From The Straits Times    |
Targeting fine lines and wrinkles: Can a serum match a laser to firm, smoothen skin?

Credit: 123RF

What would dermatologists recommend to treat visible signs of ageing? When skin starts to show fine lines and wrinkles, larger pores, looks lacklustre and is prone to sagging, skin doctors would often recommend laser treatments for their skin-surfacing effects. 

Her World landed some exclusive time with Dr Yan Wu, who was in Singapore earlier this month for the 25th World Congress of Dermatology (WCD), and we asked her for her insights. The Clinical Professor and Medical Doctor from the Department of Dermatology at Peking University First Hospital helped shed light on the contributing factors of skin ageing. 

Dr Wu shares that the skin surface starts to “atrophy” due to “diminishing fibroblasts (cells that contribute to the formation of connective tissue), fragmented collagen fibres, reduced hyaluronic acid, and slower skin renewal”. 

And for skin experts like Dr Wu, the go-to cosmetic treatment would usually be with ablative and non-ablative lasers. She explains, “These help deliver results by firming the skin, stimulating collagen production, minimising pores, and reducing the appearance of lines.”

HerWorld caught up with Dr Yan Wu (left) and Clinique Senior Vice President of Global Product Developer Janet Pardo, when they were in town earlier this month. Credit: Clinique

However, there are potential drawbacks. As an expert in laser and energy-based device treatments, Dr Wu cautions that these procedures come with a necessary period of downtime and carry potential risks such as scarring and skin discoloration. Temporary side effects like redness, inflammation, swelling, and scabbing are also common, especially when ablative CO2 fractional lasers are used. Also, not everyone is suitable for laser treatments.

But what if there existed a product that could rival the results of a laser treatment without the associated downtime? That’s what Clinique Smart Clinical Repair Wrinkle Correcting Serum (affectionately called Smart Serum) has been found to do. Dr Sarah Vickery, Vice President of Scientific Communications at Clinique, who was also in Singapore for WGD, confidently states, “The Smart Serum is as effective as one laser treatment on the look of lines and wrinkles, after 16 weeks of use – without the irritation.”

After using the Clinique Smart Clinical Repair Wrinkle Correcting Serum for over 12 weeks, the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles are visibly reduced. Credit: Clinique

A powerful de-ageing formula

The secret behind the serum’s potency lies in Clinique’s de-aging formulation, meticulously crafted by dermatologists.

Ida Wong, Vice President, Global Product Development – Skincare and Makeup, Clinique, explains, “We wanted to create a product that delivers both immediate and long-term results. That’s why we formulated Smart Serum with a three-pronged approach to repair, resurface and replump.”

The Clinique Smart Clinical Repair Wrinkle Correcting Serum (50ml). Credit: Clinique
  • RESURFACE WITH RETINOL Dr Wu recommends seeking out ingredients from the retinol family when it comes to anti-ageing skincare. And at the core of the serum is hydroxypinacolone retinoate (HPR), a milder, safer and more stable form of retinol. This next-generation retinoid is known for its ability to accelerate cell renewal and help resurface skin, visibly reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, yet remaining relatively gentle.

  • REPAIR WITH PEPTIDES Besides HPR, the effective line-smoothening cocktail includes the CL1870 Peptide Complex. Peptides, including neuro and signalling peptides, play a pivotal role in strengthening the skin and stimulating collagen production.

    Dr Wu explains, “Signalling peptides effectively communicate with fibroblasts, getting them to kickstart collagen production. Just as botox works on relaxing muscles, neuropeptides exhibit muscle-relaxing properties that soften fine lines caused by muscle contractions.”

    Additionally, the CL1870 Complex has self-assembly peptides that promote alignment within the skin matrix, restoring the skin’s bounce as it helps reduce the appearance of fine lines.

  • REPLUMP WITH HYALURONIC ACID The instant plumping effect and suppleness you’ll feel come from the hyaluronic acid. Ida adds, “Many people do not realise that hyaluronic acid is a natural component of the skin that degrades over time, so replenishing it instantly enhances the skin’s appearance. Then, over time, the HPR and the CL1870 Complex work together to boost collagen synthesis and resurface the skin.”

Clinically-proven to match up to a laser treatment

The serum’s efficacy is further substantiated by research findings that highlight its transformative potential after 16 weeks of consistent use. With continued application, users have experienced a marked reduction in the appearance of lines and wrinkles, including those notorious smile lines, forehead furrows, and the formidable “11” lines between the eyebrows.

In a clinical study of 59 women over 16 weeks, women who had one laser treatment (with a micro-ablative CO2 fractional laser) showed the same improvement in the overall look of lines and wrinkles as those who used Smart Serum twice daily. Another test on 358 women showed that after 10 days of use, 84 per cent said deeper wrinkles looked reduced, 94 per cent said skin felt smoother, 90 per cent said skin felt firmer, and 87 per cent said skin felt more plumped.

The skin looks smoother, with less noticeable fine lines after using the Clinique Smart Clinical Repair Wrinkle Correcting Serum for over 12 weeks. Credit: Clinique

The formula is complemented by a blend of caffeine and algae extract, carefully chosen to alleviate irritation, and 92 per cent of those who used it over 10 days also agreed the serum is gentle and non-irritating. Developed and rigorously tested by dermatologists, the formula is free of fragrance, oil, and denatured alcohol, making it suitable even for those with sensitive skin.

Janet Pardo, Senior Vice President, Global Product Development, Clinique, says, “We are a brand that takes a dermatological approach to addressing lines and wrinkles. That’s why we compared the serum to a laser treatment, specifically the CO2 fractional laser. It took over two years of research, testing and validation to ensure we met our own high standards. It’s effective yet gentle enough to be used twice a day – morning and night.”

Powering up your skincare regime

Consistency is key to reaping the rewards of any skincare. On how to de-age skin for the long term, Ida shares, “Collagen degradation happens gradually, so rebuilding collagen also takes time. By using the product consistently, you’ll notice refined texture, smoother skin, and a reduction in the appearance of lines and wrinkles.

“In 10 days, our studies show 20 per cent of visible reduction in stubborn lines. These improvements become more significant as you progress through weeks of use. And after 12 weeks, forehead lines have been shown to be reduced by 15 per cent, and 11 per cent for fine lines and wrinkles.”

For your complete de-ageing routine, team up the Clinique Smart Clinical Repair Wrinkle Correcting Serum, at $170 (50ml), with the Clinique Smart Clinical Repair Wrinkle Correcting Cream, at $134 (50ml), which contains the CL1870 Complex to target wrinkles as it strengthens and nourishes skin; and the Clinique Smart Clinical Repair Wrinkle Correcting Eye Cream, at $102 (15ml), which helps fortify the delicate eye area. 

The Clinique Smart Clinical Repair Wrinkle Correcting range is available at leading department stores including Metro, TANGS, BHG and Isetan, as well as online at, Clinique Official LazMall Flagship Store on Lazada, and

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