Hands up, who uses serum? Okay, now hands up if you know why? Are they simply expensive moisturisers designed to make us splurge more money on products, or are they, in fact, a skincare essential that any woman north of 30 needs in their repertoire?

According to Ada Ooi, aromatherapist, beauty therapist and founder of 001 Skincare, both serve a very different purpose. “Moisturisers keep the skin hydrated by creating a protective film between the skin and the external environment, preventing moisture loss, while a serum is formulated with ingredients of a much higher potency designed to penetrate into the skin, from the surface right through to the deepest layers.”

So, we’ve established we need one. But which one? A quick search on returns 165 different serum options, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. So, in order to help you identify your serum soulmate, we’ve compiled an ingredients wish list, with the help of the lovely Ada Ooi, so you can select the right serum for you, dependant on your skin’s own idiosyncrasies…


“Rebalancing skin’s delicate water/oil balance is key for dry skin. Look for skin-identifying plant oils, aka natural oils like borage, evening primrose and apricot kernel which are naturally absorbed easily into the skin. To hydrate parched skin you’ll need hyaluronic acid (or hyaluronate derivative). Also squalene and vitamin E can help strengthen the skin and enhance the speed of recovery for skin to ‘normalise’ as soon as possible.”

Ladyland recommends: Bamford Life Serum, £90


“To brighten, seek out antioxidants which help skin recover from free radical damage and help further combat future environmental attack. Look out for extracts of green tea, CQ10, and dark berries, i.e. blackcurrant, on labels.”

Ladyland recommends: 001 Active Marine Power Concentrate, £59


Just like the rest of our bodies, skin has it’s own intrinsic energy level that can be depleted by stress, poor diet, environmental damage and lack of sleep. Gemstones are being touted as the next big thing in cellular recovery − look for formulas which contain pure mineral particles to re-energise cells on a vibrational level.

Ladyland recommends: Sjal Bio-Regeneratif Serum Active Enegy Lift, £174 at SpaceNK


“Choose a serum with a safe level of salicylic acid (0.5-2%) to gently exfoliate and clear stubborn excessive sebum. I’d also recommend keeping blemished skin hydrated with hyaluronic acid because if the skin around blemishes becomes too dry, the epidermis structure is not aligned, which allows more dirt and grime into the skin and encourages further bacteria growth. Collagen is also essential to aid the recovery of acne scarring.”

Ladyland recommends: Skinceuticals Blemish + Age Defense, £79


Silica, a naturally occurring element which is present in our bodies at birth, but which depleted with age, is really helpful in soothing and replenishing sensitive skin. “Rose also calms the skin by helping to slow down the hyper blood vessel activity, as does orange blossom.”

Ladyland recommends: Sönd Revitalising Face Serum Firm + Smooth, £42

Angela Langford Balanced & Beautiful Rosehip & Kiwi Facial Oil, £20.50 (NB. technically, this is an oil not a serum, but it’s perfect for sensitive skin)


“Antioxidants are a great way to correct pigmentation and recover from sun damage. Look for Vitamins C & E high up on the ingredients list. If your skin is sun damaged and parched, seek out essential fatty acids from plant oils, alongside hyaluronic and lactic acid.”

Ladyland recommends: Codage Serum No. 04 Anti-spot and Lightener, £73 at Selfridges


Lines and wrinkles indicate a breakdown in your existing collagen framework, so look for collagen-based formulas. “Try peptides too − a high level of peptides sends a signal to the brain to produce collagen. AHAs are also useful to help smooth out fine lines as they have exfoliating properties so make the skin better able to absorb supreme ingredients like peptides.”

Ladyland recommends: Murad Rapid Collagen Infusion, £65 at

Natura Bissē Intense Retinol Fluid, £84 at Harrods


With many thanks to Ada Ooi, 001 Skincare
Photography: Emma Scott-Child