All of your burning questions about serums answered

Let's just get into it...

Q: Best serums for anti-aging?

If you prefer more personalized recommendations based on your skin's current condition and previous product results, we highly recommend scheduling a consultation. Sydney can provide you with tailored recommendations to help you achieve your desired results.

Alternatively, if you're targeting specific skin concerns such as discoloration or wrinkles, peptide serums could be more suited to your needs. Our free serums guide download provides a comprehensive overview of various serums, including recommended products for different skin types. By clicking on the products, you can learn more about their ingredients, usage, and why I love them as well.

Q: Have you reviewed the BeautyCounter vitamin C?

After trying and reviewing the Beautycounter Vitamin C, I can confidently say that it's a great option! The product contains a derivative of ascorbic acid, THD Ascorbate, that must be converted by our skin to L-ascorbic acid to be effectively utilized. THD Ascorbate is the ideal vitamin c ingredient for individuals with sensitive skin, particularly those with rosacea.

If your skin is not sensitive, and brown discoloration is a top concern, I recommend opting for a vitamin C serum that contains L-ascorbic acid, such as Obagi or SkinCeuticals. However, the decision ultimately comes down to personal preference and budget. Therefore, I suggest trying one product first and then the other, especially if your skin is a good candidate for L-ascorbic acid.

Q: Would love to know your opinion on this new Westman Atelier Skin Activator!

If you're not familiar with this new product, it's an all-in-one serum that boasts 12 key ingredients, along with intelligent, skin-identical science that caters to all skin types (according to their website).

Westman Atelier, being a luxury brand, is associated with a hefty price tag.

Based on the ingredient profile (I haven’t personally tried it) the Skin Activator appears to be a great addition to one's skincare routine in the targeted serum treatment step, especially after prioritizing a medical-grade vitamin C serum. 

So here’s the deal for this product and others in the ‘luxury brand’ skincare category.

→ It’s priced quite high for a non-medical-grade product, and luxury brands don't always deliver on their claims or offer science-backed results but they are a similar cost and sometimes are even more expensive. 

If you're looking to seriously target specific skin concerns or prefer to invest in products with proven efficacy, opt for medical-grade serums affordable options that have undergone extensive research.

Nevertheless, it's worth a try if you are a skincare enthusiast that wants to simply try a hyped skincare product. What I want you to avoid is delaying appropriate treatment, wasting time and money, and expecting the same results from these hyped-up expensive products if you’re really struggling with a skin condition like breakouts, discoloration, or fine lines/texture.

Q: Thoughts on Peter Thomas Roth Vitamin C

I have yet to use it personally, but here's a breakdown. It's best for dry, sensitive skin since it has vitamin E; which could breakouts in oily skin.

The active vitamin c ingredient is THD ascorbate, a derivative of ascorbic acid; best for sensitive skin. It's a good price and worth a try if you have the dry, sensitive skin type. My choice for this skin type is Epionce Intense Defense Serum so I would test it compared to that gold standard.

Q: What is the purpose of the Revision DEJ Boosting serum and do you think it's worth the price tag?

We could go very science-y on this one: it uses sunflower sprout extract to prevent a glycation reaction in the skin (there are fun organic chem formulas linked)

A: I've been using this new serum behind the scenes! Like all Revision products, it has peptides. Sunflower Sprout Extract is the new ingredient it boasts. The idea is that it uses ATP, a source of cellular energy so that cells act more like they did before we exposed them to sun damage. Specifically, it prevents a glycation reaction in our skin cells.

File this in the targeted treatment serum category with peptides for anti-aging to add to your routine twice daily. (if you want!)

It's also packed with an antioxidant blend of THD Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Resveratrol, Red Seaweed, and other ingredients like postbiotics and hyaluronic acid.

*PLEASE KNOW: Before adding these, I recommend prioritizing micro-needling in your routine at least 3 times yearly. 

Q: What are your thoughts on the Sunday Riley 15% CEO Vitamin C brightening serum?

The first question to always ask is, what's the active vitamin C ingredient- this one is the derivative of ascorbic acid, THD Ascorbate, which is best for sensitive skin. I like that it has glycolic acid for extra brightening, but see #4 below . The second question is price ($85). 

Some thoughts are:

  • If you don't have sensitive skin, opt for Obagi 10% Vitamin C serum with a more robust and $92—the same price with much more proven research.
  • The pump can be convenient for travel
  • The bottle isn't opaque.
  • CAUTION to not use this with other exfoliants in some skin types.
  • The texture is a serum lotion; not an authentic serum.

In short- it's a good option for someone with sensitive skin or rosacea that can't tolerate a toner with glycolic acid. This can be your toner+serum step after cleansing. If you have oily or not sensitive skin, there's a better option.

Q: I bought SkinCeuticals Vitamin C serum, and the rep told me it stays for 72 hours, so I only use it once every three days. Thoughts? 

Some data shows it stays active in the skin for 48-72 hours, but there's also data that shows it prevents discoloration when applied post-UV exposure (which we get daily). Since vitamin C makes sunscreen more effective, applying it every morning is recommended. In addition, the results from research trials are based on daily AM applications. If brown discoloration is a main concern or there was substantial sun damage in the past (most of us there is!), then I would apply every AM as directed.

If cost becomes an issue, then you can opt for a less expensive option.

One last point to support daily vitamin C serum use: medical-grade vitamin C serums are made to last 6 months and will oxidize from light/ go bad around that time period, so don't prolong using a bottle past that point or time period.

Q: Can you use hypochlorous acid and vitamin c together? 

Hypochlorous acid is great for bacterial skin problems like acne, eczema, and wound healing. It reduces inflammation and basically disinfects your skin. Since it works by oxidizing the skin it can inactivate antioxidants like vitamin c so it's not recommended to use together. Good news is hypochlorous acid isn't used often and only for oily, breakout-prone skin, which I typically recommend holding off on vitamin c with active breakouts anyway. There aren't really any hard and fast ingredients that can't be used with vitamin c.

Pro Tip Call Out Box

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Alastin A-Luminate Brightening Serum
Alastin A-Luminate Brightening Serum
Alastin A-Luminate Brightening Serum
Alastin A-Luminate Brightening Serum
Alastin A-Luminate Brightening Serum
Alastin A-Luminate Brightening Serum

Alastin A-Luminate Brightening Serum


WHY SYDNEY LOVES IT: Tranexamic acid (TXA) is key to treating and preventing discoloration. This serum also has niacinamide to decrease redness and peptides to increase collagen and decrease fine lines. It's an all-around anti-aging serumto add to your routine twice daily after prioritizing vitamin C serum in AM. I like to transition to TXA when on a hydroquinone-holiday.


  • Clinically proven to help minimize the appearance of all forms of (unwanted) discoloration, including dark spots, age spots, hyperpigmentation, and brown patches.
  • Proprietary PATH-3 Technology helps to minimize the recurrence of surface pigmentation and protect against future damage with continued use.
  • Improves the appearance of redness that often accompanies the look of hyperpigmentation.
  • Helps skin appear brighter and more luminous over time.
  • Powerful antioxidants help promote optimal skin health.
  • Designed to support the results of in-office treatments such as chemical peels, lasers, and skin-brightening treatments
  • Hydroquinone and Retinol free formula.
  • Non-irritating for daily use.


  • In the morning and evening, after cleansing, apply 1-2 pumps of serum to the face.
  • In the AM, apply sunscreen after applying A-LUMINATE.
  • Avoid getting in the eyes. If contact occurs, rinse thoroughly with water.


  • PATH-3 Technology - Helps to minimize the recurrence of surface pigmentation and protect against future damage with continued use.
  • Tranexamic Acid - Encapsulated in a liposome, it helps correct the appearance of hyperpigmentation.
  • Niacinamide - Helps to reduce the appearance of uneven skin tone & supports skin's barrier function
View Details

Product Group Headline:

SBS Daily Toning Pads
SBS Daily Toning Pads
SBS Daily Toning Pads
SBS Daily Toning Pads

SBS Daily Toning Pads

Epionce Renewal Eye Cream
Epionce Renewal Eye Cream

Epionce Renewal Eye Cream

Obagi Professional-C Serum 20%
Obagi Professional-C Serum 20%
Obagi Professional-C Serum 20%
Obagi Professional-C Serum 20%

Obagi Professional-C Serum 20%


Wondering how to add serums to your routine? 

I made a guide just for you with all the nitty-gritty nuances so you have the knowledge to make the best decision for your skin goals and budget.



If you're looking for answers to your burning questions regarding the latest serums, be sure to follow me on Instagram. I regularly drop a question box on my page and provide in-depth answers to all your skincare queries. Alternatively, feel free to leave a comment on this blog post and I'll do my best to provide you with the information you need.


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