Deciem is a Toronto-based company and the umbrella for different brands that have gained massive popularity in say, less than 2 years. One of the brands, The Ordinary, is probably the most successful after only being launched a little over a year ago and has become an instant cult favorite for many. Since my visit last year, Deciem has grown exponentially, landing a (controversial) investment with Estee Lauder (read here, here and here) and short to say, there’s no stopping them at this point. Brandon Truaxe has really set out what he intended to, disrupt and challenge the beauty industry.
In the past year, I’ve been trying several of the products, specifically from NIOD (Non-Invasive Options in Dermal Science). In all seriousness, reviewing these products is a challenge for me. I am intimidated by them. NIOD is very science-based and my brain just doesn’t go that far up there. The terms and jargons used are way above what average people might understand. And I get that. It’s pushing us to go out of the box and be more critical.
Despite all of this, I am going to attempt to convey my thoughts, in the best possible, The Fruit Compote way. Let me start with NIOD Copper Amino Isolate Serum 1.00% (CAIS) and Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex (MMHC).
Skincare junkies would probably remember one of Deciem’s earliest breakthrough brands is NIOD, specifically its Copper Amino Isolate Serum 1.00% or in short, CAIS. I knew about the brand from Puche when she was still living in London and she was gushing about how intriguing the brand and product is. The rest is history.
If you need to find more info, I highly suggest searching more reviews which I’m sure will provide more knowledge about the science behind the product. In the meantime, I’m going to copy paste the description of the products from two different websites.
Copper Amino Isolate Serum from NIOD (Non-Invasive Options in Dermal Science) contains 1.00% pure Copper Tripeptide-1 (GHK-Cu) to target visible signs of ageing, revealing youthful-looking skin. The innovative serum comes complete with a specially formulated activator for mixing with before first use.
The concentrated treatment delivers multiple health benefits including, evening out skin tone, boosting radiance, minimising the appearance of pores and smoothening out fine lines and wrinkles. Acts as an anti-inflammatory and supplies healing properties.
With a Copper/Proline/Lysine Peptide Stabilization Complex and award-winning technology, the serum prepares skin for the high concentration of copper peptides and boosts regeneration. Promotes fibroblast production to increase collagen synthesis, preventing loss of elasticity and increasing firmness for plumped, toned skin.
Its unique Hyaluronic Acid Crosspolymer is combined with an extremely low molecular weight Hyaluronic Delivery Complex to allow water-soluble actives into the skin to maintain moisture levels. Blood vessel development is encouraged to provide oxygen and nutrients, whilst improving circulation for healthy-looking skin. – from lookfantastic.com
NIOD Copper Amino Isolate Serum 1% with Copper Tripeptide GHK-Cu helps to prevent and reverse largely all aspects of visible skin ageing.
NIOD Copper Amino Isolate Serum 1% (CAIS): A highly-focused treatment serum to encourage skin health as a novel approach to target all aspects of skin ageing by keeping the skin in an ongoing heightened state of repair. This concentrated treatment departs from the traditional thinking of addressing visible aspects of various signs of skin ageing and instead forms a foundation to make skin look and act younger from its lowest depths upward.
NIOD Copper Amino Isolate Serum, CAIS, contains 1.0% pure Copper Tripeptide-1 (GHK-Cu) in serum form to be mixed with a specialised activator before first use. This extraordinary concentration, unlike most other topical skincare products, allows activation of a wide array of skin health functions that help to prevent and reverse largely all aspects of visible skin ageing, including textural damage, uneven pigmentation, loss of elasticity, lines, wrinkles, enlarged pores and general lack of a healthy radiance present in younger skin. In short, the skin will act and look younger starting within 5 days with continued improvements over time. – from victoriahealth.com
Sorry for the long read above. I know, it’s a lot. Believe me, I did the same. But I managed to underline the most important detail that I personally experienced when using CAIS.
Btw, if you hadn’t known already, NIOD CAIS comes in a two-bottle set. One contains the copper powder and the other is the activator liquid. To use, we have to mix them both together by pouring the activator into the powder (not the other way around). Once that’s done, just give it a good shake and it’s ready to use. Here’s a short video of how I do it.
The very first generation of CAIS required the product to be refrigerated but the one I have doesn’t anymore. But as usual, I keep all skincare at a cool room temperature and away from the sun.
There’s a lot of buzz and questions about the usage of NIOD CAIS with acid products (toner/serum). I rummaged through Brandon’s answers via Caroline Hirons’s blogpost and here’s what I compiled:
CAIS can be used once a day but even if used twice a day will not interact with your regimen. It is extremely low viscosity (lower than water). If your serums do not have acidic pH, you can apply them right after. If they do, please wait about 30 seconds after CAIS.
CAIS absorbs extremely quickly (it is extremely low viscosity) and it acts as an attractor of copper (why the reference to copper peptides). This attraction mechanism happens almost instantaneously (it’s not a slow-release exposure which would be counter-productive in this case). As long as you wait about 30 seconds before acidic product application, the vast majority of the benefit has already occurred with that application.
Any acidic pH will destroy CAIS completely in an instant. However, CAIS itself is absorbed and utilized extremely quickly. Acids, however, take longer to work and go through a pH adjustment after application to the skin. For this reason, please always apply CAIS first, wait about 30 seconds (even 10 seconds is enough, but to be safe), then apply any acidic compounds. Please never apply an acidic compound before CAIS; if you do, the wait time would be significantly higher (30 minutes to be safe). So the steps would be:
- Cleanse (assuming not acidic)
- – 30 seconds
- Acid Tone
- Spray Hydrate
There you go. Brandon’s guideline on using CAIS. However, mine’s a little different; will dwell on that below.
I have to say I was skeptical at NIOD CAIS, especially with the 5-day improvement claim. If I learn anything, never set a certain expectation on any skincare product, especially when there’s a hype around it. It’s always wise to try a product with an open mind and at ground zero.
The blue liquid is certainly very runny, very watery. I use 5-6 drops for every use. The skin absorbs it way too fast and I had wondered if it just evaporated. LOL! I have to spread and blend really fast to make sure all areas of the face is covered. Hence many drops. It helps greatly to apply this when the skin is still slightly damp after hydrating toner.
I rarely use acid toner when I’m using CAIS. But if I do, the only product I dare using is The Beauty Chef Probiotic Skin Refiner because it’s mild and gentle on the skin. I don’t follow Brandon’s guideline by using CAIS first before acid toner. Instead, here’s how I do it:
With acid toner:
Cleanse – TBC Probiotic Skin Refiner – hydrating toner – CAIS – MMHC – serum – face oil/moisturizer/sleeping mask.
Cleanse – hydrating toner – CAIS – MMHC – serum – face oil/moisturizer/sleeping mask – SPF (for daytime only)
By all means, there’s a usual wait time whenever I use acid toner, about 10 minutes. Keep in mind that I don’t use any acid serums on top of CAIS. To simplify things, if you’re a CAIS newbie, save yourself some confusion and uncertainty. Put the acids on a break when you’re using it. If you’re that dependent on acids, then work out a schedule.
The major downside when I first started using NIOD CAIS was the unexpected dry patches. They showed up in just a few days of use. This is really bad because the combination I went for when using it was with Menard Embellir Liquid which is really hydrating in its own right. So I was surprised when I found out how drying CAIS was. I could actually felt the tightness in my skin. Those flaky bits were just ghastly.
I actually tried NIOD Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex (MMHC) first before diving into CAIS and I was instantly hooked (more on that later). Knowing what it does, I immediately reached out for MMHC to be layered after CAIS. Afterwards, I encounter no problems anymore. However, I always go the extra miles on the hydration department just to amp up the skin’s condition. Even though technically I can use CAIS day and night, in the end, I use it more often at nighttime.
In that mere 15 ml bottle, halfway going through it, I can see something is happening. It’s the kind of improvement that strongly reminded me when I was using Sunday Riley Luna. The difference is subtle. I can’t quite put my finger on it. But it’s there. And IT’S GOOD.
This concentrated treatment departs from the traditional thinking of addressing visible aspects of various signs of skin ageing and instead forms a foundation to make skin look and act younger from its lowest depths upward.
THIS IS SO TRUE. I don’t know how CAIS does it but that is exactly the experience here. I feel CAIS contributes to the health of the skin. Repairs and rejuvenate the skin’s foundation. Strengthened it. By having such “younger” skin, it works a lot more efficient in processing and regenerating. I didn’t see it before until I started to combine CAIS + MMHC with other serums. It all slowly accumulated until one day I finally noticed and wondered what kind of sorcery is this?!
It sounds vague and unclear, I know. But I just feel my skin looks really good and I can’t pinpoint what it is. It just is! I’m utterly gobsmacked. I think by now you’ll understand why I’m having such a hard time reviewing these.
For me, I’d like to opt for nourishing ingredients as I find they show better results in conjunction with CAIS. The combination with Menard Embellir Liquid was a killer one too but the price point was too high for me to sustain. Few of my favorite serums to be used with CAIS (+ MMHC) are In Fiore Complexe de Fleur, Kahina Brightening Serum, Aurelia Revitalize & Glow Serum. To add even more hydration, I love Lancome Energie de Vie The Overnight Recovery Sleeping Mask as the final touch. I prefer comforting serums (or routine for that matter) because I think it makes the skin in a calmed state, making it a better habitat for CAIS to work its magic, so to speak.
Even though CAIS aims for healthier skin, it doesn’t mean that it will get rid of acne. CAIS chores itself with the building blocks but it can’t solve everything. It still needs support from other products. What I do notice is that once a period of acne or inflammation is gone, using CAIS will greatly help diminish the PIH and aids the healing process faster. But, that’s just my observation. Again, a solid and balanced skincare routine is still needed for this to work, on top of healthier lifestyle.
For my second bottle, I also get it in 15 ml size because I’d love to cherish and enjoy its greatness. It’s a special, once-in-a-while treatment and I don’t want to overdose on it, if you know what I mean. Plus, 30 ml can take a commitment to finish and it might be a problem if I ran out of MMHC 😆
NIOD MMHC (just like the name, Multi-Molecular) contains broad spectrum hyaluronic compound (12 different ones!) ranging from low, mid and high molecular weight. Hyaluronic Acid (HA) as we know, can hold as much as 1,000 times its weight in water and it is a crucial element in the skin in order to prevent moisture loss. Our own bodies produce it naturally but it decreases as we age. That’s why having it in our skincare products is key.
One of the main things I dislike about other HA serums out there is how thick they often feel and sometimes sticky. Then after some read-about, most products used high molecular weight HA which usually just sit on the surface instead of penetrating into the skin. So, that feeling of silkiness/protection is almost like a placebo effect to me. They’re still somewhat doing their job in keeping the moisture inside but didn’t do much underneath for long term, so to speak.
The smaller molecules of HA in NIOD MMHC will penetrate deeper into the skin. The other larger molecular sizes will serve the skin on the other layers. Basically, MMHC is serving HA (and other goodness) on the different layers of the skin.
MMHC has a more concrete effect on my skin. A little goes a long way. 2-3 small drops are more than enough to cover the face. The texture itself is light and sinks into the skin rather easily. In the beginning, I wonder if it just disappears and does nothing. But lo and behold, within less than 2 weeks of use, I can see a difference! I notice my routine seem to give me heightened results, more so than usual.
NIOD mentioned that MMHC helps the delivery of other skincare and I couldn’t have agreed more. It’s like transforming the skin into a wet sponge, making the rest of the skincare products I applied absorb even better and stay put longer. Not just the hydration and moisture, but the actives and extracts in other products will also get attached to the low molecular HA. In return, they will nourish the skin on a deeper level too. It makes sense why incorporating MMHC into the regime can amplify the results altogether, including CAIS.
The not-so-secret formula for me is NIOD CAIS + MMHC, a must go hand-in-hand combination. I find they’re just the best match for each other, absolutely. CAIS for the skin’s healthy foundation, MMHC as the complementary “glue” and booster.
Frankly, I don’t think I would’ve liked CAIS as much as I do if it wasn’t for MMHC. I’d personally recommend trying out MMHC first before going into CAIS. I can freely use MMHC with just about anything. It’s a beautiful serum to have all year around and it’s a perfect one to have if you’re into serum layering or simply looking to increase the skin’s hydration while boosting the outcome.
By the time I write this, NIOD has launched CAIS2 and MMHC2. It sounds like a complete waste writing it but this first and foremost is still my personal note on trying on the products. I hope that it might help anyone who still have access to the original formulas and unsure about them. And of course, the journey itself is what leads to CAIS2 and MMHC2.
Honestly, after using and benefiting from it, I would love to try CAIS2. Now, getting my hands on it, that’s a completely different matter. I have MMHC2 on my hand and will be opening it soon if things go as planned. Who knows, by the time I decide to make a review, MMHC3 could be launched already.
To put it shortly, I can’t keep up with them and I just want to enjoy the products at my own leisure! 😂