My daily skin care routine involves multiple steps and one of them is always a serum. Serums pack a high concentration of active ingredients because they typically don't contain any of the emollients and thickeners (non-active ingredients) usually found in moisturizers. Their lightweight consistency also allows our skin to absorb quickly and at a deeper level. And most importantly, serums often contain great anti-aging ingredients such as antioxidants and retinol. In other words, with just a few drops, you'll be getting a powerful dose of skin benefits that's making this extra step well worth your time and investment!
As for me, I went through a very stressful time a few years ago and it totally showed on my skin. That's when I added a serum in my routine, so that I could get the much needed hydration to combat my dehydrated skin from the stress.
Needless to say, I’ve tried quite a few since I've introduced it to my daily routine. Below is my experience with this group from Clarins, ROC, Mizon and LeeJiHam.
CLARINS DOUBLE SERUM COMPLETE AGE CONTROL CONCENTRATE
I was probably one of the early adopters of this product. It’s one of the few products that I’ve actually used down to the last drop. To say I love this is an understatement. However, there are some drawbacks.
Like I feel the hydration right away, but it does not give me the greasy feel at all like some anti-aging products do. My skin has this glow after application and I could see my skin tone improves as I use it consistently. The way the product pumps out is pretty cool...there are two semi-circular chambers (photo here shows one side). As you pump, serums from each chamber comes out separately and you mix it in your palm.
Dislike Not much in terms of the actual product, to be honest. However, the drawbacks are 1) the high price (USD $87.00 for 1.0 oz) and 2) the lack of a smaller size for travel convenience (I've had one too many missing baggage incidences, so now I try my hardest to pack travel-size skin care in carry-on just in case). To combat the high price, I use it only at night in order to extend the usage.
Fragrance Low level to none.
Sampling I've already received a few one-time use samples via my Sephora orders, so it could be an option for trial. Given that this is a pricy product, it would be a good idea to try it out first via sampling.
Available At Sephora
ROC RETINOL CORREXION DEEP WRINKLE SERUM
I was using this ROC serum consistently before I tried Clarins. Even though this is a drug-store brand, ROC was developed in France by pharmacist Dr. Jean-Charles Lissarrague in 1957. Dr. Lissarrague had a strong following of stage actresses at the time as he curated personalized skin care formulas based on their skin concerns. Needless to say, this affordable drug-store brand is curated and continued to be made in France just like its pricier anti-aging competitions.
Like Don't let the mustard yellow color turn you off. This retinol-based serum packs quite a few anti-aging punches in a tiny bottle. Similar to my comments for the Clarins serum, I use this for hydration reason. However, a little something extra from ROC due to its retinol ingredient - skin discoloration improvement. I have some dark spots and they get worse when I'm in the sun more often. While the only way to completely remove discoloration is advanced procedures such as laser (with some risks, of course), using this serum helps minimize my dark spots' "mood swing" throughout the sunnier months.
[Those with Sensitive Skin Retinol-based products are not as powerful as pure retinol products in terms of diminishing discoloration, but they are a good entry into the world of retinol especially for those with sensitive skin. Pure retinol causes some skin reaction that would normally go away after consistent usage. However, people with sensitive skin may have bigger or worse reaction, so retinol-based products such as ROC offers a safer option.]
Dislike Some may say it's the mustard yellow color, but I don't have anything to complain about this serum.
Fragrance Low level to none.
Sampling There is no official samples manufactured by the maker of ROC, but drug stores such as CVS is very good about letting you return even used products if you follow its return policy.
[Homemade Trial If you are thinking about getting a little bit of your friend's bottle to try at home, do note that retinol loses its effectiveness if it is exposed to light or air. It's still a good and economical way to test, but take a small amount and keep it in a non-clear container with a pump (as opposed to an open jar), so that you can truly test out the power of retinol!]
Don't Forget Your SPF Retinol usage increases your skin's sensitivity to the sun. Remember to use sunscreen whenever you're using retinol-based or pure retinol products.
Available At ULTA or any drug store
Did You Know?
Dr. Lissarrague created the first hypoallergenic skin care product and the first SPF sunscreen.
RoC patented the first pure, stabilized form of retinol for over-the-counter products.
MIZON SKIN RECOVERY NIGHT REPAIR SERUMING AMPOULE
I bought this Mizon because I've used and liked their sleeping mask and brightening serum, so I wanted to try another product. Timing was good, too, as I was commuting between West and East Coasts and I wanted to keep a set of skin care in each home. I was also hoping I could find a lower-cost replacement for Clarins Double Serum. Well, cheaper is not always better. I have very mixed feelings about this product...
Like I get the hydration that I need from this Mizon serum/ampoule, but somehow the effect feels very short-lived. Sometimes product gets absorbed quickly into the skin, so not "seeing" the moistened skin may not always be a bad thing. In this case, I have other concerns...
Dislike Not only is the hydration short-lived, I also don't see much difference after using this serum. I was starting to wonder if I got a "lemon" or if I somehow got the placebo?
Fragrance Low level to none.
Sampling I haven't seen any official samples manufactured by the company. Another option is to try your friend's bottle if that's available. There is no known active ingredient, but as a precautionary measure to preserve the effectiveness, use a non-clear container for your sample. My rule-of-thumb is that if a product comes in a non-clear or non-see-through bottle, it is most likely because some ingredients cannot be exposed to light.
Additional Thoughts As always, my reviews are based on my own usage experience. My skin (Combo - 50/50 dry/oily) may react differently to the same products than someone else. This Mizon is an example - I saw rave reviews on Peach & Lily website where our fellow beauties had great results. I am super excited that this has worked very well for some, but I'm also here to offer another set of feedback to give you a balanced perspective.
Available At Peach and Lily
LEEJIHAM VITA PROPOLIS AMPOULE
Lee Jiham (LJH) markets itself as a clinically-driven dermatological company with heavy focus on R&D. When I see such selling feature in a beauty company, I often take it with a grain of salt. I've worked in the beauty industry long enough to know that most beauty companies have some type of R&D facility and conduct clinical testing if they want to make specific claims on their product (even drug store brands such as Neutrogena and L'oreal have heavy R&D investments). So whenever I see these "glamorous" selling points, I want to wait and let the products speak for themselves.
Like This ampoule is lightweight and does not give me the greasy feeling on the skin. The packaging has a very sophisticated look and feel. The triangular box unfolds and there are lots of information on there (only if I could read Korean!). I also like the ultra-compact size for traveling, on-the-go, or the gym bag.
Dislike Ampoule is a more concentrated form than serum and it's meant to be used as a booster when skin calls for special treatments. I use this daily as I tend to get stressed out easily and that's never good for the skin, so I want to give it a daily "booster". I've used this LJH down to its last drop...sadly, I didn't notice much difference and, similar to Mizon, the hydration was short-lived as well.
[Alternative Usage While it hasn't worked for me as a standalone anti-aging treatment, I realize that mixing this LJH with my concealer (my go-to is NARS) is a great way to add some moisture to it. Also, because this ampoule is mostly in a clear formulation and very lightweight, it mixes well with other products without distorting the color or texture. One more save from my beauty junkyard!]
Fragrance None that I can smell!
Sampling I have not seen any samples yet, but Glow Recipe does attach samples on every order. You may be able to ask for one.
Available At Glow Recipe
Thanks for stopping by!
What is your favorite serum?
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