While I’m at that age when products labeled as ‘anti-aging’ grabs my attention, my primary concern isn’t so much ‘aging’ as it is hydration.
It is my personal experience and belief (non-professional) that keeping skin well hydrated helps it look better, and even to function better and heal more quickly from blemishes.
However, I don’t seek out very heavy formula. Instead, I opt to layer my skincare, sandwiching thin layers of potent hydration, to build that buffer.
In my time therefore, as many of you have oft-reminded me in person and online, I have tried numerous products. Yes, if you’ve read a review here on my blog, it’s gone on my face LOL! 😀
And there are products that I return to over and over, or will recommend, because they are just that good at their job.
Today, we talk about Hydration, and I’ll share 5 hydrating lotions and serums that work. And not only work, they work incredibly well! 😀
Hydrate your skin and help it help itself!
Do note that I’m not a professional. My experience is anecdotal, but borne out of experience.
The reason for my focus on hydration for my skin is two-fold. First, when I was younger and had more oily-combination type skin, I used be told that my skin was dehydrated. How could it be so? I used to wonder. Isn’t my oil helping?
Apparently not. You can have oily or combination type skin, and still be dehydrated! Part of the reason is because people with oily skin tend to use products that mattify, or “absorb oil” which leads to this dehydration.
I noticed back in the day, when I started using more hydrating products as opposed to ‘mattifying’ products, my skin actually balanced itself better. When I experienced breakouts, dousing my skin with hydration helped it recover more quickly.
RELATED READING: Help skin recover from breakouts and problems by increasing hydration! READ HERE
It was a very interesting phenomenon, and since then, back in 2011!, I have had my eye firmly on hydrating skincare products.
Now that I’m older, my skin is now tending to be dry. Dry skin brings with it the attendant woes of fine lines, wrinkles and dull skin. While it is tempting to run straight for the premium anti-aging products to plump and lift the skin, I find that ensuring that your skin is well hydrated helps too.
The upside to having well hydrated skin is this – it looks better and healthier, your makeup goes on more smoothly, it looks more plumped.
I feel that many people today are running around, focusing on active ingredients and trying to delay aging as long as possible, or slathering skin with all the newest, trendiest products in the market, without focusing enough on hydration.
Eye on Hyaluronic Acid
If you’re looking for a hydrating lotion or serum, do look out for our old friend, Hyaluronic Acid. Hyaluronic Acid is a naturally occuring ingredient in our bodies, and is critical for maintaining skin hydration.
It attracts water and moisture, and is reported to hold up to 6000 litres of water, which is mind-boggling and perhaps a little exaggerated. But it is proven that hyaluronic acid can and will help to plump up skin, boost skin hydration and hydration skin is healthy and glowing skin. It is also an antioxidant, which means it protects the skin as well as it does treat.
It really is quite an impressive product, and quite common these days in skincare.
Thin layers of hydration work better than heavy layers
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt as well, it’s that less is more.
Applying thin layers of hydrating products, and sandwiching them between your other skincare creams and serums helps everything perform better, than if you were to just apply one thick occlusive layer e.g. a mask, and expecting it to work like magic.
For this reason, I employ not only the moisture sandwich technique, but also seek out hydrating lotions and serums for my skincare routine. What is important to me is that they are lightweight and absorb easily, but pack a punch when it comes to hydration.
The reason I opt for thin layers is because I have realized that you don’t need very much, but you just need enough of it to make your skin feel and look its best.
RELATED READING: When using hydrating lotions and serums this might be the best way to apply them READ HERE
I’m going to share with you 5 hydrating lotions and serums that work. They don’t only work, they work very well, and I personally use (and repurchase or will repurchase) them practically daily, morning and evening.
My skincare routine is never complete without my Moisture Sandwich and Hydrating Lotions or Serums! 😀
Hydrating Lotions that work well!
First, can we hear it for the Japanese, who have done so well in creating products that are so functional and effective, yet so affordable?! 😀
Kumano Hyaluronic Acid Lotion
I’ve never written about the Kumano Hyaluronic Acid lotion, which is the large white bottle in the picture above. I picked it up while in Japan, at a little drugstore.
I had no idea what it said, only that it said ‘Hyaluronic Acid’ on the side, and it was a whopping 500ml bottle for under ¥1000 (RM38). It was incredibly cheap and I felt I had nothing to lose except luggage space.
I was right. I love this lotion! 😀
The liquid is a clear liquid, much like water. I usually shake out 1 shake into my palm, and then smooth it over my skin. The liquid has a little weight to it, and stays on my skin without evaporating quickly, as water will.
Unlike other similar lotions, it isn’t viscous nor does it turn sticky. There’s no patting technique involved, so I just apply it over my skin with my palms.
It does give my skin hydration, which I love. I initially wasn’t too sure if it did anything, but it does. It does feel lighter than the other serums I will be telling you about, but it is hydrating, comfortable and works well with the other products I use.
I primarily use this in the day time, sandwiched between facial mists, Vitamin C serums and a moisturiser. My skin feels great, and most importantly, I’ve been testing longwearing foundation that doesn’t sink into pores or settle into lines, and my skin feels hydrated.
I love the Kumano Hyaluronic Acid Lotion and I’d happily repurchase, if only it was easier to get hold of! I cannot find it online, and have no idea where to get it in Malaysia. I seem to see some availability in Thailand, so I might look there when I go. But if you can get your hands on this, do not hesitate. It will be the best RM30 you’ll ever spend 🙂
Hada Labo Premium Hydrating Lotion (Read the Review)
More recognizable, and more easily accessible is the Hada Labo Premium Hydrating Lotion 🙂
I swear by this one as well, which delivers more hydration to the skin and to my mind, suits those who have a drier skin type, or who want more hydration. If you have oily or combination skin, start with the regular white bottle of Hada Labo Hydrating Lotion and see how that fares for you first.
Chances are, the regular white bottle of Hada Labo Hydrating Lotion will suffice if you have never tried a hydrating lotion like this.
I have not used the white bottle for years, so I don’t know if the patting technique is still required, to get the product to properly absorb into the skin. With this gold Premium Hydrating Lotion however, the patting technique is no longer necessary.
I suggest that you read my earlier review, where I have extolled its virtues, and told you the best way to use it and who will benefit best from it. This is a staple product for me, simply because it works and is affordable and I have nothing bad to say about it at all!
Hydrating Serums that work!
Moving on, we will move to hydrating serums. I have found that while the Japanese have incorporated hydration into their lotions, the Western brands stick to a more traditional serum approach.
I believe that it might be to do with the customer base and how they understand skincare. Lotions that hydrate are not unusual in Japanese skincare, but Western brands tend to treat lotions as ‘toners’ that exfoliate or “close pores” so there’s a mindset change there.
Clinique Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly (Read the Review)
Clinique markets the Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly as an alternative moisturiser to their yellow Dramatically Different moisturiser range.
Personally, it couldn’t be further from the truth!
The DDHJ comprises primarily of hyaluronic acid, which makes it really, a very good hydrating serum. It is light, comfortable and in the big scheme of things, very affordable because you get so much of it!
What it isn’t, is a moisturiser. Not even a gel moisturiser, because I don’t think it’ll be enough on its own for anyone. Also, I don’t think that’s how hyaluronic acid works – it needs moisture over the product to be most effective.
I’ve talked about it at great length in the full review, so it would be best to read about it there. It’s a good one, and I don’t often say so of many Clinique products 😀
The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Serum (Read the Review)
If trying to get hold of affordable and effective Japanese brand hydrating lotions drive you crazy with shipping fees and jacked up prices, look no further than The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid serum instead.
This one’s much more accessible now that The Inkey List has expanded to the USA and Sephora, and it remains cheap as chips, while being very effective.
In terms of formula, it is to me, far better than the similar product from The Ordinary. Read my review to see why I say this is a must-try from The Inkey List! 🙂
Jordan Samuel Hydrate Facial Serum
Of the 5 products featured here, the Jordan Samuel Hydrate Serum is the priciest. However, I do believe that there is a market for everything, and it is a pretty good product in and of itself.
I thought I had reviewed it before, but apparently I was mistaken 😛
You might remember me telling you about the Jordan Samuel Hydrating Mist prior to this. The Hydrate Facial Serum complements it.
It is a clear serum that contains hyaluronic acid alongside numerous other humectants and botanical extracts. It has a slightly thick, viscous texture, but absorbs easily and quickly into the skin without leaving any residue.
It does everything it promises to do, i.e hydrate skin. However, at US$29 for 30ml, it is the most expensive product in this list, and honestly, while it works (and that’s why it’s on this list), you have 4 other alternatives to try first, that are kinder on the wallet 😀
Have you tried any of the hydrating lotions or serums I’ve shared here? Do you have a favourite you think I should try?
There are many more out there, I know. Let me know if there’s another, or your favourite that I should try, and perhaps in future, I can do another list! 😀
14 comments ... Read or JOIN THE DISCUSSION
I’m using The Inkey List’s HA serum right now and super loving it! I’ve also tried the Clinique one and didn’t feel it made much difference. It definitely won’t work as a stand alone moisturizer for me. Now I really, really, really want that big bottle of HA from Japan 🙁
To go a bit off tangent, The Inkey List’s Turmeric Moisturizer works well for me too and I actually adore the smell! 😀 I find it warm, comforting…kinda “smells like home”. But the scent does linger and it makes me wonder if people around me can smell it too. Feels like I need to ask them “Eh do I smell like kunyit ah?” LOL!
Also, my The Inkey List loot I ordered off ASOS when they had 20% off recently got sent back to them for being on the “restricted list”. I’ve gotten my refund but sad that we don’t seem to be able to order The Inkey List from ASOS. I hope shipping remains ok for Cult Beauty. Sephora MY is useless – limited range and right now, almost all of it is out of stock.
Paris B says
I saw the Kumano HA lotion (the big bottle) is also available in Big C supermarket in Bangkok. But when i was there, the shelves were wiped clean and not restocked 🙁 Glad you enjoy using The Inkey List so far! I didn’t know there was a restriction with Asos! That really sucks. I did buy one of the newer items from Cult Beauty recently (within the past 2 months) and received it, so I’m guessing it’s still OK. Sephora’s prices are also significantly higher!
Instead of slapping on anti-aging products, I am also agreeable with you that I need hydration instead. I have been using the Hada Labo one and so far so good. I was just wondering, however, if you (or anyone here) have tried getting the hyaluronic powders and doing some DIY moisturizers? I am sceptical on buying any plain white powder online so have been sticking to products.. Haha
Paris B says
Happy to know the Hada Labo works for you 🙂 As for your question, I am not a DIY sort of person, so I prefer to buy my products premixed to specifications. I am sceptical about getting the correct and sanitary ingredients, and also in getting the mixtures right. Granted, it is cheaper, but truthfully these days, basic moisturisers and Hyaluronic Acid serums/lotions are already so affordable, it doesn’t quite make sense to DIY. Just iMO 🙂
I agree that the DIY is hardly worth it since many of these base products have become so affordable. In the “old” days, it was worth it and I did purchase niacinamide in a powder form from a reputable dealer in the UK and food grade vitamin C powder (L-ascorbic acid) from a reputable reseller in France. The word here is “reputable”.
This was in the days before The Ordinary or the Inkey List and I was starting to dangle in mixing ingredients and learning more about the nitty-gritty of skincare ingredients and experiment how they work on my skin.
I have to say having a larger percentage of niacinamide powder in storage comes mighty handy for reducing the appearance of pores on my face after masking. I can see the results instantly and visibly with my eyes in the magnifying mirror. It’s a miracle instant pick-me-up ingredient I highly recommend purchasing on it’s own to see for yourself.
I just spritz with Avène Thermal water and mix a pinch of the pure niacinamide powder in the palm of my hand with extra thermal water et Voilà.
Paris B says
Thanks for the tip Kristine! 🙂 It’s great to know that a simple (and affordable) ingredient like that can make such a big difference to your skin! 😀
I’ve been using mattifying and drying products for years before realising that my skin is severely dehydrated and the sensitivity could have been made worse by weak skin barrier with past skincare or the lack thereof (I even stopped using proper skincare for a while). It’s only recently that I started on hydration and skin barrier. I think my skin has improved because my face has finally stopped flaking. Definitely a discovery process for me. I firmly believe in layering lightweight hydrating products too and that HL premium lotion is a staple.
Paris B says
I think there’s this misconception about our need to use mattifying products. I mean, I’ve been there and done that haha! But really, I do feel that even oily skin problems can be solved with just using hydration to balance off the oil. It’s something that works in my head in theory, but not being a professional, I better not say 😛 Oh and yes, keep it light. I’m past putting on thick layers and expecting it to work better. Thin, effective layers are key
Totally agree on hydration ! I have been told over and over by facial therapist and rude cosmetic sales that I have got dehydrated skin, finally I heed. Love love love your moisture sandwich method ?? Tatcha luminous mist was great, it’s so moisturizing that I forgot (or reluctant?) to put on moisturizer whilst face was still damp ? Another mist I like without breaking my wallet is Whamisa rose mist
Paris B says
Hurrah that the moisture sandwich technique works for you! 😀 I haven’t come across the Whamisa rose mist, but you have me intrigued! 😀 I have spent my life being told my skin is dehydrated as well. But sometimes, I wonder what’s the benchmark? Like, I’m not 20 years old. So is my skin dehydrated because it’s being compared to a 20 year old, or am I being benchmarked against my peers? LOL!
Thanks for the list! I look forward to trying all 4 affordable options 🙂 My mother will probably enjoy the Clinique one.
I’ve been trying out the moisture sandwich and the 13 dot technique – so far so good!
Paris B says
So happy that the Moisture Sandwich and the 13 dot technique are working out for you! 😀
Marina (Makeup4all) says
Thank you for this feature! I am currently using Hada Labo.
Paris B says
Hada Labo is great and affordable! Good choice!