Serums

On Instagram we asked what product you would like us to review next. The overwhelming response was serums. And in flew the requests to review lotions and potions we had never heard of, with one thing in common: a hefty price tag! But what are serums and why are they worth looking into? Face serums are concentrated, lightweight moisturisers that penetrate deep to deliver active ingredients into your skin, promising a fresher, younger and healthier appearance. What’s not in them (like thickening agents, petrolatum or mineral oil) is mainly what makes them different from a regular moisturiser, and they’re concentrated so they usually cost more – you really don’t want to get your next purchase wrong. We’ve learnt that every formulation is different and can be used in conjunction with, or instead of, your moisturiser, depending on your skin type. Here are the four that made Laura’s cut.

By  Laura

When I was deciding which skincare to invest in, I opted for vitamin C and retinoids and left serums out, purely because I couldn’t justify the price tag of something I didn’t quite understand. Yet having had the chance to test a dozen formulations, I now realise what all the fuss is about – they are a luxurious, yet effective booster to your skincare routine. The first one I loved was by Decorté, a Japanese brand newly launched in the UK that uses onsen water as one of the core ingredients in all its Vi-Fusion line products. Onsen water comes from geothermal volcanic waters, and infuses skin with magnesium, potassium, sodium and other vital elements in micro-sizes that won’t stress the skin or cause inflammation. The consistency is fluid and watery, which really agreed with my combination/oily skin and delivered an instant glow that stayed with me all day (the girls in the office really noticed it too!). I use it in the morning after applying vitamin C and before applying SPF; you pat it on dry skin and a little goes a very long way. 

 

Most of the requests we received on Instagram were to review very expensive formulations, which I guess makes sense as you wouldn’t want to buy something so pricey that is ultimately ineffective. So I was overjoyed when, after trying it and loving it, I discovered the competitive price of Pestle & Mortar’s Pure Hyaluronic Serum. This formulation is 100% free of animal-derived raw materials and organic solvent remnants, as well as being paraben-free, fragrance-free and not tested on animals. It comes in a liquid, gel-like consistency which soaks into your skin in a matter of seconds, leaving it velvety soft. It contains hyaluronic acid which is proven to hydrate and soothe even the most sensitive skin while also smoothing fine lines and restoring youthful elasticity. It is lightweight, perfect for applying in the morning before your make-up. I tested it on the back of my hand and immediately noticed how much tighter and smoother my skin looked compared to the other hand. I’ve given it three stars purely because it doesn’t contain as many active ingredients as most of the serums I’ve reviewed for this feature, but I think it’s a great, skin-plumping serum at an affordable price.

Another one of your specialised requests, Vintner’s Daughter is the range of winery owner April Gargiulo, who became increasingly concerned with the high levels of ineffective and potentially toxic ‘fillers’ she found in her products, prompting her to investigate non-harmful alternatives. Her Active Botanical Serum is a powerful infusion of 22 active organic and wild-crafted botanicals. The list of ingredients on the box goes on and on, including everything from anti-inflammatory phytonutrients and skin-firming phytoceramides, to nourishing fatty acids and antioxidants, targeting the primary signs of skin ageing. Most of the serums I have tried are watery, fluid consistencies that lend themselves to day wear and being used as a make-up primer, whereas this is an oil-based formulation that in my opinion works best at night as a potent, soothing face oil. It comes with instructions on how to apply with a pressing method that will further activate the serum and enhance results, and to me felt perfect for a pampering evening routine. Three stars for that.

Laura Beauty Focus

New to the British market, Elixseri boasts a range of naturally formulated serums, promising effects from firming to de-stressing. I went for Rescue Diver, a hydration serum that is meant to instantly moisturise and plump skin. You only need a small pump to cover your whole face and it has a fairly watery consistency, so is quickly absorbed into your skin. I used it after my vitamin C and before my SPF in the morning, and again in the evening before my night creams. I noticed a subtle difference at first, but over a few weeks not only was my skin obviously more hydrated, it also felt tighter and my pores looked smaller. The formulation uses soluble marine collagen, which is 99% closer to ours than artificial collagen so it’s easier to absorb, and sea whip extract, which has anti-inflammatory properties. This is a great in-between product if you don’t want to go super-high-end, but are willing to spend a bit more on a serum. It gives good results and due to its natural ingredients it should be compatible with even the most sensitive of skins. Also, a little goes a long way, so the relatively small bottle will last a long time, even if you use it in the morning and evening.

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