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Beauty: super serums

‘Serum is the metaphorical Nurofen to help fix your tummy ache.’
Photograph: Rui Faria/The Guardian

I am frequently asked to explain the difference between serum and moisturiser. Think of when you feel a bit poorly: serum is the metaphorical Nurofen to help fix your tummy ache, while moisturiser is the nice warm blanket you climb under to recuperate. One is problem-solving, the other is comfy and protective. And generally, this targeted fixing approach (discoloration or wrinkles, for example) is what you should keep in mind when choosing a serum.

But very often, women want a great, multipurpose anti-ageing version to treat a bit of everything. On this tip, my newest love is Clinique’s Smart Custom Serum (£48). I realise the world and her wife have already written about this, but I was biding my time for visible results. And they came. Smart Custom, used twice a day, definitely made my skin brighter, smoother and firmer (though sadly not more even in colour). It’s great stuff, I promise.

There’s also Bio Effect EGF Cellular Activating Serum (£125) – it’s insanely expensive, yes, but it has proven results for which I can personally vouch. You use it for one month as an occasional booster.

Not that you need to take out a new mortgage, of course: an old schoolfriend raved about The Body Shop’s Overnight Serum-in-Oil (£13), and as a fan of the rest of the store’s Vitamin E parent range, I decided to give it a whirl. It’s lovely to the touch and gives a non-greasy, moist glow. My only issue is with the name – there’s really no reason not to apply it morning and night.

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