There is an endless stream of beauty innovations changing the game faster that we can click *add to basket*. But what’s really worth slathering onto our skin?
Serums, the height of beauty technology (and one of the very few products most dermatologists say we mustn’t live without), flood the market with more claims than we can count. From encapsulated retinoids to the many variations of antioxidants, it’s a minefield.
To make hunting out the best of the best simpler, here’s our pick of the latest and greatest age-defying products – and the ingredients that make them special.
Key ingredient: Hyaluronic acid
Already a best seller in the states, this recently imported bargain beauty is fantastic at making sure skin maintains tip-top moisture levels at all times. Packed with hyaluronic acid, a substance naturally produced by the human body which protects and renews skin. It’s also a humectant, which means it acts as a sponge, stealing water from its surroundings to keep skin hydrated. When applied topically to the skin it has a hyper hydrating effect which plumps and reinvigorates complexions and can lessen the appearance of wrinkles. This super ingredient, combined with Cerave’s patented MVE slow release delivery system, ensures skin is topped up with moisturising ingredients 24/7.
Key ingredients: Tripeptide 5, hyaluronic Acid and nasturtium flower extract
Best for: Firming, smoothing and hydrating
Kate Somerville, who looks after the skin of Eva Mendes and Kirsten Dunst, says this product is as close to having in-clinic dermal fillers as it gets. As well as plumping hyaluronic acid, the serum contains tripeptide 5. One of the smallest peptides around, it’s what gives our complexions texture and resilience, and without it our skin can become wrinkled and lax. The tripeptide 5 found in this Kate Somerville serum is smaller than many other peptides available, so it’s reportedly able to penetrate the skin better, therefore promising more efficient results, such as smoother and firmer skin.
Another punchy ingredient is nasturtium flower extract (also known as watercress flower), which has been shown to provide skin cells with extra oxygen. This can enable the skin to regenerate itself better, resulting in a smoother, brighter looking complexion and a strengthened skin barrier.
Key ingredient: Viniferine
Aimed at decreasing signs of pigmentation and giving users that much coveted ‘glow’, this bestselling serum by Caudalie has had a revamp. Now PEG-free (that’s a plastic mixed with glycol) it’s much better for the environment. Plus, it has had the added bonus of a new biomimetic emulsifier, which mimics the structure of the skin’s layers, allowing ingredients, such as viniferine to penetrate deeper. Viniferine, the hero ingredient, is an antioxidant-rich sap from the vine of the grape plant which is 62 times more effective than super-antioxidant vitamin c at correcting dark spots and boosting skin radiance. Glow, glow, glow!
Best for: Resurfacing and refining skin texture
Over two decades in the making, this high street honey is great for those who are new to retinol. Containing 0.2% pure retinol, this formula can penetrate the skin up to three times faster than many others. Retinol is one of the gentler derivatives of vitamin A that works at a cellular level to promote skin resurfacing and regeneration. It works by encouraging cell turnover in the skin which results in the production of collagen and elastin, resulting in a plump, firm complexion, diminished wrinkles and even a reduction in breakouts and pigmentation.
This clever formula also contains tiny molecules of hyaluronic acid to combat dryness in the skin which can be a side effect of retinol use.
If you’re going to try this, or any other retinol product, be sure to ease into it by using it once a twice a week to start, and slather yourself in a good SPF (we love the new Avène Intense Protect 50+ Sun Cream for Very Sensitive Skin, £20) as new skin cells are much more vulnerable to sun damage.
Key ingredients: Hexapeptides, biofermented exopolysaccharides, glycoprotein and biofermented pseudoalteromonas microorganism
Best for: Promoting the body’s production of the collagen and hyaluronic acid
Ever heard of blue biotech? You’re about to. Cult brand Once Ocean use it to bioferment marine micro-organisms in order to create super powerful skincare actives that mimic those that survive cold, harsh and wet environments.
Much like the aforementioned Kate Somerville serum, this product contains peptides that encourage the production of collagen and elastin and can help skin texture and firmness. The hexapeptides found in this serum, however, are different. Some dermatologists claim that the types of peptides found in this serum are the closest thing that we can get to botox without the sight of a needle. Working in the same way as botox, studies have shown that these peptides can limit muscle movement, which can in turn prevent fine lines and wrinkles.
The first marine active, biofermented exopolysaccharide, prompts skin to rebuild its own reserves of hydrating hyaluronic acid, which has a plumping, smoothing effect and combats dryness. The second, glycoprotein, encourages the synthesis of protein, which regenerates skin cells, resulting in fewer lines and better skin elasticity. Glycoprotein also creates a barrier on the skin, protecting it from dry, cold conditions. Finally, a biofermented pseudoalteromonas micro-organism stimulates collagen to promote firmness, diminish wrinkles and improve skin texture.