Ask the Edit: Do We Need Serum?

Jan 29, 2024

From clickbait-stories about pre-teens loving Sephora’s wares to fashion mags advocating for a 13-step nighttime routine at 30, skincare seems to be all we talk about.  Without skincare and makeup tutorials, TikTok would just be boring recipes and people complaining about customer service.  But what if you don’t understand the obsession?  What if you just want to wash your face and go to bed?

Belle (do people still call you that?),

For background, I’m a 38 year old mother of three.  I also work in healthcare, owning and managing an outpatient surgical practice.  My question is about skincare.  My routine consists of Cerave soap and sunscreen.  Do I need a serum?  A moisturizer?  An eye cream?  My 16 year old daughter is constantly on my to up my game.

The thing I remind myself is that our mothers and grandmothers didn’t have Sephora.  They had Pond’s cold cream and Oil of Olay.  So despite all the hype, we will go on living without a cabinet full of lotions and potions.  But if you want to “up your game,” I would add two products to your routine.

First // Vitamin-C Serum // For years, I used a Vitamin-C Serum every day, along with a smorgasbord of other products.  Then, two or three years ago, I stopped.  Just before the holidays, an aesthetician convinced me to give it another try, and I was wow’ed.  Within two weeks, my skin was brighter and the tone was more even.  It was proof that some products do work.

I bought the SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic because it’s the best, but it’s also the priciest.  And one of the great things about Vitamin-C serums is that you don’t have to spend a lot for good product.  A friend using this Mad Hippie serum, which she says is just as good, and she may be on to something, since she’s a nurse in a dermatology practice.

Second // A Night Mask // If you don’t like wearing something on your face during the day, then wear it when you sleep.  Night masks are great for hydration, treating skin concerns, and giving your skin a real rest.  And this is another area where you can tailor your treatment to your budget, since there are great choices in many price points.

For wrinkles and uneven texture with a side of hydration, I recommend this Farmacy Niacinamide Mask.  At $45, its one of the better skincare products I’ve tried (a little goes a long way).  My 92-year-old Nana only wants Fresh’s Black Tea Firming mask for Mother’s Day.  Have redness issues?  This calming mask might be just the ticket.

Want something under-$20, this TonyMoly Sleeping Pack is one of my Top-10 beauty products I’ve ever used, ever.  Nothing helps me fake the look of rest like that product.

And that’s it.  If you’re already using a soap you like and a sunscreen, those four products are all I would spend my time on.  Also, if your 16-year-old is really into skincare, why not let her do the research?  Tell her your unique skin concerns (redness, wrinkles, acne, etc.) and what you want to pay, and tell her you want three suggestions.  I bet her research is better than anything you can do yourself, and it might be a fun bonding activity.

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Ask the Edit, Beauty, Posts, Style

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  1. Jules says:

    The Timeless Skincare brand of Vitamin C serum is much cheaper than Skinceuticals and has super good reviews. I’ve used it for years myself. They constantly have sales if you are on their email list.
    Personally I benefit from using a tretinoin from my derm (Well… I guess that isn’t technically a serum). I also find having a gentle chemical exfoliator in rotation helps – I use The Ordinary Lactic Acid.

  2. Rebecca says:

    The Washington Post had an article with science-backed skincare recommendations a few months ago. Tl;dr: wear sunscreen during the day, apply retinoids at night. Full article here (hopefully this gift link works): https://wapo.st/48Ty5Jm

  3. BN says:

    How do you wear a face mask at night? Doesn’t it rub off on your pillow? Maybe this is a dumb question, but I am a side sleeper and my face is constantly in contact with my pillow…

    • RKT says:

      The Banana mask absorbs quickly into the skin- and Belle is right, it’s the best. I have been using it for years, and my skin always looks better in the morning.

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