I'm writing this post while sick because I'm determined to not let this blog fail so early. By the time it goes up, I'll already be better and back to normal. It will also already be 2020, so HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!! But onto what the blog post is supposed to be about.... SERUMS. Serums are the most important step in your skincare routine, it's where most people will suggest you spend the bulk of your money and that's because they are able to penetrate deeper, will have the most actives, and it's usually in a package that keeps those actives stabilized. However, not every serum you buy needs to be over $100. I have always had a well-balanced skincare routine that contained both inexpensive and expensive products. Always remember to apply serums from the thinnest to the thickest.
Starting off with the best hyaluronic acid serum that I have personally ever used, it's the Hada Labo Premium Hyaluronic Acid Lotion. Hada Labo is a Japanese skincare brand that, much like a lot of Japanese/Korean brands, have great products for low prices. I buy almost all my Japanese/Korean skincare brands from Yesstyle because they are authorized retailers, they always have some type of massive sale, the import/customs fees are covered (if you're charged, they'll reimburse you) and shipping is free in Canada over $50.
This hyaluronic acid serum has 5 molecular weights, meaning it's suppose to penetrate at all different depths of the skin, which gives the ultimate, long-lasting hydration. Hyaluronic Acid, as we all probably know now, holds 1000 times it's weight in water, so having a serum that is able to penetrate at all different depths, is keen when trying to treat dehydrated skin. Note: if you have oily skin, it's likely that you have dehydrated skin and hyaluronic acid can help.
Another Japanese skincare product, again, easily found on Yesstyle (prices will always vary depending on the sale - if it's not on sale, wait a few days to a week and it will be). I originally found this through a skincare YouTuber by the name of Renee AKA Gothamista, I was watching one of her videos, and she said that this was the most effective and inexpensive vitamin C product she's ever used. I instantly purchased it and was blown away. It truly diminishes all pigmentation within a couple of weeks. After using it, I told all my friends who had pigmentation about it too and all of them have said it helped. This is a potent ascorbic acid serum that targets uneven skin tone and corrects it. The formula is in an air tight tube that will only allow one small drop to come out at a time, no matter how hard you squeeze, making sure none of it goes to waste. I used this as a target treatment and never all over (only because I don't have pigmentation all over). It has a bit of an oilier feeling, however it is not an oil. If you're someone who suffers from hyperpigmentation, give this a shot, I'll bet it changes your life.
If you're looking for something to use all over the face, but you're too sensitive to use an L-Ascorbic Acid serum (like me), you may fall in love with The Ordinary's solution.
This is a vitamin C derivative, which means that your skin has to convert it to ascorbic acid to get the benefits from it. Similar to what I explained in my 'Retinol Q&A' post. Through conversions, the ascorbic acid percentage decreases, meaning it's less likely to irritate the skin. This also means that it will also take longer to get the results you may be looking for.
Now this serum is great for anyone who has inflamed, red, angry skin. If you're using retinols and you're experiencing those side effects, if you have acne, if you have rosacea, or any type of irritated skin, niacinamide will help reduce all of it.
The Ordinarys Niacinamide + Zinc solution is a very cheap option for those on a budget. As always, don't get it twisted... Just because it's not $50, doesn't mean it isn't going to work. It's a very simple formula to do exactly what you need and want it to do. Niacinamide has numerous studies showing the effectiveness it has with soothing inflamed skin and reducing the appearance of redness. It also has the ability to reduce the appearance of enlarged pores. Zinc, on the other hand, is a great antioxidant and also helps with soothing the skin.
Continuing with The Ordinary (which, might I just add that this is not at all sponsored by The Ordinary), their salicylic acid solution is another favourite of mine. Salicylic acid, also known as Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA), is a small molecule that is able to penetrate and clean out the pore wall. This is great as a spot treatment all over the nose to remove blackheads. It's also great all over the skin. This solution specifically I find does not dry out my skin when applied all over. Salicylic acid works by breaking apart the bond of dead skin, sebum, and dirt, which is what builds up and clogs your pore, resulting in a pimple or a breakout. Using this if you're acne prone will help reduce breakouts dramatically, and it will reduce oil production.
I'm saving the most expensive for last because although it is the best exfoliant I have used that is not a liquid, it's not something I will use constantly because of the price.
This NeoStrata Cellular Restoration comes in a thicker lotion-like consistency. It is going to be the last "serum" you'd put on your skin because of the thickness of it - unless of course you have something thicker. Cellular Restoration contains both AHAs (glycolic) and PHAs to exfoliate the skin. It also contains Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 and Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, to which both help repair skin damage, strengthen the skin's underlying supportive elements, and anti-aging properties. If this is not in your budget, the next option will be a great alternative.
So you scrolled down because the NeoStrata was too expensive for you, no problem! This "serum" is a gel, again you will want to put on likely last in your routine and it's going to help exfoliate the skin. This is actually the first ever chemical exfoliant I ever used, back when I worked at Sephora. I got it in gratis and it sat there for a month and then my friend told me to use it, no joke, I made people trade me theirs because it was truly amazing. The very next morning after using this at night, I could see instant results. My pigmentation was reduced, my pores appeared less visible and I had a radiant (non-oily) glow. So what's inside it? It's an AHA complex. Keyword is complex. This means that there are multiple types of AHAs that would make up an overall percentage - unfortunately, they do not tell you the exact percent. It does have Glycolic as the second ingredient and Lactic as the 6th, and per the Canadian Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist (a list that shows prohibited and restricted ingredients for cosmetics in Canada), it can only be a complex of a maximum of 10%. So it is somewhere between 5% and 10%. Not that it matters, because it is in a formula that actually works. It does contain artificial fragrance, which I am usually against, however, it is marked as "Clean at Sephora" which means it cannot contain more than 1% of artificial fragrances, and at that percentage, it is likely not going to cause any immediate irritation to your skin.
And that's all for the serums of 2019!! As always, if you have tried any of these and loved them, or have any suggestions you'd like me to try out and review, leave them in the comments below!