We hope you'll consider supporting Temptalia by shopping through our links below. Thanks!
  • Macy's15% off beauty purchase with code VIP, ends 9/25.
  • Nordstrom15% off major beauty brands, ends 9/25.
  • UltaFall Haul Event, including 30% off NYX, ends 9/30.

I can’t speak on anti-aging serums, but I have tried several hydrating/glycolic serums, and yes, I do think they work. If you’re going to spend big bucks, do it on a serum, which is more concentrated than a moisturizer or lotion.

— Christine

Do you have a question idea? Submit yours here.

Get Updates by Email

How often?
We hope you'll consider supporting Temptalia by shopping through our links below. Thanks!


Discussion and debate are highly encouraged, and we expect community members to participate respectfully. When asking a question, please check the post above for information regarding pricing, availability, dupes, and availability, and keep discussion on-topic. If you have general feedback, an off-topic question, or need technical support, please contact us.

Comments that include advertisements, self-promotion, insults, etc. may be in violation of our comment policy and subject to deletion. Please see our comment policy for more information.

Comments on this post are closed.

Routine items like cleansers, weekly clay masks etc. are fine to get over-the-counter, but I’ve yet to find a serum or other targeted skin care item that works for me. If I have a specific complaint it goes right to the dermatologist!

There are many serums that are very effective, but I’m glad you always head to your derm for guidance. Good for you girl!

John, I must say, it is always a pleasure to read your skin care comments. I’ve just read through all of them and hope that anyone else reading this section will do the same. You give a lot of good, sound information that is practical and grounded in facts. What is your background, if you don’t mind me asking?

I’ve answered this several times before, but I’m just a normal (though avid) consumer like you! Though I’d like to become a dermatologist, I’m not sure how likely that will happen.

But that’s good news for everyone (except me haha), in the sense that it means that the knowledge that I’ve obtained can also be obtained by anyone. You don’t have to go to school, etc…

Thank you for actually reading my responses! 🙂

I’m so happy that someone asked this! I’m such a sucker for serums. I’m not a toner fan, but I feel like some of the serums I have are so awesome.

Paula’s Choice RESIST Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum
Paula’s Choice RESIST Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum
The Body Shop Vitamin C Skin Boost

These are my favorite 3 right now.

Ole Henricksen Truth Serum for moisture and Clinique Pore Refining serum to smooth and prime the skin

Would you say the Clinique serum truly minimizes large pores? I’ve been looking for aaages for something that will help my skin look smooth and flawless. But reviews on pore refining solutions tend to be so mixed, I can never decide if they’re worth their usually hefty price tag. :-/

Well, it does minimize the appearance of large pores, but not in any meaningful nor beneficial way. One, the main carrier fluid, dimethicone, is a linear silicone that forms a light water-impermeable layer that will fill in your pores. So yes, this will make your pores look smaller.

Two, the inclusion of alcohol (denatured ethanol, will temporarily inflame your skin; the swelling will force your pores to become more compact, and therefore, smaller.

But other than those two ingredients, there isn’t anything that’s proven to shrink pores. But then again, no product really can, other than an exfoliant like salicylic acid. And if you have stubborn whiteheads/blackheads, you have to first remove those comedones, followed with salicylic acid treatment, in order to actually reduce the size of pores.

There are some good ingredients, like medium-low amounts of vitamins C, E, and some hydrating ingredients like acetyle glucosamine, sodium hyaluronate, glycerin, and lecithin.

All in all, there are better serums out there. Hope this helped.

I have the excat same problem! I already tried Estée Lauders Idealist Pore Minimizing serum and it did absolutely nothing for me 🙁

I have asked the cosmetic dermo about Lush for the face. He said to use a cleanser from them, but not to rely on anything all natural having real, lasting, skin benefits. As much as I love Lush, I will never do their skincare again.
I use Prescriptives Line Preventor, and have forever, as it has evolved. No problems, and lovely skin!!! I love that one!!

i have dry or combo skin and i loved full of grace. it tingled. it made me glow. i dont know why i stopped using it cause it really truly gave me such a glow. so moisturized. yes a lil greasy so i only used at night. and i dont know if it did anything anti aging or anything, but i was soft and glowy and that was good enough for me.

I’ve never used one before but I’m sure the moisturizing ones actually work (the good ones at least). If I ever move into the land of serums though, I’ll definitely invest in one that contains hyaluronic acid. Don’t let the word “acid” fool you, its a molecule that is designed to trap water (its naturally found in connective tissue throughout the body) to moisturize skin without harming it…so says my histology professor.

Thanks for pointing this out. But I’d also like for you and other readers to not let that fact you pointed out “fool” you into thinking that hyaluronic acid applied to the skin actually penetrate into the skin. It is too large (10k-15k daltons) to penetrate the stratum corneum (needs to be <5k daltons). Therefore, it won't "plump" or "fill" your skin. However, combined with occlusive agents, it will help form a nice layer of water above the stratum corneum.

I think it’s important to define with a serum is. They’re just light moisturizers that employ lighter vehicular bases, such as silicones and slip agents. For example, there’s dimethicone, cyclopentasiloxane, various crosspolymers, and butylene glycol. They also can incorporate higher concentrations of beneficial ingredients because of their lighter textures; less “filler” ingredients are needed to create a heavier and more emollient base. However, it’s important to remember that just because a serum can do these things, it doesn’t mean that all serums will.

Really, just like BB creams, serums aren’t something that “amazing” or “super new”. I absolutely hate it when people tell me or I read supposedly scientific articles that BB creams and serums are the “best” just because they’re called “serums” or “BB creams.” Really, it INFURIATES ME! Haha, okay /endrant.

Yes!! I had a 2-week sample of caudalie vinoperfect serum, and it made the biggest difference out of any skin product I’ve ever used. I was seriously radiant! It is over $80 though… I’ve also used samples of Lancome Genefique (I’m not sure if that’s classified as a serum, but I use it as one) and within just a couple of days I had smaller pores and a more even/radiant tone. I agree with you though Christine, you have to be willing to dish the big bucks… they do last awhile though once you put the money down!

I have been using the Origins Plantscription serum for 6 weeks now and it has made my lines fade enough to see a marked improvement. I did take before & after pics just to make sure it wasn’t wishful thinking and the proof is in the pudding. it’s expensive at $55 for 1oz but totally worth it. I don’t know about drugstore stuff though, I’ve yet to find anything there that works at all.

Yay, a thread about facial products. To answer the question, I swear by Ole Henricksen’s products, specifically the orange (gorgeously citrus smelling) Truth Serum and the African Red Tea serum. God, I cannot say enough how much I love the Truth Serum and what a change it (hell, the whole O/H line) has made to my face. It was the first O/H product I tried and it hydrates my face without causing breakouts, softens the skin, firms it, massively brightened it and, somehow, has also evened out my skin. Though I have combination skin, it was strangely dry in parts and never looked hydrated or plump until the Truth Serum. The cream to go on top of it is fantastic but one can use the serum alone. Sometimes, when it’s far too hot here, I just use the truth serum.

When I started exploring the whole line (and dropping the much, much more expensive Dr. Brandt line that I’d been using to little avail), I discovered the African Red Tea serum. I love that too. It’s thicker and best to it use at night, with the Truth Serum during the day. Sometimes, I actually use both together at night due the super effects of Vitamin C, so the Red Tea serum essentially acts as a night time cream in that instance.

The effects of just the Truth Serum (and accompanying cream) were noticeable within the first 10 days, if not sooner. After a month, when I walked into Sephora not wearing a SHRED of makeup, the skin lady whom I’ve known for over 2 yrs now said, “Wow, your skin looks amazing. What are you using?!” And some complete stranger agreed with her and asked the same question. God, I better shut up because I could SERIOUSLY go on about this and what it’s done for my skin for the next hour!!

i agree 100% about the truth serum. i got a sample from sephora and soon as i can im buying the full bottle. its amazing. and its scent is just a nice extra but its really tingly on and i just love it to peices. so much for the other serum i just got. i think itll sit in my cupboard for awhile. id rather have results!

Jane, instead of letting the other serum brand just sit on the shelf, use it on your chest, neck or on the back of your hand! That’s what I do with the serums that either make me break out or just don’t seem as effective. I figure it can’t hurt and may even help prevent old lady hands or horizontal neck wrinkles.

As for the amazing Truth Serum, one thing I do is check eBay for sample packets in sets. You can sometimes find 10 .1 oz packets for a steal. Then, I just empty one into a Sephora sample pot and use it until I need the next one. For those who may find the Truth Serum price a little high for an unknown product, it may be the way to go.

Lastly, I don’t know your age or skin type but you may want to consider getting a sample of the African Red Tea serum from Sephora. Just to try, especially at night time. It’s called “See the Difference” and includes: African red tea; Algisium C; Gingko biloba; Olive base for hydration; grapefruit, orange and tangerine extracts to purify and brighten skin; and Sea Kelp. It’s a light product but super hydrating. I think the one-two combination of that and the Truth Serum is pretty amazing.

Last year while on vacation in Florida my face broke out into a strange bumpy type rash allover my entire face, I had a sample of the Ole Henricksen Red Tea See The Difference Serum and decided to throw some on my face. The results were amazing, the rash was almost gone by the next day! The serum smelled really pleasant and made my normally dry, rashy, sensitive skin, so fantastically smooth.

I have not purchased the full bottle yet but I am saving up, and am now considering the Truth Serum after Kafka’s post. I definitely recommend trying the See The Difference Serum if anyone ever has the chance.

I have used the Bare Minerals night serum & I like it. It seems to work okay. I have used Philosophy Hope is not Enough during the day and it was okay. Not sure if it did anything. I have been looking for a good day serum. Not sure what that would entail though.

I’ve been using a hydrating & soothing one from Avène, and a Vitamin C one (Apivita) – I like them both (the Avène one is great on cold and dry days). As for the percentage Vitamin C in Apivita: I think it is a good one to start with, but I’ve read that a higher percentage might be necessary, if you’re looking for an anti-photo aging effect

Yup, I’d say so! I’ve tried several that I really like, and I think they make all the difference in the world for my skin! I agree with you, Christine. I think serum is the thing to blow big money on, though I have tried inexpensive ones that work very well (a hydrating serum for example, doesn’t have to be pricey)!

I think that serums do work even though we don’t always see the effect right away. For instance, Vitamin C serums do make my skin brighter and clearer but they never quite take away my hyper pigmentation. I do know that it is working hard at preventing future damage and free radical attack. That being said not all serums are made equal and I’ve only used serums that were recommended by my dermatologist.

I use the Kate Somerville QUENCH serum. (3 yrs now) Love it. Also Renee Rouleau skin drink is a good source of sodium hyaluronic acid. Did you know that it is sometimes used internally to lubricate joints?

Yes, serums are effective! I use Bobbi Brown’s Extra Repair Serum. I have dry skin and this product does wonders, helps with hydration and fine lines!

Haven’t tried any serums on my skin but am curious about glycolic acid serums, has anyone tried these? What would people recommend for acne scarring? Christine, have you done any reviews on serums that you have used and found effective?

I picked up Mario Badescu’s Vitamin C Serum when Ulta had a 25% off sale and it’s AMAZING! It really brightens and softens well. It’s also been great for lightening my pesky dark spots.

I like the lightness of serums, particularly in the summer, when creams feel heavy. However, the fact that they’re more concentrated can also mean that they’re more likely to cause a reaction, particularly if they contain ingredients like retinol that can be a bit difficult for skin to take at first.

I’ve tried a few, but the one that I swear by is Korres Wild Rose Serum. I noticed a difference in my skin almost immediately and I am a true skeptic when it comes to these things.

I can voucher 100% for Mario Badescu’s Cellufirm Drops. I’ve been using it on my laugh lines, under eyes, and forehead. My laugh lines around my mouth are not that visible anymore nor the lines on my forehead.

For about a year now I have regularly used a number of skin products. This is quite a feat since I have very sensitive skin and everything made me break out. It seemed the older I got, the worse my skin got.

So in late 2010 I started following this blog as recommended by a very good friend. Changed my life! I am so grateful for so many great tips I found here, by Christine and the readers, it’s just wonderful!

I remember a guest post, believe Christin was her name (from Canada), talking about her winter skin routine, and that’s what really got me going.

Not sure if the serums I use alone are effective, but this is my nightly routine:

– La Roche Posay Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser and separate eye makeup remover
– scrub with my Clairsonic and the cleanser that came with it
– LRP Effaclar Toner -the best thing ever!!! use it in the morning, too.
– Bliss Peeling Groovie Serum to brighten age spots, acne discoloration, and help with small lines and wrinkles
– LRP Effaclar Duo for my chin and around the hairline, where I am most prone to break out
– Olay Regenerist Advanced Anti-Aging Moisturize Night Resurfacing Elixir – they don’t call it serum, but what’s an elixir anyway?!

So all of this together actually makes me look younger and I have the geatest skin since I hit puberty. Before this regimen I had a lot more time at my hands at night, laughing lines at my temples, and a lot more pimples. I wouldn’t cut out any of the serums I use – not going to risk it.

I use the Dr. Weil for Origins Mega Mushroom Face Serum. I have very fair and extremely sensitive skin that reacts to just about everything. This serum keeps it calm and clear no matter what as long as I use it every night I don’t even have to use a heavy foundation to cover the redness.

What serum has the best value? Or what’s a good serum that is affordable/not too pricey?

I haven’t really used serums, but would like to. I don’t want to invest too much money into them yet though.

I suppose it depends on your definition of affordable or not too pricey. A bottle of Ole Henriksen’s Truth Serum costs $48, as does his African Red Tea “See the Difference” serum. (I wrote about both up above.) My recommendation would be to get samples from Sephora of the Truth Serum (to start out with) along with any other brand that you may get as a recommendation. Then, once you settle on swhich one you like, you can try eBay for the set of sample packets I mentioned up above or see if you are lucky to find a good deal on a regular or half-sized bottle.

IMO, that’s a much more affordable way to go, not to mention practical. It often takes at least 2 weeks, if not longer, to see how your skin really takes to a new product or to see if it’s effective at all. Speaking only for myself, I could never return any beauty products that has been a quarter to half-way used but sometimes it takes that amount of a product to see how your skin reacts. So, I prefer to get sample sets. Of course, I also love nothing more than a bargain, so I always look to eBay as a general matter for products that I already know, love and use. NOTHING better than a bargain! 😉

Thank you for your tips! Starting with samples is a good idea. I gotta figure out what things my skin may react to.

Favorite serums: Elizabeth Arden Prevage eye and face serum, and at night the Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM.

Boots No 7 products are amazing and have actually been shown in studies to be highly effective. Best of all, you can grab them at Target and they’re very affordable. I’ve been using the same skin care routine for years, after trying just about everything out there (seriously), and settled on Cetaphil Facial Cleanser and Olay Regenerist products. Rarely if ever do I have a break out anymore. I recently added Boots No 7 Protect & Perfect Beauty Serum and the Line Filler and they are both working very well, I can see a difference in my skin. They’re both under $20, too!

Boots No 7 products are amazing and have actually been shown in studies to be highly effective. Best of all, you can grab them at Target and they’re very affordable. I’ve been using the same skin care routine for years, after trying just about everything out there (seriously), and settled on Cetaphil Facial Cleanser and Olay Regenerist products. Rarely if ever do I have a break out anymore. I recently added Boots No 7 Protect & Perfect Intense Beauty Serum and the Line Filler and they are both working very well, I can see a difference in my skin. They’re both under $20, too!

If you don't see your comment yet, it's still in our moderation queue. We try our best to approve comments within 24 hours (and reply to them within 72 hours) but can sometimes get behind. Thank you for your patience!