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Hot Topic: Do Skin-Plumping Serums Actually Work?
Ladies, nowadays we can’t flip through a magazine or watch our favorite shows without being bombarded with ads for anti-aging products. They usually include well-lit (and airbrushed) celebrities touting miracle potions or a British voiceover promising to diminish your fine lines and wrinkles and erase years from your face.
The anti-aging skincare market is a multi-billion dollar industry (yes, BILLION with a B!), and it’s expected to keep growing over the next few years as more of us are shocked to discover that we’ve officially been inducted into the Sisterhood of the Crow’s Feet.
But it’s not just those of us on the front line of the Fine Line Battle that are buying anti-aging creams and formulas. Studies show that over half of consumers aged 15-29 are using them daily to stop signs of aging before they even start. Smart cookies!
A superstar in the anti-aging skincare family is serum which includes ingredients targeted to hydrate, boost collagen, and fade fine lines by filling in the skin.
But do these skin plumping serums actually work?
Today, I’m going to look at the science behind these serums and if their ingredients actually can turn back the clock to smooth skin!
What’s the difference between a serum and a moisturizer?
You might think that a serum is just one more step to add to your skincare routine, or that you don’t need one if you already have a moisturizer, but they offer different benefits that might be worth considering.
Traditional moisturizers are a richer, creamier texture with a main goal of delivering general, all-over hydration to the surface layer of your skin on your face, neck, and chest.
Serums are more liquid and thin in consistency and deliver lightweight moisture, but they also contain a higher concentration of ingredients that are more easily absorbed into the deeper layers of the skin to target specific skin concerns such as anti-aging and skin-brightening.
Because they’re a little more lightweight, serums likely won’t adequately replace your moisturizer, but they will boost its hydrating ability and deliver more targeted results.
When to Use Serums
You can use them as part of your morning and/or nighttime skincare routine. In the AM, apply your serum to freshly washed skin before your daily moisturizer (which of course includes SPF!). At night, layer it under your regular moisturizer so your skin can get the most benefit from your serum.
Pro Tip: Don’t overdo it! When it comes to serums, more is not more. They usually include a richer concentration of ingredients, and your skin can only absorb so much. Most serums come in smaller bottles because a little goes a long way, so follow application instructions to get the most out of your serum (and make it last)!
Also, you don’t have to limit serums to just your face. You can also apply formulas to your neck and décolleté every once in a while. These parts include delicate skin and need some skincare love, too!
What causes skin aging in the first place?
At some point, we all look in the mirror and discover a few lines that didn’t use to be there, or that our skin doesn’t bounce back quite like it used to. We might feel that sting of betrayal - Come on, skin, we’re in this together! Don’t quit on me yet! There are a few factors that contribute to our skin exhibiting wrinkles and sagging.
Aging - One of the biggest is good ol’ time. As we age, hormonal shifts cause our skin to lose collagen and elasticity which are responsible for skin’s firmness. Plus, a lifetime of repeated facial movements cause folds in the skin and lines to form. But that’s not all bad! Some of those lines and wrinkles are little badges of honor from every time you’ve smiled, giggled, or laughed so hard you cried!
UV Exposure - Sun damage accounts for 90% of skin aging. UV rays penetrate the skin and release free radicals which attack and break down collagen, leading to wrinkles and skin sagging. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Wear your daily SPF!
Smoking - Aside from those little lines you get around your mouth from pursing your lips, smoking actually inhibits blood flow to your skin which is what keeps it looking supple. It also floods your body with collagen-attacking free radicals. Not to mention all the other not-so-great things it does to your overall health. Quit now! Future you thanks you.
Poor Diet and Hydration - When your skin is undernourished and dehydrated, wrinkles get deeper, skin gets saggy, and your complexion gets duller. Plus, studies show that a diet high in sugar causes insulin levels to spike which breaks down collagen and elasticity. Fight aging from the inside by eating a diet rich in skin-boosting vitamins and antioxidants!
Active Skin plumping Ingredients and What They Do
So, can a serum really restore youthful skin and fill in those little lines? Let’s do a rundown of the some of the main ingredients you want to look for in a serum and what they can do to give you supple, beautiful skin!
Helpful tip: When looking over the ingredient list on a product, the higher up in the list, the higher concentration of that ingredient. If it’s buried at the bottom, there may not be enough of it present to have noticeable effects on your skin.
Take this into consideration when buying a serum to address your unique skincare needs!
This vitamin A derivative is kind of a multitasking do-it-all when it comes to anti-aging skincare. It treats everything from wrinkles and sagging skin to dark spots and dullness.
It works by increasing collagen production and boosting elastin to plump skin and fill in lines and wrinkles. It also exfoliates by removing the top layer of dead skin cells and speeds up cell turnover to smooth skin, even out your complexion, and encourage skin healing.
Some Retinol Tips:
- It can irritate skin, so it’s not recommended for those with already sensitive skin. It’s a good idea to start off with a 24-hour test patch by applying the formula to a small area and waiting a day to make sure you don’t have any adverse reactions before starting regular treatment.
- Make sure to follow application instructions which will likely recommend that you start by applying every third evening and gradually work up to every other night to allow the skin to acclimate.
- Retinol can make your skin sensitive to sunlight, so it’s recommended that you apply it at night, and always wear your SPF during the day!
- Wash your face and allow it to dry before applying Retinol (don’t use on damp skin). Since it can dry out skin, follow up with a lovely moisturizer.
- As a general rule, I always recommend avoiding the use of Retinol if you're pregnant or nursing. It might be a good idea to wait until your little one is weaned before giving it a try! Consult your physician.
In the same way that a well-watered plant looks better than a dried out one, our skin loses its “oompf” when it lacks moisture, which can really highlight wrinkles and sagging. You should definitely hydrate from the inside by making sure to drink plenty of water. But, if you also want to replenish skin’s moisture from the outside, hyaluronic acid (or HA) is your bestie.
HA is a polysaccharide found naturally in the body, and 50% of it resides in your skin. As we age, our skin loses its ability to produce HA (bye, moisture!). Although “acid” makes it sound harsh, HA is actually a humectant which means it grabs moisture and binds it to the skin to deliver hydration deep into skin’s layers.
In fact, just 1 little HA molecule is able to hold 1,000 times its weight in water! While we’re used to water retention equaling unwelcome bloating, in this case, it means smoother, plumper skin and reduced wrinkles! Yay HA!
Imagine the outer layer of your skin, the stratum corneum, is a brick wall that protects the under layers from irritants and keeps moisture in. Your skin cells make up the bricks of the wall, and the ceramides are the mortar that holds them together.
When ceramides break down because of age, sun damage or irritants, your skin is left vulnerable, dry, and signs of aging are more pronounced.
By replenishing ceramides, you’re rebuilding your skin’s protective wall which keeps skin healthy and boosts your cells’ abilities to maintain hydration for supple skin and decreased wrinkles. Take care of your skin’s protective barrier, and it will take care of you!
You’ve probably heard that you should eat a diet rich in antioxidants, but they’re also often included in skin treatments and serums in various forms including vitamins C and E, grape seed extract, and green tea, and others.
They’re like little vigilantes that seek out free radicals which can destroy collagen, elastin, and even alter your DNA!
Antioxidants work by generously sharing one of their electrons which stabilize the unruly electrons and stop them from doing any more damage. And, they not only stop the destruction, they actually help your cells repair and stimulate collagen production to help ward off wrinkles. Good job, antioxidants!
Now that we’ve learned about these stellar skin plumping, wrinkle-reducing, anti-agers, here are some of my favorite and best plumping serums that feature these wonderful ingredients!
My Top Picks for Skin-Plumping Serums
Dermaquest Retinol Peptide Youth Serum
This restorative serum includes retinol and peptides to resurface skin and promote cell production of collagen and elastin. This results in smooth, toned, and glowing skin. Fine lines and wrinkles are reduced, along with inflammation and irritation, so your skin feels refreshed and rejuvenated!
Alana Mitchell Hyaluronic Moisture Boost Serum
Remember when I mentioned the moisture retaining power of hyaluronic acid? My serum has got it, and it boosts skin’s hydration by 10 x! I created this serum to deliver the deepest moisture to replenish hydration and plump skin to smooth fine lines. And, it's formulated so that even those with sensitive skin can enjoy it!
This serum packs and antioxidant punch and to help your cells fight free radical damage and rebuild collagen and elastin for firmer, toned skin. It also smooths fine lines and wrinkles and provides luxurious moisture deep into skin cells to plump tired skin and leave you looking youthful and smooth.
Clayton Shagal Collagen Gel and Elastin Gel Set
This action-packed duo provides your skin with some anti-aging power! The collagen gel delivers, you guessed it, collagen for supple skin. The elastin gel gives skin long-lasting hydration while soothing inflammation and balancing skin, as well as helping rebuild elastin. Together, these help to diminish wrinkles and boost skin’s vitality!
iSClinical C & E Serum Advance +
Harnessing the naturally potent power of vitamins C and E (antioxidants), this serum helps repair and rebuild lost collagen and elastin for more youthful looking skin. It firms and plumps skin so fine lines disappear. Plus, it hydrates skin and calms redness and irritation.
June Jacobs Elastin Collagen Serum
Get the collagen and elastin factory back in business with this serum that infuses them right into your skin and speeds up production. It also includes antioxidants to help with the process and promote cell health, and it offers nourishing ingredients and deep hydration. That’s a lot of anti-aging gusto in one formula!
Epicuren Instant Lift Tightening Serum
If you want quick results, this serum instantly tightens and lifts by working deep in your skin’s layers to firm skin, reduce wrinkles, and give it a quick pick-me-up. Great for daily use or for those occasions when tired skin needs to look awakened, bright, and youthful!
Serums offer so many skin benefits. Today we looked at those of the skin-plumping, anti-aging variety, but I encourage you to find the one that works best for you and your unique skin concerns!
The bottom line is whether you’re looking to erase fine lines, firm skin, boost hydration, treat blemishes, etc., you should find the skincare routine that best suits you!
What’s your experience with skin-plumping serums? Did they work for you? Share your tips or questions with us in the comments section!
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Hi, Nadia! Thank you for sharing with our other readers! :) I’m glad you found a serum that you’re happy with. It can certainly take a few tries before you find something you want to stick with.
I buy all my beauty products on Amazon, and I have tried almost all the firming serums. The best one I found (and I am sticking with) is the Made from Earth Vitamin Firming Serum.
I started using this serum because it is approved by “Good Housekeeping” and it is reasonably priced. They do not automatically keep sending you products like so many companies do online. When you put the serum on, it does feel like it tightens your skin right away. It is helping my skin on my face, throat and chest.
Hi, Marian! Thank you for reading! I’m glad that cream worked well for your skin!
Thanks for the blog, The best anti-aging cream I have used is Monsia,
I used to use Este Lauder’s Collagen Serum, but it did not work. I now have been using the Somaluxe Rapid Line Repair twice per day for about 4 weeks. I’m noticing less wrinkles especially on my forehead and my dark eye circles and puffiness are definitely improving. I’m excited to see what the next several weeks bring. It is a generous size bottle for the price and a small amount goes a long way. The results were not over night but if you use twice per day and allow a few weeks to go by you’ll definitely start to notice a difference. I couldn’t be happier.
Hi, Marine! I’m glad that you found something that works for you! :)
Great article! I use the I’m Fabulous Cosmetics Powerful Volumizing Serum for skin plumping and it works really well and its organic!
Hi, Maureen! Thank you so much for reading! Glad to be of help :)
This was a very informative and useful article that has clearly explained what I should be looking for in a serum. At almost 60 and having spent years and pounds on products to protect my skin and minimise the signs of aging I thank you.