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Beauty

Radiant Skin Series: Step 3, Serums

Details:
SkinCeuticals C E FerulicTata Harper Rejuvenating SerumSkinCeuticals Metacell Renewal B3Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night SerumRodan + Fields Active Hydration SerumKate Somerville Quench Oil Free Hydration Serum / Kate Somerville Deep Tissue Repair

Now that your skin is cleansed (step 1) and toned (step 2), it is ready to absorb every bit of goodness you can throw at it. You have entered the serum phase of your skincare regimen. As you probably know, there are countless serums available for just about any skin concern out there. And as great as that is, it can be a little overwhelming when you have so many options that promise you the world. I get it. Some days, I still stare into my abyss of serums for what feels like hours trying to decide which products to layer. But if you know what to look for, it really isn’t that complicated. So today, I am talking about serum basics and giving you a list of my personal favorites.

As a true skincare junkie, choosing my favorite serums was basically like asking a parent to pick their favorite child in front of their children. However, I finally narrowed it down to 7 products. My picks address dullness (so you don’t look grey and dead), hydration, signs of aging (think face lines, which is just a nicer way to think of wrinkles) and hyperpigmentation.

Application

I like to layer multiple serums. I usually limit myself to 2 but occasionally go wild and layer 3. (Woo!) However, there is a method to my madness. For layer 1, I always use an antioxidant serum in the morning and either an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) serum or prescription-strength retinol at night. Then, depending on my skin’s needs du jour, I layer an additional serum on top followed by a moisturizer (and eye creme, face oil and sunscreen).

When layering, a good rule of thumb is to look at the texture and apply them thinnest to thickest. So, watery serums that come in a dropper go first, gels go next and thicker, moisturizer-y serums are last. (This topic warrants its own post, but this will suffice for now.) Also, to achieve maximum results, make sure each serum is fully absorbed before layering the next product.

Apply your serums to the face, neck, chest and backs of your hands. I recently read an article on Into The Gloss where an expert succinctly identified the skincare zone as the area between your nipples and forehead. There is no way to improve upon that explanation, so I won’t even try.

Sun Protection

Finally, don’t forget to use a high SPF sunscreen at the end of your morning routine. Serums are highly concentrated products and tend to contain ingredients that make you extra-sensitive to the sun. Even if you take skin cancer out of the equation (which you shouldn’t) and look at it from a purely superficial perspective, if you use serums without sunscreen, your are effectively accelerating the aging process because of the extra damage the sun can cause to your skin. So apply a high SPF sunscreen in the morning and then use a spritz sunscreen every two hours. (I like this one because you can spray it over your makeup. It is basically a setting mist with SPF built-in. No more excuses!)

My Picks

Onto the good stuff! Here are my top picks at the moment.

Skinceuticals C E Ferulic. I start every single day with this product, which is saying a lot since I like to mix things up. I apply it when my skin is still a teensy bit damp from a  hydrating toner, which helps the product spread more easily. Simply apply a few drops to your palms and press it all over your face, neck, chest and hands. It gets a little sticky as it dries and smells kind of like a hotdog cart but you will be rewarded for this sacrifice. (Plus, the tacky feeling and smell quickly dissipate.)

This glorious product has an incredible 15% L-ascorbic acid (pure vitamin C) plus vitamin E, and is the gold standard in antioxidant serums. It 1) neutralizes skin-damaging free radicals that accelerate the signs of aging, 2) prevents and corrects the appearance of wrinkles, and 3) brightens skin. (Just remember to apply sunscreen anywhere you use this product since it seriously increases your sensitivity to the sun.)

I could write pages on C E Ferulic but will spare you since it has been written up by just about every beauty editor out there.  If you are in the 30+ set,  you should seriously consider incorporating this product into your regimen. Try it once and you’ll never look back. (holy grail status)

PS: If you are new to the world of antioxidant/vit c  serums, have sensitive skin or are under the age of 30, check out SkinCeutical’s Serum 10 AOX Plus. It is offered at a much lower price point and contains 10% L-ascorbic acid instead of C E Ferulic’s 15%, which is gentler for newbs but still super effective.

Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum. If you have read my other skincare posts, you know how much I love this brand. Everything from Tata Harper is 100% natural and actually works (and works well). This serum is no exception. It combats the appearance of wrinkles, eliminates dullness and leaves your skin incredibly soft, plump and youthful. I would literally die without it. It smells clean – almost like freshly mowed grass or something – which is completely addictive. It has the texture of a super lightweight moisturizer and feels utterly luxurious on your skin.

I use this serum after C E Ferulic in the morning and/or after using an AHA serum or prescription-strength retinol in the evening. I use it on its own too when I am taking a break from the exfoliating serums. With regular use, it transforms your skin and ups your glow game A LOT. (My guy actually told me how “glowy” and “smooth” my skin looks – completely unprompted! The fact that he even noticed my skin says it all.) I simply love everything about this product. Like Mary Poppins, it is practically perfect in every way. (holy grail status)

SkinCeuticals Metacell Renewal B3. This is another phenomenal product from SkinCeuticals. I love this brand because they have the research to back up their claims. There is no hocus-pocus here. It’s science. I use this product pretty regularly, in the am, pm, or both. It has the highest concentration of niacinamide (B3) on the market (5%), which strengthens and repairs the skin’s moisture barrier, corrects blotchiness/hyperpigmentation and helps correct early signs of aging. It also has a s*** ton of glycerin so it is ridiculously hydrating without being greasy at all. The texture is divine too, transforming from a silky emulsion to a smooth serum upon contact with your skin. This is another no brainer in my book.

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum. I tried this based on a friend’s recommendation and am so happy I did. This serum goes on as a gel and takes about 15 minutes to fully absorb into the skin. It can be a little tacky as it dries, but the stickiness goes away once it is fully absorbed. It is super effective thanks to a highly concentrated blend (12%) of AHAs  (glycolic and lactic acids). There is also some salicylic acid in there for good measure. It literally tackles every skincare issue you can think of – aging, hyperpigmentation, dullness, pore size, acne, etc. The list goes on. If you want to test it out before committing to the full-sized version, there is an inexpensive travel-sized kit at Sephora (it also includes their Virgin Marula Face Oil, which is also great) that will last for at least 2 weeks.

This serum has given me brighter, smoother and more even skin. (It has even eclipsed my beloved Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment. I still love the stuff, but don’t use it as often now that I discovered the Drunk Elephant serum.) Plus, it doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin at all. In fact, it has reduced redness and blotchiness faster and more effectively than any other serum I have tried. What more can I say? This product is freaking phenomenal. (holy grail status)

Rodan + Fields Active Hydration Serum. I love this lightweight, liquid serum. It comes in a nifty dispenser with a dropper that releases the perfect amount with the push of a button. Packaging aside, this serum seriously ups the hydration game thanks to a whopping 3o% glycerin and hyaluronic acid. With consistent use, it plumps up fine lines and basically makes your skin look younger. Everyone needs a hydrating serum in their rotation, and this one takes the cake. Trust me, I have had to kiss a lot of frogs to find this gem. The only downside is it feels a little sticky as it dries. Fortunately, the icky sticky feeling only lasts a few minutes. You can then layer your other serums, moisturizers and makeup to your heart’s content.

I have to admit that I was initially skeptical about this brand. For whatever reason, I got it in my mind that it was a reincarnation of a 1950s-era Avon. Fortunately, a friend who happens to be a rep sent me some samples that totally changed my mind. Like SkinCeuticals, Rodan + Fields publishes a lot of research on their products and quantifies each product’s effectiveness. I love that. If you want more info on this serum or want to inquire about samples, feel free to reach out to my rep Carla via Instagram. Simply DM @chclements1 and she will hook you up with the best pricing. (Thanks, Carla!)

Kate Somerville Quench Oil Free Hydrating Face Serum. I went back and forth on whether I should include this one, but it ultimately made the list because I use it to prep my skin anytime I need to look my best. It hydrates, plumps and provides a smooth canvas for makeup application. Plus, the formulation is really lovely and feels amazing on your skin. This may not be my go-to hydration serum (that would be the R+F product mentioned above), but it is my go-to “need to look pretty and wear makeup for a night on the town” hydration serum. This may be a rather specific niche, but it works like a charm on those types of evenings. And while I haven’t experienced true long-term benefits with consistent use, it does a world of good in the short-term for a night out. This one received a lot of hype years ago, so it isn’t the trendiest product around. Fortunately, that doesn’t make it any less amazing.

Kate Somerville Deep Tissue Repair. Another oldie but goodie. Some may classify this as a light moisturizer, but I would disagree. It is loaded with peptides, which stimulate collagen production, and contains a whole host of ingredients that plump and hydrate skin. I apply this in a very thin layer and seal it in with a true moisturizer. Like all of Kate Somerville’s moisturizer-y type products, it comes in an airless container with a push top that dispenses the product. This completely eliminates exposure to air and bacteria. Totally genius!

Although I reach for this more frequently in the winter, I like it enough to keep it in my arsenal year-round. When I use it during the warmer months, it tends to be on nights I am using a prescription retinol creme or when I am taking a break from the harsh stuff.  I also like dabbing it around my eyes if I’m looking a bit crepe-y. And yes, it can act as a moisturizer in a pinch. All in all, this is a true powerhouse serum that plumps fine lines like a boss, feels insanely luxurious on your skin AND smells like a citrus grove. Brilliant! (holy grail status)  

Price – An Uncomfortable Topic

Serums are probably the most expensive part of a skincare routine. As you may know, high-end skincare prices can get way into the stratosphere, costing upwards of $300+ a pop. The good news is you really don’t need to spend that much for an effective serum. In my opinion, at those prices,  your money is better spent on laser treatments. (Certain luxurious, decadent moisturizers and specialty skincare products are excluded from this, but that is a topic for another day.) I think the most expensive product on my list is around $165, and many are much less.

If you need to justify the price, think of it on a cost per use basis – one container will last months with regular use. (Unlike those $800 shoes you just bought that you know deep down will only get worn a few times. It’s okay – we’ve all been there!) All I can say is this: it’s your FACE! It’s kind of important. Plus, taking good care of your skin consistently will save you from those drastic surgeries down the road, which have historically had a hit or miss track record.

A Brief PSA on Storage

No conversation about serums (or any skincare product for that matter) would be complete without a quick chat about storage. Channel your inner Tay-Tay and never, ever, ever store your serums in the bathroom. Instead, keep them somewhere cool and dark (or at least out of direct sunlight). Heat, moisture and light degrades the efficacy of your products and can create the perfect environment for a seriously gross bacteria-fest. (That steamy, post-shower bathroom is not the place for your skincare stash.) Instead, your bedroom vanity – or sock drawer for that matter – will do just fine. This actually applies to pretty much all of your skincare products, except maybe cleansers. That could be overkill, even for me.

Remember Your ABCs (Always be Closing)

Dorky subheadings aside, always tightly close the caps on your serums immediately after use. This prevents oxidation, which can destabilize the products and decrease their potency. In particular, antioxidant serums, like those with L-ascorbic acid (pure vit C), are hypersensitive to this. Basically, if it comes in a dark, tinted bottle and/or has a dropper, it probably contains a somewhat unstable compound and is highly vulnerable to oxidation. So tighten those caps, folks!

Final Thoughts

You have to live with your skin your entire life.  Invest in yourself and take care of it – you only get one chance! Your radiant, 80-year old self will thank you.

xo, Eva

PS: If you have any recommendations, please share! I am always on the hunt for a great new product!

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Details:
SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic / Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum / SkinCeuticals Metacell Renewal B3Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night SerumRodan + Fields Active Hydration SerumKate Somerville Quench Oil Free Hydration Serum / Kate Somerville Deep Tissue Repair

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