The REVIEW: Kypris Moonlight Catalyst

BeautyIdealist Kypris

There is nothing I love more than a new brand discovery and to have it be a green brand is an added and welcomed bonus. To me, Kypris was a brand that seemed to come out of nowhere. I had seen it around on social media and a few blogs but never really paid much attention as the flowery artwork aesthetically made me initially write it off. Then more and more press followed, and I knew I had to try the line for myself.

Moonlight Catalyst is what I consider to be the star product of the Kypris line. It’s marketed as an “herbal alternative to retinoid preparations”which sounds very enticing.

Here is the description of Moonlight Catalyst straight from Kypris:

Moonlight Catalyst gently revitalizes skin while you slumber. This herbal alternative to retinoid formulas employs a cocktail of renewing fermented pumpkin enzymes, biomimetic EGF, and hydrating botanical extracts to refine and renew your complexion without irritation or peeling.

Benefits: An herbal alternative to retinoid preparations * Enhances cellular renewal * Refines texture * Helps keep pores clear * Evens skin tone * Diminishes evidence of previous blemishes * Free from essential oils to accommodate reactive skin * Calms, soothes, and plumps to a radiant, creamy, glow

Before we delve further, I will clarify that for the purpose of being useful – this review will mainly cover the current formula with some insight of my experience with the initial formula for comparative purposes.

The first bottle of Moonlight Catalyst I purchased was the initial formula, back when Kypris listed ‘love‘ as the first ingredient:

Love, water/aqua, algae extract, glycerin, Lactobacillus/Cucurbita pepo (pumpkin) fruit ferment extract, Vigna aconitifolia seed extract, sodium citrate, Salix nigra (willowbark) wood extract, Prunus persica (peach) extract, hydrolyzed fucus vesiculosus protein, yeast extract, leuconostoc (radish) root ferment filtrate, Prunus salicina (plum) extract, xylitylglucoside, anhydroxylitol, xylitol, Saccharomyces lysate extract, Rhodiola rosea (roseroot) extract, Rosa canina (rosehip) seed extract, Hippophae rhamnoides (seabuckthorn) fruit extract, sclerotium gum, p-anisic acid

IMG_5435The serum was a cloudy subtly peachy hued fluid gel with an unmistakable fruity peach scent. Although the description said this was a gentle serum, I noticed dry patches and flaking with the first week of use however as someone who has used prescription strength retinol in the past for acne, I wasn’t put off by this and instead welcomed it as a sign of effectiveness. As I do with any retinol serum, I only used Moonlight Catalyst 2-3 times a week at night as that exfoliation interval works best for my skin.

I found the serum a little bit on the sticky side where it would stick to my pillow covers if I slept on my side which shows that perhaps not all the ingredients were absorbing into my skin but it didn’t stop me from continuing to use it. After the first 2 weeks, my skin stopped having any sort of reaction to Moonlight Catalyst which I took as a sign that it had adjusted however I have seen other bloggers say that the serum loses its effectiveness due to its exposed dropper mechanism.

I also tried to mix it with an oil, creating what the founder Chase, calls a “sophisticated microemulsion”. I found that Moonlight Catalyst went well with most oil serums including Lina Hanson, Vintner’s Daughter, and Yuli. I was provided with samples of all three Kypris Beauty Elixirs (their oils) but unfortunately they are just not a match for me, leaving with me painful cystic acne after the first application. To be fair, I gave each of the oils at LEAST four/five tries and EACH TIME would result in breakouts the next day that took around 2 weeks to fully heal.

Although the microemulsion does feel pretty good and made for quicker completion of my night time routine, I noticed that it resulted in a stickier/tackier texture which indicated even more ingredients were left sitting on my skin rather than being absorbed so I preferred to apply the Moonlight Catalyst first followed by an oil.

I felt that my skin responded really well to this serum and became quite fond of this find as one of the rare green beauty gems that helped to chemically exfoliate skin. I loved Moonlight Catalyst enough to purchase another bottle before my first one ran out. This new bottle arrived with the new formula which is as follows:

Water/Aqua, Glycerin, Lactobacillus/Pumpkin Fruit Ferment Filtrate, Xylitylglucoside, Sclerotium Gum, Algae, Anhydroxylitol, Xylitol, sh-Oligopeptide-1,  Prunus Persica (Peach) Fruit Extract, Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Flower Extract, Vigna Aconitifolia Seed Extract, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Extract, Prunus Domestica (Plum) Fruit Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Flower Water Extract, Hydrolyzed Fucus Vesiculosus Protein, Sodium Chloride, Trehalose,  Sodium Levulinate, Maltodextrin, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Sodium Anisate, Sodium Citrate

The first thing I noticed was that love was removed as the first ingredient so technically there is no love in each bottle anymore *and I felt corny just typing that but it stays* According to the Kypris website the difference is: an added biomimetic epidermal growth factor for skin renewing benefits, a different peach extract that makes the serum more hydrating, and an added neroli flower extract to soothe skin and nerves (??). However I also noticed the order of some ingredients changed around such as algae moving from the 3rd ingredient to the 6th ingredient, along with Vigna Aconitifolia Seed Extract moving down the list as well. Instead Xylitylglucoside and Sclerotium Gum make up the remaining top 5 ingredients which means the majority of this new serum is: Water, Glycerin, fermented Pumpkin filtrate, a moisturizing sugar, and a thickening agent.


Perhaps this explains why this now clear, thicker gel serum seemed to be like a shadow of itself. It feels like a thicker gel and not a whole lot happens. The founder, Chase did describe this as being more gentle and hydrating but when the first five ingredients include only 1 active compared to 3 in the old formula that is not a big shocker. Gentle doesn’t always mean better especially when it comes to a serum being sold as a retinol alternative which by nature should be ‘powerful’. I am able to use this serum every night without any irritation but also without any of the results I saw from the first formula. I even went overboard a few times and applied two entire dropper fulls onto my skin just TRYING to replicate some sort of retinol effect but did not experience anything that could match the first bottle.

I think the main problem with the new formula is that what was once a focused product marketed as a natural retinol alternative that resurfaces skin is now victim to trying to accomplish too much that it all conflicts with each other: ingredients are added or moved around with the goal of making this a hydrating serum, a big investment was spent on epidermal growth factor leading to a price increase for an ingredient that doesn’t even work well with resurfacing ingredients, a reduction in the power of said resurfacing ingredients that won it acclaim in the first place. What we are left with are grand intentions that would have been better spent on the creation of separate products, perhaps a hydrating serum and a resurfacing serum, and not both in one as they are by nature quite conflicting ideas which in this case has resulted in a muddled serum that does neither things very well.

Okay – I know many of you have used this serum, what are your thoughts? Leave a note for me in the comments section!



    April 21, 2016 / 6:12 pm

    I purchased mine a few weeks, back and I haven’t really noticed any changes 🙁 I had no idea that they changed the formula from the original. I won’t be repurchasing. I wish I read this review before 🙁

      April 21, 2016 / 6:13 pm

      Do you have any suggestions for any other green beauty retinol alternatives?

      • sarah
        April 22, 2016 / 4:43 pm

        So, I don’t really consider the Kyrpis product an actual retinol alternative–in the original formulation is was an exfoliating serum. In the new formulation it was trying to be both the exfoliating and regenerating aspects of a true retinol, but I think this review is spot on with the issues it has trying to be too many things. Honestly, the lack of critical thought behind this product make me quite glad I never splurged on any of their other products…

        For an exfoliating serum, Mad Hippie makes one that gets good reviews and is affordable. Drunk Elephant’s or Arcona also make exfoliating nighttime serums that get rave reviews. I think Moss had a limited edition product that included pumpkin enzymes, but I’m not 100% clear on how her ingredient choices work together. Personally, I prefer my chemical exfoliants in a weekly mask, so I have been using True Nature Botanicals exfoliating moisture mask. Mychelle makes a few exfoliating masks that aren’t as wonderful, but are good and quite affordable.

        I think Yuli’s Modern Alchemist is one of the only natural retinol alternative that actually works like a retinol without isolated vitamin A–it uses plant ingredients that contain naturally-occurring A precursors. Mychelle and True Nature Botanicals make good retinol serums that do contain isolated vitamin A, which I am ok with in moderation–you just have to make your own decision about some ingredients.

        Hope this wasn’t too long an answer to your question 🙂

        • May 4, 2016 / 6:46 pm

          Hi Sarah, totally agree I only describe it as a chemical exfoliant in the review & refer to Kypris marketing it as a retinol serum. I agree that it isn’t completely correct to use that label, Green Derm covers it pretty well in his blogspot.

          Thanks for sharing your product rec’s, it totally reminded me of how much I enjoyed Arcona’s Gentle Solution a few summers ago. I also prefer a good mask to exfoliate and don’t want to overdo it. Also your comment wasn’t too long at all, I loved reading it!!

      • May 4, 2016 / 6:34 pm

        Hi Nazih, I’m eyeing the True Nature Botanicals Pacific Night Serum with Retinol. If you are interested in the Sunday Riley Luna oil but want something more ‘green’ I’m currently testing out the new African Botanics oil with retinol so I’ll share how that goes. For the most part my retinol has been prescription rather than luxury as it really gets the job done.

  2. Robin
    April 21, 2016 / 7:08 pm

    I ordered a bottle of the original formula and suffered a reaction. It just didn’t work for me. I even tried a sample before buying the full bottle and didn’t have a problem. It was mystifying, and disappointing. I’m trying to stick with brands that I know and love to avoid wasting a ton of money.

    • May 4, 2016 / 6:35 pm

      Oh I’m sorry to hear that! It’s always good to have your tried and true staples on hand just in case something doesn’t work out right. I’ve definitely discovered more freedom in testing out products once I found the products that always worked for me!

  3. April 21, 2016 / 8:53 pm

    I love your thorough and thoughtful posts. You saved me some money. I was thinking of trying this and didn’t because I get a dose of fermented pumpkin in Drunk Elephant’s C-Firma Serum already, plus I find that beta hydroxy acids work best for me so I use Andalou’s bh cream most nights and SR Luna a couple of times a week.

    • May 4, 2016 / 6:35 pm

      Oh thanks for reminding me about Drunk Elephant, I’ve been meaning to get them into the rotation. Do you think the C-Firma Serum is the best place to start?

  4. Serena
    April 21, 2016 / 10:30 pm

    I’ve never tried this product, but I had tried samples of their Antioxidant Dew last year and my skin seriously loved the samples. I finally took the plunge this year and bought the full bottle of Antioxidant Dew and it just hasn’t had the same effect and actually has contributed to my cheeks getting sort of chapped.

    I never thought to see whether the ingredient list had changed and now I looked it up and it’s the same story with the ingredient list as with the Moonlight Catalyst. The old formula had algae extract (3rd), apricot oil (6th), squalene (8th) while the new formulation has sunflower seed oil (3rd), camellia oleifera seed oil (4th), and the squalene is now missing. There are quite a few other changes as well. I’m really disappointed. I wouldn’t have bought the full bottle if I knew the ingredient list had changed. I didn’t do my due diligence, I guess.

    • May 4, 2016 / 6:38 pm

      Thank you for sharing your experience Serena! I didn’t realize it was the same story with the Antioxidant Dew, that’s disappointing. I don’t think it makes sense to get all this press for products and then immediately change their formula!

  5. Elaine
    April 22, 2016 / 9:21 am

    Hi! Yes I have to agree with your view – i’ve purchased the new formula after reading much hype about the product… I didn’t know there was an old formula! But it doesn’t do anything for my skin. I have combination skin with ongoing blackhead probs in the t-zone so thought this could help in terms of maintaining healthy skin turnover but nooo… I’ll use it up but won’t repurchase!! x

  6. lynne
    April 22, 2016 / 7:09 pm

    This review is fascinating! So thoughtful and detailed, thank you. I’ll admit that I really wanted to like these products based on the gorgeous bottles—it’s so interesting how marketing can impact us, right?! But the reality is that I’ve sampled almost all of the Kypris products with little luck—either they did nothing for my skin, or they made me break out. The one exception is that I am currently trying the clearing serum and this one seems to work well as a spot treatment for break-outs.

    • May 4, 2016 / 6:49 pm

      Yes totally! A beautiful bottle just makes me want it to sit in my bathroom counter. I remember when my face oil from BeautyCounter ran out and I was so sad but more so from having to declutter and remove the beautiful bottle than moving onto another oil. I have similar experiences with the rest of the Kypris line, the oils make me breakout and the Clearing Serum is the only one where I see anything now lol

      • Amz
        May 13, 2016 / 12:18 pm

        I’ve purchased the new version of Clearing Serum just recently and used it for about a week but it broke me out immediately the next day I see bumps though I didnt give up till one week’s up but more small bumps were what I see thus I decided to toss it into the bin. Along came with new version of moonlight catalyst & antioxidant dew samples but straight in to the bin they went together, don’t wish to bring any more pimply outcome to my face. Right now am good with regular products I was using all along!

        By the way, I’ve been using salicylic acid since I was 16 its been more than 10 years now I’m still using my good old salicylic acid for marks that need to fade and its still really showing good results. I’m using in a pill form whereby I mix 2-3 with water and leave it on my face for 15-20 mins in the bathroom and only scrub on my nose (for blackheads), rinse off all after that. Am so glad this method still works after so many years! (I did stop a couple years because all was good)

        Definitely my cheapest remedy from my bathroom, and I learnt it from someone who break through acne phases in her ‘acne-hood’ years. And yes, this is the first time I’m sharing this. 🙂

  7. April 25, 2016 / 2:53 am

    Finally, a review that echoes my exact sentiments about this product. The rotten customer service I received when I questioned why the product didn’t do anything for me was what put the brand on my permanent kibosh list. The review is a few posts down from the top of my own blog on here if you fancy reading about some jaw-droppingly horrid (and sketchy) customer service!

    • May 4, 2016 / 6:50 pm

      I read through your post about this, and YIKES – it just sounds horrendous. So sorry you had to go through that!

  8. Noelle
    April 25, 2016 / 7:32 pm

    I bought the old version, and I was completely disappointed in the performance. I used it for about 2 weeks,and wanted to give it a chance,but It did absolutely nothing for my skin. In the end back to the drawer it went. When I pulled it out it was already past the expiry date of 6 months once opened. =(
    I found that True Botanicals Retinol was a much better match for my skin.

    • May 4, 2016 / 6:51 pm

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Noelle, if your old formula did absolutely nothing – I think you will definitely want to pass on the new formula which is even weaker. I need to give the True Botanicals Retinol a go!

  9. Laura
    April 29, 2016 / 9:14 am

    I have not tried this product – to me it is not a retinol alternative but rather an exfoliant (pumpkin enzymes), and I use the mvo mask, which I love – so I do not need this product. I tried the antioxidant serum and the oil from this line and was/am underwhelmed. I cannot wait for yuli to release their hydrating ambrosia serum and I also like tn boranicals serum.

  10. Ashlynn
    June 1, 2016 / 2:10 pm

    I have never been drawn to Kypris. I have seen them all over blogger’s instagrams and videos, but after looking at the ingredients the first time (pre reformulation), I wasn’t thrilled that they were based in love and water rather than some other, more nourishing ingredient like aloe or a hydrosol. I also wasn’t keen on such a large amount of glycerin, especially for the price of this product. Then… I heard about the ingredients list changing and noticed the same you did. Less concentrated and ingredients missing in some products like the oils. Recently they also had an issue on Instagram and ended up deleting all the comments! Thank goodness there are screen shots. This isn’t a brand I would ever try. Thank you for your candid review. I really appreciate that you take so much time and consideration in your reviews unlike so many others who review after a few uses and don’t update later on. Kuddos! =)

  11. Nayoung
    June 23, 2016 / 8:47 pm

    Hi Fabiana, have you tried the Maya Chia oils yet? Those seem to be getting a lot of good press lately as well. Would be interested to see how you feel about them 🙂

    • June 24, 2016 / 3:38 pm

      Yes I’ve seen them around, have not tried their products yet. In general I think I’m a bit over lines coming out now throwing mixes of oils as something new and exciting which is perhaps why I’m not really super excited to get this on my purchase list. But if I ever do use their products, I’ll be sure to write about it!

  12. Elizabeth
    December 14, 2017 / 7:11 pm

    Ugh! I wish I’d read this before purchasing. I wish I could return.

  13. J
    December 27, 2017 / 6:52 pm

    I’ve used the new formula and actually love it! Would definitely repurchase. I basically put it on together with ‘1000 Roses’, as recommended by Kypris, and my skin was radiant and smooth and soft the next morning. Score! I went through the whole bottle within the expiry date and am giving it a break (while I finish my other skin products), but will definitely re-order in due course. I am a huge fan.

    On the contrary, Drunk Elephant (the Vit C, orange cap one) really broke me out and I had to toss away more than half the bottle – such a waste.

    I guess it goes to show everyone’s skin is different – it really is a trial and error process, but yah, big fan of Kypris!

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