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Beauty

Why you need a body serum in your routine

June 21st 2021 / Melanie Macleod / 0 comment

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Just like your face, your body deserves a multi-step skincare routine; enter body serums, designed to energise and revive dull and dry skin

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We're used to embracing a multi-step routine when it comes to our facial skincare and it turns out our bodies can benefit from serum in the same way our faces do. Just like facial serums, body serums deliver active ingredients to target specific concerns such as dry skin or dull skin whereas traditional body lotions and creams are mainly used to provide moisture – the inclusion of active ingredients in your body serum is why it's likely to be more expensive than your usual body care buys. Body serums have a lighter texture that sinks in quickly, with a little bit going a long way – there's no need to drench your skin with them.

"Serums are able to deliver a higher concentration of active ingredients than body lotions, creams and ointments due to the way they have been formulated and packed, meaning the active ingredients remain effective by the time they reach our skin," says Dr Ophelia Veraitch, consultant dermatologist at London's Cranley Clinic, specialising in body contouring and facial aesthetics.

Kim Kardashian has long been an advocate of using serums on her body, telling Elle in 2018: “I always put skincare all over, I think that’s really a necessity; I put it on my legs, my arms,” she said. “You really have to do your neck and your chest. I might not like the scent of something, but if I feel like it’s a powerful product I’ll use it all over my body.” Unfortunately we don't all have Kardashian bank accounts and can't afford to put our pricey face serums all over our body too. Luckily body serums are here to deliver more powerful skincare ingredients than a moisturiser.

How do you use a body serum?

Using a body serum doesn't mean you skip your usual body moisturiser. Just like face serum, apply a body serum to dry skin after washing and follow it with your moisturiser once the serum has sunk in (normally fairly quickly). Look for serums that address your concerns, says Dr Ophelia, be they ageing skin, pigmentation or dullness – whatever an ingredient does for your face it will do the same for your body. "Choosing a body serum that contains antioxidants such as vitamin C will help prevent free radical damage. Alpha hydroxy acids, such as lactic acid and salicylic acid, are ideal for brightening and smoothing skin while hyaluronic acid plumps and moisturises."

The best body serums

Body serum for radiance: Dr Sam Flawless Body Therapy, £29 for 200ml

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As you’d expect from dermatologist Sam Bunting, this is brimming with do-good ingredients including bakuchiol, niacinamide and lactic acid, which work together to smooth and exfoliate dead skin and soothe the appearance of uneven texture. It’s silky and lightweight and absorbs quickly without leaving behind a greasy feel.

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Body serum for bumpy limbs: Sol De Janeiro Bom Dia Bright Cream, £18 for 75ml

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With a rich cream texture, this tub of tropically-scented joy doesn't quite fit into this edit but it has all the powers and skincare ingredients of a serum, so in it goes. It's made from fruit AHAs to soften your skin and smooth out rough patches, making light work of chicken skin on the backs of arms and legs. It has vitamin C in the mix too to visibly brighten and diminish the appearance of dark spots. "It made my skin much smoother and softer thanks to antioxidant vitamin C, exfoliating fruit AHAs and moisturising cupacu butter," confirms GTG's editorial director Victoria Woodhall.

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Body serum for arms: U Beauty Arm Sculpt Compound, £94 for 120ml

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This has a plethora of ingredients that we usually save for our faces including vitamin C and retinol, designed to target slightly more neglected body areas including the arms. A little goes a long way and GTG's commercial partnerships manager Catherine said the skin on her arms felt more nourished and appeared firmer. The serum promises maximum improvement after six weeks of usage and two times better results when coupled with some upper body workouts.

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Budget body serum: The Solution Retinol Smoothing Body Lotion, £4.90 for 200ml

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Lotion by name, but serum by nature, this purse-friendly buy has retinol and shea butter in and is loved by our social media and design manager Jemma. "I love how quickly it absorbs into the skin without feeling sticky or too heavy," she says. "It’s so hydrating and nourishing helps brighten skin too."

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Body serum for anti-ageing: Bioeffect Body Intense Serum, £80 for 75ml

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This fragrance-free, easily absorbed body serum targets dryness and uneven texture to leave skin looking and feeling restored and youthful. It uses the brand's signature cell-stimulating ingredient Epidermal Growth Factor which promises to firm, hydrate and tone the body. Bioeffect keeps the ingredients in their formulations as few and natural as possible. "The light texture helps the product to spread very well and you need much less of the body serum than a lotion," explains Dr. Björn, co-founder and scientist at Bioeffect.

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Body serum for reducing stretch marks: Aurelia Firm and Replenish Body Serum, £28.80

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Mandarin and bergamot mingle together for an uplifting fragrance treat in this easily-absorbed serum - there’s no stickiness whatsoever after applying. Aurelia’s signature African botanical ingredients including baobab deliver omegas, essential fatty acids and vitamin E to the skin to nourish, protect and firm it, meaning a reduction in the appearance of stretch marks making skin appear more even.

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MORE GLOSS: Do firming and toning body creams actually work?

Body serum for brightening: Superdose Vitamin C Bio-Vitamin Brightening Body Lotion, members £11.16, typical price £50

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If orange Starburst is your favourite flavour, you’ll love this citrus-scented serum-texture body lotion. It’s jam-packed with skincare ingredients that brighten such as tranexamic acid, hyaluronic acid and firming brown algae, as well as vitamin C. Use daily for fast brightening, firming and rejuvenating action, or two or three times a week for anti-ageing powers. It’s vegan and cruelty-free, as you’d expect from BP. Not a member of Beauty Pie? Join using code GTGSENTME and get an extra £50 to spend.

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Body serum for tanning: Isle of Paradise Hyglo Body Self-Tan Serum, £24.95 for 95ml

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This vegan formula is powered by hyaluronic acid for intense hydration, that leaves skin looking brighter, plumper and dewier with each use whilst the perfect amount of gradual tan leaves skin with a glowy finish – perfect if you want to keep your summer glow going in the winter months without it being too obvious. You wouldn't follow this one with a moisturiser (don't want to upset the tan as it's forming).

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Body serum for firming: Goldfaden MD Firm Believer Body Contouring Serum, £68 for 150ml

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This cools and tightens the skin for a firmer, lifted appearance thanks to gotu kola, an ingredient known to calm, nourish and rejuvenate the skin while encouraging collagen production, alongside firming seaweed and anti-inflammatory coffee which claims to minimise the appearance of cellulite. The price tag is hefty, but it's a doctor backed brand with natural ingredients, so you can see why it's a little steeper.

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Body serum for softer skin: Clarins Renew-Plus Body Serum, £42 for 200ml

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This serum has a creamier, lotion-like texture but with the powers of serum formulas to banish dead skin cells and soften the skin below for supple bright skin. Water lily extract is responsible for eliminating the dry, flakey cells that can make our skin look dull

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Body serum to exfoliate and brighten: Avant Glycolic Acid Vivifying and Firming Body Treatment, £72 for 100ml

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Another slightly creamier serum that has a place in this edit for the ingredients you'd rarely see in a traditional body lotion. Glycolic acid is a liquid exfoliator that sloughs off dead skin cells and boosts the firmness of the skin while smoothing fine lines, treating blackheads and oiliness, while mica reflects light for a radiant appearance. Glycerin hydrates and softens to ease dry skin.

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Body serum for energising the skin: De Mamiel Botaniques Revitalising Body Serum, £70 for 100ml

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Put a spring in your morning routine with this revitalising serum with sea buckthorn, prickly pear and baobab in the ingredients. It has a zingy scent of rose, neroli and jasmine that energises the mind and dispels lethargy, plus it has an ever-so-subtle shimmer for a touch of magic every day that helps to justify the high price. It's housed in violet glass to preserve the vitality of the all natural ingredients and the brand recommends applying this to slightly damp skin for a luxurious feeling on the body.

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Nighttime body serum: Mio Sleeping Smoothie Overnight Body Serum, £34 for 200ml

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Vegan, cruelty-free and with 100 per cent natural fragrance, this spray formula encourages surface cell renewal thanks to a blend of AHAs including mandelic and lactic acid, while shea butter locks in moisture for overnight softening with an uplifting scent of citrus and orange blossom. If you're desperate to hit the hay you'll be pleased to know there's no need to follow this with a moisturiser after using, just jump into bed. This is normally £34 and is currently on offer for £29 so is the perfect time to buy.

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Anti-anxiety body serum: Vanderohe No.1 Enhancing Body Serum, £198 for 100ml

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Vanderohe's facial serum is one of our all-time favourite skincare buys so we had high hopes for the body serum too, and it certainly didn't disappoint. It's fast-absorbing and the scent relieves feelings of anxiety and stress. It helps with sleep issues too as vetiver (included in the formulas) has been used to treat insomnia. This one is another body serum which is so nourishing you don't have to moisturise afterwards. Using it is a truly luxe experience. More self-care than necessity.

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