Why Philosophy Hope In A Jar Leaves You Hoping For More

by Gio
philosophy hope in a jar original formula review

Sorry, Philosophy. If you want me to part with my hard-earned money, you’ll have to do better that sell me a jar of hope. What are you, a quack?

I want results, not hopes.

And Philosophy Hope in A Jar moisturiser doesn’t give me much of either. Here’s why I’m not a fan:

What’s In Philosophy Hope In A Jar?


Philosophy makes a big fuss about using lactic acid, a gentle exfoliant that dissolves the “glue” that holds skin cells together so they can slough off and reveal the brighter and smoother skin underneath.

Too bad Hope In A Jar doesn’t contain a drop of it. WTH?! Is Philosophy lying here?

I wouldn’t call it lying. It’s more like twisting the truth (you know how much marketers love doing that…).

Philosophy Hope In A Jar uses lauryl lactate, an ester form of lactic acid. Unfortunately for your skin (and wallet), lauryl lactate can’t exfoliate skin. It CAN’T even be converted into lactic acid.

So what does it do here (apart from tricking you into believing this moisturiser can exfoliate skin?). It makes the cream spread more easily on the skin and keeps the oily and watery part of the formula from separating.

That’s useful and all but… kind of a disappointment, isn’t it?

Related: Lactic Acid VS Glycolic Acid: Which One Should You Choose?


Glycerin is a humectant… Huh?

Let me start again. Glycerin is a moisture magnet that attracts water from the air into the skin, helping to keep it hydrated. Plus, it can strengthen the skin’s barrier, keeping it soft and healthy.

The catch? When there’s not much moisture in the air, glycerin will steal it from the deeper layers of your skin, drying it out. Talk about backfiring…

But, don’t be scared. In most climates, glycerin – and Philosophy Hope In A Jar – works just fine.

Related: Why The Heck Is Glycerin In My Skincare Products?


The most impressive ingredient in Philosophy Hope In A Jar is retinyl palmitate, a form of Vitamin A (you know, the only thing proven to really reduce wrinkles).

But, this isn’t saying much because retinyl palmitate is the gentlest (read: less effective) form of Vitamin A. If with retinol it takes at least a couple of months to see results, with this it’ll take you way, way longer.

You see, before it can work its magic on wrinkles, retinyl palmitate must be converted first into retinol, then into retinaldehyde, and finally into retinoic acid. Too much work for your skin.

The worst part? Retinoids lose their effectiveness sooner when exposed to light and air. Putting the gentlest of them into a jar wasn’t a smart idea…

FYI, retinyl palmitate isn’t all bad. If your skin’s very sensitive, this may be the only form of Vitamin A it can tolerate.

Related: Why I Recommend Retinyl Palmitate To Sensitive Skin Only


Thin, but greasy. Takes a while to absorb, too.


Earthy. A little lemony. Strong. Personally, I don’t like it.

How To Use It

In the morning, apply it before sunscreen. At night, it’s the last step of your skincare routine.

Need help creating the best skincare routine for you dry skin? Sign up to the newsletter below to receive the β€œDry Skincare Routine Cheatsheet” (it includes product recommendations, too!).

Performance & Personal Opinion

Philosophy Hope In A Jar has a weird texture. It’s lightweight, but sits on the top of the skin, making it feels greasy all day.

Oily skin won’t like the texture. Dry skin may find it lacking in the moisturising department. It makes skin softer and smoother indeed, but the drier your skin is, the more often you’ll have to apply it.

FYI, moisturising skin is all the cream does. It has no antiaging or exfoliating properties whatsoever. Mind you, if it did, the jar packaging would compromise them (antiaging ingredients degrade faster when exposed to light and air).

One more thing: if you have sensitive skin, stay away. The strong fragrance may irritate your skin.

philosophy hope in a jar review

Who Is This For?

Normal skin that needs only a basic moisturiser.

Who Is This Not For?

  • Oily skin
  • Acne-prone skin
  • Combination skin
  • Dry skin
  • Anyone interested in antiaging


Philosophy Hope In A Jar comes in a big white jar with a black lid. It’s not the most hygienic, but it looks sleek.

Does Philosophy Hope In A Jar Lives Up To Its Claims?

Hope in a jar antioxidant face moisturizer dramatically improves skin radiance and gently exfoliates, revealing smoother, healthier looking skin and texture.It’s low on antioxidants and doesn’t exfoliate skin.
Clinical results: 
3 days: 98% had smoother skin*
2 weeks: 81% had more radiant skin*
4 weeks: 98% showed diminished fine lines*
Anything that moisturises skin can give you these results. So yeah, the claim is true but the cream ain’t nothing special.

Price & Availability

$39.00 at Nordstrom and Sephora

Do You Need It?

Not really. There are better moisturisers out there.

Dupes & Alternatives

Have you tried Philosophy Hope In A Jar? Share your experience in the comments below.


water/aqua/eau, lauryl lactate, behenic acid, behenoxy dimethicone, glycerin, glyceryl stearate se, behenyl alcohol, pentaerythrityl tetracaprylate/tetracaprate, cyclopentasiloxane, tocopheryl acetate, benzyl alcohol, cyclohexasiloxane, retinyl palmitate, arginine, stearic acid, panthenol, beta-glucan, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) oil, xanthan gum, triethanolamine, propylene glycol, geraniol, limonene, linalool, methylparaben, propylparaben, diazolidinyl urea.



Laurie September 5, 2014 - 1:38 pm

I haven’t tried it, but I have a couple of girlfriends who consider it their HG. How is it that people end up swearing by products that, scientifically speaking, don’t work? Is it a way to convince ourselves that we’ve spent our money wisely? I ask because I’ve also had good experiences with products whose formulas turned out to be quite average! It’s a funny thing.

Gio September 6, 2014 - 11:14 am

Laurie, I wouldn’t say they don’t work, just that they don’t do much. Pretty much every moisturizer on the market, unless very badly formulated, moisturizes skin. And when skin is moisturized, it feels softer and looks plumper. Ingredients like silicones can also temporarily fill in fine lines and wrinkles, making them look smaller. So, when you look at your face in the mirror after applying moisturizer, you’ll see an improvement which will make you believe the cream works. And, in a way, it does.

But it’s just a quick fix. When the cream is removed, your skin will go back to how it looked before. To keep it healthy, firmer, and brighter, you need to use antioxidants, retinoids, AHAs, etc. A moisturizer without any of these should be used only by teenagers with great skin and it certainly isn’t worth so much money!

And I suppose in some cases, people do convince themselves they work not to admit they’ve wasted money. πŸ™‚

Laurie September 6, 2014 - 12:29 pm

Good insight on this, Gio — thanks.

Gio September 6, 2014 - 7:29 pm

You’re welcome. πŸ™‚

Chic Readings September 5, 2014 - 4:46 pm

This is good to know:) I’ve never tried this one and obviously I wont πŸ™‚

Gio September 6, 2014 - 11:16 am

Helena, better save the money and using for something that works better. πŸ™‚

Natalye September 5, 2014 - 8:31 pm

I’ve tried and it doesn’t seem to do much

Gio September 6, 2014 - 11:17 am

Natalye, it’s disappointing, isn’t it?

Janessa September 6, 2014 - 5:55 am

I’ve tried this and it feels like I’m applying water. It really is basic as basic gets. I bought a jar a year or two later for my sister and she asked for another moisturizer, saying how her skin felt dry after applying it. Hope [you didn’t just pay for water] In A Jar.

Hands down a product I would not use even if given to me for free. I tried this over five years ago so if they reformulated it then, whoops. Not going to give it another try.

Gio September 6, 2014 - 11:21 am

Janessa, I’m sorry it didn’t work well for you and your sister. All it can do is moisturize skin, and if it doesn’t even that well… Does your sister have dry skin? Cos I think this formula works best for normal to combination.

Janessa September 6, 2014 - 7:10 pm

Yep, we both have dry skin.

Gio September 6, 2014 - 7:42 pm

Janessa, then this wouldn’t be moisturizing enough for you. They make another version for dry skin, but that’s average too so I wouldn’t really recommend it.

By the way, thank you for filling in the survey. I loved reading your comments. They gave me a lot to think about. πŸ™‚

Janessa September 7, 2014 - 10:49 am

You’re welcome!

Richa Saxena September 8, 2014 - 6:02 pm

I have heard a lot about philosophy products nd this looks really good! WOuld love to try it nd lovely Review Babe πŸ™‚

Gio September 8, 2014 - 8:13 pm

Richa, glad you enjoyed it. I think there are better products around, but if you’re looking for a basic moisturizer and don’t mind the price tag, you may like it. πŸ™‚

Vanessa January 31, 2019 - 1:57 am

Hi Gio,
I love your articles and you have saved me so much money, I actually saw a kit with this in it at Winners recently and passed thanks to your article!!! Please do a review of the new Lancome Absolue, I would love to know if it is worth the ridiculous price tag!!! Thanks for all your research and providing us all with all of your valuable knowledge, I really appreciate it!!!

Gio February 7, 2019 - 5:29 pm

Vanessa, so glad to hear that! πŸ™‚ The new Lancome Absolute range is alright. It’s moisturising indeed but there’s nothing in there to justify the price tag. I mean, it does nothing that a drugstore moisturiser can’t do.


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