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Grown Up Skincare – Hero Serums

Author: Charlotte O'Shea

My skincare routine has always been very simple. A two quid lotion cleanser from boots, a warm flannel and some Aveeno moisturising cream. The likes of Caroline Hirons would probably like to drench me in acid toner and a bucket full of anti-aging serum following a thorough bollocking over the shocking state of my pores.

The Best Anti-Ageing Serums – Do they actually Work?

I actually have relatively good skin. It’s not perfect and it’s over sensitive but it’s generally clear and thus I rarely use much make-up on my epidermis other than illuminating powder and bronzer. I visited a consultant dermatologist fairly recently due to some irregularities during pregnancy and she said how she could immediately tell how I had avoided the sun and didn’t smoke. “You have excellent skin for your age!”

I will say it again folks: WEAR SUNSCREEN. A (real) tan isn’t cool.

All this is all good and well but I ain’t getting any younger. I often find myself that bit puffier, dehydrated and lack lustre in the mornings and it’s about time I started using effective products. As you might know from previous features, over the years I have experimented with various magic-claiming potions. Some have been more successful than others, but seemingly nothing has made enough of a difference to make me repurchase/remain faithful.

That was until now.

I’m sharing my current favourite serums which have truly made a noticeable improvement to my squinty crumpled sleep deprived self. You’re most welcome.

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum

Let’s start with the most eye wateringly expensive shall we? This serum will set you back £135. Yep. SPENDY. But if you are considering making an investment in your future face then I would recommend this in a heart beat. I’ve heard its praises sang loud and clear for years – a favourite with beauty gurus/bloggers/vloggers the world over.

C E Ferulic contains high dose collagen boosting vitamin C (L-absorbic acid) – 15% to be precise. This combined with ferulic acid and vitamin E creates a free radical fighting force that will improve the signs of photo-damage and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

For me personally it gives excellent glow. I find my pores appear smaller, my skin feels/looks smoother and the overall texture is just…better. Due to my continual adverse reactions to products I started applying this every other morning before moisturiser but now I use it daily without any issues.

I love it.

I would bathe in it if I could.

A bottle lasts me 4/5 months using 4/5 drops applied in the AM only.

Vichy Mineral 89 Hyaluronic Booster

Hyaluronic Acid, they’re putting it in EVERYTHING it would seem. Naturally occurring in the skin and depleting with age, it’s absolutely necessary to keep your skin hydrated and bouncy.

I’ve tried various different types of serums containing HA, uber luxe right through to a bottle that cost under a tenner. The Vichy Mineral 89 is my favourite and at £25 is mid-range ish if I look at all the varieties I’ve experienced thus far.

It’s a light refreshing gel that doesn’t feel sticky or slippery. I apply it after cleansing and leave it to sink in whilst I clean my teeth before applying moisturiser. It definitely has a plumping effect and makes my skin silky with a pleasant subtle sheen. It doesn’t irritate and doesn’t exacerbate breakouts (I used a cheapy one that I initially thought was really good value until I realised it was causing lots of tiny blocked lumps across my forehead).

I also pat a smidgen onto dry patches during the day – it doesn’t seem to disrupt my make-up.

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

This sells out ALL the time. But they currently have it on ASOS.Oh, and it’s five pounds. Yep. A fiver.

Niacinamide ie Vitamin B3 is known to reduce the appearance of skin blemishes and congestion.

I don’t suffer with spots per se but after my first pregnancy I did suffer with conjestion and the odd under-the-skin bump around my chin. The same has happened after my second pregnancy so I can only put it down to crazy post-baby hormones. I find this serum applied once or twice on effected areas every week keeps things under control – I have also found it very helpful at tackling individual blemishes before they fully “appear”. Vitamin B3 is said to effect the potency of Vitamin C so I only ever apply this at night.

Did I mention it’s just five pounds?

What are your hero serum favourites right now?

FYI I’ve tried a few of The Ordinary Vitamin C serums (there are SO many?!) but haven’t found any to be as effective as the C E Ferulic. Which is a shame as they would be far kinder to my bank balance.

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19 thoughts on “Grown Up Skincare – Hero Serums

  1. I can’t shout about ‘the ordinary’ enough it industry breaking if you ask me!!! I’d recommend popping into fenwicks or a similar shop that stocks it and asking a trained advisor what you’ve already tried and what other combinations might work. I’ve found, and others I know have found once you get the combinations right it’s gold dust! I’ve been using it 4 weeks now and from a spotty hormonal combination skin it’s entirely settled like never before. Big up ‘the ordinary’

    1. I think that’s they key Lisa – there are so many products it’s quite overwhelming, and it’s difficult to know what to use in conjunction with what. So happy to hear what a positive effect you have experienced – and it’s so reasonably priced!

  2. Seconding The Ordinary! I have combination skin that loves to throw a tantrum over nothing and I have never had a product work so consistently for long periods of time.

  3. When I was younger I was always trying pricier products but now I’m much more sensible with money I am trying to find a balance. I recently had a facial at Bath Thermae Spa and the girl commended me on my great skin. I’d love if it was more even, I do have a bit of scarring from spots when I was younger, but you can’t have everything!

    I use Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish, although I keep hearing good things about Aldi’s version. Simple eye make up remover, which I love as I hate oily eye make up removers. Afterwards I use an Aldi Q10 serum and a Boots Simple style aloe eye cream. Nothing else. I’ve got various pots of day and night cream but don’t seem to need them.

    I was nearly seduced by an expensive serum mentioned on here a month or two ago, I think it might have been Kiehls? However the lure of overpaying the mortgage won out!

    1. Ha ha Bunny I nearly bought the Kiehls too but the Vichy seemed similar in terms of ingredients and was almost half the price! You’ve got to use what works for your skin type and actually makes a difference. In general I find basic/cheap products like my cleanser and moisturiser work just as well for me as pricier brands but my C E Ferulic serum really is worth it for my stroppy/dull looking complexion. Also I think I’m currently trying the same eye cream as you? In the tube? I REALLY like it!

      1. Charlotte, do you realise that’s Caroline Hirons general advice? Spend in serums as moisturisers are like a protective sealant (I think she uses the term overcoat!) and help keep all the other goodness in so don’t need to be fancy at all. I’m in love with Superdrug’s Naturally Radiant day and night cream I am generally looking less shit! I love Clinique’s Smart Serum-at night which is doing wonders combined with the Superdrug night cream. I love Vichy’s Aqualia Thermal Hydrating Serum in the morning. I only use an acid if I’m looking congested or dull otherwise my face tends to fall off if I go in too heavy handed!

        1. Hi Vicky! I’ve always seen Hirons recommend really expensive moisturisers – I bought a Zelens one on her recommendation but it was really harsh on my skin…and I thought she was ALL about the acids 🙂 – and like you, my face just falls off even with the most gentle formulas, so annoying.

          These Superdrug creams sound excellent! I used a Superdrug sensitive one in my early twenties and it was brilliant, then they went and bloody discontinued it x

  4. Also adding my support to the Ordinary! I have pretty awful skin that breaks out at the slightest provocation – like skipping my skincare routine even once, wearing the wrong sun cream – and is noticeably worse at certain times of the month. Whilst I might not be able to do much about the hormones I was definitely finding that my previous skincare routine wasn’t cutting it anymore. I’m now using a combination of salicylic acid and the niacinamide you mention above and it is a total game changer. And whilst I do still get spots coming up if I forget my skincare of an evening they are now calmed and tamed relatively quickly.

    I probably need to get on top of my moisturising too though, so will be interested to see whether others with oily/spot prone skin have recommendations for this?

    1. The niacinamide is truly great, I’ve been recommending it to everyone! There are a bunch of probiotic based skincare products recently released – various moisturisers (I was reading about it in Grazia yesterday) that are supposed to be great for clearing blemish prone skin x

  5. I must try this Vichy one, I currently swear by the Kiehls Midnight Recovery serum. One bottle has lasted me almost a year of nighttime applications, so I feel a bit better about the price tag. It’s one product I notice if I skip for a few days.
    I used the Ordinary aha moisturiser (I think it was) and liked it, have been tempted by their serums, but feel like I’d need a pharmaceutical degree to decipher what I need! 🙈

  6. I keep putting the CE ferulic in my basket and then taking it out again. It is really spendy! I tried an American brand Drunk Elephants vitamin C serum ( C firma day serum) which has the same percentage of vitamin C and the results were incredible, you have to ship it from the US and pay taxes on it though so it ends up being 80-90 quid.

    Also in love with the ordinary, I’m on my 4th bottle of the virgin marula oil which I can even put straight on my eczema and is brilliant for my dry skin. Their 5% retinol in squalene is fantastic as well, doesn’t upset my skin at all and I’m very sensitive.

    1. Laura I tried drunk elephant and found it a little harsh for me – could have just been one random ingredient I guess. I have all the questions! the oil – how much do you use and when? Do you not find it blocks pores? When do you apply the retinol in squalene and what effects has it had? I know Retinol is THE thing to use for anti-ageing but it frightens the Bejaysus out of me, I just feel my face would fall off?!

  7. I’m a fan of the Ordinary’s rosehip seed face oil. It saved my skin when it started drying out last winter. Although my bottle seems to have not lasted well in the summer heat. But for £8 I’m just going to buy another bottle!

    1. This sounds super Claire – £8 is a bargain. I always keep my serums etc in a dark closed cupboard in a cool room, I’ve accidentally left them on window sills in the sun before and they have not faired well 🙁

  8. My favourites are Sarah Chapman’s skinesis age serum and Paula’s choice retinol. I also use the following Ordinary products: niacinimide, resveratol, matrixyl, hyaluronic and vitamin c (the gritty one). Retinol has the most immediate impact.

    1. Suzy this is an epic line up! And in which order/when do you use all of these products? I used to read Paulas Choice website years ago – it saved me from a lot of expensive products from her outlining just how rubbish/pointless a lot of the ingredients were. Which retinol of hers do you use? x

  9. If you go on Deciem’s website you contact them with your skin concerns and they’ll email you back with suggested The Ordinary products, and in what order to use them 🙂

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