Deciphering all the products in the skincare section at a beauty store can be as difficult as learning a foreign language. Between all the cleansers, masks, toners, serums, lotions, and potions, how are we supposed to decide which ones we need, and of those essentials, which options are best? Indeed, developing a comprehensive, personalised skincare routine is intimidating, especially if it's unfamiliar territory and as we start thinking about more specialised products that target certain concerns.
The more specific the product, the more eyebrow-raising it is, but they're also highly effective and easy to understand if you hone in.
So to start, we decided to unpack one of the most essential and elusive items: a serum that wards off signs of ageing and promotes a youthful glow. To learn more about the basics and to ease the selection process, we reached out to Doctor Roland Moy, MD, the dermatologist who founded the world-renowned anti-ageing and sun damage–reversal line, DNAEGF Renewal. Read through Moy's step-by-step lesson in everything you should know about serums, as well as his anti-aging advice below. Then, click through the 13 best anti-ageing serums to decide which to add to your vanity lineup based on your skincare needs and price point.
Understanding the Basics
While most us know we need to pile on some sort of moisturiser after washing our faces, serum seems a bit more obscure. If there's no immediate impact on our skin, what's the price tag for? In reality, it's different from a moisturiser, and it's just as important of a step in your skincare routine. Moy sets the record straight, explaining that "a serum is a clear, non-greasy formula designed so the active ingredients penetrate deeply into your skin while a moisturiser is typically a greasy formula designed to moisturise the top layer of the skin."
So even though it does provide some moisturising benefits, you still need to use a moisturiser on top so the long-term benefits are at their most effective. The cost of effective anti-ageing creams and serums are usually less than $150. As long as they have ingredients that help repair damage and boost skin's regenerative process, it's worth the extra buck."
Regular Serum vs. Anti-Aging Serum
Serums, in general, are great for targeting specific concerns, it just depends on which active ingredients your skin needs to look and feel healthier. For example, you may want to fight acne, while someone else may be looking for one with inflammatory benefits. As for anti-ageing serums, they "work on a cellular level to repair the DNA damage that occurs from sunlight, pollution, and even blue light from computers and phones," Moy describes.
These particular serums "help boost the skin's ability to repair itself while protecting it" so you can see long-term results rather just the immediate payoff. Basically, "anti-ageing means that you're choosing to use ingredients that help repair different types of damage that have been shown to accelerate the signs ageing. From sun damage to thinning skin, it's so important to be preventative with your skincare."
When Should You Start?
If you're wondering when you can start benefiting from an anti-ageing serum, there is no rule of thumb. As Moy says, this is because "the biggest anti-ageing culprit is the sun, so you should really start using serums or moisturisers that have anti-aging properties when sun damage occurs at any age." You can start using it as early as you want in order to take preventative measures or you can start using it later in the game to reduce the appearance of fine lines and thinning and to restore a youthful glow.
As long as you choose one that has DNA-repairing enzymes, you'll be on the right track.
While not a serum per se, this lactic acid formula from Sunday Riley is an incredible addition to your skincare routine since it exfoliates dead skin cells to make room for your fresher, younger-looking skin to find its way to the surface. This leave-on treatment goes under your moisturiser like a serum would and plumps the skin to reduce fine lines and create more radiance.
When it comes to high-end, powerful skincare products that don't require a prescription, it's hard to beat Zelens. Everything in the line was developed by Lens, who studied based on a Nobel-prize winning discovery of the role of telomeres in controlling skin’s ageing process. A complex of eight peptides and encapsulated retinol works to help increase the life and vitality of skin cells and to significantly reduce all visible signs of ageing.
If you're wondering if there's a solid anti-aging serum option at your local drug store, here's your answer (it's good news). Available at most drugstores, La Roche-Posay has been approved by dermatologists and sits within a more comfortable price range than other effective anti-aging serums.
Also recommended by Moy, this night serum by Estée Lauder is a great option for your evening routine, as it works to renew and prepare your skin while you sleep.
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