Roxi told me the other day that she had decided to reevaluate her life choices. Or, maybe just her criteria for evaluating serums. Her epiphany came when she rejected a $60 serum on the basis of it not being expensive enough. Surely cost directly correlates with the effectiveness of the product.
Why is this a thing in our culture? “You get what you pay for.” I say you are paying for a whole lot of marketing, packaging and bureaucracy. Let’s talk about what serums are and are not. Then, maybe I can convince the Roxis of the world to break the cycle of consumerism and save some money
What a Serum Is:
Serums are expensive. There is just no getting around that fact in the western world. They are also not too different from each other. They may do different things, but all have the same blueprint. In general, serums have a base of water, glycerin, glycol, and much of the time, alcohol; next come the active ingredients, including acids and/or plant extracts; and finally, dyes and/or fragrances, thickeners, stabilizers, and other ingredients necessary to formulate and maintain the product.
The thing that makes a serum a serum is that those actives (acids and extracts) are higher up on the ingredients list, meaning their concentrations in the product are higher. Think of a serum like a topical vitamin supplement. The actives give your skin nutrients and can also help to heal any minor skin issues like light acne, redness, fine lines, etc.
What a Serum Is Not:
Serums are not cure-alls. When you have major issues inside your body that nutrients cannot help, you have to go to the doctor. The same is true for your skin. Problems like rosacea, allergic reactions and severe acne are most often beyond the powers of serums and may require a prescription or other treatments.
I get frustrated when people look for miracles where there are none. If you have wrinkles, nothing is going to make them go away short of cosmetic surgery (they will come back as you age, though). However, fine lines cause by dryness can be helped with serums and creams. It is important to know the difference. Knowledge will save you money and aggravation.
What I look for in a serum:
- I LOVE fermented ingredients! They are phenomenal in skincare as fermentation increases the nutrient vales of the actives.
- I want meaningful extracts. I am that person who will go through the ingredients list and Google every last one so that I know why it is in the product and what it will do for me.
- I like antioxidants. I am in my early 30s and need to fight off those early signs of ageing. I don’t produce as much collagen and my skin cells don’t work as well as they did 10 years ago. I’ll take all the help I can get from these tiny skincare powerhouses.
- I like hydration. I have dry skin, so I tend to skip serums with “alcohol, denatured alcohol and/or SD alcohol” high up in the ingredients list. Just for reference, cetyl, stearyl, and cetearyl alcohol are not drying alcohols.
Ready to save $65? Good. Let’s do it.
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum vs. Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Ampoule:
- Both of these products contain bifida ferment lysate, a probiotic fermented yeast.
- Estee Lauder smells stronger (a plus for me because I love it!)
- Estee Lauder has caffeine, chamomile, kola seed extract, squalane, and sodium hyaluronate.
- Missha has more antioxidants, extracts and fermented ingredients, niacinamide and biotin.
- Estee Lauder costs $95 for 1.9 oz
- Missha costs $30 for 1.8 oz
- Thoughts: GIMMIE THAT MISSHA! 😉
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum:
First off, I am going to abbreviate to avoid having to type out Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum a million times, so we’ll call it ANR for now. Second, and at the risk of sounding like someone who doesn’t know what the hell I’m talking about, my favorite thing about this serum is that is smells like a margarita. There, it’s on the record.
Having said that, the number one active in ANR is bifida ferment lysate, which is a probiotic fermented yeast. Bifida ferment lysate is basically a supercharged antioxidant. ANR also has Kola seed extract, which provides caffeine Other actives include more caffeine; Sodium Hyaluronate (topical Hyaluronic Acid), chamomille, lactobacillus ferment, and algae. ANR also contains some chemical emollients and hydrators, and some fillers including dyes, stabilizers and emulsifiers.
The antioxidant properties alone, make this a fantastic serum, but I like the addition of caffeine, chamomile, and the extra fermented ingredient. I also like that it is alcohol free and paraben free!
Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Ampoule:
I’m going to abbreviate “TR” for this one; same reason. TR unfortunately has a much milder smell. You almost can’t smell anything, but the faintest hint of margarita is there, so I’ll take what I can get. Again, the active is bifida ferment lysate, and it is alcohol and paraben free. However, TR also has so many more antioxidant ingredients including the extracts of blueberry, beet, carrot, cabbage, cacao (cocoa), melon and rapeseed. TR really takes the antioxidants to another level!
TR has no squalane, but it does have a bit of caffeine from the cocao and a multitude of other ingredients that ANR doesn’t. These include way more fermented ingredients (I counted ten fermented ingredients to ANR’s two); niacinamide (vitamin B3), which improves the appearance of enlarged pores, uneven skin tone, fine lines, dullness, and strengthens the skin’s surface; biotin, which also strengthens skin; and loads of other plant extracts to improve skin condition and function.
I really like the Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Ampoule. I love all the fermented ingredients and plant extracts and I like that they are higher on the ingredients list. Although I really love the smell of the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum, essence of maragrita is not worth $65. These serums do the exact same thing, only TR adds way more antioxidants to your skin. Al in all, I’d say this is a dupe that has outdone the original!