I Skeptically Tried This $89 Serum—3 Months Later, I'm Glowing

Welcome to Deep Reviews—your one-stop destination to discover the absolute best products and brands the beauty industry has to offer. The Who What Wear staffers you already know and trust will research, test, and review the market's most sought-after and buzzed-about products to see which formulas (of the hundreds up for consideration) are truly worth your hard-earned money and attention. You can expect honest, completely uncensored feedback and no-BS recommendations our hard-to-please testers endorse without reservations.

The majority of our Deep Reviews will feature our editors' honest, ultra-hot takes on entire product categories or multiple products from a particular beauty brand, but every so often, we'll sprinkle in a special single-product format called Honestly, I Love It. As the name suggests, these reviews will hone in on one standout beauty formula our editors quite literally can't shut up about. This time around, I'm highlighting the Mother Science Molecular Hero Serum ($89).


(Image credit: @c__bellamy)

Three months ago, I started testing a new serum. I love serums, but I was fully prepared for it to go as most test trials go for me—with an anticlimactic finish—and was definitely not expecting my experience to take a turn for the better. What a plot twist! I've always been "annoyingly positive" about most things in life, but working in beauty has turned me into somewhat of a realist (only in terms of product efficacy). I always hope for results but prepare for nothing because too many products have let me down one too many times before, but the Mother Science Molecular Hero Serum ($89) isn't one of them.

If you haven't heard of this brand, I'm not surprised—even I almost missed it! When I first received the PR email introducing the brand in early spring, I ignored it. I was skeptical about the claims being made about the serum and the fact that it was co-founded by Incubus lead guitarist Mike Einziger and his wife, renowned violinist Ann Marie Simpson Einziger. I don't have anything against them, but I can't help but wonder if celebrity beauty brands are actually worth the hype. Are the products even good? Did they just throw their name on a generic line of skincare or actually do the research? Well, the serum kept showing up on my Instagram, taunting me, so I put my skepticism aside and decided to test it out.


(Image credit: @c__bellamy)

What made me cave was the hero ingredient: malassezin. It's a naturally occurring molecule found on the skin that's 10 times more powerful than vitamin C and can dramatically reduce dark spots and sun damage. Pair that with alpine rose extract and niacinamide to help improve elasticity, reduce redness, and even skin tone, and you've got yourself a cocktail of powerful anti-aging ingredients.


(Image credit: @c__bellamy)

If you're still not sold, maybe my pictures will speak louder than my words. Look at how my complexion has changed over the last three months just from using the serum twice a day. My redness has dramatically improved, my skin is more even, and my dark spots are less visible. From the moment I wake up, my skin even has a nice natural glow to it, and I swear the serum has somehow helped keep my skin clear. Sometimes, it's hard to see progress while looking in the mirror, but documenting my skin on a monthly basis shows the power of the serum.


(Image credit: Pearl Grimes; Mike Einziger; Ann Marie Simpson Einziger)

The inspiration behind the serum: "Initially, we did not set out to build a skincare brand. We set out to understand what was happening on Ann Marie's skin when she noticed lightened patches on her back. During that exploration, we discovered a novel compound called malassezin, which can target hyperpigmentation while also improving the skin's moisture barrier function. Ultimately, we decided that the highest and best use for malassezin was to formulate it into a revolutionary consumer skincare product to target dark spots and skin damage caused by aging." — Mike Einziger, co-founder, Mother Science

What makes it unique: "Molecular Hero Serum is unique because it contains our proprietary ingredient, malassezin, which is totally new to skincare. Novel ingredients are extraordinarily rare in the consumer world because they are rare to discover and challenging to develop. The serum can replace many of the products consumers are currently using for skin brightening and globally improve skin texture and the skin's moisture barrier. It's unprecedented for one serum to be so versatile and effective." — Ann Marie Simpson Einziger, co-founder, Mother Science

How long it took to develop: "We spent over six years of research and development to ensure that malassezin was both safe and effective. Science takes time when conducted with rigor, so we worked at the speed of science. We went above and beyond the standard battery of product testing. The process of scientific discovery is something we love. It literally kept us awake at night, and we would wake each other up to share papers or talk about study results. Our mantra as a couple is to learn and share as much as we can. We learned a lot more about malassezin than we ever could have imagined, and we're excited to share what we learned with the world." — Einziger

How malassezin works: "Malassezin is a naturally occurring molecule found on skin with dramatic brightening and dark-spot benefits. Malassezin works through a novel mechanism of action to address hyperpigmentation in three ways. It reduces excess melanin production, decreases melanin transport to the upper layers of skin, and minimizes melanin transfer to skin cells. Additionally, malassezin improves the skin's moisture barrier, improving the texture of skin and enabling skin to hold onto more moisture." — Pearl Grimes, MD, chief dermatologist, Mother Science

How it differs from vitamin C: "Most dark-spot ingredients are tyrosinase inhibitors, but malassezin is not a tyrosinase inhibitor and instead works through a completely novel mechanism to decrease the appearance of dark spots and improve texture, fine lines, and wrinkles. Malassezin is a 10-times more powerful antioxidant than vitamin C. It helps neutralize free radicals, which in turn reduces the appearance of lines and wrinkles and helps prevent the formation of future dark spots. Malassezin is also completely stable whereas common brightening ingredients such as vitamin C degrade quickly when exposed to air and light." — Grimes

Group Executive Director, Branded Content and Beauty

Caitie Schlisserman is an L.A.-based executive director with over a decade of branded content and editorial experience. She joined Who What Wear in 2014 as the first branded content editor and has worked her way up to overseeing a team of talented branded content editors and the beauty department of the media revenue team. Before Who What Wear, Caitie helped launch FabFitFun's first subscription box and worked at a beauty startup where she assisted in successfully launching the editorial department.