Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Vintner's Daughter
Credit: Courtesy

April Garguilo founded a religion when she launched Vintner's Daughter's Active Botanical Serum in 2014. Her brand's first product has been described as "the oil to end all face oils," and "worthy of an automatic refill" by beauty editors, and "life-changing" by many of the internet's evangelistic reviewers. Celebs are fans, too. Lady Gaga wore it to the Oscars.

The serum's cult-following is so devoted that its $185 price tag doesn't seem to be a big deal. In fact, next to singing the praises of Active Botanical Serum's effectiveness, reviewers stress that the bottle is "worth the price."

But, can lightening strike twice? That's what I wondered when Vintner's Daughter announced that finally, after five years, a second product was on the way, the Active Treatment Essence.

The essence, which is priced at an eyebrow-raising $225, is formulated with the same approach as Active Botanical Serum. It contains over 30 active botanicals that are distilled from each plant over a five week process instead of using extracts. This method supposedly makes these botanicals more potent and effective. Then, it's blended with water-soluble vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, microalgae, gluconolactone, apple cider vinegar, lactic acid, and pre- and probiotics. When applied to the clean skin after cleansing and before any serums, the cocktail is meant to hydrate, tone, and gently exfoliate the skin.

When I was given the opportunity to meet with Garguilo when she was in New York last month ahead of the Active Treatment Essence's launch, I was embarrassed to admit that I was one of the few beauty editors who haven't experienced Active Botanical Serum firsthand. After my confession, Garguilo told me that while she created the essence to be an effective treatment on its own, it's really meant to be the yin to the serum's yang.

She explained that since serums are oil-soluble, there's certain things it can't be formulated with, which is where the essence comes in. The other main difference is that it's fermented, using the pre- and probiotics as the the botanicals' delivery system.

VIDEO: Beauty Now: Facial Acupuncture

As for the how the actual essence performs, after cleansing, I applied three drops of the essence to the palm of my hand and patted it onto my face. The first thing I noticed was its kombucha-like, ACV-heavy scent (thank you, fermentation). Once I got over the smell (I'm not a kombucha fan), I felt a cooling sensation and noticed my skin looked visibly plumper.

When my skin was still damp, I warmed up a few drops of the Active Botanical Serum in palms of my hands and massaged it into my skin. Instantly, my face was brighter and less tired, and my skin loved its silky texture.

It's only been two days since I started using both products, so while my skin just looks more healthy, I can't confirm whether the serum and essence have done anything for any of my post-breakout dark marks. However, I have heard from my beauty editor friends that the three day mark is when you really experience how skin-changing it is.

I'm intrigued enough so far though, so you can bet I'll be using both Vintner's Daughter products in nighttime skincare routine tonight.

Vintner's Daughter Active Treatment Essence is available now at Goop.com and Vintnersdaughter.com.