They say when you’re trying to find your passion (or your ikigai—your deeper purpose), do the thing people ask for your opinion about. For me, following that advice led to beauty writing. I must have tried hundreds of products during my own skincare journey, and with new brands popping up on the internet each day, I’m bound to try hundreds more. Today, I’m here to settle the score with the definitive Youth to the People Review.
I’m no stranger to a viral brand, and TikTok has created its own class of favorites. While I think some are overrated, Youth to the People is an internet-adored brand I’ve been curious about for years.
I’ve been seduced by good packaging and irresistible marketing before. Too often, there’s not much substance behind the pretty bottles. Just fillers, fragrances, and good old-fashioned water. However, Youth to the People promises the power of superfoods—a wellness term whose role in skincare I was curious to critique. Their products feature buzzy, vegan ingredients and lofty claims with price tags from $36-$68. But the question remains: does Youth to the People actually work?
For this Youth to the People product review, I bought all the brand’s most popular products in the Sephora Youth to the People: The Youth System and put the set to the test. For the past month, I’ve tried and tested the best Youth to the People products. Through traveling and hormonal breakouts, I put this six-step skincare routine through its paces. Buckle down for a thorough Youth to the People review.
Featured image from our interview with Shanika Hillocks, by Michelle Nash.
A Review of Youth to the People: The Youth System
Perhaps the most famous product from Youth to the People’s Instagram-ready collection is the superfood cleanser. You probably remember the “superfoods” trend. Suddenly, everyone was talking about antioxidants, the benefits of dark chocolate, and a lot about kale. And now, according to the laws of trickle-down skincare economics, superfoods are everywhere in beauty products, too. Enter: this cleanser.
Made with kale, green tea, spinach, and vitamins C, E, and K, it’s the gel cleanser equivalent of a green smoothie. As a prototypical Angeleno and green juice aficionado, this intrigued me. Its nutrient-rich ingredients make it gentle enough for everyday use, unlike some cleansers which contain stripping ingredients like alcohols and parabens. So far, so good. But is it all talk?
I’ll admit, I was impressed. The gel-like consistency lathers well. It doesn’t make my skin feel like rubber or dry it out. And when I wipe my face with a toner-soaked cotton pad, there was never that tell-tale residue that outs ineffective cleansers. I’m prone to over-exfoliating and over-using actives. I like products that work. And this one does the job without ruining my moisture barrier or pH balance—important! Safe to say, I’ve added this cult-favorite cleanser to my rotation on days when my skin needs more nourishing than treating.
The next product in a complete YTTP routine is vitamin C. If I were to streamline my routine down to its bare minimum, a good vitamin C serum would be my active of choice. Vitamin C pretty much does it all. It’s packed with antioxidants to brighten, protect, and achieve that elusive glow. But a good Vitamin C serum is hard to find. For one to be effective, it has to have between 10-20% of its concentrate of choice. And it has to be stable enough to last on your shelf without oxidizing.
This blend of actives includes ascorbic acid, which is the most stable kind. Added antioxidants include passionfruit and dragon fruit to strengthen your moisture barrier and protect from free radicals. But the most exciting ingredient in this serum is the caffeine. And the energizing yerba mate is the star of the show.
Thank The Ordinary‘s Caffeine Eye Serum for being my gateway product into caffeine-infused skincare. And this depuffing serum has now joined its ranks. Its texture is smooth and light, and it doesn’t pill beneath my other serums. My only gripe: it did feel a little sticky when paired with my hyaluronic acid or over a moisturizing toner. But by the end of my routine, I couldn’t really tell. It’s on par with other serums for brightening, and the long-term effects are still pending. But more than any other vitamin C serum, when it comes to instantly de-puffing, it gets the job done. I find myself reaching for it every morning to instantly look AWAKE. My Zoom meetings are grateful.
I’ll admit, I prefer face oils to face creams. But fall is here, so I welcomed this transitional weather moisturizer. Made with the same superfoods as the cleanser, I had high hopes. Plus, like every other beauty editor, I can never stop gushing about the miracle that is hyaluronic acid. And, not to judge a cream by its cover, but the name “air-whip moisturizer” sounds delectable.
The texture did not disappoint. It’s light. It’s fluffy. It’s your run-of-the-mill moisturizer. Topically, it absorbs fast and leaves the skin feeling soft but not sticky—a plus. And it’s buildable, but you don’t need much to feel hydrated—that’s the hyaluronic acid. And yes, there is a difference between moisture and hydration. This nourishing product has both, making for a streamlined routine. I’m sure the powerhouse-packed ingredient list is working wonders in my moisture barrier. But other than that, there’s not much to write home about.
As someone with oily skin, I could probably skip this product entirely. Anyone with dry skin would definitely need something that packs more of a punch. But sensitive and combination skin would probably benefit from this goldilocks of moisturizers. And when my skin was a little inflamed from the aforementioned over-exfoliating, this provided a non-irritating balm. Especially when I started keeping it in my fridge. So that’s where it will stay—for post-exfoliation emergencies.
I had high hopes for this product for more than a few reasons. Again, the whimsical naming lured me in. Then, the promise of a hydrating oil intrigued me. I love face oils, but many of them just lock in the ingredients that come before them and leave my visage feeling heavy and almost wet until they sink in. So, with its promises to hydrate and soothe, I was expecting something transformative.
The standout ingredients are all the antioxidant-rich fruit extracts. Goji berry! Maqui! Prickly pear! Acai! Sounds yummy… even if I’m not sure what exactly each fruit does. I just know that antioxidants are always a good idea.
I started using this as a daytime oil, which is where I think it shines. It’s lighter than some of my pricier oils and wears well during the day. I definitely felt the hydrating effects. On days when I opted for a more streamlined routine, I didn’t miss my hydrating essences or serums when I used this oil. And with the heatwave in California, the fewer products, the better. However, contrary to its name, I didn’t love using this at night. So I’d go for something a little heavier for your nighttime routine.
I’m very skeptical of eye creams. The skin under your eyes is so fragile! Weighing it down with excess products feels counterintuitive. Usually, I just bring my hyaluronic acid or light oil up to the eye area and call it a day. But occasionally, I find a product that actually works to de-puff and brighten my eyes almost instantly. This YTTP Dream Eye Cream is full of ingredients I like, so I was willing to give it an honest try.
My first thought was on the texture. Some lesser eye creams ‘slip’—i.e., the product doesn’t stay under your eye. Thankfully, this one stays put and soaks in fast. It also made my under eyes feel firmer after each use. With eye creams, I need instant gratification. And this one delivered.
I’ll put it plainly: this product is not for the faint of heart. Unfortunately for my skin, I am not the faint of heart. This yerba mate facial has all the elements that call to me. Chemical exfoliation with enzyme power, the previously-established caffeine I can’t resist, and my ultimate downfall: physical exfoliation.
Don’t worry. This is not the St. Ives scrub of your youth. The super-fine granules won’t wreak havoc on your skin like walnut shells or microplastics. But that doesn’t make it gentle, either. I’m no stranger to microdermabrasion treatments. I’ve received microdermabrasion facials as certified treatments. And I classify similar products like the Tata Harper Clarifying Mask and the Goop Microderm Instant Glow Exfoliator as some of my holy grails. But this polish is in a league of its own—though I’m not entirely sure if that’s a positive or negative conclusion.
I’ll explain. First of all, this product hurts to use. Maybe I was going too hard, but my first thought was: ouch. Never a good sign. I eventually started mixing it with the Superfood Cleanser for a more gentle scrub, but the texture was hard to get past. I looked forward to washing it off. And when I did, it revealed super smooth, super soft skin. It also achieved the same de-puffing and awakened look as the serum, though it was much more hard-won.
So I’m of two minds. Yes, it worked. But a little goes a long way. And I wouldn’t break it out more than once a week at the most. And if you have sensitive skin, I’d probably skip it entirely.
My Youth to the People Review: The Verdict
If you’re looking to upgrade your basics, I’d say Youth to the People is a good place to turn. Their products deliver what they promise for a good price. And they’ll give your beauty shelf a glow-up.
But if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. While this set was solid, the only products I’m keeping in constant rotation are the Superfood Cleanser and the Vitamin C Caffeine Serum. The cleanser is a nourishing and replenishing addition to my harsh lineup of products that fills a gap in my arsenal. The serum is the most truly innovative and effective product of the set, making it the standout among the others.
But I will be keeping the full set close. The air-whip cream is waiting in my fridge and the dream oil is safely tucked in my travel bag. Of course, the yerba mate polish is my kryptonite, which I’ll probably break out more than I should.
This Youth to the People review has left me curious about the other products from the brand. And given my generally positive feelings about what I’ve tried so far, I think I’ll grab the Kombucha Toner the next time I’m at Sephora. What can I say? The superfood skincare trend still has me in its grip.
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