I am a make-up artist but I am a huge, huge believer in, and fan of, skincare. If you ensure that your skin is the best it possibly can be the better your make-up will look and the less you will need (if you want less...) but for many people it seems a cheaper, quicker fix to neglect skincare and slap on more make-up.
I can completely understand why this is. You get immediate results from make-up. Spend £30 on a foundation you've tested on the back of your hand in the shop and see it working as soon as you use it. Spend £30 on a serum and, well who knows if it's ever going to work at all? But that's why I write this blog. I'm here to help.
Since I started concentrating on my skincare my skin looks and feels so much better but it takes a while to work out what your skin needs and when. If you have problem skin it's really worth going to a skincare specialist and seeing what they recommend and what's on offer - some brands you can only get from a salon so it is worth doing some research if you think you need something tougher. There are also some great brands available at more affordable prices on the high street so you don't always need to spend ridiculous amounts to get the best results though I have yet to find a high street serum to beat the more high-end ones I've tried.
If I can convince one of my friends to cleanse, tone and moisturise I'm very unlikely to be able to get them to add a serum into the mix but using a serum has been a big game changer for me. So I've done a little bit of research.
What is a serum and why use one?
Serums have high concentrations of certain active ingredients (hyaluronic acid, Vitamin C or glycolic acid for example) to give intensive focus on one or two things like anti-aging, dry skin etc. Moisturisers are formulated to be absorbed into the very top layer of the skin but also add a barrier against the elements and whereas serums have smaller molecules to be easily absorbed deeply into the skin. Serums are more expensive than moisturisers because they are more concentrated but you need less product and you don't have to use it every day if you can't afford to.
Why shouldn't you use a serum?
People with eczema or rosacea - conditions that weaken the skin barrier - may want to avoid serums as they can cause irritation. There are some that say they are fine for use with eczema and other skin conditions but I would definitely find a way to try them out before you buy.
When to use a serum?
Apply after cleansing and toning before your moisturiser (after your eye cream if you use it). But your skin will only absorb what it needs so don't use so much, a pea-size amount is usually enough. If you have sensitive skin then it's best to wait ten minutes after cleansing to apply the serum. As with all skincare take it down your neck and decollete.
You can see some serums working pretty much immediately but it's best to use them consistently to see the best results.
Which serum to use?
Oily skins - will want a water-based serum and you may want to use it instead of a moisturiser so you are getting an intensive treatment without over-loading the skin.
Dry skin - can use water- or oil-based serums. Retinol can help accelerate cellular renewal and brighten the skin and make it appear more luminous but can irritate if used too much. Essential oils and fatty acids can help the skin repair itself overnight and make sure it's barrier function is working. If you have dry skin then you should use a serum and a moisturiser.
Anti-wrinkle - you need to choose an anti-oxident rich serum (Vitamin C for example) as these work well at preventing oxidative strain from pollution and UV which also makes them ideal for use in the morning. Peptides will help boost collagen and elastin production and restore firmness to the skin.
A few serums that you may want to look into trying out...
Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Collagen Booster - I've done a full review of this which you can read here. I love this and think it suits all skin types. It's water based so good for oily skins but is really rich in vitamin C so fantastic for dry or more mature skins. If you are not sure which one to go for this is the one I'd recommend £47.
Sunday Riley Juno - I haven't tried this but I am desperate to, I've heard nothing but good things about it. Rich in Omega 3, 6 and 9 and Vitamin C so this suits dry and mature skins. It's one of the most expensive at £98.
Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate - best for use overnight and actually great for normal to oily skins (my sister loves this one and she has combination skin) though if you have an oily skin you may want to skip moisturising afterwards. Full of plant oils this award winning serum is available in 3 different sizes, the smallest being 2ml (£6) so you can try this before you have to buy the full size of it.£6-£40.50
Elizabeth Arden Advanced Night Repair Sychronized Recovery Complex II - yet another one I haven't-yet-but-want-to-try. For all skin types, a reformulation of an original product that a lot of people swore by, this version has stepped it up a notch. To be used before moisturising at night (obviously) this serum is another multi-award winner. £49
Sisley - I haven't tried any of these serums but I trust Sisley when it comes to skincare and have heard great things about their Black Rose products so worth having a look if you are already a fan or wanting to try something out from their range. From an eye-watering £138