Does Westman Atelier’s $150 Serum Live Up to the Hype?

We put the brand’s latest skincare product to the test—and gave our honest opinions.

by Che Baez, Maxine Wally, Tyler VanVranken and Amir La Sure

A photo of Westman Atelier's Skin Activator Serum
Courtesy of Westman Atelier
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Cult-favorite makeup brand Westman Atelier is making its way into the skincare space—and fans of the label are watching closely. Skin Activator, Westman Atelier’s latest all-in-one serum released in March, features what’s called “skin-identical science,” catering to all skin types. The product is said to promote “your best skin—with or without makeup,” according to the brand; the Skin Activator is also fragrance-free, non-comedogenic, and dermatologist tested. Whether you’re a serum savant or a scared skeptic, this product should leave you intrigued either way. Four W editors put the serum to the test—through erratic skin conditions, lengthy skincare routines, and a particularly sweaty summer.

Amir La Sure, Lead Accessories Assistant

How is your skin these days?

Lately, my skin has been a bit troublesome. My T-zone stays oily, while my cheeks and under-eye area tend to be dry. My skincare routine has therefore been a bit of a juggling act: between exfoliators, hydration masks, and serums, I can barely keep up. But generally speaking, in the morning, I start with a toner, then go in with a glow serum, and finish my routine with some SPF. Night time is a bit more extensive. After I shower, I use a toner/exfoliant that helps strip away any impurities that my cleanser may have left behind. Then I use a mist spray that enhances the skin barrier, a serum that helps even the tone of my skin, a cream that moisturizes, and finally, an under-eye cream so I look rejuvenated in the morning.

Are you a big fan of serums?

In the past, serums were hit or miss for me. It felt like I was oversaturating my face with so many different kinds of serums that I never really gave each one the chance to work its magic. I consider myself lucky that I’ve never had any negative reactions, especially since I use so many different products at once.

Describe your experience using the Westman Atelier Skin Activator serum.

A friend of mine swears by Westman Atelier’s Beauty Butter Powder Bronzer, so I was interested in trying skincare from the brand. The first night I incorporated this product it into my skincare routine, I noticed how easy it was to work the serum into my skin. Sometimes serums just sit on the skin, and I find myself trying to expedite the process by fanning my face. But with the Skin Activator, a few good massages across my cheeks, forehead, and chin—and the serum was set. Immediately after application, I saw a glow and firmness in the areas of my face that sometimes look a bit puffy. With continued use, I have noticed the luster of my skin remaining consistent throughout the day.

Would you use this product again?

I would definitely incorporate the Skin Activator serum in my skincare routine. My skin’s glow after using the product was enough to convince me!

Maxine Wally, Senior Digital Editor

What is your skin type?

I have an oily face, so my skincare routine changes significantly depending upon the season. In summer, I remove serum from my regimen altogether, and I don’t apply highlighter like I do during fall and winter—the New York City humidity provides all that shine and moisturization for me. At the moment, I only use sunscreen and oil-free moisturizer for daytime, and at night I’ll apply a prescription Retin-A every other evening, followed by a swipe or two of my favorite moisturizer of the moment, Dr. Jart’s Hydro Plump Water Cream. If I have bags under my eyes, I’ll apply some Retrouvé Revitalizing Eye Concentrate as well.

Because I don’t struggle with dry skin most of the year, I really only use serums during winter, when my visage is super parched. Otherwise, I look for serums that even out the skin tone or address hyperpigmentation. SkinCeuticals’s C E Ferulic is an all-timer, as is Drunk Elephant’s T.L.C. Glycolic Night Serum.

Describe your experience using the Westman Atelier Skin Activator serum.

Going into testing out the Westman Atelier serum, I was unsure whether I’d actually experience the results I sought. I was looking for firmer, more plump skin with a more consistent tone throughout. For some reason, I thought the serum would simply make my skin greasier. Boy, was I ever wrong. This product is feather-light, and provides a hint of moisture while targeting areas of my face—under eyes, cheeks—that usually puff up in the heat. Although I didn’t see much difference in the unevenness of my skin, I was very impressed with how much the serum helped snatch my face, filling in fine lines and leaving a subtle glow in the process.

Would you use the Skin Activator again?

Definitely. I’m going to treasure this stuff until the very last drop.

Tyler VanVranken, Lead Fashion Assistant

What is your skin type?

I would say I have combination skin—I tend to get oily in my T-zone. My skin is pretty reactive, sometimes to my advantage and disadvantage. It really likes some products, and others it rejects immediately, and I promptly break out. My current skincare mantra is “less is more”: I stick to the basics and sprinkle in a serum here and there. I wash my face with a salicylic acid cleanser and I moisturize with a medium-weight cream for both day and night. I add sunscreen and vitamin C during the day, and a serum at night every now and then.

Describe your experience using the Westman Atelier Skin Activator serum.

I began using this serum with an open mind, and genuinely wanted to see how my skin would react. I used the Skin Activator every third night, then every other night, until finally working up to nightly applications. I enjoyed the consistency and my skin drank it up. I was nervous it wouldn’t work well with my moisturizer’s consistency, but it was not a problem at all. Because I’m used to certain skincare packaging, the pump form didn’t satisfy me—I like a vessel that gives me all the product I need at once, so the rollerball Skin Activator might suit me better.

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

Because I have a very minimal skincare regimen, I didn’t notice any drastic change in my skin from the serum, so I’ll stick to my tried-and-true routine. I did, however, enjoy the serum, and was pleased it didn’t cause any negative reactions, which is my biggest concern when using new products.

Che Baez, Associate Visuals Editor

What is your skin type?

I have occasionally problematic combination skin. Sometimes she’s dry, sometimes she’s oily, maybe hormonal, but sometimes, she’s nice. I have the type of skin that looks fantastic from a distance, but if you were an aesthetician, you’d have a bone to pick with me. I feel that I have pretty large pores, so I have to be careful with the consistency of products I use on my face, or else I get super clogged up and end up breaking out. I am wary of using any new products because they often make me break out. My current skincare routine consists of a gel cleanser, an exfoliator twice a week, a toner, a gel acne medication, a moisturizer with sunscreen, or a night cream and oil for my bedtime routine. I use the occasional face mask and dark spot corrector if needed, and I also use a gua sha tool from Sandra Lanshin Chiu’s brand, Lanshin, with a good oil if I have the time.

What have your previous experiences with serums been like?

I’m a simple gal, so I tend to only use what I feel is absolutely necessary. Serums have usually made my skin feel either super dry or just plain sticky, which is the exact opposite of what I need before I layer on the rest of my skincare routine.

Describe your experience using the Westman Atelier Skin Activator serum.

When I began using this serum, I was pretty skeptical. I was worried how it would incorporate into my skincare routine, and if it would make me break out like new products usually do. But this product has completely changed my perspective on serums, and made me want to try everything Westman Atelier has to offer (even the makeup). When I tell you my skin felt thoroughly quenched, I’m not exaggerating. It layered so well under my other products, and somehow made my skin look dewy and visibly brighter even after other naturally mattifying products were layered on top. Although I don’t have deep-set wrinkles, the serum seemed to smooth out what I do have, especially around my eye area. I’m a sucker for good packing and applicators, and the rollerball version of the serum was soothing and cooling, while the magnetic outer packaging made my heart sing. This serum has been added to my list of favorite Westman Atelier products, which includes their liquid highlight.

Would you incorporate the Westman Atelier Skin Activator serum into your future skincare routine?

I would, gladly—and I never incorporate anything new into my skincare routine.