With the change of the cooler weather, – well at least in the mornings and evenings anyway – I’ve suddenly been forced to get back into that whole skincare she-bang. Why? I was spoiled this summer, not having to put much effort into my skincare routine because my skin was much more hydrated and less irritated than the rest of the year without putting a single product. To be completely fair, the fact that I wasn’t trying new products might have been a contributor. Regardless, the moment that the weather started to cool down, I’ve gotten back into the swing of things. As soon as the weather changed, I’ve been reaching for these serum kinds of products to add beneficial ingredients and hydration to my dehydrated and irritated skin. As I’ve thought about them, I’ve realized how confusing they are to navigate as a skincare consumer and figured that I would write a chatty post about them.
I would personally define a serum in a two-fold manner – first they are distinguished by their light fluid texture and second, they are designed to treat a specific skincare concern in a targeted way. While the basic products of your skincare routine are typically selected on the basis of your skin type, serums are a welcome addition to treat your specific concerns. It’s also said that serums are the products with the highest concentration of beneficial ingredients. I do agree to a certain extent that because they are leave on products formulated without thickeners and SPF that they can have higher concentrations of these ingredients – but this is definitely not always true. Thinking on my definition of serums, I’ve come to the conclusion that whether or not a product is sold as an exfoliant, serum, treatment or liquid is dependent on the marketing, not on the virtues of the product itself. Here’s a rundown of serum-like products that I like, beginning with those that are traditional serums:
Paula’s Choice CALM Redness Relief Repairing Serum ($34 US/ ounce) is a fabulously formulated basic serum that almost anyone would benefit from. It’s plumping, soothing and hydrating in a weightless manner, formulated in a lightweight gel base. It contains loads of hyaluronic acid – it’s the second ingredient – along with skin repairing ingredients like ceramides, beta-glucan and sea whip extracts. Also, it contains skin -repairing antioxidants.
Laneige Bright Renew Original Serum ($59/1.3 ounces) is a serum that specifically targets brightening of the skin and actually achieves the intended goal without irritating the skin with needless alcohol or breaking the bank. It contains a myriad of plant extracts with research showing to brighten skin tone and serve as anti-irritants but the real star of the show, is the high concentrations of squalene (an emollient ingredient with antioxidant qualities) and niacinamide (a proven cell-signalling, repairing and brightening ingredient) that it contains. This is a nice one if you’re concerned with an even complexion and hyper pigmentation. The only drawback is their inclusion of a hefty amount of fragrance in the formula.
While Paula’s Choice RESIST C15 Super Booster ($48 US/0.67 ounces) is not technically a serum but instead a concentrate that can be mixed with another serum or product to dilute it, or used on its own, I think it’s the kind of product that most of us are looking for in a serum. It treats even the first sign of aging – sun damage – along with dulness, uneven tone and irritation. I think this product is for almost anyone, especially because the 15% vitamin c product can be applied in the daytime to counteract free radical damage from the sun that causes irritation and signs of aging. The formula nicely contains a mix of antioxidants.
I wouldn’t necessarily call the Pixi by Petra Skintreats Overnight Glow Serum ($24 US/ounce) a serum, except for the marketing, serum-texture and inclusion of beneficial ingredients. With a nice dose of glycolic acid (its the third ingredient), this is a hydrating fluid textured chemical exfoliant. However, the inclusion of antioxidants like arginine and skin soothers like cucumber extract and aloe, leaves this product as a winner of a multitasker. The Paula’s Choice RESIST Daily Smoothing Treatment ($33 US/ 1.7 ounces) is very much a product of the same vein, only differing in how its marketed – as a chemical exfoliant with treatment benefits. It’s a serum to the same degree as the aforementioned one. It’s a 5% glycolic acid and 0.5% salicylic acid product housed in a hydrating lotion base, enriched with ceramides, a myriad of antioxidants and skin calming ingredients. These are both nice options if you have your eye on a multittasker or do-it-all kind of product.
The Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Enriched Calming Toner ($21 US/6.4 ounces) is somewhat of a far stretch to classify as a toner, but it provides lots of the same benefits of a nice all-around serum. It treats dry and sensitive skin and has that liquid milky base that almost seems more liquid serum like than that of a toner, and it houses high concentrations of beneficial ingredients because they are not diluted by thickeners and emollients. It does not have the intensive treatment benefits of some serums, however, it serves the purpose of a nice all-around option. It has a nice dose of different antioxidant rich plant oils, hyaluronic acid and a myriad of other antioxidants and skin soothing ingredients. In my mind, this makes it serve the function of a soothing serum. Perhaps, though, it fits more into the hybrid category of essence…
Any serum thoughts or favourites to share?