Indagare Illumino Youth Serum. Photo / Supplied

The Best Face Serums To Keep Your Skin Healthy & Hydrated

Before the skin drought that summer can bring, build-up your hydration levels and facial resilience with a moisturising and firming serum

The focus of intensive skincare has been on corrective serums for awhile now, but we think it’s time for a rain-check to ensure that the foundation of your daily regimen is delivering optimal hydration first and foremost. This should be ahead of (or in tandem with) addressing more specific concerns.

Serums that mainly tackle the likes of dullness, redness, pigmentation, and sensitivities all have their place, but for the most part, building a deep reservoir of moisture is your surest way to healthy skin. Seek out serums containing moisture-magnet ingredient hyaluronic acid and fine-textured absorbent plant oils to do this.

READ: 14 Overnight Face Masks To Get Your Skin Glowing Come Morning

Of course, glow-getting and resurfacing products that do double duty are welcome — as shown by the market uptake of serums with vitamin C brightness boosters and glycolic and alpha hydroxy acids — but today we’re focusing primarily on the gentler skin-plumping types. It’s that old trick of having a well-prepared canvas for what comes next.

Think of now as ideal post-winter recovery time for your skin, so when the real holidays come around you’re already looking refreshed. Once your skin is feeling full and firm you can layer up, or switch or alternate with more targeted serums for specific concerns. Replenish then reset. Here’s how to start:

1. Indagare Illumino Youth Serum about $95
The key ingredient is easily absorbed prickly pear cactus oil, which is gaining quite the beauty buzz. It’s the potent new oil to know about with a high fatty acid profile and more skin-softening vitamin E than argan oil. Nigella Lawson is one who has been raving about it lately. For best quality, oil extraction from this desert plant is labour intensive and should be from the seeds not its fruit or flowers. This example is made by an exporting Australian organic skincare company and has added plant extracts to brighten, and balance sebum.

Avene Physiolift Serum. Photo / Supplied

2. Avene Physiolift Serum $70
This high-performance French product uses a hyaluronic acid duo to up the instant and ongoing plumping effect. It’s an addition to a range that already includes a good hydrating serum, with this one designed to deliver that, plus more support for maturing skins showing signs of wrinkles and loss of firmness. The daily smoothing rejuvenator, like all Avene products, also dips into the thermal waters the brand is named for. Selected pharmacies, see

Omorovicza Rose Lifting Serum. Photo / Supplied

3. Omorovicza Rose Lifting Serum $188
From Hungary, this serum (like the Avene example) incorporates its local thermal water. Drawn from a Budapest spring on a site that is now home to the exclusive Omorovicza spa, the water’s properties were first recognised in the 1800s. The serum also contains a healing mineral-rich ferment and fruit extracts to promote firming. From Mecca stores or

Lemon & Beaker Ageless Serum. Photo / Supplied

4. Lemon & Beaker Ageless Serum $48
This New Zealand-made natural product in a pretty glass bottle contains jasmine essential oil in a light creamy formulation. This year-old skincare company, founded by Hannah Hong, a University of Auckland science graduate and businesswoman, makes three serums. The Ageless one contains a plethora of plant oils and green tea extract to support resilience and elasticity. From selected Life and Unichem pharmacies and

Dermalogica Phyto-Nature Firming Serum. Photo / Supplied

5. Dermalogica Phyto-Nature Firming Serum $290
A dual phase serum said to be Dermalogica’s most advanced, this contains active botanicals in a formula engineered to stimulate the nature of younger-looking skin. Next generation hyaluronic acid has a lasting but flash-filler effect and plant extracts conspire with sapphire-encapsulated peptides to brighten and boost skin showing signs of ageing. From selected salons and pharmacies, see

Drunk Elephant Hydra Intensive Hydration Gel. Photo / Supplied

6. Drunk Elephant Hydra Intensive Hydration Gel $89
This watery-style serum benefits from pro-vitamin B5 as a strengthening humectant to hold hydration to plumped skin and pineapple enzymes to refine it. For those with oilier complexions, a moisturiser on top may not be necessary. The clean beauty company was recently snapped up by Shiseido for US$840m. Tiffany Masterson who founded Drunk Elephant in 2012 and saw it become one of the fastest growing beauty start-ups will stay on.

Evolu Facial Serum. Photo / Supplied

7. Evolu Facial Serum $65
A trusty overnighter, this long-time local brand uses a vitamin-rich blend of plant oils with a fine “dry” texture to soak in easily and promote suppleness. Arise with a dewy sheen and skin’s defences nourished with omega 6 fatty acids. The natural scent adds to the relaxing sensation.

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane. Photo / Supplied

8. The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane $20.60
Using oil derived from olives this economical vegan option is a good way to test how the substance can help supplement skin. Squalane is the saturated version of the unstable squalene oil found in some plants and once more commonly derived from shark livers. It’s also found naturally in human skin which is why it is considered to be compatible with it and well absorbed. Farmers Westfleld Newmarket and Queen St stores or

Guerlain Abeille Royale Double R Serum. Photo / Supplied

9 Guerlain Abeille Royale Double R Serum $359
Royal jelly is included in this renew and repair serum that nods further to the bees it is named for with honey on the ingredient list. Squalane contributes to the moisturising effect. There’s also a touch of glycolic and lactic acids to gently freshen the skin.

Dr Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Serum. Photo / Supplied

10. Dr Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Serum $500
A super booster to ward-off ageing signs of dehydration, this pricey serum from a German dermatologist with a celebrity following contains hyaluronic acid in long and short chain molecules designed to spread the benefits. Use daily or carry about to top up moisture levels or refresh skin before or after travel or exposure to air conditioning or the elements.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronised Recovery Complex II. Photo / Supplied

11. Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronised Recovery Complex II $136 
It’s hard to go past this in any line-up of hydrating serums, with ANR having been what set the ball rolling in this category of night-time care. Updated over the years, the hyaluronic acid rich formula also takes into account research about how skin functions over night to maximise the choice of ingredients and delivery for care and correction. It’s oil and fragrance free. From selected pharmacies and department stores.

Clarins Double Serum. Photo / Supplied

12. Clarins Double Serum $175 
This is another serum with significant longevity, first released in 1985, now in its 8th generation version with one of Clarins’ highest concentrations of anti-ageing plant extracts, among them turmeric. The formula combines an oil-based and water-based phase when dispensed to maximise the use of actives. From selected pharmacies and departments stores

Dior Capture Youth Plump Filler. Photo / Supplied

13. Dior Capture Youth Plump Filler $190
By using hyaluronic acid molecules of different weights this freshening serum both drenches the skin surface in moisture and helps restore plumpness. The hyaluronic comes from fermented wheat and along with an antioxidant iris extract helps add up to the product’s being nearly 90 per cent natural-origin ingredients.

Antipodes Hosanna Intensive Hydrating Serum. Photo / Supplied

14. Antipodes Hosanna Intensive Hydrating Serum $54
This water-charged and oil-free bioactive organic serum is a thirst quencher for skin needing a boost. Its plumping action supports collagen production and helps improve skin smoothness with cumulative use. Natural vegan ingredients grown in New Zealand include antioxidants from sauvignon blanc grapes and an extract of mamakau fern.

Share this:
New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald

Subscribe to E-Newsletter