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Remember when you were first venturing into skincare and all everyone told you was the importance of cleansing, toning and moisturising? These steps are the very least you can do for your skin (plus sunscreen, of course). Cleansing removes the day’s makeup, dirt, grime and sebum, restoring skin to it’s natural state; toners remove any traces of residues left behind and balances skin pH so subsequent products applied are absorbed better while moisturisers seal in hydration and forms a protective barrier.
On top of them, if you’re looking at targeting a specific skin concern (be it dark spots, loss of elasticity or shine-prone skin), your best bet is investing in something that penetrates beyond the upper layers of your skin to treat the root of the problem. Enter the world of serums: due to their smaller molecular weight and higher concentration of active ingredients, serums are frequently regarded as the key skincare step that addresses your most pressing issues since they are able to reach the epidermis and sometimes even claim to reach beyond.
Here, 10 of the top-performing facial serums that beauty editors swear by to target every and any skin concern:
Best facial serums
For A Skin Boost: Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum, $115 for 60ml
When prized Korean herbs are painstakingly extracted via a series of time-honoured methods, this is the end product. As the luxury Korean brand’s signature product for almost two decades, this widely raved about product is a hit amongst fans and beauty editors all over the world. And you don’t have to worry about any tackiness from layering this under your regular skincare regime as it has an ultra-fine texture that disappears into skin upon application. The combination of herbal extracts is carefully selected to work in synergy, replenishing skin with moisture and revitalising sluggish skin cells. This means that cellular activity is optimised, making it more resilient against external aggressors and more receptive of products that are applied thereafter.
For An Energy Shot: CNP Laboratory Vita-B Energy Ampule, $48.90 for 15ml
If pulling all-nighters regularly has taken its toll on your skin, try this radiance-restoring ampoule. As its name suggests, it packs a complex of seven vitamin Bs which recharges tired complexions by increasing cellular energy and improve microcirculation, imparting skin with a healthy glow. Also present is Glutathione, which works with vitamin B3 (found in the complex of vitamin Bs) to eradicate pigmentation for more even-toned skin. In addition, the non-greasy, hypoallergenic formula contains Cherry Blossom Water to infuse skin with moisture for instant dewiness.
For Intense Hydration: SkinCeuticals H.A. Intensifier, $159 for 30ml
Naturally occuring in our skin, each hyaluronic acid molecule draws moisture to itself, ensuring that skin surface stays soft and smooth. However, the levels of hyaluronic acid depletes with age, resulting in the loss of suppleness, which makes our skin more prone to wrinkles. To restore skin’s plumpness, it is important for topical products to contain hyaluronic acid molecules of varying molecular weight so they can penetrate through different layers of the skin. In this serum’s case, pure hyaluronic acid is combined with Proxylane, so while the former sits on top of skin’s surface to hold moisture in, Proxylane is able to penetrate deeper to support hyaluronic acid levels for an inside-out plumping effect. Expect visible improvement in skin smoothness and bounce with continued use.
For Overall Brightening: SK-II GenOptics Aura Essence, $199 for 30ml
With a multi-pronged action against sallowness and dullness, this contains a powerful blend of active ingredients to correct uneven skin tone, diminish the appearance of dark spots and prevent glycation. Firstly, the GenOptics Aura Complex works by inhibiting the proliferation of melanin as well as gently stimulating cell renewal to unveil clearer skin beneath. Antioxidant-rich Ume Extract protects collagen fibres and prevents them from stiffening and yellowing so skin remains radiant. And lastly, Pitera replenishes skin with a host of vitamins, amino acids and minerals to optimise cellular function for healthy, glowing skin.
For An Antioxidant Boost: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, $248 for 30ml
As a brand that prides itself as “The Antioxidant Authority”, SkinCeuticals has focused on antioxidants research for decades. And as a result of many years of research and development, the C E Ferulic is born. Recommended by dermatologists and lauded by beauty editors all over the world, this is a carefully calibrated blend of vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid is used to ensure photo-stability), vitamin E and Ferulic Acid, in which each ingredient boosts the efficacy of one another for maximum potency. Once absorbed into skin, it creates an antioxidant reservoir that remains effective for up to 72 hours, making it the perfect partner to sunscreen in the defence against free radicals and UV rays.
For Sensitive Skin: Bioderma Hydrabio Sérum, $49.90 for 40ml
When your skin is susceptible to flare-ups, selecting suitable skincare is never a walk in the park. Not only do you have to avoid products that contain harsh chemicals and fragrances which can cause irritation, you also have to look out for soothing and strengthening ingredients. And Bioderma’s Hydrabio Sérum does exactly all that. Featuring Aquagenium, the brand’s unique innovation, this hypoallergenic serum rebuilds skin’s barrier function and locks in moisture. Patented D.A.F complex is also used to reduce skin sensitivity. The result? Skin is soothed, comforted and feels soft and supple.
For Firming: Dr. Ci:Labo Super-100 Epidermal Growth Factor, $53 for 10ml
Accumulated UV damage and an unhealthy lifestyle can result in the gradual degradation of collagen fibres in our skin. This in turn causes collagen fibres to oxidise (and turn yellow) and stiffen, which is why skin loses its elasticity and starts to look sallow as we age. At the same time, cellular turnover slows down, which means dead skin cells stay on skin surface longer, resulting in a duller, rougher skin texture. Designed to stimulate cellular repair, this serum uses EGF, a naturally occuring peptide, which is responsible for sending signals to skin cells, telling them to regenerate. And as you probably guessed, its level in our body also decreases with age. By applying it onto ageing skin, this serum kick-starts the process of cell regeneration, thereby accelerating cellular turnover and collagen repair from inside out for firmer, smoother skin. What’s more, this formula is free of mineral oils, artificial colouring and fragrances so you’re only giving your skin exactly what it needs.
For Pore-Refining: IDS PF Pore Formula, $65
If you’ve been relying on pore packs, or worse, self-administered extraction, to eliminate blackheads, it’s time you considered other gentler methods. Formulated to loosen comedones, this IDS serum is perfect for those battling blackheads and whiteheads, be it around the T-zone or all over. This combination of clover flower, lilac and tea tree leaf oil gently exfoliates, dislodges stubborn keratin plugs, kills bacteria and has astringent properties to decongest pores and refine skin texture. Hyaluronic acid is also added to plump skin surface to further smooth and plump skin.
For A Calming Fix: Innisfree Bija Cica Balm, $35 for 40ml
Whether it’s an allergic reaction to a new product or from traveling to harsh climates, this healing balm provides instant relief to redness, itching, tightness and stinging. The key ingredient is Centella Asiatica, a herb that’s been widely used to heal wounds since ancient times. In addition, Bija extract harvested in Jeju and panthenol are also present in this nourishing salve, which helps to reinforce skin’s barrier function. This formula is also formulated sans parabens, synthetic colours, mineral oils and fragrances to minimise further irritation.
For Fighting Blemishes: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo+, $42.90 for 40ml
While benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are common ingredients used in anti-acne products, many of them can be harsh and cause peeling on problem areas. To avoid all that, try this powerful yet gentle blemish treatment. Made with high performance pharmaceutical-grade ingredients, apply a thin layer all over the face or on specific breakouts on cleansed, dry skin. It hydrates, regulates sebum production, soothes redness, kills bacteria, exfoliates and even lightens existing blemish scars.
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