I Tried Exponent Beauty’s Custom, Refillable Serum — & It Was Next-Level

Photo: Courtesy of Karina Hoshikawa
Short of whipping up your own lotions and potions at home (or stealing a sample from the floor of a cosmetic lab — and good luck with that), the truth is that your skin-care products' best days are already behind them by the time you buy them. That's not to say they won't work — they certainly do — but what if there was something better? Such was the inspiration behind Exponent Beauty, a skin-care startup that specializes in customized, refillable serums tailored to your skin type and needs.
Exponent Beauty founder Liz Whitman (a former president and CMO of Red Door by Elizabeth Arden) launched the brand earlier this year with a mission of creating self-activated, personalized skin care. Think about it: During a spa facial, estheticians typically mix customized treatments and serums during the service not only to ensure a bespoke, luxurious experience but also to ensure peak potency. Exponent brings that concept to your bathroom sink with a unique custom serum that dispenses active ingredients at the time of application. (Better ingredients = better pizza results.)
Advertisement
Ahead, read along as I test out the Exponent Beauty system on my high-maintenance, acne-prone skin.
DashDividers_1_500x100_2
Photo: Courtesy of Karina Hoshikawa

Unboxing & Assembly

Photo: Courtesy of Karina Hoshikawa
My Exponent Beauty Starter Kit included four items that made my very own serum when combined: a hyaluronic acid hydrating serum base, a refillable outer case, a clear dispenser cap, and my selected Active Powder — plus instructions for how to put everything together. (For the visual learners out there, there's also a QR code to a video walking you through the steps.)
Exponent Beauty offers five unique Active Powder formulations ranging from brightening vitamin C to time-rewinding retinol to the one I chose: a willow bark and prebiotic enzyme blend that's perfect for blemish-prone complexions.
DashDividers_1_500x100_2

Testing It Out

Photo: Courtesy of Karina Hoshikawa
Now, the process of assembling your Exponent Beauty serum can be messy if you don't follow the instructions. The Active Powder is very finely milled and will get *everywhere* if you're not careful, so make sure to pop that cap on until it's go time. (The rubber cap keeps light and air to ensure the powder stays high quality.)
First up, you carefully nest the powder jar inside the clear plastic globe cap. (Do *not* dump the powder directly into the globe!) Then, you can take the hyaluronic serum base and slip it into the aesthetically pleasing, boxy outer shell, which features a pump at the top that dispenses the serum. (If you've made it this far, congrats — you're nearly there.)
Advertisement
The two components — the serum base and clear dispenser cap meet only when you're actually about the apply it to your face. By twisting and clicking the powder globe to the top of the serum base, it dispenses just the right amount of powder to mix with the liquid to create your custom serum. This is Exponent Beauty's whole thing: Keeping the two components separate ensures that the ingredients are fresh AF when coming in contact with your skin.
I know this all sounds really complicated — hopefully the photos help — but I promise it was actually pretty straightforward. In fact, I felt like my own fancy facialist every time I swirled the powder and clear gel together, whipping up my concoction like a beauty chemist. The serum was deeply hydrating yet lightweight and comfortable for oily skin like mine, and there was no stinging or tingling sensation — which is sometimes the case with acne products. Juice aside, the idea of reusing the same outer packaging (and recycling or upcycling the inner components) is something I can definitely get behind.
DashDividers_1_500x100_2

Final Thoughts

At $166 for the Starter Kit (which includes everything mentioned in this review), it's a beauty investment — and genuinely feels like it. According to the brand, the hyaluronic acid base lasts 90 doses (so about three months with once daily use), and the powder for 45 doses, meaning you will have to replace it twice as often as the liquid base. The refills aren't cheap at $88 for the powder and $68 for the hydrator, but after a month of consistent use, my skin is looking better than it has in a long time, TBH. I'm noticing fewer breakouts, less redness, and a glow that makes highlighter optional. Whether you're passionate about making refillable beauty products a regular part of your lifestyle or willing to splurge on your skin, Exponent Beauty is solving for a lot of variables — and doing so in style.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. All product details reflect the price and availability at the time of publication. If you buy or click on something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

More from Skin Care

R29 Original Series

Advertisement