Let’s be honest, the summer holidays probably weren’t that great for your skin. If yours went anything like mine there was quite a bit of overindulgence in the sweet department, not to mention the wine department, and many hours spent soaking up the sun. That’s fine, it’s what holidays are for. It does, however, take it’s toll on your skin. An unhealthy diet and UV exposure combined with pollution (heads up city folk!) all contribute to cell damage and weaken the support structures in your skin.

So what can you do?

It is worth investing in a high quality antioxidant serum to give your cells all the help they need to combat free radical damage. Vitamins C, A, E, B and ferulic acid are all superstars, each helping your skin in a different way.

When buying serums with antioxidants it is important to look for the purest, most potent form of the ingredient, and it should be high up on the ingredients list. For instance, when buying a Vitamin C serum, the best form is L-Ascorbic Acid. Vitamin C is also often bound to an ester or encapsulated, which helps to make the ingredient more stable. If you want to use your Vitamin C serum during the day it is essential that you look for a product with stabilised Vitamin C, which won’t oxidize when exposed to light and air.

In terms of using Vitamin A, there is some debate. Some experts will say that it is better to start on a weaker form of Vitamin A like Retinyl Palmitate and then work your way up to Retinol. Others will say it is best to go straight for Retinol, using it once a week at first and then increasing usage as your skin adapts. I would recommend you go to a skin therapist or dermatologist and follow their advice based on your individual skin needs.

In general when starting a new, potent antioxidant serum it is wise to start slow. Use it once or twice a week and then increase as your skin becomes accustomed. If your skin is not use to potent ingredients it will react. If you’re using Retinol and you experience some flaking, take a break and give your skin time to rest before starting up again.

Antioxidants are one element of skincare, but a healthy skin barrier is equally essential. Your skin’s lipid barrier helps to keep all the good things in and all the bad things out, and when this is thin or worn your skin will loose moisture and be more prone to irritation. Try a skin oil that is rich in fatty acids and quality plant oils. Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol) and Vitamin B (Panthenol) are excellent ingredients to sooth inflammation and support your skin barrier.

When buying any skincare product containing antioxidants, packaging is super important. Sunlight and oxygen damage antioxidants so look for bottles that cut out light and are airtight as far as possible.

Here are a couple of superstar serums that I’ve been trying out for the last few months and that I adore.


DermaCeutic Tri Vita C30

R1 596 for 30ml

This ultra-concentrated serum contains three forms of Vitamin C, each of which works on different depths of the skin.

It has 15% L-Ascorbic Acid which provides antioxidant action in the superficial layers of the skin, helping to prevent UVB damage. Then they’ve also added 14,5% Acorbyl Silanol, an encapsulated form of Vitamin C that travels to the deeper layers of the epidermis to help improve the skin’s structure and texture, and fight early aging. And finally it contains 0.5% Ascorbyl Ester, an oil soluble form of Vitamin C that helps to protect the cells against UVA damage.

According to them this is the first product to stabilise Vitamin C at this concentration. I loved it. My skin looked incredible and I definitely saw improvement in texture and firmness. You can use it twice daily, or use it at night to maximise the anti-aging benefits.

Exuviance Super Retinol Concentrate

R940 for 30ml

This product contains a patented ingredient called NeoGlucosamine that works with Retinol to intensify its volumising and firming effects. It has also been formulated with a micro-encapsulated Retinol. In this form Retinol is more effective and it is also less irritating.

I loved the fact that it was fragrance free, and it has an instant plumping effect on the skin that gives you immediate results while the Vitamin A works to deliver long-term benefits. It also has a light, silky texture that feels comfortable.

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic High Potency Triple Antioxidant Treatment

R2 130 for 15ml, dermastore.co.za

This is a brilliant antioxidant serum that can be used in the daytime to help neutralise free radicals from UV exposure and pollution.

It contains L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) and Alpha Tocopherol (Vitamin E) that work hand-in-hand to protect your skin. It also contains Ferulic Acid which, when used with a sunscreen, has been shown to provide eight times more photo-protection and up to 96% free radical protection. It is pricey but a stunning product if you can afford it.

Dermalogica Phyto Replenish Oil

R1 290 for 30ml

I’ve been using this  goodie throughout the holidays and I’ve been loving the look and feel of my skin. This light skin oil helps to reinforce your skin’s protective lipid barrier, hydrates your skin and shields it against free radical damage. The blend of potent plant oils are a rich source of fats and antioxidants that help to support your skin.

I loved the lightweight feel, which was comfortable to use even on the warm summer evenings. After two weeks I could definitely see an improvement in texture, radiance and skin tone.


Babor Derma Cellular Vitamin C Booster Concentrate

R2 057 for 30ml, za.babor.com

This serum contains 20% Vitamin C in a stabilized form, which helps to protect your skin against free radical damage and support the formation of collagen. It does contain quite a bit of fragrance, but I used it for three weeks and didn’t experience any irritation. It has a light feel and absorbs quickly. After using it for two weeks I felt my skin looked smoother and more radiant.

Kiehl’s Apothecary Preparations

R1 495 for 30ml, Kiehl’s stores at V&A Waterfront and Sandton City

The Apothecary Preparations is a new innovation from Kiehl’s where a custom-made serum is created according to your specific skin needs. You will sit down with one of their skin consultants and talk through your needs, for instance lines and pigmentation, and based on the session they will put together a customized kit.

The base of the serum is a Skin Strengthening Concentrate oil, containing Squalene which replenishes the skin and works as an antioxidant, and a skin lipid complex to nourish your skin. You’ll then add two targeted complexes which works on either wrinkles, texture, clarity, pores or redness. Depending on what it targets, these complexes contain brilliant antioxidants and skincare ingredients like Retinol, Alpha Tocopherol, Salicylic Acid and Vitamin C.

My formulation targeted clarity (pigmentation) and wrinkles, and after using this for two weeks I saw some fading of pigmentation around my chin where I normally get breakouts. I also loved the texture and soft botanical smell of the oil, and found it helped to nourish my skin, leaving it feeling smoother and more hydrated.

Environ Ionzyme C-Quence 1 serum

R708 for 35ml, environskincare.com/za

This serum contains a blend of Vitamins A, C and E alongside other antioxidants and peptides that work to protect your skin and promote better regeneration. Peptides build up to form proteins, the fundamental building blocks of your skin, and have been shown to help revitalize and support your skin structure. When combined with antioxidants and skin-replenishing ingredients they can really help to fight early aging.

This serum contains Retinol derivatives that are milder than the pure form, the idea being that you’ll build towards a more potent form of Vitamin A through the Environ Step-Up system. So you’re Environ therapist will gradually introduce you to higher concentrations and purer forms as your skin adapts.

I loved the lightweight texture and I definitely saw improvement in texture and radiance while using this. And since the brand is local the serum comes at a very reasonable price.


These are just a few of the goodies that I’ve been loving. Do you have any that you can recommend? Pop your suggestions or questions in the comments below, I would love to hear from you.


I am a lifestyle blogger from Cape Town trying to find the best ways to spend my time, take care of my body and express myself. I am slightly obsessed with fragrances, sneakers, Jamie Oliver and Masterchef Australia. Oh, and I probably drink way too much wine.


    • Malherbe Liezel Reply

      It is so good! I’ve also recently started using an oil serum by Myhru and loving it so far. I am such a sucker for oils!

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