Ole Henriksen Truth Serum - The Dermatology Review

Ole Henriksen Truth Serum



What is Ole Henriksen Truth Serum?

Ole Henriksen Truth Serum is an anti-aging and vitamin C serum that is “like a daily multivitamin for the skin”. It is a fast-absorbing, oil-free formula with a silky texture that is said to help brighten, firm, fight signs of aging, and deliver all-day hydration. Ole Henriksen was inspired to create Truth Serum after meeting two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling and learning about his research on the effects of vitamin C on the immune system. He wanted to incorporate this “free radical scavenger” into his skin care philosophy. In fact, Ole Henriksen was one of the first brands to use vitamin C.

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Who is it for?

Ole Henriksen Truth Serum is ideal for those with hyperpigmentation, age spots, uneven skin tone, or dull complexion. This is because one of the key ingredients in this formula is vitamin C, which is known to brighten the complexion and fade dark spots (more on the benefits of vitamin C in the next section). While vitamin C can provide some anti-aging effects, Ole Henriksen Truth Serum really lacks true anti-aging skin care ingredients, like retinol, peptides, and additional antioxidants. It is said to be appropriate for all skin types, however, there are several ingredients in this formula that may cause problems for those with sensitive skin.  

Formulation Insight

The formulation of Ole Henriksen Truth Serum mainly consists of five ingredients: water, glycerin, oleth-20, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, and hydroxyethylcellulose. The rest of the ingredients in the formula are present in very low concentrations (less than 1%). We know this by looking at the ingredient list (which is in order of descending concentrations). The rest of the ingredients in Ole Henriksen Truth Serum are listed after the preservative phenoxyethanol, which cannot be used in concentrations more than 1%. 

Out of the five ingredients that make up the majority of the Ole Henriksen Truth Serum formula, only glycerin and sodium ascorbyl phosphate provide any benefit to the skin. Oleth-20 is an emulsifier that helps to keep all the ingredients mixed together, and hydroxyethylcellulose is a thickening agent. 

Glycerin is a very common ingredient in skin care products as it functions as a humectant. A humectant is a hygroscopic substance that has a molecular structure with several hydrophilic (water loving) groups, such as hydroxyl groups (OH) and/or amine groups (NH2). In this case, glycerin contains three hydroxyl groups that bond with water, essentially “grabbing” it and holding it on the skin. Humectants pull water from the dermis to the epidermis and stratum corneum. In addition, humectants can draw water vapor from the air to help moisturize the skin if the humidity is over 50 percent. 

Since glycerin and other humectants slow water from evaporating in the epidermis, they help to keep the skin hydrated. Humectants also promote the shedding of dead cells (called desquamation) by breaking down the proteins that hold the cells together. However, one drawback with humectant products is that they can sometimes pull too much moisture from the lower layers of skin when the air in your surrounding environment is very dry. 

Humectants like glycerin provide temporary anti-aging effects because the extra hydration is extra volume, which effectively plumps out the skin and makes lines and wrinkles less noticeable. However, this effect is transient – as soon as the moisture content in skin decreases, lines and wrinkles will return to normal size. Unfortunately, some skin care brands may use high concentrations of humectants in their products that are claimed to provide anti-aging effects without any other ingredients to correct signs of aging. You may think the product is working because your skin looks plump after use, but these effects are just from the humectant (in this case, glycerin).  

The next key ingredient in Ole Henriksen Truth Serum is sodium ascorbyl phosphate, a stable precursor of ascorbic acid (pure vitamin C). The serum also contains a small amount of calcium ascorbate. Calcium ascorbate, often referred to as Ester-C, is another stable derivative of ascorbic acid. The brand refers to the combination of sodium ascorbyl phosphate and calcium ascorbate as True-C Complex™.

Once sodium ascorbyl phosphate and calcium ascorbate are absorbed by the skin, they are both converted to ascorbic acid, which provides several benefits to the skin. For instance, ascorbic acid exerts potent antioxidant activity. Specifically, ascorbic acid donates electrons to neutralize reactive oxygen species (ROS) such as the superoxide ion and peroxide that are generated when the skin is exposed to UV light. This is important because the harmful effects of ROS occur as direct chemical alterations of the cellular DNA, the cell membrane, and cellular proteins, including collagen. Damaged collagen manifests as signs of premature skin aging, including wrinkles, lines, and sagging skin. Ascorbic acid’s protective effect on collagen makes this ingredient an excellent addition to anti-aging skin care products. 

Another way that ascorbic acid helps to reduce signs of aging is through collagen synthesis. Specifically, ascorbic acid serves as a cofactor for the enzymes prolysyl and lysyl hydroxylase, the enzymes that are responsible for stabilizing and cross-linking the collagen molecules. Clinical studies have shown that the topical use of ascorbic acid increases collagen production in both young and aged human skin. Once again, by increasing the amount of collagen in the skin, signs of aging will be diminished and the skin will appear more firm. 

Ascorbic acid also has the ability to reduce the appearance of dark spots and improve uneven skin tone. This is accomplished through inhibition of melanin synthesis. Melanin is a pigment that gives our skin color, but too much of this pigment can lead to undesirable dark spots called hyperpigmentation. Ascorbic acid decreases melanin formation by inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme that is required for melanin synthesis. The result is skin that appears brighter with less dark spots and a more even skin tone. 

The brand claims that the ingredients green tea extract, collagen, and aloe juice are key ingredients in Ole Henriksen Truth Serum. However, remember from above that all of these ingredients are present in low concentrations (less than 1%). This means that you will likely not notice any benefit from these ingredients. 

There’s quite a few problematic ingredients in Ole Henriksen Truth Serum, although they are present in small concentrations. First, there are many fragrance ingredients, including orange fruit extract, grapefruit seed extract, citral, limonene, linalool. These ingredients contain volatile components that have the potential to cause skin irritation and sensitivity. Ole Henriksen Truth Serum also contains alcohol (ethanol), which is well known to cause skin dryness and irritation. As we have said, these ingredients are present in low concentrations, but it is still something to be aware of, especially if you have sensitive skin. 

How to use

It is recommended to apply Ole Henriksen Truth Serum evenly to face and neck daily. After fully absorbed, follow with the moisturizer of your choice. 


Ole Henriksen Truth Serum reviews are overall positive, with the product receiving an average of 4.4 out of 5 stars after 292 customer reviews on the brand’s website. Positive reviews for this serum mention that it helps to brighten the complexion and smooth skin texture. Negative reviews for Ole Henriksen Truth Serum mention that it may cause skin irritation and breakouts in those with sensitive skin (likely due to the fragrance ingredients and drying alcohol). Others mentioned that the smell is very unpleasant. 

What are some alternatives to Ole Henriksen Truth Serum?

Ole Henriksen Truth Serum contains a decent amount of vitamin C (sodium ascorbyl phosphate), but the rest of the “key” ingredients used in the formula are present in very low concentrations. That’s why we recommend considering Formulyst Active Serum, which contains a potent blend of vitamins B, C, and E, ferulic acid, and niacinamide. You’ve already read about the many benefits of vitamin C above, so let’s discuss the additional benefits you’ll gain from these other four ingredients. 

Formulyst Active Serum contains provitamin B5, also known as panthenol, which functions as a highly effective humectant. The formula also contains niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3 that is known to repair the skin barrier and improve skin moisture, as well as reduce inflammation, blotchiness, hyperpigmentation, acne, and wrinkling. Vitamin E is a potent lipid soluble antioxidant that helps combat free radicals and also strengthens the skin barrier. Vitamins C and E are network antioxidants, which means that when used together their antioxidant activity is even more powerful. Plus, ferulic acid enhances the efficacy and stability of vitamins C and E. As you can see, the Formulyst Active Serum is truly a multi-tasking serum that provides your skin with a powerful dose of antioxidants to help shield your skin from environmental assaults that age your skin.

Since Ole Henriksen Truth Serum really lacks anti-aging ingredients, we recommend Formulyst Pro-Collagen Serum if you are struggling with signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles. This lightweight, restorative serum is specifically formulated for aging skin that has experienced a loss of collagen. Think of collagen as the scaffolding of the skin; it gives structure, support, and suppleness. But collagen production naturally slows down as we age, causing wrinkles and fine lines to appear. Formulyst’s Pro-Collagen Serum contains a highly concentrated mix of peptides and proteins, derived from seaweed, wheat, and soy, to help tackle these signs of aging. 




The philosophy of Formulyst is long-term and effective skincare, rather than covering up any imperfections. The comprehensive line of products tackles everything from wrinkles to dark spots and dry skin. While some brands rely on unnecessary fillers and scents, Formulyst focuses on ingredients that help create results, such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Many of the Formulyst’s products harness the power of plant and citrus extracts as well as gold-standard workhorses such as retinol. Read More

Advanced Dermatology

The Advanced Dermatology skin care regimen addresses the most pressing aging concerns. It can be used by men and women in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond. This award-winning system can help diminish wrinkle appearance, reduce dark spots and hyperpigmentation, fade away redness, even out skin tone and improve the appearance of eye bags and dark circles. Some of the standout products in this line include the Super Youth Serum, Complete Age Defense and Anti-Wrinkle Firming Night Treatment. Read More
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