CLEAN BEAUTY AWARDS 2022: SERUM REVIEW

Well 2022 has been a bumper year: for the fourth year running I’m on the judging panel for the Clean Beauty Awards, having reviewed not one but 4 categories. And with 6 products per category, that’s a lot of lotions and liquids to get through (not that my skin is complaining). So after reviewing the haircare entries, the suncare options and the fragrance offerings, my hair is suitably cleansed, my skin has never been so well protected from UVAs and I’ve found a new favourite scent, and it’s now time to wrap it up with the final category: serums.

Zorah Bioretinol Anti-aging night complex

Green credentials: 100% natural, vegan and cruelty-free

The natural alternative to retinol that’s taken the skincare world by storm, bakuchiol is the anti-ageing hero ingredient to look out for if you’re after a gentle formula that reduces the appearance of fine lines and dark spots. Zorah’s Bioretinol feels like a cross between a serum and a sorbet moisturiser: this may be a water-based serum but argan oil (the second ingredient in the INCI) gives it a nourishing quality, so much so that I didn’t feel the need to follow up with a moisturiser. A great natural addition to your night time skincare routine that delivers anti-ageing benefits in a beautifully light and delicately scented formula. 50ml RRP $108.00

Asklepios Garden Prima Materia Phyto-Actif Serum

Green credentials: ethically sourced botanical ingredients, vegan and cruelty free

I’m a sucker for great packaging, whether it’s an interesting material I’ve not come across before (I still remember Happi Body Co’s Cleansing Melt pot) or a beautifully wrapped solid bar (like EarthKind’s shampoo bar nestled in a bed of unbleached paper shredding, placed on a wooden soap dish and tied with leaf-decorated string). So Asklepios Garden’s Serum made a great first impression with its eye-catching marble printed carton. Unlike Zorah’s serum, this one is oil-based, featuring a fantastic array of skin-boosting, nutrient-rich oils including some of my favourites: radiance-enhancing rosehip, balancing jojoba oil and inflammation reducing sea buckthorn oil. You’ll also find moisturising borage, antimicrobial pomegranate and antioxidant pumpkin oils in there – a great cocktail to brighten and promote healthy skin cell regeneration. The only downside was the slight irritation I felt on my skin after application, so a patch test would be advisable for sensitive skin types. 30ml RRP $128.00

Element Apothec Belle Visage Face Serum

Green credentials: 1% for the planet, vegan, cruelty-free and a tree planted for every order placed on their site.

Boasting no less than 20 botanicals and oils (including raspberry, rosehip and sea buckthorn), this nutrient-packed oil-based serum remains lightweight but highly nourishing to restore skin’s elasticity and plumpness, with no oily residue. It also contains CBD hemp extract, a non-psychoactive compound derived from the cannabis plant and lauded for its anti-ageing, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory skincare benefits. My skin feels hydrated and looks glowy, the only downside for me was the scent which felt quite overwhelming. Many skincare products will have added fragrances to mask natural ingredients with strong scents, so it may just mean that Element Apothec has chosen not to add superfluous ingredients. 30ml RRP $89.99

Fueling Your Dreams Revive me Raspberry

Green credentials: 100% natural

My favourite in the line up: what I love most about this oil-based serum is the non-sickly-sweet raspberry scent. And the sinks-into-skin formula. Oh and the nourishing, evening and skin texture-refining results. All in all a great little discovery, and yet I’m now unable to locate it online. Has the brand gone bust? Taken a break? Reinventing itself? Where there once was a website I can only find a landing page. Here’s hoping it’ll be back soon.

AREMES FERMENTIS Super Bioactive Face Serum

Green credentials: vegan and cruelty-free

What makes Artemes Fermentis’ serum ‘super’? Maybe it’s the blend of 27 botanicals? Or the multitude of benefits it can deliver as a result of this powerhouse blend: hydrating, protecting, restoring, brightening, balancing… is there anything this superlight oil-based serum can’t do? Its standout hero ingredients: fermented mushroom metabolites from reishi, shiitake, snow and chaga mushrooms – but don’t worry, not a whiff of the fungi (unlike the time I came back from Paris with a bag of dried mushrooms so pungent that not one but two people moved away from me on the bus). So all in all, this is a fantastic blend of so many skin oils for all round goodness. My skin looks dewy without the typical oily finish. 30ml RRP $115.00

Chorus Supernatural Quench-Marine Phytoplankton Serum

Green credentials: 100% natural and cruelty-free

Beauty companies can be partial to lengthy product names, sometimes seemingly just for the sake of it, but in the case of Chorus’ serum, that 5-word product name does provide clues as to what you’re putting on your face. Namely, phytoplanktons. These microscopic plant-like organisms are the base of the marine food web. No you are not a whale, but as the name Quench indicates, this cream-like serum delivers a big glass of water to your skin thanks to hydrating hyaluronic acid, as well as brightening vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, calcium and potassium thanks to a whopping 25% marine phytoplankton extract. Moisturising yet light, it can work on its own or to layer with a complimentary serum, if you like mixing yours for a bespoke blend. 30ml RRP $33.90

Nuez Acres Pecan Repair Serum

Green credentials: 100% natural

Another oil-based serum, this format feels very flexible as you can position several ways within your skincare routine: as a standalone serum post cleanse, mixed with another serum or a moisturiser, or applied after the moisturiser. Nuez Acres’ simple formula contains only 4 nourishing and soothing ingredients so you know exactly what you’re putting on your skin:

  • Moisturising pecan oil, promising 24-hour hydration
  • Brightening rosehip oil – also reduces the appearance of scars
  • Anti-inflammatory bergamot oil
  • Soothing patchouli oil

30ml RRP $27.99

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