Ask Belle: Beginner Serums

Jul 9, 2014

Dear Belle,

I know you try a lot of beauty products, and I have a question about serums.  Can you suggest a “starter serum” for someone who has never used that type of product before?

Love the blog. Thanks for everything. Cayley

Choosing a serum depends completely on your skin’s individual needs.  Serums penetrate deeper than a surface cream or gel to treat a specific condition.  They’re also lighter and don’t overwhelm the skin like a heavy cream can.  PopSugar Beauty has more info on serums, but here are some of my favorites.

Acne. My favorite acne serums are the IS Clinical Active Serum and Skinceuticals Blemish + Age Defense.  Need a drugstore brand?  Try the Yes to Grapefruit correcting serum.

Wrinkles. Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair is the one I go back to time and again.  Looking for something under-$25?  A friend just started using Physician’s Formula Laser-Resurfacing Serum, and she loves it.  They also make a dark spot-correcting serum.

Brightening and/or Tone Correcting. Weil for Organics makes a highly rated brightening serum.  Sephora also makes an inexpensive brightening serum.

All-Purpose. Don’t have one specific concern?  Go for a combination of vitamin-C and collagen like in Ole Henriksen’s Truth Serum.  They also make a facial oil with all the benefits of Truth Serum.

Obviously, I don’t use these all at the same time.  The Is Clinical is my every day serum for face, and I smear the Estee Lauder wrinkle serum on my forehead.  And the Truth Serum Oil is currently being used on my eye area.

Have a recommendation you want to share?  Leave it in the comments.

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  1. Have been using the Lancome Genifique every day. Been using it for 3 years now and it is a true miracle working serum! Firms the skin and really makes a huge difference.

  2. Meredith says:

    Trader Joe’s has an antioxidant serum that makes my skin feel great! And it is perfect for the summer months when I want something on the lighter side. Plus it’s under $20. I highly recommend.

  3. SJ says:

    I’ve been using Clinque’s Repairwear Laser Focus for a couple years now and I’m a big, big fan. (PS — Lord & Taylor is having a free-gift-with-purchase Clinique Bonus right now!

    • Belle says:

      I’ve used this, I liked it. Totally forgot about it though. That’s when you know you own too many beauty products.

  4. Katie says:

    If you just want a serum for general use and not a specific concern, I would suggest First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Liquid Recovery. It does a little bit of everything at a good price point. https://www.sephora.com/ultra-repair-liquid-recovery-P385330?icid2=First_Aid_Beauty_Bestsellers_carousel_P385330_link

  5. LL says:

    I love both Boots No. 7 Protect & Perfect Intense Beauty Serum and Nip + Fab Night Fix as multi-purpose serums at a $25 and under price point.

  6. Ann says:

    I think you kinda missed the boat in that every single solitary Derm recommends a Vit C serum for the morning (and retinol at night, of course). So, a starter serum for anyone/everyone should always be a Vit C serum.

    • Belle says:

      That’s why I put it under the multi-purpose serum. I think most of the other serums have the same type of acids found in Vita-C serums along with the other things. But your right, Vita-C is a great place to start.

  7. LeslieJeannene says:

    I’ve used Olay Regenerist Serum for years as an everyday general use serum and I like it a lot, its a good price and works well. I like that it comes in a fragrance free version since I have super sensitive skin.

    I’ve also found the big bottle of it at costco for around $30 so its a good deal when you get it there.

    https://www.amazon.com/Olay-Regenerist-Regenerating-Serum-Moisturizer/dp/B00008ZPGA

    • J says:

      I’ve also been using this for the last few years. I also love that it’s fragrance free for sensitive skin! I usually only put it on after i remove my makeup at night before bed but as I get older i’m considering using it under my regular moisturizer in the morning too.

    • ShanghaiSue says:

      I’ve tried Rwgenerist lotion several times over the years and always ended up with breakouts. I wonder if the serum would be better…lighter, perhaps?

  8. ShanghaiSue says:

    I tried samples of the Ole Henriksen serum & oil. After a month, I found they irritated my sensitive, dry skin. Try the sampler pack first!

    I’m looking forward to trying Mizon’s hyuralonic acid serum. Sounds scary, but it’s actually a mild, super-moisturizing ingredient (https://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?id=32088049). Lastly, I’ve been checking Beautypedia more and more for irritating or non-proven ingredients in my cosmetics.

  9. J says:

    is Clinical’s Hydra Cool Serum has transformed my skin! My skin is clearer, brighter and smoother- it is worth every penny. My sister is a convert now too.

  10. Annie says:

    I get so confused on the order when it comes to applying skin products. For morning, I wash my face, then toner, serum, zit zapping potion on acne, moisturizer/sunscreen and then make-up. At night, I wash my face, followed by toner again, night serum, zip zapper, night moisturizer. I should be using an eye cream more than I am. Do you wait a few minutes between applications to let everything “sink in?” Am I doing it wrong?! 🙂

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