Serums 101 featuring Estee Lauder, Lancome, Vichy and Clarins

Lately i find that there are two products that are difficult to explain to a person: serums and primers (full post here). I don’t mean here the savvy bloggers who are up to date with all the latest innovations, but the general public. Ladies get confused when to apply them, where, why or are concerned about layering products.

What is a serum? A serum its a potent, high concentrated skincare product meant to tackle one or few problem areas. Usually it is focused on one active ingredient (eg retinol) and on one skin imperfection (pores, aging, pigmentation etc).

Consistency wise, a serum will have a thin consistency so it can be absorbed in the skin fast. Regardless the brand, always follow up with a moisturizer. A serum will not protect the skin, hydrate, have SPF or other benefits a moisturizer will posses.

Yes, you can layer your skincare and makeup products without problems. For example, apply serum, moisturizer, primer, foundation and so on, you will not be building inches of products if you use the instructions accordingly (which ive noticed nobody reads the packaging anymore).

A serum will always be a little pricier due the technology and ingredients behind it, but bare in mind that it lasts ages too (in average about 3-4 months). Only a little is needed, don’t make the mistake to drown yourself in it.

Always give time for a product to work, especially the ones for pigmentation. If its taken years for a spot to form (the sun damage shows on the skin in 10 years time from when it was produced), it will take more then 4 weeks for a product to work.

So here are some points about the serums Ive tried and liked over time:

Estee Lauder

Idealist – one of the most popular serum amongst the people with oily skin. It is targeted to smooth out the skin and minimize the pores by 30%. This is my second bottle, yes it does visibly minimize the pores but when you stop, everything goes back to normal. More a quick fix and even makeup primer, rather then treatment. Best to be used in the morning, for all ages.

Advanced Night Repair – im currently using this at night time, its a recovery – regenerating serum suitable for all ages. Its meant to boost the skin’s capacity to heal itself. I find the texture a bit sticky for my liking and im not a fan of the scent (a bit herbal), had high hopes but didn’t noticed major results yet (after 4 weeks), will give it more time.

Idealist Illuminator– the latest serum on the market from EL, it boost radiance and evens out the skin tone. Haven’t used this one yet, have a few pigmentation spots on my cheekbones and i am very curious to see if it delivers.

Lancome Visionaire and Genefique

Genefique Youth Activator will boost the youth proteins in your skin during the morning and adds tons of radiance and smoothness, whilst Visionnaire Advanced Skin Corrector will treat the visible signs of aging (wrinkles, pores, pigmentation) during the night. Very efficient and you will see results in 7 days (Genefique).


Liftactiv Serum 10 – having an active ingredient like Retinol, makes this serum a very efficient anti-age product. I loved using it during the night, it immediately plumped my skin and smoothed it out. Has a slightly richer texture, which makes it loved even by the driest of complexions. Great for a budget brand (RRP. €35) and targeted for the 30+ women. I enjoyed using it during the night (the bottle in the picture is empty, kept it for blogging), but it can be used morning or/and evening.

Aqualia Thermal – this serum is like a bath for your skin! Rich in soothing thermal water, this will add hydration and strength to the sensitive skin. I have a very long relationship with this serum, its my summer holiday must!

Also, check out the La Roche Posay Dermaox serum – a fabulous radiance booster based on Vitamin C.


Im struggling at the moment to finish this one out, this is a skin renewal serum meant to combat fine lines. I say that im struggling, simply because is too rich on my skin and i have to wait a couple of minutes before im applying the moisturiser. Very fragranced, haven’t noticed yet a dramatic improvement and im suspecting this is braking me out. Ill give it more time to see what’s happening.

Thank you for reading and please let me know what other serums i should try, im a little obsessed with skincare.

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  1. April 23, 2012 / 11:34 am

    I want all of these now, really want to try Idealist Illuminator but it’s so darn expensive!

  2. Andreea
    April 23, 2012 / 10:18 pm

    Yep have to finish some stuff up and I’ll start on it. It’s a bit pricey, but does last for months, hopefully it’s worth it x

  3. April 24, 2012 / 9:01 pm

    Hands down, for me, it’s Lancome serums all the way baby! xo

  4. Alma
    August 26, 2013 / 2:26 pm

    I have tried only the The Hydration serum from Apivita and it improved a lot my skin condition. I just discovered your blog and I really enjoy it. Congrats and greetings from Romania:)!

  5. Edith Alverson
    October 10, 2014 / 6:39 am

    I am using Clarins vital light serum, and I must say I love it. I could be a true spokesperson for this product, even though I haven’t been diligent about using it I still see results. I use it with Chanel tinted moisture. I always get great reviews on my skin. I am 59 years old but I have been told I look 40.

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