respond."

In other words, think of the serum as being an expert sitting behind your skin's control panel, sussing the situation and flicking different switches on and off depending on what your skin needs in different areas of the face.

Dermalogica Smart Response Serum Ingredients.


Here's a breakdown of what's in the serum and how these active ingredients work:

  • Mannose-6-phosphate or M6P - Detects collagen weakness (collagen is part of what makes up the skin structure) and organises your collagen fibres to improve skin smoothness and firmness, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

  • Hydrolyzed Wheat Flour - Contains a prebiotic compound called arabinoxylo-oligosaccharides that can brighten the appearance of skin by detecting if there's too much of one of the key enzymes involved in the melanin production process (overproduction of melanin or pigment can result in hyperpigmentation and dark spots).

  • Hydrolyzed Beta Glucan - Stimulates the skin's own hyaluronic acid production when dehydration is detected to hydrate, soften and plump the skin.

  • Antioxidant-rich Japanese Cornelia Cherry - Senses the skin's cellular inflammation response and helps to protect against free radical damage, and reduce the appearance of redness.

  • Also contains exfoliating lactic acid, brightening niacinamide (vitamin B3), and hydrating ingredients squalene, hyaluronic acid and vitamin E.

Learn more about niacinamide, arguably the best all-rounder active skincare ingredient, in our YouTube video below.

My Dermalogica Smart Serum Review.

Here are some details about this serum you won't read about on the product page:

  • The weighted brushed metal packaging feels premium and comes with an air tight pump.

  • Serum texture and consistency = a white, lightweight gel that absorbs quickly and feels cooling on the skin.

  • Has a fresh, clinical scent that smells like chamomile tea.

  • The formula has a silicone-y, slightly tacky finish that dries down to give the skin a radiant, semi-matte appearance.

  • I found the product layered well over my thinner vitamin C serum and under sunscreen in the morning.

  • I experienced some pilling or balling up when I didn't wait for the recommended full minute before applying an oil over the top of the serum at night.

Here's a squiz at the serum's texture looks like.


OK, but what is this serum really like? And after using it morning and night every day for four weeks, did it deliver on its promises?

I'm loving it. The silky texture feels beautiful on the skin and also applies nicely as a hydrating step under makeup. It actually reminds me a lot of how one of my all-time favourite serums Beauté Pacifique Defy Damage Serum makes my skin look and feel.

If you only want to use one serum both day and night to tackle different skin concerns, this is it.

It's a great all-rounder suitable for all skin types, including sensitised skins that might not tolerate more unstable actives like vitamin C and vitamin A.

As you can see in some outtakes from my selfie photoshoot (insert sarcasm), it gives my skin an instantly radiant, soft-focussed, maybe even slightly blurred finish.


Have I observed Dermalogica Smart Response Serum working in different ways in different areas of my face? Hard to say conclusively, but I have definitely noticed my skin looks and feels healthier, brighter, softer and more hydrated.

The best way to sum up this serum is, it's the kind of product you only realise is truly working when you stop using it. So, I'll keep using it in the morning, and alternate it with an exfoliating or vitamin A product at night.

Finally, let's talk price. There's no way around it, $211 for one serum is an investment. But $211 for four serums, all in one? That's bang for buck.

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