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- Founded by MIT grads, Maelove is a “radically affordable” skincare line that’s priced under $30.
- The $28 Glow Maker is a cult-favorite serum that’s comparable to SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum ($166).
- Learn more about the benefits, ingredients, and my experience using the serum.
Generally speaking, most skincare is expensive. There are good options at low prices, but there are also one too many $300 night creams and pots of rare ingredients infused with gold flecks to call the genre accessible all-around.
Practically speaking, good skincare should be much easier to get your hands on. Certain ingredients just work, and it shouldn’t be too difficult to cut through the noise and formulate a product that combines those proven ingredients in a basic bottle that can retail for an affordable price.
That’s what Maelove CEO Jackie Kim thought when she set out to create a “radically affordable” skincare startup – and, in so many words, that’s what the company has achieved with its cult-favorite $28 Glow Maker Vitamin C serum.
Kim and co-founders Brad Yim and Rishi Khaitan, MIT graduates, leveraged artificial-intelligence techniques to scan millions of self-reported product reviews to determine which ingredients correlated with success, and which to avoid. The resultant three-years-in-the-making vitamin C serum has been generating enthusiastically positive reviews online, including from me.
The Glow Maker was designed to smooth, hydrate, and help with hyperpigmentation. It’s packed with ingredients like vitamins C and E for brightening, ferulic acid for antioxidation protection, hyaluronic acid for hydration, and a proprietary mix of botanicals (grape seed extract, aloe, aurantium dulcis, and magnolia) for nourishment and easier makeup application. The addition of extracts also makes the serum better for sensitive skin than most other vitamin C serums.
For reference, we compared the ingredients in the Glow Maker and the SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic Serum:
- The ingredient list of C E Ferulic according to SkinCeuticals ($166): Aqua/Water/Eau, Ethoxydiglycol, Ascorbic Acid, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Laureth-23, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopherol, Triethanolamine, Ferulic Acid, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate.
- The ingredient list of Glow Maker according to Maelove ($28): Water (Aqua), Ascorbic Acid, Ethoxydiglycol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Glycerin, Lecithin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ferulic Acid, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Callus Culture Extract, Magnolia Officinalis Bark Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Metabisulfite, Triethanolamine, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexyglycerin, Maltodextrin, Tocopherol.
What it’s like to use
In person, Maelove’s Glow Maker is noteworthy for more than just its origin story. It does what it’s supposed to do (brightens the complexion, lightens dark spots) but its real standout features are that it absorbs completely and almost instantaneously into the skin, and that it provides a glow that’s noticeable but not so over-the-top that people with oily skin should steer clear. There’s no tangible residue, and the skin doesn’t feel sticky or tacky post-use.
And while my skin is sensitive and can be dried out by all-over vitamin C application, I have not had that issue with Maelove’s iteration – something I’d credit to their botanical blend and hyaluronic acid, which can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water.
The bottom line
The Maelove team is an unusual one- comprised of cancer and brain researchers, chemical engineers, lawyers, doctors, and an obsessive skincare enthusiast – but that outsider perspective is its greatest advantage. The startup’s founding goals were affordability and accessibility, and thanks to obsessive research and a streamlined, no-fuss approach to an often stuffy industry, that goal is met with a product line unanimously priced under $30. The Glow Maker is a definite favorite, but other Maelove standouts include the One Cream ($28, currently sold out), Eye Enhancer ($28), and the perfectly gentle but effective Glycolic Acid cream, the Night Renewer ($28).
If you’ve been paying $166 for SkinCeuticals’ C E Ferulic Serum, you owe it to yourself to check out the Glow Maker. If you don’t love it, Maelove offers a 100-day return window for a full refund.