Current Routine: A Maximalist Focus on Layering Serums

 

Lately, I’ve been in a decidedly maximalist state-of-mind. It could be the colder weather, but I’ve also started binging skin talk videos from dermatologists who despite having very basic recommendations (for my taste), all adhere to going full-on with their serums. I remember the founder of MAC once declaring his greatest beauty secret was using “tons of serums every night” and I think it’s something we all casually say about people who take care of their skin, but it’s made me wonder — just what is the best way to layer serums?

Firstly, serums are the powerhouse step in any regimen. They’re the change-makers. This is the category of retinol, acids, vitamin c, peptides, hydration, or deep nutrition in a concentration that is meaningful. Second, while serums can be layered, there is only so much that our skin can take and we have to consider the point of diminishing returns when later serums might not even be able to effectively penetrate. Third, serums can be powerful and like alpha-type personalities, it’s best to make sure the serums can coexist before mingling. For instance, it’s not a great idea to do an acid peel the same night as a retinol treatment, and I know that Vitamin C and certain peptides can be particularly volatile around exfoliating acids.

So be smart about how you’re layering your serums. The evening is when I bring out the heavy hitters that turn back the clock, while in the day I’m more about protection which revolves primarily around SPF, and barrier creams rather than active serums. I’ll share a current system that I do in the evenings focused three-fold: anti-aging, nutrition, and nourishment.

I start by figuring out the layers, separating my options by texture: a lighter more watery essence-type of serum, a classic light cream-gel type of serum, and finally an oil-based serum. As my goal is to really feed my skin in good nutrition, I’m particularly looking for products without a lot of fragrance, silicones, or other non-beneficial fillers so I’m primarily sticking to clean skincare which tends to be more concentrated in the actual powerhouse ingredients.

For my essence-serum step, I choose the k-beauty brand, Yuri Pibu’s Cellum Amaid Essence which contains 60% Galactomyces Ferment, which is extracted from fermented Sake Yeast. Sound familiar to SKII’s Sake Yeast derived signature active, Pitera? That’s because it is, this Sake Yeast ferment is purported to brighten, soften, and renew skin, and is used in higher concentrations than anything from SKII. There is also wild yam extract and rice bran extract which help to brighten the complexion as well. Dermatologists say the primary indicator of skin aging isn’t even fine lines or wrinkles but the pigmentation changes, and this milky-watery essence is perfect for helping to give that hydrated, brightened effect popular in Asian routines.

In choosing my next serum, I go by texture weight, so after the watery-essence, I followed with a more textbook serum, African Botanics Nutritive Molecule Serum which is a coppery gel-cream hybrid not dissimilar to the textures of old school serums that you’ll find from brands like Sisley and Clinique but, obviously, with a much better formula. The great thing about African Botanics, other than clean formulas, is how complete they make their products. Nutritive Molecule Serum is thought of as skin nutrition, but it does much more than that:

There are 3 types of Vitamin C which build on the brightening and complexion benefits while also targetting anti-aging by building collagen, there are also anti-aging plant-based peptides and anti-inflammatory molecules from the Resurrection Plant and Aloe Forex that help with skin aging, and Niacinimide which has been shown to be effective in treating acne, fine lines, and pigmentation irregularities. Then there are plant-based hyaluronic acids that plump the skin and restore moisture, and marine-derived antioxidants that provide protection against urban pollution and UV exposure making it excellent for city-life which can be quite aging. This is an excellent gel-cream to give your skin incredible actives in a gentle manner that only feels nurturing and never aggressive.


I finish with an oil textured serum that can help lock everything in but at the same time is also the nutrition powerhouse since plant oils are shown to contain the most complete and bio-available nutrients for the skin. YULI Modern Alchemist is a nourishing, anti-aging serum in oil texture that provides the motherlode of skin nutrition with almost 30 active ingredients. The reason I call it a serum in oil texture than a face oil is because there are many active components in the formula that aren’t botanical oils such as CoQ10, Green Tea extract with superior antioxidant compounds EGCG and Resveratrol (this is the antioxidant compound that some dermatologists say is the most powerful in the world), numerous extracts and even an infused tamarind seed that is clinically shown to draw in more hydration through the deep delivery oil form factor than commonplace hyaluronic acid.

There are 2 game-changers in this serum, first a bio-retinol complex made from photo-stable plant-based retinol analogs that focus on renewal and anti-aging without the downtime. Finally, it’s a serum that addresses skin volume, elasticity, and dermal density. Our current method of approaching aging with lasers, exfoliation, and turnover has led to thin, crepey paper-like skin, and many dermatologists now judge skin quality by its dermal density and volume which is super hard to truly restore (it’s most commonly treated with temporary injectable fillers), and this serum actually works on the composition of skin to restore lost volume and density — all while the nutritive oils nourish skin in ceramides, fatty acids, minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins.


Let me know if you’re also cocktailing or playing scientist with your serums, and your favorites!

Recent Skincare Updates: Eye Serums, Winter Products

This winter has been tough. I think I’m at that age now where if I drop the ball on my skincare for just a day, it’ll show. The worst has been my eyes. I’ve noticed that it is where most people age the fastest and it is the category that my mom will spare no expense to plump and smoothe those deep lines into oblivion.

Read on for my eye serum experiences, I think you’ll like that the eye products are all in a more accessible price point. It wasn’t done on purpose but they’re definitely good buys. I do cover two face serums that are quite luxurious and they’re certainly worth it. One is a scientific and organic oil that nourishes and feeds restores my skin in the winter and the other gives radiance to my skin. I mix them together often and it’s an antioxidant beast.

Eye Serums

The first eye serum I bought in this bunch was Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum, a line I had always known to take their actives seriously. Of all eye serums I’ve used, this sounded the most intensive, so I hoped for powerful results as well. I was initially wary of using this as an “every day” serum due to how active the formula sounded but quickly found that it was gentle and not at all the harsh active serum that I had built up in my head. I noticed brightening within around 3 days of use and also saw a slight reduction in an emerging fine line around my under eyes after 2 weeks. With promising results, the only drawbacks for me were the small bottle size and the need for a separate daytime serum. Although the instructions say this can be used during the day, I just don’t like putting retinols on my skin during the day. I really like Dr. Dennis Gross’ Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum and saw evidence that it was working. It’s slightly on the expensive side at $69 for .5 oz but not extraordinary compared some of the really luxe eye creams that don’t deliver even half the results. The formula isn’t entirely “green and clean” but in this case, I considered it a worthwhile balance for the results.

Originally searching for a good daytime eye serum, I asked around and my friends at Garçon’s World told me that they recently sat down with Sephora and specifically looked over their entire eye serum collection. They unanimously all loved the Biossance Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel, for its comfortable gel texture and immediate hydration. It’s only $54 for a formula that’s quite clean, so I figured that was worth a shot. It’s fragrance-free, absorbs quickly, doesn’t pill when you apply make-up over it, and has a natural lifting effect. This reminded me so much of the $100+ eye serums in how it felt and performed, that I had to check several times that it was actually just $54.

For the days where I wanted to fake it while still giving my eyes something that was actually working to benefit them, I leaned on Onomie’s A.C.E. Illuminating Eye Treatment. It’s a genius undereye concealer and eye serum in one. There are actual clinical tests for the 10% Vitamin C formula that shows how it actually brightens skin and improves fine lines and wrinkles. And for those who are impatient, the concealer aspect works to cover up dark circles, illuminate the under eye area like a highlighter, and blur imperfections. This really does work as both skincare and make-up, and I cannot be without it now.

The Miracle Oil

In the winter, my skin gets extra dry, thirsty, frail, fatigued, you get the idea. I need that extra serving of nourishment to keep my skin happy. Face oils are a wonderful treat because they nourish, lock in moisture, and are full of nutritional compounds like minerals and vitamins that the skin is able to fully absorb and metabolize into… well… skin food. YÜLI’s Modern Alchemist oil is over-the-top, there are just so many gorgeous ingredients (including the vitality-activating ‘Root of Light’ that you may know is the heralded centerpiece of the $225 Kjaer Weis Beautiful Oil) and actives like CoQ10, and pure EGCG polyphenols. I love the science behind YÜLI products but this is an oil that is also just so beautiful and rich without ever overwhelming the skin. There’s a delicate, luxe rose scent tempered by a hint of the plethora of medicinal plants in the formula, and the texture is extra-emollient and long-lasting thanks to super-enriching oils like avocado, prickly pear, borage, and cloudberry. They’re balanced to have a precise lipid ratio that is bio-identical to skin’s healthy lipid profile which enables the oils to deeply nourish and fortify, while still maintaining that “breathability” to ensure that it won’t cause greasiness or clog pores. Besides being super pleasurable to use for the satisfying scent and cushiony texture alone, there are just so many nutrients in Modern Alchemist, that beyond just softness and plumping, it brings life back to my skin.

The Glow Serum

Many of you aren’t sure the difference between many of African Botanic’s serums and the Nutritive Molecule Serum, in my opinion, is their corner store serum. Here’s how I break it down, while all of African Botanic’s serums have anti-aging and hydration benefits, I consider Nutritive Molecule Serum to be the daily driver that is most balanced with antioxidants, peptides, and moisture enhancers. The ingredients are similar to their Ressurection Cell Recovery serum, both are loaded with antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, algae, African botanicals, etc. What makes Nutritive Molecule Serum special, is the high concentration of three types of Vitamin C. There’s almost everything you could want for your skin in this orange-cream/gel serum that is powerful in its own right but what I think really defines the serum is the high concentration of Vitamin C that gives skin a glow and radiance even in the middle of winter.

I know that many people are sensitive to Vitamin C or have a hard time finding a stable Vitamin C, but I’ve noticed with every use that Nutritive Molecule Serum seems to flip the on switch in soft lighting my complexion.


Is there an eye serum you think I should check out? Have you experienced any of these eye and face serums? Drop a comment!