Honestly, I've been dreading writing this post. Mainly because it's probably one of the most complicated topics to explain, no doubt due to simply the vast variety you have when it comes to serums. So I will carry on and tread lightly...
So what are serums?
Serums are the superheroes in skincare. They're the ones that really throw in a punch. Or to put it in skincare terms, this is where all your active ingredients live. Because of this fact, it deems serums to be the one kind of product where you really do need to splash on and bite the bullet at the cash register. But I promise you, you will see results with them. Not necessarily overnight (though some of those do exist), but definitely over time. For every other kind of product in your routine, you can find a cheap alternative (e.g. cleansers, moisturizers) because they do easy, straightforward jobs, like clean and moisturize, which usually involve inexpensive ingredients that are easy to formulate and manufacture. Serums tend to involve a lot of research and testing, such as clinical studies.
Sadly, cheap serums are therefore hard to come by, but the powerful ingredients in them really do make them worth it. Now without further ado, let's get into the different kinds of serums.
1) Antioxidant/Vitamin C Serums
These ones are multi-purpose. Their functions are:
brightening - so fading acne scars and sun damage
anti-aging - vitamin c increases the production of collagen (= firmer skin) and cell turnover.
boosts your skin's defence against UV damage, as well as pollution
glow - will get rid of the appearance of dull skin
Needless to say, a good all-rounder! However, this serum is mainly used for fading acne scars and hyper pigmentation. Its anti-aging strength isn't the strongest one out there.
2) Anti-Aging/ Preventative Serums -& usually also known as night time serums
These ones work by repairing your skin and preventing aging. They usually contain vitamin A (the ultimate anti-aging ingredient), and are recommended to be used only at night because of this, since it makes your skin photosensitive aka more sensitive to the sun/light. So if you are using this kind of serum, be sure to wear sunscreen during the day if you aren't already (naughty!). A lot of these serums also contain antioxidants, sometimes Niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3 that is anti-aging, brightening, redness reducing, acne healing), and occasionally peptides (another famous anti-aging ingredient).
lighten hyper pigmentation and/or marks left from spots & even-out skin tone
3) Hydrating Serums
I think this one is pretty self-explanatory... if you have dry skin or (yes there's a difference) dehydrated skin, which 99% of us have, then add yourself a boost of moisture with a hydrating serum. They really do make a difference!
- spend less on your other skincare products (e.g. cleanser, moisturizer). There are many good, cheap alternatives.
- if available, buy mini's. Not all brands do them, but quite a few in Sephora do mini starter kits, such as Ole Henriksen.
- try out serums by korean brands, they are years ahead of western companies in terms of science and usually half the price due to fierce competition and vast amount of brands. A good brand to start off with is Missha.
- take note of how much you're actually getting from the product, as in the quantity, e.g. 15ml, 30ml, 50ml, 75ml etc. Sometimes it may seem expensive but then when you compare how much more you're getting with that price compared to other serums/brands, it may turn out to be cheaper.
Example: the Missha Time Revolution serum (a known dupe for the Estee Lauder serum) is $50/50ml, whereas Estee Lauder's is $62/30ml. So Missha's is $1 per ml, and EL's is roughly $2 per ml. So with Missha, you're getting more for your money.
*takes deep calming breath*...finally on to some recommendations! (all recommendations are linked)
Side note: this serum is very effective, but could be drying to some due to it's alcohol content (which is used in some formulations to allow the serum to be absorbed better and faster). If so, use every other day rather than daily, or use a hydrating serum afterwards.
Estée Lauder's Advanced Night Repair ($62/30ml)
Next time on the Skincare Guide: Ingredients to Avoid