The Best {Natural} Face Serums of 2013: LPN’s Picks

After last week’s feature on the best facial oils of 2013, I promised a follow-up post on best in facial serums. After months of testing, I give you LPN’s definitive guide to the best in natural (and organic) serums for face. These were selected much along the same lines as my facial oils, with a few deviations:

  1. Quality and purity of ingredients
  2. Quality of processing / extraction
  3. Star ingredients
  4. Effects on my skin over 3 – 4 weeks of use
  5. Sourced from ethical companies
  6. Overall texture/consistency/viscosity and scent

***If you’re curious to dig into the differences between facial oils and serums (which can be made of oil), check out last week’s post on the best facial oils, which gives a little blurb on the differences.***

And the Winners are…

*Please note, the numbers are not meant to differentiate the products in terms of 1st place, 2nd place etc. These made it on my Top 7 list, and they are all wonderful products. Wondering about the differences? Read the descriptions below.

The Moisture Queens

These two serums were brilliant for a multitude of reasons, but what put them apart was their moisture retaining properties. I was able to wear these without any additional facial moisturizer (cream or oil) as they were hydrating enough to get me through the day. That being said they were also packed with powerful ingredients that worked little miracles on my skin each morning and night.

1. Lina Hanson Global Face Serum (Oil Format)

The Global face serum is the best of both “worlds”- literally. Made with luxurious oils – which have been sourced from all over the globe – it could equally have made the Best in Facial Oils feature last week. Some of the star beauty ingredients include Baobab (a tree I spoke about after returning from my trip to Senegal earlier this year) which is a dry-skin saviour, as well as another African sourced ingredient Marula, which is Vitamin C-potent (i.e. antioxidant rich and protects from free-radical damage). The Camellia seed acts as a brightener (helping to tone down pigmentation irregularities) and the Argan oil is of course both moisturizing and protective. I absolutely love Lina Hanson’s Global Serum and here are a few reasons why:

  1. The scent was intoxicating – a combination of ylang ylang, frankincense and neroli make it a powerful aromatherapy blend too (these three essential oils are all said to uplift mood)
  2. The serum was moisturizing, so for travel it was perfect as I had one less bottle to tote around for those weeks
  3. The serums’ key ingredients are harvested by local farmers and women’s cooperatives in the countries from which they are sourced
  4. My skin was left ridiculously smooth and moisturized; that being said I would recommend this for drier skinned beauties

Where to Buy:

$85 for 30 ml

USA – Lina Hanson Online & Spirit Beauty Lounge
Canada – Fresh Faced
UK – Content Beauty 
International –  Amazon

2. Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics: Active Moisture Vitamin C Serum (Oil Format)

Like Lina Hanson’s serum, Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organic’s serum could have made the Best in Facial Oils list too. It is a brilliant moisturizer and serum – needless to say, this Active Moisture Vitamin C Serum effortlessly did double duty. Packed with antioxidant rich ingredients, this beautiful bottle both protects and replenishes. The high concentration of Vitamin C banishes free radicals, while the Omegas help to disguise the look of fine lines. Some star ingredients in this serum include organic camellia (which is antioxidant rich green tea) helping to brighten the skin tone, as well as supercritical seabuckthorn and shea seed oils helping to minimize fine lines. Why Elizabeth Dehn for OLO’s serum made it on the list:

  1. The serum did double duty effectively – sinking in like a serum (wonderful under makeup) while still moisturizing like an oil
  2. Its proprietary blend of essential oils was both fresh and sweet – never overpowering
  3. The serum is brilliant for all skin types (yes, it is moisturizing but it is light enough for normal and oily skinned babes too)
  4. During the weeks of usage my skin seems brighter and more even (less redness in the bottom of my cheeks)
  5. A little dab will do ya’

Where to Buy:

$68 for 24 ml

USA – One Love Organics Online & Nature of Beauty
Canada – Eco Diva Beauty & Fresh Faced
EU – One Love Organics EU

The Brighteners

Good morning sunshine! Even as we move into the colder months, and less sun is upon us, there is no reason for our skin to start looking dull. These two brightening serums will help you beat even the biggest of doldrums.

3. Kahina Giving Beauty’s Brightening Serum (Serum Format)

In a gel-like consistency, this serum is WONDERFUL. Best used for brightening and reducing hyper pigmentation, this is perfect for anyone who has suffered sun damage or hormonally caused discolouration (not uncommon during pregnancy and while on the the birth control pill). Packed full of super powerful ingredients (sensitive skin lassies, beware) this completely natural serum is a freckle-face’s number 1. Kahina bases their entire line on pure Argan oil, so it is no surprise you’ll find their star ingredient here, but it doesn’t come without some powerful partners including wakame (seaweed) which helps treat skin discolouration and spirulina (yup, the green stuff a lot of us wellness junkies drink the morning) that is packed with antioxidants. Why Kahina’s Brightening serum made it on the list:

  1. Powerful ingredients actually lighten dark spots and keep things even (I’m working on a particular spot that I’ve noticed tone down since 3 weeks of usage)
  2. The serum’s absorption is bar-none, it gets in your skin without any hard work
  3. Kahina donates a percentage of their profits to the Berber women who extract their argan oil
  4. Gel-like consistency goes on smooth and is great for under moisturizer

Where to Buy:

$72 for 30 ml

USA – Spirit Beauty Lounge
Canada – Eco Diva Beauty & Fresh Faced
UK - Naturisimo
International: Amazon

4. One Love Organics Morning Glory Brightening Complexion Booster (Oil Format)

Light and perfect for toning up the skin, a combination of raspberry leaf and lemon balm help to tighten, tone and brighten and de-puff. This magical little serum is a protector, given that it is jam packed with antioxidants galore. That being said, what I really found it did well was brighten up my skin – anytime. I packed this one in my purse for a mid-day pick-me-up while at work (you know how 3 o’clock rolls around and suddenly things aren’t looking so fresh anymore?); in a few drops I felt (and felt I looked) renewed. If you have problem prone skin, this one is for you. The lemon balm acts as a natural astringent and the serum itself is light, so it doesn’t feel like you’re putting oil on your face, even though it is an oil base. I used this under a facial oil, since I have skin on the drier side. One Love Organics’ Morning Glory made this list because:
  1. Super light and absorbant - great for under moisturizer/facial oil
  2. Ingredients were top notch in terms of their brightening power: peppermint and lemon balm, plus raspberry leaf for some tightening action
  3. Very light fragrance (of the beautiful ylang ylang essential oil) makes it great to combine with other products
  4. Everything is plant based, and organic wherever possible

Where to Buy:

$48 for 30 ml

USA – One Love Organics
Canada – Eco Diva Beauty & Fresh Faced
UK - Love Lula
Scandinavia: Pure Skin
International: Love Lula

The Anti-Agers

5. The Organic Pharmacy Antioxidant Face Repair Serum (Oil Format)

Another lightweight serum makes LPN’s list after a trial of 3 weeks. The Organic Pharmacy (based out of London but with locations all around the globe) is worth a post on their own (and will have one in a not so distant future) but before we get there, I’d like to feature one of their star products: the Antioxidant Face Repair Serum. Putting on my face I got a “pow” of citrus fruit, no surprise here given that key ingredients include grapefruit, sweet orange and lemon – but it is all combined with rosehip oil. So for those lovelies with oilier or problem prone skin, yet are still focused on wanting to fight this signs of aging, this one is your go-to.  Why The Organic Pharmacy’s Antioxidant Face Serum made LPN’s list:

  1. The citrus ingredients combined with rosehip oil are great for combatting sun damaged skin – something I unfortunately have from my younger days of negligent sun block application
  2. You can add it to any other oil or moisturizer you use to give it an extra “boost”; however, I used it directly on my skin
  3. The scent is a powerful citrus blend which I particularly enjoyed
  4. The serum absorbs very well and is great for most skin types, either alone (for oily skin) or in combination with a facial oil/moisturizer (for drier skin)
  5. All extracts are organic, so there are no less than glamorous pesticides lurking in this golden bottle

Where to Buy:

$105 USD for 35 ml

USA – Barneys NY & Organic Pharmacy Beverly Hills
UK - The Organic Pharmacy Online or Shops
Norway –  Gimle Parfymeri
International - Find a Store or Online Shop

6. Amala Rejuvenate Facial Serum (Serum Format)

This little bottle of magic truly is one of the reigning Queen’s in the natural anti-aging category. Similar to her facial oil counterpart, the Rejuvenate Facial serum is packed with age-fighting ingredients such as the cacao bean, a mega-antioxidant which helps protect the skin from further damage, but also a stimulant to the top layer of skin which increases microcirculation. The green-algae component is one phenomenal ingredient you should look for when it comes to collagen production (keeping the skin plump is key to decreasing any lines in your skin) and acerola (a fruit I drank the juice of many a time here in Norway) is jam-packed with vitamin C which is an anti-ager as well as a lightener (so it helps with hyper pigmentation). The ingredients in this beauty are bar none. Amala Rejuvenate Facial serum made LPN’s list for a few reason:

  1. The ingredients are powerful and hard to find in other products due to their cost
  2. Their clinical studies of 28 days gave 100% of users noticing a decrease in fine lines and wrinkle-depth
  3. The scent is light and it comes in a serum format, so it is great to use with the facial oil (if you wish)
  4. It’s luxe – everything from the quality of ingredients, to the packaging is pure natural luxury

Where to Buy:

$182USD for 30 ml

USA – Spirit Beauty Lounge
Canada - Amala Online
Norway- Pureskin.no
International - Amala Online

6. Annmarie Gianni Anti Aging Facial Serum (Oil Format)

It’s no secret that I love Annmarie Gianni’s perfectly pure skincare line - anyone who frequents LPN will know her products are top notch when it comes to quality and purity, while also being quite affordable.  Again for those with drier, more mature skin, this product will stand tall in your bathroom cabinet at your defence against fine lines and wrinkles. One of the key ingredients is a sunflower called Life Everlasting. It is responsible for skin cell regeneration, while the echinacea works on firming up the skin. There are additions of flaxseed as well, which is great for calming, making this great for beauties with sensitive skin. Why Annmarie Gianni’s Facial Serum made LPN’s list:

  1. You only need a tiny bit to get great results – this means a longer lasting product, which is good when you’re spending a pretty penny
  2. Can be used by even the most sensitive of skin-types as the blend is gentle, while still being effective
  3. The Life Everlasting flower is a collagen promoter, which I felt helped reveal a youthful glow with each application
  4. There is an aromatherapy component of this oil that is intoxicating – I love the rose and frankinsense blended with rosemary and sweet myrrh – beautiful

Where to Buy:

$49 USD for 15 ml

USA – Annemarie Gianni Online
UK & Europe – Monaturel
Canada – Gayas
Asia Pacific / Australia – Be Good Organics
International: Annemarie Gianni Online

There you have it, gorgeous!
I hope you enjoy one (or more) of these natural facial serums in your nontoxic skincare journey.
Each is beautiful, with its own spectacular ingredient lists and properties; you won’t be disappointed.
***Did I miss your favourite natural serum? Tell me about it below! 
Tried some of these out? How did you like them? ***
X
K
  • Sabrina

    Love this post! Which serum do you think works best in terms of tightening and toning the skin?

    • http://www.livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

      Glad you enjoyed Sabrina :-)
      I would recommend either one of The Brighteners (either the Morning Glory by One Love, or Kahina Giving Beauty’s Brightening). They were both noticeably effective on my skin.
      xx

      • sonika falcon

        These are all very nice product for face.Thanks for sharing this nice blog. This one is seriously very nice post.Our site falcon 18 provide various variety of beauty and skin products so if you want please visit us @ bit.ly/17LG3Ch

  • Jen

    I’m looking forward to trying the Annemarie Gianni serum. I recently tried DreamTone (not natural, I know!) and while I was happy for the first few days, in the end it left my sensitive skin a mess. But it’s basically been a mess since I moved to France over a year ago :/. Different brands of my favorite oils don’t work the same, things are either too gentle/ineffective or way too harsh, and I’ve wasted too much money bc returns are so difficult with different policies and limited language skills! I’m currently using a shampoo you recommended a while ago and my hair seems to be repairing :). So hoping I can get my skin there too!!

    • http://www.livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

      It’s a lovely product – you won’t be disappointed! France did a number on my skin also (I lived there twice in the past few years for school) – but it had more to do with how my diet changed there. I was eating more inflammatory foods than normal and found my skin to react negatively. Ensure that is not the problem first :-) Yes for language skills. You should check out Madamoiselle Bio (depending on the town/city you are living in) they have some great natural options in the mean time. Good luck! xo

  • Little Mokuyoubi

    Hi, that is really a great post, I think i’ll print it out!!
    With my dry skin, I am now really looking forward to trying the Lina Hanson and Annmarie Gianni serums!
    And I think I’ll give for christmas the Kahina’s one to my mum!!
    One Love Organics serum is also on my wishlist (not yet available on the EU shop).
    Thanks,
    Melanie

    • http://www.livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

      Glad you liked it Melanie :-)
      You won’t be disappointed with any of those serums – they were brilliant! Depending on where you are in the EU, I know Norwegian shop (although not in the EU, in Europe) carries them – http://www.pureskin.no xx

      • Little Mokuyoubi

        Thanks Kate for letting me know about this shop! I am in the UK but can easily be delivered in France as I am French.
        I am using some samples of OLO Morning Glory and Eternal Spring at the moment, i eeally love the smell.
        Have you ever tried the MUN No.1 Aknari Serum? It also looks amazing!

        • Little Mokuyoubi

          There is so much to try!
          Have you ever tried OLO Chia oil or Love Springs Eternal?
          What about some from May Lindstrom (the youth dew) or from La Bella Figura?

          • http://www.livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

            Using Love Springs Eternal now actually lol – May Lindstrom I’m trying when I’m back in Canada next (based in Norway now). xx

        • http://www.livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

          For the UK, make sure you’re checking out Love Lula! https://www.lovelula.com?atk=hgMTuH5-zFzok1NnBj8Obg

        • http://www.livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

          Have not tried MUN No. 1 – will have to get that on my “to do” list :-)

  • tianna

    love the lina hanson serum! the rest look great as well ♥

    • http://www.livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

      Agreed! Thanks Tianna xx

  • CS

    Great post! I have been using the Moisture Queens together, actually. I just started adding the Morning Glory at times. I am in love with all things Lina Hanson and OLO!

    • http://www.livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

      Fantastic! Both such beautiful products!!! xx

  • http://enlightenlifecoach.com/ Jaclyn Costello

    I just discovered your website and love it!! Thank you for such a high quality blog with amazing and spirited reviews, information, and other shared-goodness. :) I have a question for you (my new skin-beauty guru) I’m trying to decide between The Organic Pharmacy Antioxidant Face Repair Serum and the Amal Rejuvenate Facial Serum. I’m in my 30s, have combination skin (which is sensitive), spent some time in the sun in my younger days and have some lines around my eyes to prove it!… or maybe I just smile a lot). I’m basically looking for the a ‘miracle serum’ to add to my skin regime. I realize you’re not looking at my skin up close and personal under a bright light, nor are you a skin-doctor, etc, etc, etc,… but based on what I’ve read on your site, I trust your opinion and insights, so could you share which of these two products you love the most??

    • http://www.livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

      Aww Jaclyn, thanks for your sweet message!! <3
      Well in regards to those serums – both are wonderful – really consider what is the main goal you're trying to achieve. It doesn't seem like pigmentation is a big concern for you, nor moisture, but anti-aging is what you really want to focus on. I would say the Amala has more powerful ingredients on the anti-aging side of things, and is also super gentle, so you shouldn't have a problem with regard to sensitive skin (unless you're allergic to any of the key ingredients, of course). That being said, for the little eye lines (which I also have, also from either smiling or sun damage hehe) I would recommend using an eye cream targeted for fine lines. Currently I'm using Pai Skincare's Echium Eye Cream and am very happy with it. It isn't oil at all, so it is great to have under eye makeup (if you wear any). Hope this is useful and hope to see you here again soon! xx
      Let me know what you end up deciding on!

      • http://enlightenlifecoach.com/ Jaclyn Costello

        Thank you so much!! You are so helpful and generous with your advice. I will let you know once I’ve officially made a purchase. Considering the prices, I am shopping around intensively before committing. :) It’s fun to research new products anyway. Thank you again, and I look forward to exploring your site further.

        • http://www.livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

          Of course, it is my pleasure!

          On a less pricey side, I would also highly recommend the Annmarie Gianni Anti-aging facial oil (link above). Her products are of extremely high quality and very effective.

          xx

  • Sheila Lang

    I found this amazing shop on etsy called Skin Apotheke by Zria I haven’t tried any products yet, but I’m excited to, all the products are all natural and she uses ayurvedic principals in all her products, the reviews look amazing too. Was just wondering about your opinion on her products.

    • http://www.livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

      Thanks Sheila! I have heard of them actually – Ria from Apotheke contacted me back in August – I asked her to get in touch with me in the late fall/early winter regarding her products. So perhaps you will have my thoughts soon :-)

  • Anne

    Thanks so much for providing a seller for Annmair Gianni’s products in Europe. I’m saving 2/3 shipping fee! I can also recommend the facial oil fpr nirmal skin. It works miracles and it’s scent relaxes me into a wonderful sleep…

    • http://www.livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

      So glad it came in handy, Anne – also so glad you like the facial oil. I’ve used the anti-aging oil and it was lovelyyyy! Have a great week! xx

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  • Tamar

    Just found your amazing blog! i’m 30, with acne prone skin on the one hand but aging/tired on the other… Any recommendation how to start to detox my skin care? i am very excited about it but I am completely lost (plus it seems like all the product are oil based).

    • http://www.livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

      HI Tamar, thanks for stopping by!
      As for acne at 30, it is more common than you think. Depending on where you get your spots, it may indicate something going on in your system (i.e. around your jaw and chin is usually hormonal, cheeks are often food-related). Also, don’t be afraid of oils when you have acne, it can actually be quite healing depending on the severity of your spots. Tell me a bit more about where you’re getting spots and would be happy to make some recommendations :) xx

      • Tamar

        Hi kate, thank you for answering! My acne is mostly hormunal but it seems that my skin reacts to many product by breaking out with little spots in other places as well. I feel that this will be better with non-toxic natural products but I still need to be careful. I really want to detox my skin care, looking to prevent acne but also to make my dull skin look more alive. Your blog is the first place that gave me hope but I don’t know where to start this journey!

        • http://www.livingprettynaturally.com/ Living Pretty Naturally

          Thanks for your kind words. :)
          Hormonal acne is a tough one – I get this too and I find the best way to help combat it is through diet, rest, and lots of fluids. That being said there are lots of products that are helpful with the dullness that can be used on acne prone skin. I would recommend Annmarie Gianni’s Herbal Facial Oil for Oily & Acne Prone skin – find a link to her stuff on my page here: http://livingprettynaturally.com/an-effective-organic-skincare-line-i-would-eat-annemarie-giannis-organic-skincare-review/

          Also you might want to look at using a calming toner for acne prone skin – anything with Rose Water, and calming essential oils would be good. Bliss Mist from Saje wellness is great, so is Benedetta’s Radiance Mist (which helps to regulate the skin) http://www.benedetta.com/BENEDETTA-CRYSTAL-RADIANCE-ELIXIR-s/29.htm

          Keeping things gentle is key, using a gentle cleanser, for example One Love Organic’s foaming facial cleanser, is great, but slightly drying. If you have oily skin this could be a good match.

          What’s your skin like? Dry? Oily? That will help me better discuss the type of cleanser for your skin :)

          • Tamar

            Kate, wow- thank you so
            Much for taking the time to help me. My skin is combination my cheeks and nose are oily and the rest is normal and even dry during the winter