Photo: Showbit 


The days of three-step skincare are long gone. No matter how much you just want to cleanse, tone and moisturise skin, you’ll find that it’s no longer enough because we live in an increasingly polluted and stressful environment. Now, a serum is a must-have in every woman’s skincare arsenal. There are multipurpose ones and targeted ones, but one thing’s for sure: they are all intensive treatments. But intensive treatments don’t have to mean expensive. Here, we pick out the 10 best serums that are under $50 for all your skin concerns. Good for your wallet, even better for your skin.


1. Lixirskin Night Switch PHA/AHA 10%, US$27.88, from Net-a-Porter

There are only six ingredients in this serum, including lactic acid, lactobionic acid and phytic acid – the three main ingredients in it. Lactic acid improves skin hydration, lactobionic acid combats oxidative stress and phytic acid detoxifies skin. The blend of acids also helps exfoliate dead skin cells to encourage skin cell renewal for healthier-looking skin and to diminish the appearance of fine lines, hyperpigmentation and enlarged pores.


2. Estelle & Thild Biocalm Anti-Redness Rescue Serum, $44

This calms and soothes sensitive skin while boosting its hydration and radiance. It’s also packed with certified-organic apricot kernel oil, jojoba oil, oat kernel extract oil and elderflower extract to nourish and rebalance sensitive skin and reduce skin irritation.


3. NIOD Survival 30, US$31.56, from Net-a-Porter

NIOD, which stands for Non-Invasive Options in Dermal Science, is a brand under the US-based Deciem, which also owns the popular The Ordinary skincare brand. This serum not only has tomato carotenoid complex to reduce redness caused by light exposure and algae extract to combat free radicals from pollution and stress, it has SPF30 to shield skin from UVA and UVB rays.


4. Innisfree Jeju Pomegranate Revitalizing Serum, $47.28

Featuring the superfood pomegranate, this serum is loaded with antioxidant benefits to strengthen skin barrier functions and brighten skin tone. It also helps prevent signs of premature ageing such as lack of skin elasticity.


5. Sephora Collection Ultra Glow Serum, $29

With a blend of vitamin C and E, this helps to impart a natural, healthy glow to skin while nourishing it and protecting it against environmental aggressors. Marine algae also helps firm and tighten skin. The texture is light and non-oily, and easily absorbed into skin so it’s great as a makeup primer too. Plus, it is suitable for sensitive skin types too.


6. Dr Sebagh Supreme Maintenance Youth Serum, US$23.06, from Net-a-Porter

This lightweight and oil-free serum from Dr Sebagh, a British doctor brand, has a whopping 95 per cent of active ingredients that include resveratrol to combat free radical damage, vitamin C to even out skin tone and impart skin radiance, three anti-ageing peptides to hydrate and firm skin, and hyaluronic acid to plump up skin and diminish the appearance of fine lines.


7. Mamonde Vital Vitamin Essence, $45

This has a blend of seven vitamins (B3, B5, C, E, F, and P) and bitter orange flower extract to help fatigued skin regain radiance, keep it moisturised, brighten and even out skin tone, and boost skin cell renewal rate and firmness. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits to relieve stressed skin. The petal-shaped capsules burst upon application, to better deliver the active ingredients into deeper skin layers.


8. Pixi Glow Tonic Serum, $38

This lightweight serum has glycolic acid to exfoliate dead skin cells while aloe vera calms and soothes skin. It also has ginseng extracts to revitalise and rebalance skin. After use, skin feels hydrated, nourished and softer.


9. L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Micronized Centella Essence Water, $35.90

This booster is formulated with 92 per cent pure centella asiatica extract (also known as cica or tiger grass), to help speed up skin healing to alleviate ageing signs such as hyperpigmentation and sagging skin. It also helps keep skin moisturised and clearer. The breakthrough technology in this essence-water is its five times smaller droplets, which allow for better penetration into deeper skin layers.


10. Bio-essence Bio-Gold 24K Gold Gold Water, $36

Herbal extracts and the brand’s Bio Energy Complex help skin combat free radical damage to stave off premature skin ageing. It also deeply nourishes skin to smooth it and impart a healthy glow. Skin’s elasticity is also improved, while enlarged pores are diminished. This also helps rebalance skin to regulate moisture and sebum balance.