Facial serums are an extra step in any skincare regime, rather than a replacement for other products – so they represent an investment. What they tend offer, though, is a whacking great concentration of ingredients chosen to target the challenges of ageing: fine lines, deeper wrinkles, pigmentation and more. Almost every skincare range out there has now added a serum to their arsenal – which makes singling out the most effective products quite baffling, not least because serums never come cheap. Just to add to confusion, some serums turn out to be facial oils by another name – but the four Beauty Bible Award-winners here are lightweight and non-oily in texture. (For winning facial oils, click here.)
We dispatched dozens of serums to panellists – who were all aged 35 and over, in order to ensure the products were put through their paces properly – with instructions to use on one side of the face only, for proper comparison. These all scored very, very well – in fact, so many did well that we have five worthy winners in all, and invite you to scroll down for more. (None is particularly inexpensive, but the Evolve Bronze Award-winner is more affordable than others.)
GOLD (JOINT) AWARD Algenist GENIUS Liquid Collagen
With an incredibly high score of 9.3/10 and sharing Gold with Temple Spa (see right), this collagen-powered serum is by Algenist, a brand born out of scientific research into algae – which are among the oldest and most nutrient-rich plants in the world. Across the range, Algenist harness something called alquironic acid, both naturally-sourced and sustainably-produced, formulated into high-tech skincare. This example is somewhat oil-like in texture, with (so we’re told) 13,000 beads of microalgae oil in each dropper-dispenser glass bottle; the liquid collagen it’s blended with here, meanwhile, is packed with vitamin E and Omegas 3, 6 and 9.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘I fell completely in love with this product within days of starting to use it. The fact that I had so many people commenting on how well I looked, or quizzing me about what was different, proves the product did make a difference. After two weeks my skin most definitely was softer and more supple, with a wonderful dewy youthful glow that had been missing for many years. So much so that a lot of the time, I chose not to wear foundation or powder’ • ‘There was a definite improvement on my décolleté, which had the biggest noticeable difference. My skin felt smoother and looked smoother. It became very clear that the body lotion I normally use is not adequate for this area’ • ‘This sinks in immediately, leaving skin smooth, soft and less dry. I only look lined when I am tired or haven’t been taking care of my skin. Skin looks fresher and dewier after two weeks. After finishing the jar, I saw good improvement in brightness, softness, crepiness and fine lines. My two deep frown lines look a bit less pronounced. I am now being told I look well’ • ‘My face is not very wrinkly but is looking a little as though gravity is taking hold. I don't want to go down the surgery route so I am trying to make it look more uplifted by massaging my face combined with the right products. This serum is good for that’ • ‘The main difference is that my skin looks glowing, the brightness from this product is great. It has really improved the softness too. A few of my fine lines have been plumped up and blurred out. I have noticed the deep wrinkle between my eyebrows does appear plumped out and softer, less noticeable’ • ‘There are definite improvements in texture and bounce back. I’ve got back that soft peachy look – I was a bit shiny apple before. I've had friends compliment me and tell me I look well.’
£90 for 30ml - click to buy
GOLD (JOINT) AWARD Temple Spa Trufflelixir Super Luxe Serum
Launched in 2018, this powers straight to the top of the leader board as yet another winner from Temple Spa. Developed ‘by Swiss derma-scientists’, think of it as liquid luxury for the skin, with ingredients like gold, champagne extract, silk peptides and black truffle, further enhanced by encapsulated retinol, marine extracts, rare black orchid, black diamonds and good old hyaluronic acid. Dispensed from a pump atop the sexy black bottle, it delivers an instantly luminous, lustrous finish to skin – but plenty of longer-term effects on signs of ageing, as these comments for this very high-scoring product confirm.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘After 24 hours my skin appeared to be plumper and smoother. After two weeks fine lines and wrinkles definitely less visible with some reduction in bigger wrinkles. Skin very bright and fresh and healthy looking. Definite reduction in crêpiness. I’ve had many compliments on how good m skin looks and lots of my friends have asked what I’ve been using’ • ‘I cannot say enough about this gorgeous serum, which was amazing from the first time I applied it to my skin. I even googled it to see how much it costs, as I don’t think I could not use it now. I was surprised that it was much different cost wise [less] to my current serum. I haven’t used anything by Temple Spa before but will in the future. I love love love this product’ • ‘I would say my very dry skin looked younger after using this product, brighter and more glowing, softer and more hydrated. After finishing the product, there is a reduction in the fine lines between my eyebrows. I really enjoyed using this’ • ‘After two weeks, the lines around the sides of eyes are definitely softer, with fewer wrinkles. A brown mark appears to be fading. Love, love, love this serum. Skin looks fresher and brighter and the results on lines and blemish scars are amazing. I tested it on one side of my face and fine lines are definitely softened on the treated side. I can’t wait to use it on the other side too, as I feel a bit lopsided, as the good side looks a lot younger! My daughter noticed that’ • ‘There is a definite and obvious reduction in lines and wrinkles - proof of this was when my mother in law asked me if I'd had Botox or fillers because my skin looked plump and I have no lines! Believe me that's the best feedback and compliment I am ever likely to get from her!’ • ‘After hearing lots of positive comments about my skin lately, I can't believe that it is a coincidence. The more I used this serum, the more I liked it and I was only disappointed when it ran out!’
£75 for 30ml - click to buy
SILVER (JOINT) & BEST NATURAL AWARD Ecooking Stram Op Firming Serum Capsules
Yup, we are aware that this brand sounds like an online recipe app. Theyr’e not. They’re a cool Scandi skincare brand which a cult following, originally created by founder Tina Søgaard as a capsule collection of seven no-nonsense products for her own use, which has grown and grown. (Many of the products are actually ‘good enough to eat’ – though we wouldn’t necessarily put that to the test.) These are single-dose capsules designed to have a firming effect when used morning and evening aged 35+ – earlier if you’ve visible signs of ageing. The key ingredient is hexapeptide, ‘a natural alternative to Botox’, as they put it. Simply twist the cap of the serum capsule, squeeze onto fingers and smooth over the complexion.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘I love this light textured, non-greasy serum. I noticed my skin was smoother very quickly. After two weeks, my quite deep set 11s wrinkles had reduced noticeably. Crêpiness improved and my skin had a brightness and luminosity it hasn't had before. This continued to improve. My make up goes on a lot more smoothly’ • ‘My skin is so soft after using this for around six weeks. Much softer and smoother than it has been in years! Skin definitely feels my skin looks brighter and more youthful. The crêpiness has definitely seen a slight improvement, and given that I only used it on my neck every other night I feel this is very impressive. Fine lines appear much softer around my mouth and eyes. A big improvement in overall skin tone and smoothness. I am really impressed at the effect it has had on my skin, which looks plumper, smoother and more youthful’ • ‘I used a single capsule morning and evening so the jar lasted me a month. I would love to buy more. My cousin who I hadn't seen for a few months told me that my skin was looking radiant and demanded to know what I was using on it’ • ‘One capsule squeezed into the palm of my hand was enough to cover face and décolleté, leaving my face lovely and soft. I noticed a difference to my skin within two weeks – less crêpiness and much brighter. When I finished the capsules, there was a huge improvement to my fine lines and wrinkles, my skin felt soft with a finer texture. I also found my makeup went on better too. I loved these capsules so much I will definitely re-purchase’ • ‘I went for a facial the other day and the therapist noticed that my skin is more hydrated and brighter – not as dull as usual. Once the product absorbed in my skin for a few minutes, foundation went on much more smoothly with my make-up sponge, gliding over my skin.‘
£43 for 60 capsules - click to buy
SILVER AWARD (JOINT) 001 Skincare London Alpha Glow Flash Facial
Created by aromatherapist and facialist Ada Ooi this can be used either with the winning ‘cryotherapy’ Facial Massage Tool from 001 (see here), or on its own, working as a three-in-one serum, primer and mask. We trialled it as a serum – 001 actually call it a ‘super-serum’, combining nine powerful ingredients including salicylic acid, retinol, vitamins E, C, aloe vera and more. It comes in a simple bottle with a twist-off lid, from which you dispense 2-3 drops and tap across the face, neck and décolletage. They say ‘with regular use it actually mimics the effects of the very best power facial.’ As for our testers? Read on.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘Four to five drops does my face and neck area perfectly. My 68-year-old skin immediately felt soft and silky. After two weeks, it looks more glowing and brighter, and crêpiness seems softer. I love using this; it’s so easy to apply and feels good’ • ‘I trialled this when I was recovering from flu so my skin was very dull. Within two weeks I did notice the brightness. It was very soft and my fine lines had slightly faded by the time I finished the product. My skin looks fresher and glowing. My friend noticed this and said I looked well’ • ‘Overall I genuinely liked using the product, which made my skin feel nourished. It smells nice and is very easy to apply and sinks in very quickly which is good when I only have a short amount of time to myself with two children. By the end of the trial my skin is a lot brighter and clearer than before. It feels soft to the touch and fine lines are a little improved’ • ‘By the end of the trial my skin is brighter and looks nourished. It’s very soft with no dry patches. Crêpiness is reduced, specifically round my neck area. Fine lines around eye area are vastly improved and frown lines less visible. My skin looks more youthful and plumper. Foundation is much easier to apply and I need less as my skin is so well moisturised. It’s totally on the Christmas list for me and my mum!’ • ‘I am very impressed with this fabulous product. I liked the pleasant flowery fragrance, which has a hint of mint. It sinks in quickly. My skin immediately felt nice and silky but within a few weeks I noticed a visible difference under my eyes and two red age spots were smaller and less red so I was well chuffed and impressed. My hubby agreed. My fine lines are definitely less noticeable and the dark circles under my eyes. Fab stuff.’
£68 for 50ml - click to buy
BRONZE and BEAUTY STEAL AWARD Evolve Hyaluronic Serum 200
Powerful hyaluronic acid – which famously can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water – is at the heart of this clear serum for normal-to-dry skin. Evolve’s, however, is a specific type with a lower molecular weight, enabling it to penetrate and deliver its plumping cargo even more effectively. From proud-to-be-British clean beauty brand Evolve, founded by natural expert Laura Rudoe, simply packaged in apothecary-style glass with a pump dispenser, the rosewater-fragranced serum also offers pomegranate, to help regulate cell turnover and strengthen skin, limiting water loss and free radical damage.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘One pump is more than enough for face, neck and décolleté. After two weeks, skin was more luminous and brighter; this went on improving and fine lines are slightly reduced now. I take lightly the claims of skincare companies but this has increased brightness and luminosity as well as fine lines so it is making a difference. Also, I have been told I look well’ • ‘I really love this product. I noticed immediately that my skin felt smoother and more hydrated; after two weeks this had pumped fine lines. Skin tone definitely improved – it felt like it had a deep conditioner applied to it. My skin feels so much softer for longer and make-up glides on much more easily’ • ‘I started out sceptical, as it felt the serum was quite watery when I first used it so it wouldn’t have any benefits. But I have tried many products for my enlarged pores, which are a problem for me; I felt this serum is the only one that has helped this problem – which in turn helps with my make- up application. Foundation used to sink into my large pores, particularly around my nose, so this doubles as a primer for me. The bottle is now finished, but I will definitely be replacing it!’ • ‘I had fine lines on my forehead, which are much less pronounced (my forehead is quite smooth now). It has smoothed out the crêpiness on my neck. My face is brighter and I look younger. I am 67 years old and most of my friends are in their fifties; if I tell someone I’ve just met how old I am, they are amazed. They say I can’t be, my skin is far too young!’ • ‘By the end of the trial, I do feel that my face seemed more contoured, and my skin glowed and was more refined, with a small noticeable difference to the finer wrinkles’ • ‘When I research a product, I always read the reviews and most of the products from this company get five stars. They are also winning awards, and are based locally to where I live; it feels good supporting an upcoming company. I also like that many of the ingredients are organic also makes me keener to use them, as I’m not keen on using artificial ingredients on my face.’
£30 for 200mg - click to buy