We pick the best, most powerful anti-ageing serums to fight lines, dryness, pigmentation and more
Who doesn’t want fresher, younger skin? If, like the rest of us you want to fight back against lines, dull or pigmented skin, then you need a serum in your skincare regime. Never used one before? Yes, it’s an extra step, but a 10-second one at the very most, and the benefits will far outweigh such a negligible stitch in time. So why are serums such an essential beauty must-have?
The difference between your usual moisturising cream and an anti-ageing serum is vast: serums are more concentrated and generally have smaller molecules, meaning not only are the ingredients super potent, they are far more easily and deeply absorbed by your skin. This makes them ideal for targeting specific problems, be it wrinkles, pigmentation, dry patches and uneven skintone. This also means that a little goes a long way! So although some of the products below aren’t cheap, a couple of tiny blobs massaged in before bed will get you well on the way to better skin. It’s important to use a moisturiser too, which will nourish your skin, make it feel comfortable and create a barrier of protection – just think of serums as your targeted treatment.
But now that you know the importance of a good serum, how do you pick the right one for you? Skincare technology is always advancing, and, with it ever more exciting results can be found. Read on to discover the most groundbreaking new formulas, as well as discover the smart serum that customises its ingredients to your skin’s needs and the £40 super collagen-booster.
Click through to discover the serums that have everyone talking…
You probably already know No7's hero serums. Whether you remember that 2007 frenzy after a BBC Horizon documentary proved Protect & Perfect's wrinkle-busting powers, or last year's Intense Advanced formula, the brand's latest launch may have you crowding the aisles of Boots once again.
Remember Botanics? Boots has recently relaunched its nature-inspired range to include some very impressive organic offerings - very 2017 - and this beautiful treatment is my favourite.
Made with a combination of natural oils including sweet almond and every Beauty Editor's favourite, rosehip, it's packed with omega fatty acids (excellent for plumping and nourishing dry skin) has a silky texture that absorbs quickly enough to use day and night, and comes housed in a very chic little glass pipette that you'd be proud to display in your bathroom.
Even better, it costs less then £12, making it a total bargain whether you're a fan of organic beauty or, like me, just a fan of great skincare.
You might already have heard of Beauty Pie, the game-changing beauty club by genius Marcia Kilgore (of Bliss and Soap & Glory entrepreneurial fame) Members pay a monthly fee and in return can buy excellent cosmetics, made in the same European factories as every luxury brand you can think of, but at ridiculously low cost prices. So, for example a lipstick is £20 to non-members, but only £2.24 if you join. It started with make up, which went so well we now get nine skincare products too, including this serum.
The white lotion feels fairly thick when pumped out, then melts away into skin making it feel immediately comfortable and hydrated. Long-term, the technology is unfaultable, with antioxidant peptides to protect from environmental damage, hyaluronic acid to hydrate and brightening plant extracts. We hear this range shares a Swiss skincare lab with a very chi-chi brand, you certainly won't find a better serum for under £10, or, you could argue, under the £85 non-members price either.
Very clever, these little capsules; if you're a fan of the originals you'll know how amazingly silky and skin-quenching the serum inside is, and now they've been supercharged. Contained within is a triple-powered ceramide complex (the building blocks of healthy, youthful skin) smoothing omega-rick tsubaki oil and firming retinyl palmate too. The cute capsules mean every ingredient is perfectly preserved at it's most potent and are very handy for travel or to give your skin a boost whenever your ready.
Rich in skin-smoothing Vitamin C (in the right amount too, any less than 20% is ineffective) plus hydrating Hyaluronic Acid and brightening L-Ascorbic Acid, Deciem Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% can reverse multiple signs of ageing - giving more expensive brands a run for their money.
Better still, a little goes a long way. Apply at bedtime for optimum results.
If you don't already have a Retinol product in your regime, get involved, stat! This vitamin A derivative is the gold standard of anti-ageing ingredients, and is proven to work on skin tone, texture and reverse the signs of sun damage (that's lines, pigmentation and more) Be mindful that Retinol is so potent it can cause irritation in sudden doses, so build up slowly, alternating a retinol product with your regular serum every second night until your skin becomes accustomed (this usually takes a few weeks).
Initially, Retinol was only found in seriously expensive skincare, but as always with ingredients, that technology has now filtered down to the affordable end of the market, including this serum from the reliably-excellent Superfacialist brand. It also contains hyaluronic acid, and antioxidant-packed naturals like apricot and white tea extract so skin is soothed and protected as well as seriously worked-on.
If dull skin tone or visible are pores your biggest skin bugbears, this will be right up your street.
The texture is fairly watery and sinks in fast, but don't be fooled - there's a lot going on in that light liquid. It's got lightly-exfoliating AHAs to smooth off dullness-causing dead skin, rich seed oils to give skin a happy, plumped glow plus an instant radiance fix in the form of tiny, light-diffusing particles that perk up tone and have a glowy blurring effect when smoothed on under make up (not sparkly, mind, just fresh and lit-from-within)
Firstly, the smell: Beautiful, natural essential oils, soothing but not overpowering, as you'd expect from Aromatherapy Associates. Next, the texture: Silky, slinky and a bit looser than you might expect, but that's a good thing, giving you plenty of 'slip' to work the product into your face before it disappears. Finally; the results. Calming and comforting, especially on sensitive skin that gets all tight and unhappy in the winter months. Beautiful stuff, for the skin and the soul.
Using Clinique's unique precision repair technology, Smart Custom Serum works hard to repair the signs of sun damage, reducing dark spots and even preventing the effects of ageing that you can't even see yet. This clever product draws on the specific ingredients your skin needs, holding back on the ones you don't until your skin's needs change again. Pretty impressive, no?
Did you know stress can cause ageing? The unique peptides in the Skyn Iceland Arctic Elixir can repair damaged cells, reducing wrinkles by up to 50% and wiping out the signs of a stressful lifestyle. Another key ingredient is raspberry extract, full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory goodness that will soothe stressed-out skin, eradicating inflammation and redness.
This night serum by Estée Lauder is a classic with good reason - it just works. Developed to encourage renewal of skin cells as you sleep (when regeneration is at it's highest) It also contains protective antioxidants that help to repair the damage caused to your skin by smoke and environmental pollutants. The thin orangy liquid looks like it might feel a little sticky, but a second of tackiness is all you'll experience, after which the serum sits nicely under cream or oil.
It may be more decades that you would care to admit since your teenage years, but if breakouts aren't a thing of the past, you are not alone. Ren's Clearcalm Replenishing Gel Cream contains liquorice extract to control sebum production, and an essential oil complex designed to calm flare-ups overnight without stripping the face of essential oils.
It's not every day (or month) that SkinCeuticals launch a new product, so when they do the beauty world takes notice.
The latest innovation is this slick, silky serum, and it's all about hydration. As well as containing 1.3% Hyaluronic Acid - skin and line plumper extraordinaire - it's got Proxylane, which supports skin's own natural HA function, and Licorice Root extract. Like all SkinCeuticals products, there's no unnecessary guff; no dyes or artificial fragrance. It smells neither lovely nor unpleasant, has a fairly viscose texture and slips into skin in an instant, so sits well with whatever else you want to layer it with. Expect lines to look shallower and skin to look jucier.
Buy Skinceuticals HA Intensifier, £88, from Zestbeauty.com
Let's get this out the way: Yes, It's over £200. Clearly MZ Skin Lift & Lustre Golden Antioxidant Serum is for a particular genre of customer, but if you live and die by skincare and love a serious brand from a doc who knows her stuff, step this way...
A skin super-softener that the W&H team has fallen for is Bobbi Brown's Extra Repair Serum. Perfect for dehydrated skin, this is like a comfort blanket for tight, dry complexion. Ingredients include meadow foam seed oil to soften and Vitamin C to reduce fine lines.