Prevention is better than cure, as they say, and that’s something that definitely applies to skincare. Whether you’ve already got a tried-and-tested routine in place or you’re looking to create a new one, a high quality serum is a must for hydrated, nourished skin.
Anti-ageing serums in particular are renowned for their ability to multitask. Combining specially formulated active ingredients with moisturising and protective elements, these one-stop-shop products tackle skincare woes from different angles and get to work immediately.
Of course, the longer you use each product, the stronger the benefits you’re likely to see. But many of these serums offer noticeable differences after only a few days.
How do you incorporate anti-ageing serums into your routine?
Cigdem Kemal Yilmaz, Chemical engineer, skincare formulator and the founder of Skin Masterclass, shared her tips on correctly using anti-ageing serums:
Always apply products from thinnest to thickest: Water base, serum base, gel base, cream base and oil base. For best results, apply your serums after cleansing and toning.
Start slow: The best way to introduce active ingredients is twice a week for one week, every other day for the next two weeks. If the skin can tolerate it, increase to daily use. If you experience any sensitivity, reduce the frequency. Wait a couple of seconds between products with active ingredients aimed for treatment, as this allows the best absorption and minimises any sensitivity.
Best ingredients: To help with ageing skin, look fot retinoids (vitamin A), peptides, niacinamide, vitamin C, resveratrol & Coq10, AHAs, hyaluronic acid, bakuchiol and collagen peptides. Both peptides and retinol work in conjunction to decrease wrinkle density, volume, and depth.
A great combination: For firm and radiant skin, a serum that combines retinol and hyaluronic acid will plump the skin from the inside, naturally filling in fine lines around the eyes, forehead, and mouth and smoothing the surface of the skin.
What do the ingredients do?
Cosmetic Dermatologist Dr Surbhi Virmani, founder of Cosderm, broke down some of the key ingredients used in serums: "Retinol increases the speed of your skin cycle and brings fresh cells to the surface. It also helps to exfoliate the surface's dead cells. This dual action makes the skin more sensitive to UV penetration. It also promotes collagen production and prevents pigment cells from dumping pigment in an erratic fashion.
"Vitamin C is a brightening agent and also promotes collagen production but is an antioxidant, preventing oxidative damage to our tissues. There are other products available in the market which mix vitamin C with vitamin E or ferulic acid enhancing its activity and Increasing the anti-oxidant power of vitamin C. Other vitamins such as niacinamide and pantothenic acid (Vitamin B) also have anti-aging and skin soothing properties and are hugely popular.
"Stem cell creams actually contain stem cell extracts and growth factors and not the live stem cells. These growth factors are strong proteins harvested from stem cells, which give our cells a push in the right direction. To make it simple, they trick our skin into believing it is still young by providing exogenously derived growth factors."
We’ve rounded up the best anti-ageing serums below
Elemis Pro-Collagen Super Serum Elixir
Elemis brings together all of the traditionally beneficial skincare products of the anti-ageing world and boosts them even further with a few other key features. Tri-peptides, African birch bark, red seaweed and padina pavonica are just a few of the other super-powered ingredients you’ll find in this serum, concentrated especially to ensure visibly smoother, plumper skin.
If you’re worried about your skin drying out, you’ll love the fact that it’s also bolstered with hyaluronic acid and omega-rich camelia oil to provide extra moisturisation.
Buy now £55.00, Elemis
Dr David Jack Good Morning Serum
Dr David Jack's Good Morning Serum is everything you need to start the morning with a proper glow. This powerful, multitasking formula is the first step in your streamlined skincare regime, ticking off many elements at once and reducing the need to apply too many layers before you head out for the day.
Incorporating vitamin C, niacinamide, glutathione, and azelaic acid, it's great for not only smoothing the skin and reducing the appearance of fine lines but also reduces redness, detoxifies, boosts cell repair and protects against UV and blue light at the same time.
Buy now £89.00, Dr David Jack
Charlotte Tilbury Charlotte's Magic Serum Crystal Elixir
Don’t be put off by the thin-looking texture of this anti-ageing serum as it’s almost always regarded as one of the best. Tackling all kinds of typical “ageing” features from multiple angles, this powerful serum reduces the appearance of dark spots, fine lines and wrinkles, visibly brightens and plumps your skin all at the same time.
Designed for all skin types, it’s infused with golden vitamin C (a more potent form of traditional vitamin C), polyglutamic acid and niacinamide. Layer it under moisturiser and sunscreen for skin that’s never felt more hydrated and protected.
Buy now £63.00, Charlotte Tilbury
Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum
Murad’s Retinol Youth Renewal Serum may not be the cheapest serum around but it’s often on offer and deserves to be snapped up. As its name suggests, this is an anti-ageing serum that works its magic mostly through retinol.
Its fast-absorbing, breakthrough formula is powered by the brand’s “Retinol Tri-Active Technology”, which is made up of a fast-acting retinoid, a time-released retinol and a retinol booster, just to make sure you’re suitably covered.
It’s also one that promises a little extra glow, thanks to its swertia flower extract, which encourages a luminous, youthful-looking complexion.
Buy now £68.00, lookfantastic
3LAB Super H Serum
3LAB Super H Serum is practically an anti-ageing serum for professionals, if such a thing existed. Be warned: it’s not a budget friendly serum but it is one that’s often touted as being the best of the best. This impressive formula took seven years to create and is a multi-award winner that promises quick results.
Its unique ingredients include a bio-engineered growth hormone and Apple Stem Cells, which help to revive dull complexions, blur away texture imperfections and soften the look of any discoloration. It absorbs into the skin almost instantly and leaves you feeling nourished and hydrated.
Buy now £323.00, Net-A-porter
Kiehl's Retinol Skin-Renewing Daily Micro-Dose Serum
Kiehl’s Micro-Dose Serum makes good use of retinol to increase skin cell production and to unclog pores. Basically helping the skin to renew itself while boosting it with a whole host of other skin-loving other ingredients, this is one of the most powerful serums around and works on all skin types.
An award winning product for multiple years running, this anti-ageing serum uses a daily-strength dose of pure retinol to visibly reduce the look of wrinkles, refine the feel of your skin’s texture and firm the skin all at once. Use every other day if you haven’t experimented with retinol products before.
Buy now £65.00, Kiehl’s
Lancome Advanced Génifique Youth Activating Serum Concentrate
Lancôme’s Advanced Génifique Youth Activating Serum Concentrate was designed for all skin tones and types and is one of the best products around when it comes to hydrating and nourishing without incorporating too many different ingredients.
This potent serum is one of the most popular, with endless positive reviews raving of its lightweight nature, ease of absorption, fast acting ingredients and overall satisfaction. It uses seven prebiotic and probiotic-derived extracts, inspired by microbiome science, to strengthen the skin’s barrier and reveals glowing skin after just one application.
Buy now £135.00, Selfridges
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex
It’s hard to know where to start when reeling off all the benefits and skin-boosting ingredients in Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair Serum Synchronised Multi-Recovery Complex. A rich, subtly scented serum that’s set to become your favourite part of your nighttime skin routine, this luxurious feeling serum is a joy to apply.
Incorporating hyaluronic acid, a boost of vitamin E, tripeptide-32 (the brand’s exclusive peptide) and a powerful burst of other antioxidants, it’s renowned for being the top anti-ageing serum in the US and is almost as well-loved here across the pond.
Buy now £86.00, Selfridges
No7 LABORATORIES Line Correcting Booster Serum & Restore & Renew FACE & NECK MULTI ACTION Serum
Anti-ageing serums don’t come cheap but No7 LABORATORIES’ Line Correcting Booster Serum is one of the most budget friendly around that promises results without costing you a kidney.
This serum is a little more tailored than most, opting for a dual application rather than a cream to really get up close and personal to any skin ailments that you keep thinking about.
Designed as a package deal with one line-correcting serum and one liquid formula, it’s one of the most supercharged packages to date and is powered to intensively target six key wrinkle zones: forehead, crow’s feet, lip, between brows, under eyes and nasolabial folds.
Buy now £47.95, Boots
Monat Rewind Age Control Nectar
Monat's anti-ageing serum incorporates one of the most powerful cocktails of active ingredients and, once you've got into a routine of using it often, you'll swear by it for good.
Some of those include kakadu plum (Monat's exclusive peptide), natural fruit acids (AHAs) and hyaluronic acid, alongside a range of smoothing, hydrating and all-round benefiting ingredients that fuse together in one lightweight formula.
Known for its ability to moisturise skin, restore the skin barrier and hydrate it, this is a powerful anti-ageing serum that promises impressive results.
Buy now £120.00, Monat
Elemis' Anti-wrinkle concentrate brings together everything we need in a serum and more. If you're looking to invest in one anti-ageing serum, make it the Elemis Pro-Collagen Super Serum Elixir.