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My Instagram and TikTok feeds are both filled (and by filled, I mean fucking infiltrated) with people who live and die by their skincare regime. I even have a friend who literally spends four god-forsaken hours completing her 12-step routine every night before bed – which sounds like a living nightmare to my lazy ass.

But, if you’re in the latter of the two camps and have no fuckin’ idea what a niacinamide serum is, and still think vitamin C is just something you’ll find in your morning OJ, I’m here for you, bestie.

I, too was the equivalent of this gif when it came to cleansers and serums before I started following @ms_hannah_e on Instagram — the God of all skincare gods. That, and reading and writing beauty yarns almost daily for work.

The Skincare Rookie’s Guide To Serums If Having Glowy, Glass-Like Skin Is Yr Goal This Summer

So, with all my unintentionally accrued knowledge, let’s talk serums. We did a whole story about where to start a while back, but TBH even I can sometimes admit my level of laziness is ‘someone just tell me what to buy, OK?!’ Do I want to go investigate labels on products to see what ingredients are in there? No. Maybe, one day, eventually, but I think most skincare rookies can admit they’d just rather someone tell them where to start.

With that aside, I give you my fave serums for skincare newbies. Oh, and btw you put a serum on after cleansing, before moisturising. Simples!


Serums, vitamin c serum, face serum

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronised Recovery Complex II, 30ml, $118

This one comes in first off the ranks because it’s my holy grail. I’ve been using it for years because no matter what state my skin is in (dry, being a sensitive little bitch, whatever) it doesn’t irritate and does its jobs — hydrates fights fine lines, evens skin tone and makes skin look all fresh and radiant. It’s pricey, but a little goes a long way, so you won’t burn your way through a bottle or anything.


The Skincare Rookie’s Guide To Serums If Having Glowy, Glass-Like Skin Is Yr Goal This Summer

Boost Lab Vitamin C Serum, $29.95

Guys, face serums don’t HAVE to cost a million bucks. They often do, thanks to tech and potent ingredients — but Boost Lab is one brand that’s aiming to provide hard-working serums for a smaller price tag. One of my faves is this brightening vitamin C serum — as a rookie serum user, I found this baby so easy to add to my routine while giving my tired skin (courtesy of all the late nights watching DAHMER) a refresh.


The Skincare Rookie’s Guide To Serums If Having Glowy, Glass-Like Skin Is Yr Goal This Summer

tbh Skincare Rebound Serum, $68

Developed in partnership with Hannah English — the skincare god I referred to earlier — this lightweight serum is perfect for y’all who have sensitive or dry skin. From being super hydrating (thanks to all the barrier-protecting ceramides) to calming any angry redness you might have from time to time, it’s such an all-rounder staple.


The Skincare Rookie’s Guide To Serums If Having Glowy, Glass-Like Skin Is Yr Goal This Summer

Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Serum, $233

HOO BOY, how’s that price amirite? Well, take it in, and then listen up. This is the serum that a) dermatologists and facialists recommend on the daily, and b) beauty editors properly swear by. The first point is important because you know it works and contains potent ingredients if dermatologists are giving it the green light. The second point? As an ex-beauty editor, I can tell you now that we’ve all tried 38560273 face serums for free so if we’re putting down our own cash for something, it’s for a reason. C E Ferulic is all about preventing premature ageing — it provides eight times your skin’s natural protection from photo-aging (what UV rays do to your skin) which is wild.


Serums, vitamin c serum, face serum

The Ordinary Buffet, $21.92

For all my lazy skincare rookies, Buffet is a great op for when you CBF getting around fancy ingredients (many of their serums are straight-up actives like hyaluronic acid, which can get confusing) — it’s like an intro into anti-ageing serums, with peptides doing the work on top of a base of amino acids and hyaluronic acid, which work to help support your natural skin functions and hydrate.


The Skincare Rookie’s Guide To Serums If Having Glowy, Glass-Like Skin Is Yr Goal This Summer

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum, $117

I use this every morning, and it’s phenomenal. It has a bit of a pong (thanks to all that Ascorbic Acid), but it’s worth it for the amazing glow and evened-out skin tone. Basically, vitamin C is crucial to get into your skincare routine because it fights against sun damage, which is one of the primo things (espesh under our Aussie sun) that makes you look older than you are, c/o fine lines and pigmentation.


Serums, vitamin c serum, face serum

 Chantecaille Vital Essence, $180

Yes, it’s $168. But it also has 99 reviews on Mecca and still retains a 4.5-star rating. That’s pretty major. The reason? This is a do-it-all serum — it boosts collagen production, calms redness and irritation, pumps up your skin’s hydration, helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and helps even skin tone. Tick, tick, tick.


The Skincare Rookie’s Guide To Serums If Having Glowy, Glass-Like Skin Is Yr Goal This Summer

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, 75ml, $139

Okay, this is TECHNICALLY an essence and not a face serum, but you use it at the same time in your routine, and it had to be included — SK-II essence is iconic, and loads of folks swear by it. It is kind of polarising — in my experience people with normal/oily skin love it sick, while people with dry skin sometimes find it does nothing for them. But it definitely has super-fans, so it’s worth at the very least visiting an SK-II counter and seeing if you can score a sample to try.


Serums, vitamin c serum, face serum

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, $10.70

Pimple-prone folks, this one is for you. This combo of ingredients helps to reduce the appearance of blemishes and skin congestion (read: blackheads). They also help to balance visible sebum activity, meaning over time you’ll probably notice less of an oily sheen to your skin.


The Skincare Rookie’s Guide To Serums If Having Glowy, Glass-Like Skin Is Yr Goal This Summer

Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate, $84

This is kind of a face oil cross-face serum, but like SK-II and Advanced Night Repair, it’s a long-time fave of many people globally and is worth including. It helps to regenerate skin while you sleep — our skin is working overtime during the night to repair itself from daily aggressors, so it’s a great time to get started on serums. Evening primrose helps with the regeneration while lavender helps to soothe inflamed or irritated skin. Squalane then works to restore the skin’s natural moisture balance.


Serums, vitamin c serum, face serum

Ole Henriksen Truth Face Serum, $72

Again, this is a vitamin C-based serum, so it’s great to pop on in the morning to give your skin a good chance of fighting sun damage. It’s also hydrating and has a sweet collagen boost in there — it’s kind of a modern classic in a way, US Sephora has 3,000 reviews for this baby, and it’s still got a 4.3-star rating.

Image: American Psycho