Getting Serious About Serums
Not sure you need a serum or how to use one? Our skincare experts give the lowdown on face serums, boosters and elixirs and which are best for your needs.
Chantecaille Global Brand Ambassador Scott Medwatz and Apothecary Coordinator Julie Ofcharsky not only share a passion for skincare – they’ve been best friends for over a decade since “growing up together” in the beauty business. They gushed with enthusiasm in their recent YouTube Live explainer of Chantecaille’s serums and how to use them. Think of serum as extra nutrition for your skin, Scott says: “Your face cream and your eye cream are your breakfast, lunch and dinner, but serums are your vitamins.” Here are the different types and how to mix them into your skincare regimen.
SERUM TYPE: AMPOULE
WHAT IT IS: A small-dose, supercharged serum with high concentrations of active ingredients for fast, impactful results. Unlike the more typical single-use ampoules, ours come in four bottles to save waste, each designed to last a week.
OUR PICK: Gold Recovery Intense Concentrate PM.
BEST FOR: Intense anti-aging“This is by far the most incredible product I’ve tried,” Scott says. Gold Recovery Intense’s Night Repair Enzymes, derived from radiation-resistant Icelandic freshwater algae, help the skin recharge overnight and fight blue light pollution. Three powerful peptides do the rest: Hexapeptide Amplified is 50 times more potent than other peptides and boosts tissue-strengthening power within skin cells. It joins Refining Lipopeptide as a “power couple” to smooth crows’ feet and expression lines. Julie adds that Gold Heptapeptide, derived from 24K gold, also softens and smooths the skin, and is all vegan.
HOW TO USE: Rub in a couple of drops on clean skin in the evening for 28 nights.
SERUM TYPE: BOOSTERS/PRE-SERUM
WHAT IT IS: A lighter-weight serum with targeted effects, ideal for blending with other skincare. (“It works like conditioner with a shampoo,” Julie says.)
BEST FOR: Targeted improvements, “especially if you don’t like too many steps.”
OUR PICK #1: Blue Light Protection Hyaluronic Serum
Julie loves this serum for its ultra-hydrating benefits, with three different hyaluronic acids of varying molecular weights giving maximum penetration. Then there’s the added benefit of blue-light protection to combat digital aging. “It absorbs and doesn’t feel sticky like a lot of hyaluronics,” Scott adds, noting that it’s also great for calming redness.
HOW TO USE IT: Under moisturizer daily
OUR PICK #2: Blanc Gardenia Brightening Essence
A cousin to the rose, gardenia helps to brighten on contact. “I feel an invigorating, awake sensation when I put it on,” Scott says. While some people are wary of brightening products, this botanically active formula is very gentle, he adds, as it breaks down the melanocyte or skin discoloration, while also preventing new spots from forming.
HOW TO USE: Alone or mixed in with a moisturizer or healing mask: “It plays well with whatever you’re using,” Scott says.
SERUM TYPE: FACE SERUMS
WHAT IT IS: Typically a clear gel-based liquid that’s thinner than a moisturizer and delivers specific ingredients to the skin.
OUR PICK #1: Bio Lifting Serum+
BEST FOR: Next-gen lifting and hydrating
Infused with powerful botanicals and peptides, Bio Serum smoothes the appearance of horizontal and vertical lines, while immediately lifting and firming. “One drop goes such a long way,” Scott says. He loves the Contouring Hexapeptide to combat deeper wrinkles, Raspberry Stem Cells to smooth and reduce redness without irritation, and botanical active to tighten and tone – “like Spanx for the face,” he says. “It’s my one-and-done serum, my holy grail. I can’t say enough about it.”
HOW TO USE IT: Scott likes to massage in a couple of drops with three fingers across his forehead, two fingers under the eyebrow to stimulate lift, then 3 fingers across the sinus area. Turning the application into a ritual can be relaxing, Julie adds. “It makes a difference to have that moment with yourself.”
OUR PICK #2: Vital Essence
BEST FOR: Hydrating and calming redness on face and around the eyes
This light and gentle serum has powerful botanicals that act as hydrating boosters. “This is my first-aid serum,” Julie says. “When my skin is feeling sensitive or stressed, I can’t tell you how amazingly calming, soothing and balancing it is.” Instantly cooling, it’s great for after treatments like dermaplaning or injections—as well as post-shave. It’s scent-free and gentle, also a perfect first product for young people or partners venturing into skincare, Scott notes.
HOW TO USE IT: As the first step after your cleansing ritual
OUR PICK #3: Nano Gold Energizing Eye Serum
BEST FOR: Combatting darkness, puffiness and fine lines around the eyes
The eye serum is also a great choice to use in place of an eye cream before exercise “or if eye creams just aren’t your jam,” Scott says. 24K gold, a powerful antioxidant, and other botanical actives fight signs of aging around the eyes, while an anti-puffing complex and peptides go to work smoothing and firming.
HOW TO USE: Use the cooling gold tip in gentle circular motions under the eye, sweeping outward to lift, and under the eyebrow, Scott says.
SERUM TYPE: ELIXIR
WHAT IT IS: A fluid with skincare and glow-boosting benefits.
OUR PICK: Radiance Elixir
HOW TO USE: Instant illumination
Skin-Awakening and Radiance-Boosting peptides hydrate and provide an immediate healthy glow (“like a foghorn to your skin—it wakes it up within minutes,” Scott says), while Colorless Carotenoids and Refining Lipopeptide reduce visible redness and plump the look of fine lines. “I describe it as ‘lit from within’,” Julie says. “It looks like you just walked out of a facial and have instantly great skin.”
HOW TO USE IT: “The great thing is you can use it anywhere in your routine,” Julie says. Cocktail and blend it with moisturizer, another serum, or even your tinted moisturizer or foundation for a gorgeous glow.