beauty

"The holy grail." A guide to what serums you need in your routine. And why.

Hot on the heels of our serum cheat-sheet (let’s be honest, the boring sciency bit) comes the fun stuff! 

The serums: What you need, and why.

Broken down into categories for your convenience, there are plenty of options to suit your budget, your skin type and any specific skin concerns.

Watch: The horoscopes and self-care. Post continues below.


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Let’s get this show on the road.

VITAMIN A

The holy grail for anti-ageing, vitamin A encourages cell turnover and stimulates fibroblasts, which are responsible for the production of collagen. It can be used to prevent and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, treat acne, normalise pigmentation and promote and maintain a healthy dermis. 

You probs wanna bathe in the stuff round about now - but don’t. As someone who has burnt their barrier straight off with retinoids, read the labels and go easy.

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asap A+ Super Serum with Retinol, 30ml, $77.22

Key Ingredients: Retinol 1%, Vitamin E, Biomimetic Peptide

I am a sucker for all asap serums, and this one’s an anti-ageing powerhouse - combining a pretty powerful dose of pure retinol with collagen stimulating biomimetic tripeptides. You wanna build up your usage of this one slowly - trust me. 

Start with once a week if you’re a newbie, follow with a decent moisturiser and for the love of god wear sunscreen. Not for pregnant and breastfeeding women, sorry!

Dr Roebuck’s Surf Chaser Reverse Aging Serum, 30ml, $88.00

Key Ingredients: Bakuchiol, Gatuline ® In-Tense, Matrixyl 3000 Peptide

This one, my loves, contains bakuchiol which is a plant-based alternative to retinol, meaning you can totally use this if you’re up the duff or nursing! Because this is a natural form of vitamin A, it also plays fair with old mate C, so this serum has ascorbyl glucoside included for that extra-added-radiance.

Biomimic Retinol + Aloe, 30ml, $69.00

Key Ingredients: Retinol 1%, Ceramides, Vitamin B5, Vitamin E

There are heaps of different types of vitamin A, and the version used here is retinyl palmitate which is an ester form found naturally in the epidermis of the skin. Ceramides prevent water loss and strengthen your barrier while your B5 and vit E are a collagen-stimulating antioxidant-packed epic double act.

VITAMIN B

B vitamins are the subtle heroes of the skincare world. While other vitamins are out there stealing all the limelight, old mate B is here, quietly keeping your skin hydrated.

 It doesn’t SOUND like a huge deal, but when you consider that breakouts, dullness and fine lines can all be a direct result of inadequate moisturisation and hydration… you’ll wanna keep your sh*t quenched.

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Aesthetics Rx B Serum, 30ml, $109.00

Key Ingredients: Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Hyaluronic Acid

This gives a whopping dose of hydration and soaks in quite readily. I’m prone to getting a touch of afternoon dryness which I usually try to remedy with a facial mist, but I feel like this keeps working long after it’s been applied, with a plump, fresh feeling face well into the night.

Saya Super Serum, 30ml, $90.00

Key Ingredients: Niacinamide, Lipopeptide ChroNOline™,  Hyaluronic Acid, Pentavitin®,  B-Vitamin Complex

Look, it’s a big call but I think if I could only use one serum for the rest of my life it might be this. I am not even kidding. This instantly gives the Korean ‘glass skin’ appearance to the point that I put it on before I do my make-up if I’m going out. Love it!

asap B super complex, 30ml, $78.75

Key Ingredients: Niacinamide 13%, Crosslinked Hyaluronic Acid, Red Clover Flower, Vitamins B5, B9, Resveratrol

I am constantly asked if I know of a ‘dupe’ for this, and no, stop asking, it doesn’t exist! I wondered what all the fuss was about when I heard people rave about it for almost a year before I got my hands on it, and now… I get it. This is a GREAT B-serum. Honestly, if you already have it and love it, why ruin a great relationship? And if you haven’t tried it, get amongst it. 

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VITAMIN C

C vitamins put your skin’s collagen production on roids, thickening the dermis and diminishing fine lines, giving you firm and glowing skin. They also play a preventative role, as vit c is a powerful antioxidant, protecting your skin from damage by free-radicals and exposure to UV.

Image: Supplied.

Biomimic Vitamin C + phloretin, 30ml, $69.00

Key Ingredients: Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid 15%), Phloretin, Ferulic Acid

For the price this is actually a pretty concentrated, pure form of vitamin C, packed with a blend of antioxidants that naturally treat and prevent signs of photo-ageing. Phloretin encourages cell turnover and helps lighten dark spots and discolouration 

Aesthetics Rx C Serum 23%, 30ml, $109.00

Key Ingredients: Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid 15%), Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Kakadu Plum

Just gonna throw it out there and say that I think this might be a decent dupe for a very very highly regarded, extremely bloody expensive c-serum. You know the one I mean, don’t you? This one ALSO smells like hot dog water / ham… which I’ve done plenty of research into, yet still don’t know why. In any case, I’m interpreting it as a good sign!

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asap C super serum, 30ml, $77.22

Key Ingredients: Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid 20%), Pycnogenol, Idebenone

I experienced the ‘brightening’ effect of vit-C IMMEDIATELY with this one. I found my skin had a definite new radiance to it straight after using, and it’s those sort of fast, visible results that I am here for! 

Texturally this one’s different to other c-serums I’ve tried - it’s more like a light cream with a silky finish, and it actually smells pretty good, too! If you’re not into the eau de pork some of the other serums carry, definitely give this one a go. It can also be mixed with a few drops of the asap b-serum to really kick pigmentations ass. 

PEPTIDES

Everyone wants to know about peptides right now, and looong story short, peptides are amino acids with hella skin benefits. Peptides are, like, the building blocks of skin - completely essential to its function and structure. They assist with healing, reducing inflammation, increasing collagen reserves and boosting firmness and elasticity. Pep those tides, bitches.

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Dr Roebuck’s Firming Serum, 30ml, $98.00

Key Ingredients: Copper Tripeptide, Boosted Hyaluronic Acid, Banksia Flower

There are SO MANY different sorts of peptides, but this one (and the one below) specifically contain ‘copper peptides’ which are basically nature’s botox. This one also contains two types of hyaluronic acid to really pump up hydration, and native banksia flower to protect from free-radicals and improve synthesis. 

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Biomimic Peptide AOX Boost, 30ml, $69.00

Key Ingredients: Copper Peptides, Peptide Complex, Ceramides, Collagen, Hyaluronic Acid

This one is a super antioxidant cocktail, with a high concentration of active peptides and hydrating amino acids. Specifically formulated not just to reduce fine lines and wrinkles but also rebuild a healthy skin barrier.

asap Radiance Serum, 30ml, $77.22

Key Ingredients: AHA/BHA Complex, Biomimetic Tripeptide, Bilberry, White Tea, Mulberry Extracts

This has all the anti-ageing benefits of a peptide serum but with the added bonus of AHA’s and BHA’s to reduce pigmentation, sun damage, acne and breakouts. Helping to increase cell renewal this is perfect for refining texture and tone and brightening / smoothing skin.

MULTI-TASKERS

You just want ‘one and done’ - I feel you.

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Emma Lewisham Skin Reset Serum, 30ml, $140.00

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Key Ingredients: Patented Plant Stem Cells, Kakadu Plum, Sea Buckthorn, Prickly Pear, Chia Seed

This serum actually has 24 high performing ingredients. TWENTY FOUR. And if I were pregnant, breastfeeding, or just hell-bent on using only natural skincare I would legit only use this range. As it happens I LOVE my chemmy laden products but I am still heaps into this, which I really think is saying something. 24 ingredients is a lot to unpack, so I urge you to read the brands blurb for this one.

Skinstitut Rejuvenate 15 Serum, 30ml, $34.30

Key Ingredients: Magnolia Bark, Resveratrol, Caprooyl Tetrapepetide-3, Algae Extract

Skin in need of a vacay? Hello, salvation! This baby simultaneously tackles dehydration, fine lines, dullness, sun damage and pigmentation and is another product that I got noticeable, quick results from. I get asked a lot what Resveratrol is, so here goes: it’s an antioxidant, babes! It can also be found in red wine! And not to name drop or anything... but resveratrol is also one of the big boys in Estee Lauder’s ANR. This one is such a goodie, and a savey. Do try, and drink up! 

Listen to Mamamia's podcast for your face, You Beauty, where hosts Leigh and Kelly chat about the best all-in-one serums. Post continues below.


iS Clinical Active Serum, 30ml, $231.00

Key Ingredients: Arbutin & Mushroom Extract, Bilberry, White Willow & Sugar Cane Extracts 

I tried this twice during facials prior to actually owning the tiny little 15ml bottle that I have, and I was OBSESSED. In fact, I still am. In the nicest possible way, this is like mouthwash for your face. You know that super cool blast of tingly freshness you get after the old swish n’ spit…? This honestly gives a similar feeling to your skin after applying it and it’s BLISS. It wakes your whole damn face up. This serum and I are enjoying our final days together, though, because *tears falling* for me, it’s just a tad beyond budget. But if you have the means: Get. This. Serum. 

LASTLY - if you wanna maximise the absolute crap out of your serum absorption and ditch sheet masks (which are a total nightmare for the environment) while you’re at it, then you NEED this reusable silicone sheet mask from The Base Collective. 

Image: Supplied.

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Here’s me modelling it. Big lockdown / WFH vibes.

Any questions, or just wanna say hi and shoot some shit, you can find me on my instagram.

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