Ever since I wrote about Shiseido Ultimune more than three years ago, the original pre-serum serum, the market has been flooded with other brands introducing similar products. I’m still skeptical of the benefits of using a pre-serum, but I love layering skincare and any excuse to add more products to my regime is a good one. Today I have three pre-serums to share with you, ranging from affordable to the ultra expensive.
Priced at C$40 for 50mL, the Vichy Mineral 89 is the most affordable and most easily accessible of all pre-serums. It contains 89% Vichy thermal water, powered by 11 different minerals, and only 10 other ingredients. It is ultra light, very watery, and fast absorbing. This is also the simplest of all of the pre-serums, in that it claims to hydrate, plump, and fortify the skin. I think it does a fantastic job at hydrating my skin, and I can even use this alone as a hydrating serum during the day. It does help the absorption of other products, which I am loving, but whether or not it helps to boost the other products’ efficacy is hard to tell. Based on its superior hydrating properties and its reasonable price, I’d re-purchase this.
Priced at US$84 for 60mL, the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum Ex contains the most plant extracts, harnessing the power of traditional herbal medicine to create a product that’s good for you on both the inside and outside. The texture is a super lightweight gel. As with most Asian skincare, it does contain alcohol. It’s not as fast absorbing as the Vichy Mineral 89, but it feels significantly more nourishing, like a step above simple hydration. Despite its higher price tag, you do get a good decent amount. I use one pump for my face and one pump for my neck, and the bottle has lasted me a long time. I can see myself wearing this as a serum on its own as well in the summer as on its own it performs decently. Sulwhasoo is a high end luxury brand, and this product seems to be priced on the lower end. It’s a great entry level product if you are interested in trying more from the brand.
The Dior One Essential is the most expensive product talked about today. Its priced at C$162 for 50mL, or you can also purchase a smaller size of 30mL for C$130. The Dior One Essential has the most claims of all of these products, as it claims to “detoxify, regenerates and boost skin for a revitalized complexion,” and also targets UV rays, stress, and pollution, as well as indoor toxins such as carpet, glue, varnishes, and electronic devices. I generally have pretty good skin so I didn’t see many major changes. I do feel like my skin is a tad brighter and less dull after incorporating this in my routine for a few weeks, likely because pollution is one of the major causes to skin sallowness. In that sense, it worked pretty well!
But let’s not end it here. I’ve previously talked about the La Prairie Anti-Aging Rapid Response Booster (C$405 for 50mL), which is probably the most lux pre-serum on the market. I only had a small sample of it so I wasn’t able to test it over a long period of time, I have heard that some people consider this a favourite and game changer. If you have some cash to spare, consider looking into the La Prairie as well. Another brand that released a pre-serum around the time that Ultimune was released was Elizabeth Arden, called the Superstart Skin Renewal Booster (C$119 for 50mL). I’ve never tried theirs but it’s another option to look at.
If I had to pick in terms of price and value for the benefits, my top choice would be the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX. It’s not the most expensive, but comes in the biggest bottle, and also has the most nourishing herbal ingredients. If you are looking for a simple, straight-to-the-point hydrating pre-serum, the Vichy Mineral 89 is a fantastic choice. If you are looking for a do-it-all and aren’t worried about price, then the Dior One Essential can be your friend. With so many pre-serums on the market, you’re bound to find one that fits your needs.
Sulwhasoo, Dior, and La Prairie are available at Holt Renfrew. Vichy and Elizabeth Arden are available at London Drugs.
Products were provided from companies for review consideration; all opinions are my own.