An Honest Review of Chanel’s New No. 1 Revitalizing Serum

Chanel Beauté makes its move into the clean beauty sector with a more sustainable approach to luxury product development. Does its latest product actually work?

Penelope Cruz posing
Penelope Cruz photographed by Mert and Marcus for W Magazine, August 2008.

Long known for innovative skincare, iconic fragrances, and gorgeous color cosmetics dressed in chic packaging, Chanel is now prioritizing a cleaner and more sustainable approach to luxury product development. Enter No. 1, a new, eco-responsible collection made from mostly natural ingredients, including powerful Red Camellia extract. In addition to the new Revitalizing Serum, there’s a cleanser, moisturizer, foundation, lip and cheek balm and serum-in-mist, all packaged in recyclable glass. The moisturizer is refillable, with a lid made from camellia seed shells—a byproduct of the flower harvesting process. Chanel touts the Revitalizing Serum as a product that will minimize lines and bring fresh life to your complexion. Does it? Four W editors tried it out—and gave their honest opinions.

Sandra Ballentine, Beauty and Wellness Editor at Large

What is your opinion of Chanel beauty products?

I’ve yet to encounter anything from Chanel that doesn’t fill me with deep and profound longing, and the beauty products are no exception.

Are serums an integral part of your skincare routine?

I’m constantly experimenting with new products, so I don’t really have a routine. But if I did have one, I could see incorporating No. 1 into it. It is pleasurable to use the auto-fill dropper, the red and black bottle is sparely stylish, and most importantly, the line marks a significant shift toward sustainability by a major luxury player—so all in all, je l’aime!

Describe your experience using the Chanel No. 1 Serum.

The lightweight serum has a lovely, smooth texture and penetrates quickly. It softens and comforts my skin with each application and lends me a level of brightness and glow I haven’t been feeling lately, especially in light of current events. I was initially a little thrown by the pronounced floral fragrance, but hello, it’s made from flowers! And though I’m a product junkie for work, in real life I prefer a stripped-down regimen. So I like that I can apply a drop of No. 1 to my face and neck and smell subtly delicious all day, sans perfume.

Did this product work for you? Would you use it again?

I would definitely use it again, and I’m thrilled to see one of my favorite brands moving toward cleaner formulations, mindful manufacturing, and sustainable packaging all the while keeping true to its legendary DNA.

Andrea Whittle, Features Director

Do you use Chanel Beauté products often?

I haven’t used many products from their skincare line, but I’m a huge fan of their Hydra Beauty lip balm, which I’ll occasionally splurge on and keep on my bedside table.

What do you look for in a serum?

I like a serum that adds an extra layer of hydration to my routine. I tend to avoid anything with acids in it, since I alternate between physical and chemical exfoliants throughout the week and don’t want to overdo it. Anything non-greasy and non-irritating that helps add a little moisture and glow, I’m into.

Were there any beauty concerns you were hoping to target that the serum did help with?

I’m 31 and my main concern is maintaining my skin’s texture and preventing my fine lines from turning into full-on wrinkles, and I’ve noticed that in the mornings after I use this during my nighttime routine, I look generally more awake and the lines around my mouth look less pronounced. More recently, I’ve started applying a few drops in the morning, and it wears well under my tinted moisturizer and makes my skin look and feel a touch more hydrated throughout the day. The texture is lovely: It’s a light, cooling jelly that absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave any residue. The scent feels very “scent-y,” if that makes sense, but not in an unpleasant way—I’m just used to products that don’t have as much artificial fragrance in them. I would put it in the same category as Dr. Loretta’s excellent Intense Replenishing Serum, in terms of effectiveness.

Did this product work for you? Would you use it again?

I think so! I didn’t expect any sort of drastic change, but using it feels like a luxurious treat and I’m happy with the way my skin looks after a couple of weeks of using it. If you’re in the market for a light, hydrating, smoothing serum, I would definitely recommend it.

Maryam Lieberman, Contributing Beauty Editor

What is your opinion of Chanel beauty products?

Chanel has always had an impeccable reputation for makeup and skincare. I am a total fan. They have always developed innovative colors that influence so many looks without going overboard. I have my all-time favorites from the makeup line: their eyeliners are a staple as well as the lip liners. Le Crayon Nude Brun goes with everything I apply on my lips. As for their skincare, their Le Masque Anti Pollution Vitamin Clay mask is pretty righteous—it draws out excess oils and cleans the skin immaculately.

Do you use serums in your own personal skincare routine?

I am on a serum-only kick right now. A month or so back, we did a piece with Nurse Jen Hollander, who advised me just to use serums and forgo any moisturizers, especially ones with oil. (The reasoning? Your skin will stop sending oils to certain areas of your face if you are layering oily infused moisturizers.) Obviously, to each their own—but I have been using this tip recently, and my skin is in decent shape. I look for serums that will hydrate, firm, and nourish—I now layer two Barbara Sturm serums (Super Anti-Aging and Brightening Drops) and a Sisley serum (L’Integral Anti-Age Radiance Dark Spot Serum) on top of each other and at the end, I top it off with my go-to, Sisley Ecological Compound. (An important side note: for the neck, I used to use regular serums but Hollander told me to mix the SkinCeuticals Neck Serum and the Defenage neck cream and I have to say, hands down, this combo is the best I have ever used.)

Did this product work for you?

For a week, I only used the Chanel serum. It felt very cooling and hydrating. I wanted to see a noticeable difference in my skin in comparison to the previous few weeks. In all honesty, I did not notice any line minimization, but what it did do was work great at firming up the skin—it instantly felt tighter and more taut. I would use this again as a layering serum, but not alone. I am too in love right now with the benefits of layering serums and seeing more results that way.

Maxine Wally, Senior Digital Editor

Are you a frequent serum user?

After ceasing all skincare product usage when I got on a Retinoid last year (save a super gentle drugstore moisturizer), I am now slowly getting back into serums. I’ve been using Augustinus Bader’s The Serum, which I love—but took a brief break to get into this Chanel No. 1 Revitalizing Serum.

Were there any specific skin concerns you were hoping Chanel’s serum would tackle?

Like most New York City residents, winter dries my skin out immensely—as does the alcohol consumption that usually comes along with the holidays and parties to follow. I was hoping the Revitalizing Serum would moisturize and smooth out some of the lines that are appearing around my eyes whenever I smile.

Did it work?

It absolutely did. This serum gave me a glowy and fresh visage, with plenty of moisture to boot. After a few weeks of use, I wouldn’t say my crow’s feet magically disappeared, but I did notice my face was, overall, much tighter than it was before I started using the serum. I usually go for scent-free face products, but I was surprised at how much I loved the smell of Chanel’s Revitalizing Serum. It was floral and bright, but not overwhelming.

Will you use this product again?

Definitely. It has earned a spot in my bathroom cabinet, which is slowly coming back to life after I wiped it clear during the Retinoid days.