Face serums: modern miracle or marketing scam?

Clinique Smart Custom-Repair Serum Indeed Laboratories Hydraluron Moisture Serum Andalou Naturals Fruit Stem Cell Revitalize Serum

Are my serums destined for the great skincare #fail graveyard in the sky?

Sometime last year I headed off to Shoppers Drug Mart to get me some new moisturizer.

I was all set on which one I was gonna buy until the sales assistant started talking to me about serums.

Specifically that yes, I could buy this $30 moisturizer but if I wanted more hydration I should also get this serum.

My automatic reaction was: NO WAY! Why on earth would I buy a good moisturizer only to have to supplement it with something else? Can’t they just chuck all the ingredients together in one product?

Then I did lots of reading about skincare. And this whole serum thing kept cropping up.

According to Ni’Kita Wilson, cosmetic chemist and vice president of research and innovation at Englewood Lab (quoted in this article on WebMD):

The beauty of a serum is that most of the fluid is eliminated. What you’re left with is a high concentration of active ingredients. They’re the true workhorses of any product line.

Even my skincare/makeup superhero Paula Begoun calls them the “anti-aging superstars of your skincare routine.”

Well fuck.

So I caved and bought my first serum. A really bloody expensive serum. I’m not kidding when I tell you that I practically had heart palpitations when I paid for it.

But this really bloody expensive serum must be really bloody good, right?

Well, I’ve noticed zero difference since I’ve been using a serum.

Maybe the goodness is happening on a cellular level. Maybe things are happening that I just can’t see.

Oh, look. I know some of you will be reading this post saying, “I could have told you that from the beginning Liz. This is merely a marketing gimmick just like the BB and CC cream thing. It’s all in the name of getting you to buy more product. You would have saved yourself a small fortune if only you’d realised this OBVIOUS fact.”

My solution? Buy a cheaper serum, of course.

I’ve tried these serums so far.

Clinique Smart Custom-Repair Serum

The Clinique Smart Custom-Repair Serum has a slight fragrance and feels smooth to apply. When I’ve finished rubbing it in, it has an almost powder-like feel to it.

According to Clinique it’s supposed to diminish lines and wrinkles; firm and lift skin; reduce dark spots; even skin tone; and improve radiance and texture.

After using this for about a month I can say with confidence that none of these things has occurred. I have descernible dark spots on my face and they look exactly the same.

I have fine lines (which I’m cool with) and they’re still there.

I won’t be buying this again.

Indeed Laboratories Hydraluron Moisture Serum

I read great things about Hydraluron Moisture Serum ages ago and had been keeping an eye out for it when it turned up in Shoppers Drug Mart about three weeks ago.

I was so excited that I bought it on the spot.

Indeed Laboratories say this stuff is supposed to reinforce skin’s natural short and long term moisturisation; plump up skin tissue to restore elasticity and firmness; reduce skin roughness and provide a soft, smooth and silky texture to the skin; and boost the action of your moisturiser by stimulating cell turnover resulting in an improved absorption of active ingredients to the skin.

When I got home, I looked it up on Paula’s Choice and was disappointed to see she didn’t rate it very highly.

In fact, I was going to return it when I came across this post by Caroline Hirons who has a very good reputation as a skincare expert so figured I should give it a go.

Another disappointment. Despite great reviews from Caroline and this other one I read (moisturizing miracles? Really?), it’s done nothing for me.

Sure, I’ll use it up but I won’t buy it again.

Which brings us to my most recent serum purchase. And the cheapest of the three.

Andalou Naturals Fruit Stem Cell Revitalize Serum

I kept seeing the Andalou Naturals Fruit Stem Cell Revitalize Serum at my local Winners (I also saw it today at Superstore for $8 more) and finally looked it up online. Paula’s Choice gave it a great review so I bought a bottle yesterday.

Andalou say this stuff repairs cellular damage and discoloration for brighter, even skin tone and smooth texture with fewer fine lines and wrinkles.

I’m sure you’re already saying “Haven’t you learnt your lesson yet Liz? This serum stuff DOESN’T WORK.”

Maybe. Maybe not. But I’m going to give it a damn good try.

Do you use a serum? Have you noticed any positive changes to your skin? Or do you think this all a load of baloney?


  1. The only time I ever use serum is when I get a free sample. The sales assistants always wax lyrical about it. I’ve never found one that does anything as miraculous as they say it will. I actually think the best thing for skin living somewhere with clean air and using nothing at all. I discovered this going on holiday to a Greek island for two weeks. Clean air, sea, sunshine, good sleep, happiness = the best skin EVER. It’s like a total face reboot. Eveything got fixed, blotches, blackheads….then back to the big smoke and the black bogies. Oh well.

  2. I have done an enormous amount of reading/research on my suddenly and dramatically aging (read: menopausal) skin of late….and the recurring themes are these; more vitamin A, more vitamin E and yes, even vitamin C. Vitamin A of course, is key to the whole retinol thingy. So I slather my face with pure vitamin A (in cream form), vitamin E (cream form) and sometimes I crush vitamin C capsules, mixed with glycerin.

    It works….albeit only as long as I use it. I constantly have to re-moisturize throughout the day.

  3. Serums can do wonders for your skin, but you will have little or no results if they’re not part of a comprehensive routine to take care of your skin. If your skin is not well cleansed, exfoliated and acidified you can spend thousands on a wonderful serum that won’t do anything for you

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