A lovely reader (hello Cal!) emailed me to say she was a little confused by the whole beauty regime thing and could I please explain when one was supposed to use beauty serums?
I was reminded that I hadn't addressed her question this morning when I was massaging in a layer of gunk after my shower and admiring the plump, smooth texture of my skin.
God, that sounds narcissistic but bear with me.
Sure there's a lot of snake oil on the market and if we were to believe all the claims put forward by various beauty companies for their facial products (& take at face value their photoshopped advertisements), we'd all be walking around with the complexions of twelve year olds.
Although I was sent buckets of serums in my twenties, I never bothered with any of it: I had great skin and it was patently clear to me that adding another level to my skincare regime wasn't necessary.
Now that I've started the long inexorable fall towards old age (I'm over thirty), my skin could do with an extra boost and a good serum really can make a difference, delivering extremely concentrated amounts of supposedly active ingredients to your skin. After a week of using one my skin usually looks dewy, stays moist, and there is no flaking. With the really good ones I get no breakouts either.
This is important to me as I have rosacea, which is easily exacerbated by the wrong products. Unfortunately I have to use trial & error as I have no way of knowing which product will cause me to flare up in advance. The wrong one results in tiny white pustules (mm lovely) all over my cheeks which take a week to go down. Skincare for me is like Russian roulette.
I take all those promises with a very large pinch of salt but, having used it religiously every morning straight onto my skin, followed by my SPF day moisturiser, and each evening massaged in for a few minutes before applying night & eye cream, I'm really very, very impressed with the state of my skin. It stays hydrated & even a little glow-y throughout the day and the very fine lines really do seem to be less noticeable, I guess because they are all plumped up. Put me in a Force Ten gale and I suspect they'll be noticeable again in seconds.
This particular serum can be used daily or as an occasional boost. I'm not a big believer in products if they aren't used regularly, so I would suggest an all or nothing approach.
I've never really used Clarins products before, but I have a small mountain to test, courtesy of the US Clarins press office, and, so far, so extremely good. I'm using the serum in conjunction with the Multi-Active Night Prevention Plus Cream (recommended for 30s) and I haven't had a single break out, blackhead or flaky patch in two weeks.
The Serum is UK £50 here, US $94 here