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Firming Face Serums

by Celia Shatzman

What if we told you there was a single potion that could smooth fine lines and firm skin? Well, it exists—we’re talking about serums. One of the most potent anti-agers out there, there’s a serum available for every skin concern, especially when it comes to keeping a complexion looking young and fresh. The reason the category is so powerful is because it relies on a high concentration of active ingredients.

“The right serums can help firm skin by preventing and reversing the effects of intrinsic and extrinsic aging and photoaging,” explains Dr. Julie Russak of Russak Dermatology Clinic in New York City. To maximize the effects, apply a serum twice a day—morning and night—under your moisturizer, advises Dr. Russak. If your regimen doesn’t include a serum yet, add one now. “You start using a firming face serum in the 20s to prevent and 30s and 40s to maintain and reverse,” she says.

Keep in mind that ingredients are not equal. If you’re looking for a serum that’s all about tightening and increasing elasticity, Dr. Russak recommends looking for one with vitamin C, bakuchiol (the natural alternative to retinol), green tea, hops (Humulus lupulus L) extracts, CoQ10 and dill (Peucedanum graveolens) extract. UV damage can speed up the aging process, so to prevent that as well as photoaging, look for pomegranate (Punica granatum) extract, milk thistle (Silybum marianum) and green tea.

Free radicals are a major skin saboteur, as they break down collagen, leading to fine lines and wrinkles, and are linked to dark spots and sagging skin. “To fight free radical scavengers, look for flavonoids that act as potent scavengers of free radicals,” Dr. Russak says. These include polyphenols of green tea and yerba mate, chlorogenic acid, quinic acid, ferulic acid, curcumin from the turmeric rhizome (Curcuma longa), proanthocyanidins from grapes (V. vinifera), licorice extract and resveratrol found in grapes, peanuts, red wine and mulberries.

Here are some top firming face serums.

Osea Anti-Aging Sea Serum

Supporting the skin’s natural moisture barrier is key to putting time on hold and this bioactive serum does just that. It’s spiked with seaweed, vitamin C, niacinamide, ceramides and natural peptides to brighten, boost elasticity and minimize wrinkles.

One Love Organics Botanical A Bio-Retinol Night Serum

Essentially nature’s version of retinol, this serum provides the same perks sans any of the side effects, like red, irritated skin. Strong yet gentle, and even suitable for sensitive skin, it exfoliates and resurfaces skin with three different acids to unclog pores, all while supporting the skin’s microbiome.

Alpyn Beauty PlantGenius Survival Serum

Vitamin C is the hero ingredient in this serum that includes ingredients hand-harvested from the mountains of Jackson Hole. That explains its brightening powers and ability to fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation for a more even tone, leaving a gorgeous glow behind.

Herbivore Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Serum

Unlike regular retinol, bakuchiol—the natural alternative—is safe for even the most sensitive skin types. It’s sustainably sourced from the Ayurvedic Babchi plant and targets fine lines and uneven texture, while delivering moisture to thirsty skin.

Mara Chlorella + Reishi Sea Vitamin C Serum

Quite the dream team, a combination of 15% THD Ascorbate— the most stable form of vitamin C, algae, adaptogens, moringa and squalane work together to brighten, fade dark spots and damage, smooth texture, soothe redness and sensitivity, and leave skin awash in moisture.

Odacité BU+L Sagging Skin Serum Concentrate

A match for mature complexions, it firms and nurtures sagging skin with beta carotene and rare fruits from the Amazon. The lightweight facial oil packs a punch in every drop to tighten facial contours, plus it has a natural lime scent to cleanse the mind.

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