Continuing with our Au Naturale Skincare Segment, we bring you our top 10 must-have serums and treatments to achieve that coveted, Hailey Beiber-esque glow you’ve always dreamed of (keeping it as clean and affordable as possible, of course). Before we dive in, one must keep in mind the following: no two faces are alike- everyone’s skin type is different and has different requirements. It is up to you, dear reader, to really figure out your own skincare needs and find a regimen that works for you. We have tried to diversify our list as much as possible, catering to varying skin types and concerns. In a future segment, we will dive into which treatments are safe and effective to combine, and which to keep separate, so stay tuned!
Another thing to point out, is that although there are many treatments out there that offer a cocktail of diverse benefits, no one treatment will magically clear up all of your skin concerns. We at Clementine Threads truly believe in the holistic approach when it comes to skincare- a consistently good diet, an abundant amount of sleep, a solid exercise routine, and remaining as stress-free as possible will only enhance the magic of the potions that you make a part of your daily or weekly routines. With that being said, let’s put on our witch hats and play around with some potions!
1. THE ORDINARY HYALURONIC ACID 2% + B5
If you’re just starting to build up your serum arsenal, this serum by the Ordinary is an excellent start. Hyaluronic acid is a clear, gooey substance naturally produced by your body and is largely found in the skin, connective tissue, and eyes. It essentially retains water to keep your skin and tissues well lubricated and moist.
Therefore, HA’s main function is not to provide hydration, but rather help your skin retain it. Most serums have this ingredient with the promises of providing more hydration- because of this, the HA is formulated with molecules too large to penetrate the skin’s surface. This results in water being drawn out of the skin, leaving it only temporarily soft and supple. The Ordinary formulates its HA in 3 different molecular weights, as well as HA crosspolymer, to provide multi-depth hydration and plumping without drawing excess water out of the skin in order to maintain temporary surface hydration. It also contains Vitamin B5, which only enhances surface hydration.
Being on her third bottle, this writer definitely vouches for this simple yet effective treatment’s amazing hydration powers. Plus, you can pick yours up for literally $12!
2. THE ORDINARY 1% RETINOL IN SQUALENE
Retinol is an ingredient that has been recently getting a lot of attention in the skincare world. When used consistently, It has been proven to significantly reduce the appearance of fine lines, photo damage, and general skin aging. It increases cell turnover, keeping your skin youthful and preventing new lines from forming. Retinol exfoliates on a cellular level, revealing brighter, smoother, and, quite literally, newer skin. It helps reduce acne by regulating your skin’s oil production and keep pores from clogging. Over time, retinol will even out your complexion, fading sun spots, acne scars, hyperpigmentation, and dark spots.
The Ordinary’s water-free solution is much more effective than most non-prescription retinoids on the market. Water affects the stability of retinol and plant oil in retinol formulations can impair its integrity. This formula does not contain any plant oils, water, silicones, or alcohol.
One important thing to note about retinol- it can be irritating if you don’t ease your skin into it slowly. In the early stages of use, while your skin builds tolerance, it can cause redness and peeling, particularly around the eyes and mouth. If you have not used high-strength retinol formulas in the past, start with the Ordinary’s 0.2% retinol in Squalane and adjust to higher concentrations (0.5% and then 1%), as your skin builds tolerance. Another alternative is granactive retinol- it mimics the visible effects of retinol without causing the skin irritation, which could be a great alternative when first starting out. Luckily, the Ordinary makes granactive retinol formulations as well!
3. PAULA’S CHOICE C-15
A classic skincare essential, Vitamin C is that magic ingredient that keeps skin looking brighter, younger, smoother, and wrinkle-free. Paula’s Choice C-15 serum is formulated with 15% pure Vitamin C, so it really packs a punch; it has a blend of stabilized Vitamin C (L-Absorbic acid) at a PH of 3. Potent antioxidants such as Vitamin E and Ferulic acid prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals. It also contains skin-smoothing peptides. This powerful potion is the literal recipe for younger looking, radiant skin day after day!
These highly concentrated forms of Vitamin C, skin-stabilizing antioxidants, and skin-replenishing ingredients work together to improve the appearance of uneven skin tone, brighten the skin’s complexion, and help ward off environmental stressors and damage. Remember to pair this skin brightening superfood with an SPF of 30 or higher, as Vitamin C does make your skin more photosensitive. Prepare for firmer, smoother, younger-looking skin with an incomparable glow!
4. MAD HIPPIE VITAMIN C
If you’re a clean skincare junkie like the human writing this blog, then Mad Hippie is your brand. Their award-winning Vitamin C serum is a cocktail of natural ingredients that improves the overall appearance of skin.
Their Vitamin C is Ascorbyl Phosphate- a more stable form of Vitamin C than the commonly used L-Ascorbic Acid found in most skin care products. It provides all the benefits of Vitamin C without the irritation and oxidation commonly associated with L-Ascorbic acid. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant in this formula, which protects skin from wrinkles and discoloration. When combined with Vitamin C and E, ferulic acid, a natural antioxidant commonly found in the cell walls of plants, has a compounding antioxidant effect. Hyaluronic acid plumps up the skin and helps it retain moisture.
The star of the show (besides our beloved Vitamin C) is Konjac root. An exotic flower from Asia, it forms a thin protective barrier on the skin and helps it stay supple and smooth. It is Rich in nutrients such as copper, zinc, phosphorus, fatty acids, protein, carbohydrates, lipids, potassium, magnesium, iron, niacin, folic acid & vitamins A, E, C, D & B! Chamomile extract is another flower that helps naturally soothe and calm the skin while providing a thin, protective shield. Finally, Clary Sage acts as a natural toner and astringent, helping to keep the skin from becoming overly dry and oily.
Are you convinced yet that this mighty serum has everything you need for a smooth and radiant complexion? Pick it up here.
5. SKINCEUTICALS C E FERULIC
We had to add this pricey yet incredibly effective serum to our list. This is the serum beauty editors and influencers alike absolutely rave about- and for good reason. It brightens the skin, boosts plumpness and hydration, and effectively protects against free radicals and environmental stressors. If you’re a city-goer, this one’s definitely for you!
Three key players make up this skin-rejuvenating elixir. 15% L-ascorbic acid, a highly potent form of pure vitamin C that neutralizes free radicals, protects against oxidative stress, and provides visible anti-aging benefits; 1% alpha-tocopherol, the pure form of vitamin E that works together with vitamin C to neutralize free radicals and replenish the skin’s lipids; and 0.5% ferulic acid, a plant-based antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and enhances the antioxidant benefits and stability of vitamins C and E.
Studies have shown that this serum neutralizes free radical damage caused by infrared radiation A (IRA), which speeds up the aging process. In 2008, a study done by The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that the product provided skin with “significant and meaningful photoprotection”. Just pay attention to the expiry date- L-ascorbic acid typically has a 3-month shelf life when opened, and will oxidize (turn noticeably darker) and begin to lose its potency over time.
6. MAD HIPPIE VITAMIN A
Mad Hippie’s Vitamin A serum is a gentle yet effective exfoliating treatment to keep skin youthful and dark spots at bay. It contains HPR- a revolutionary form of Vitamin A that is bioavailable in its current state and does not need any inefficient metabolic steps (such as retinol, which requires 2). It works dramatically to reduce the appearance of discoloration and wrinkles, revealing a youthful and radiant complexion.
Phytoceramide aids in moisture retention, which basically means a filler syringe in a bottle! Sodium Hyaluronate, the salt of Hyaluronic acid, has been shown to have better moisture penetrating abilities than HA on its own. Oat beta glucan soothes the skin while providing ample hydration and reducing wrinkles. Finally, Aloe Vera works to nourish the skin while forming a protective layer. Wrinkles and sun damage be gone!
7. THE ORDINARY NIACINIMIDE 10% + ZINC 1%
Affordable and powerful, this treatment is an absolute lifesaver for oily, acne-prone skin. Niacinamide (vitamin B3), works to reduce blemishes and skin congestion. A high, 10% concentration packs a powerful punch, supported in the formula by zinc salt of pyrrolidone carboxylic acid to balance sebum production- the oil that, when overproduced by the skin, becomes a precursor to clogged pores and acne
Independent studies also suggest Niacinamide to be super effective at brightening the skin. Only thing to note: this formula, while effective at reducing the size of blemishes and regulating oil production, is not ultimately the cure-all for acne. Retinoids and Benzoyl Peroxide prove to be much more aggressive treatments for acne. However, one must approach treating their acne in a holistic way- speak to a healthcare professional to understand the lifestyle choices, hormonal imbalances, or genetics contributing to this condition. Understanding the root cause is absolutely integral to long-term prevention.
8. DRUNK ELEPHANT PROTINI™ POWERPEPTIDE RESURF SERUM
Cold and relentless Winters can often wreak havoc on our complexions, producing dryness and dullness. Bring back the youthful plump, bounce and glow to your skin in the Spring months with this iconic formula by Drunk Elephant.
With its ultra-concentrated blend of 11 peptides, this serum targets enlarged pores, fine lines, and sun damage to restore your skin’s youthful glow. Powerful water-boosting ingredients (such as snow mushroom extract, sodium hyaluronate, and sodium PCA) boost skin’s hydration. Antioxidant-rich, non fragrant plant oils and vitamins (tocotrienols, squalane, green tea seed oil, and marula oil) soothe while adding a touch of lightweight moisture to skin.
Think of this serum as your radiance-renewing and skin-strengthening sidekick. Formulated with a unique combination of advanced peptides, restorative amino acids, and exfoliating lactic acid, Protini™ Powerpeptide targets multiple signs of damage while strengthening skin and bringing it back to its healthiest state ever. Best of all, it’s vegan, cruelty-free, and 100% free of silicones, essential oils, and fragrance. Plus, you’re supporting the International Elephant Foundation with the purchase of every bottle, and elephants are pretty dang majestic.
9. TATA HARPER RESURFACING SERUM
Okay so we are obsessed with this brand. Tata Harper combines the clean and natural with the luxurious to create some pretty irresistible formulas. That’s because they do it all themselves with their own chemists on their own farm- no synthetics, outsourcing, or shortcuts.
This serum contains nine acids that instantly add glow to your skin. It contains tomato carotenoids- an Israel-grown tomato that acts as a natural colour corrector. It absorbs UVA and UVB, and when exposed to sunlight, it emits a green light (which neutralizes redness) to make your skin look brighter. How cool is that!? This formula also contains olive-derived squalane, which conditions, softens, and smoothes the skin without leaving behind an oily residue.
This natural serum can be used daily, and acts as a gentle peel to resurface, brighten, and refine with seven AHAs and BHAs and vitamin C. Their AHA superfood blend includes natural sources of lactic acid, glycolic acid, citric acid, malic acid, and tartaric acid to exfoliate and get rid of dead skin cells that hide your glow. BHA from White Willow Bark and Meadowsweet minimize the look of enlarged pores. Vitamin C from the Kakadu plum contains 100 times the free radical-fighting power of an orange. Free of toxins, fillers, artificials, synthetics, and GMOs; vegan and cruelty-free, this bottle even comes in recyclable packaging. What more could you want from a product!?
10. ROSEN SKINCARE PALOMA SERUM
Last but certainly not least, we have Rosen’s extremely affordable and effective Paloma Serum. An exfoliating serum, this bottle combines 7% Glycolic Acid (AHA) and 7% White Willow Bark (BHA) to give you the best of both worlds. AHA helps to increase the shedding of dead surface cells while BHA gets down to the pores to clear out excess oil and kill acne-causing bacteria.
Chemical exfoliants are amazing because they do the work of physical exfoliants (scrubs), without abrasing or breaking the skin. They work at a micro-level, getting deep into the layers of the skin, smoothing rough texture, lightening spots caused by sun and acne, and revealing a bright and youthful glow.
This serum will not only fade existing spots but will also prevent future breakouts. AHA and BHA work together to decongest pores and decrease their size. Along with these mighty exfoliating acids, grapefruit extract comes in with naturally healing properties, Vitamin C, and lends this serum its sparkling fruity scent. Pick yours up for only $14 (!!), and start prepping for your Summer glow!
So there you have it- a serum for every skin type, need, or qualm. Remember: your skincare journey is all your own. Choosing the right products sometimes require trial and error and can get quite daunting. Hopefully we have helped you narrow your search. With the right skincare regime by your side, you can very well be unstoppable- but not as unstoppable as the sun so just wear some SPF.