Serums are often quite small and even more often eye-wateringly expensive, but they should be the most expensive skincare product you own.
There are several compelling reasons why this should be the case. Your serum is a treatment product. Unlike a moisturiser, which is almost never an active product, your serum usually contains active ingredients designed to tackle specific skin issues like pigmentation, premature signs of aging, or dehydration.
A moisturiser provides a comforting veil over the skin and other skincare products which often feels like it is doing more than it is, which is generally just minimising moisture loss like a jacket. Underneath that protective jacket, your serum is working hard for you.
Though you should spend what you can reasonably afford on a serum – it is the skincare product most worth investing in – there are limits. As soon as something reaches around the €120 mark, the price stops being about ingredients and starts being about prestige and branding. Affordable serums can be more difficult to find than other affordable skincare offerings, and though they are out there, they still tend to be more expensive than other budget skincare products. Generally, I would not spend less than €20 on a serum (though I certainly would for a moisturiser), with a couple of notable exceptions.
Vichy Aqualia Thermal Serum (€24.99)
This serum is a classic and its plumping, hydrating effects are visible on the face. Sadly, it is highly perfumed, which can irritate your skin or get on your nerves in equal measure. If you don’t have sensitive, reactive skin, you should be able to reap its many benefits without any of the fragrance-based drawbacks. If you are sensitive to fragrance, this won’t be for you.
Indeed Labs Hydraluron (€34.99)
Brought to fame by skincare expert and blogging legend Caroline Hirons, Hydraluron is one of those serums which will have you waking up to a different face. Apply to damp skin, followed by any other hydrating serum you like to use or your moisturiser if you prefer. The more hydrating products you apply over this, the more intensely it works. Dehydration disappears and skin is visibly plumped by morning.
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 (6.80 from cloud10beauty.com)
The ordinary is an exception to my €20 rule. They have managed to curate a collection of excellent products at unrivalled prices. This hyaluronic acid serum is plumping, calming and generally ideal for any skin type or age. Have a browse through the brand’s varied menu of serums – all are affordable and there will be one for the specific skin issue you would like to treat.
Nip+Fab No Needle Fix Serum (€26.99)
This serum hydrates the skin effectively while leaving a pleasantly firmed appearance. It also has a very mild blurring effect which helps even out skin tone and makes it an ideal serum for daytime, though you can apply it under moisturiser at night as well.
Pixi Overnight Glow Serum (€34 from Marks & Spencer)
Though Pixi has reached the mainstream in the UK, it is still an underrated brand in Ireland. Their skincare is incredibly effective and pleasant to use, and they are widely lauded for making glycolic acid products, particularly their bestselling Glow Tonic.
Overnight Glow serum contains a whopping 10 per cent glycolic acid, making it an incredibly effective chemical exfoliant. Though you should avoid this if your skin is very sensitive, it does contain aloe to soothe and numerous other nourishing ingredients. Over time, it will minimise the more obvious signs of damage (like sun spots and other such pigmentation) and soften fine lines. As always when using glycolic acid, be sure to wear sunscreen during the day – it sensitises the skin to sun.