I don't know about you, but I'm totally addicted to trying new beauty products. I amass hundreds of samples and can't bear to throw any of them away. Face serums and face oils are a particular addiction of mine. I have quite dry skin and I'm always on the hunt for a rich extra layer of hydration to sit under my moisturiser. So I thought I would sum up my opinions on a few of those I've tried. Just a disclaimer: these are my thoughts after using these products intermittently - I haven't been religiously trialling them, so I'm commenting more on how they make my skin feel immediately rather than any long-term effects. Nothing is sponsored, gifted or otherwise biased. I hope you enjoy reading my reviews in any case. If you've tried any of these serums, I'd love to know what you think of them in the comments.
Bakel Jaluronic deep hydrating serum / £95 for 30ml
This holds a special place in my heart because it was actually a freebie waiting for me when I sat front row at Eudon Choi's London Fashion Week show a couple of years ago (sorry, humble brag alert). It's a very gloopy, gel-like texture: a little goes a long way but it absorbs very quickly, leaving no trace. This means it doesn't feel very nourishing, but it does immediately tighten and smooth the skin. Plus I like that you can apply your moisturiser straightaway without needing to wait for it to sink in. It's eye-wateringly expensive, though, so on balance I won't be repurchasing after it runs out.
Emma Hardie Brilliance facial oil / £34 for 30ml
Oils are ideal for my dry skin and I really like this one. It's satisfyingly rich, beautifully scented and pretty good value. Takes a while to absorb, as with any oil, but will leave your skin feeling decadently nourished. It loses a mark because of the lack of an applicator in my sample size (that's remedied via a pipette in the full-size version though), and another because the packaging's not quite minimalist enough for me.
Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate / £37 for 30ml
I wanted this for ages and had heard good things. So when I finally splashed out it's safe to say I was disappointed. Sleek packaging aside, this oil is way too liquid to feel nourishing: it just doesn't sink in well - more sits on the surface - and I didn't notice any difference to my skin. I'm sorry to say it did not live up to the hype for me.
Sarah Chapman Skinesis Overnight Facial / £46 for 15ml
Interestingly I read the reviews for this serum on Space NK and they were extremely mixed. Some people extol its virtues and swear by it living up to its name; others detest the smell and are underwhelmed with the results. I'm somewhere in the middle. It's a nice oil: rich, absorbs well and feels intensely hydrating. The smell doesn't repulse me, but it's not my favourite. I just can't see it justifying its price tag. Let's put it this way: I won't be buying the full price version, but I will be using up the sample.
The Ordinary hyaluronic acid / £6 for 30ml
I was very intrigued when I first read about The Ordinary range of skincare, mainly because it is a rare combination of excellent minimalist packaging and super low prices. For some reason, while cheap skincare can absolutely be as good as expensive skincare, it always looks cheap. So I had to try out this good-looking range. Each serum contains just one active ingredient; I went for hyaluronic acid for its plumping, ant-aging reputation. It has a subtle but not unpleasant scent, and in texture is quite similar to the Bakel: gel-like and easily absorbed. Immediately your skin feels fresh and tight. It loses a couple of points because it felt quite drying, so you might need more moisturiser on top than usual, but I really like it. It gains about five points for the price alone: incredibly good value.
Origins Plantscription anti-aging power serum / £64 for 50ml
This was my least favourite. The texture is more like a runny moisturiser than a serum, it doesn't smell great and it doesn't seem to do much. I'm not crazy about the packaging either and it's not cheap. All in all, for me personally, this is not a winner.
Rodial Dragon's Blood sculpting gel / £79 for 50ml
I struggled on the rating for this one: it's actually a nice, gel-like serum which absorbs well, feels hydrating and smells good. But it's definitely way overpriced. If it really did deliver on its over-exaggerated claims to reshape facial contours, maybe it would be good value. But I don't buy that for a second, I'm afraid.
REN Flash Hydro Boost instant plumping emulsion / £34 for 40ml
This serum has a different texture from any of the others: it feels very silky and satisfying to apply. It also smells amazing and is the perfect combination of richly moisturising yet easily absorbed. It's pretty reasonably priced, too. This is a great alternative to an oil if your skin is already oily, but you still want an extra layer under your moisturiser.
Eve Lom intense firming serum / £75 for 30ml
Not super keen on this one if I'm honest. I got it in a gift set so it was good value, but I wouldn't buy it again. The texture is very slimy and gloopy, so it doesn't feel very nice on the skin. It sinks in OK, but doesn't show any noticeable effects (and I did use up the whole bottle). It doesn't smell of anything, either, and I like a good luxury scent in my skincare.
This is my personal favourite. It's a beautifully rich oil, which smells like a fragrant rose garden and feels intensely nourishing. Bonus points for the lovely minimalist packaging, too. It loses one point because it's not super cheap, but a little goes a long way and since it's so rich, it minimises the amount of moisturiser you need to layer on top. If your skin is not as dry as mine, you might even be able to use it alone.
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