Meet the super serums set to change the skin care game

Our beauty editor took them for a test drive...

Digital Beauty Editor / February 16 2021

I learned long ago that I couldn’t be greedy when it comes to skin care. As someone with a dry skin type and major sensitivity as my biggest concern, I don’t tend to waste much time setting ‘skin goals’. Instead, I have to put pretty much all of my energy into ensuring my face isn’t dry enough to physically crack, or inflamed enough to catch alight.

For years I’ve left ‘glow with the light of a million suns’ on my mental vision board without actually making any attempts to achieve it. Simplicity is key for sensitive souls, after all. But while I class finding any product that keeps everything in one piece as a win, I won’t pretend I wouldn’t catch (gleaming) glimpses of friends’ glossy faces and experience a touch of FOMO.

So, as you can imagine, I was equal-parts intrigued and sceptical when Olay’s brand spanking Super Serum range landed on my desk. They looked chic and unlike anything Olay has ever done before, and in fact, the entire line-up is nasties free. I’m talking no sulphates, parabens, phthalates, petrolatum and mineral oils. Phew. And on top of all that, they also promise a whole lot of glow while keeping specific skin concerns under control...

The options

FYI, there are four Super Serum fellas to choose from. Niacinamide (AKA vitamin B3, an all-star brightener) is the common ground between all of them, but each variant heroes its own star ingredient as well. Your options? Vitamin C (a tone-evening illuminator), hyaluronic acid (the hydrator of all hydrators), cica (a soothing superstar) and a fourth, all-or-nothing guy that centres solely around niacinamide, using an extra-potent 99 per cent pure grade niacinamide, no less.

Just identify your biggest skin concern (pigmentation, dehydration, inflammation or dullness, respectively) and you’ll be on your way. Or, if you’re feeling optimistic (like me) re: being able to actually address multiple concerns for once, grab two: Niacinamide + Hyaluronic Acid for the A.M. and Niacinamide + Cica for night.

Olay Niacinamide + Hyaluronic Acid Super Serum

Olay Niacinamide + Cica Super Serum

The experience

My aesthetic when I wake up is usually more ‘dehydrated zombie’ than ‘dewy’, so a hefty hydration hit straight from the shower is exactly what the doctor (or dermatologist, rather) ordered. My morning routine usually revolves around me wrestling with my base in order to make sure it’s not clinging to dreaded dry spots, and it usually takes a serum-moisturiser-primer trio to give me a smooth enough canvas for makeup, but I decided to sip the other steps in order to give my new serum a true test.

Well, not only did it save me at least a minute of time (and a whole chunk of product), but my skin felt plump, soft and hydrated enough to slap my base straight on. The tightness I usually feel around 3pm when my skin sends me the dreaded ‘hello, I’m eating your makeup because I’m out of moisture’ memo was a goner as well.

As for the evening application, the cica serum felt like actual heaven going on. The soothing effect was practically instant; I swear I could almost see the redness packing its things and preparing to head out, and the stinging that I generally put up with post-shower went away in a flash.

Another aspect I enjoyed was the automated dropper; highly exciting for someone like me, who’s partial to over-applying if my product doesn’t give me an easy way to measure out the perfect portion. Convenient? Check. Fuss-free? Double check. It’s the ideal way to get the exact amount you need every time; no more, no less.

The results

I’ve got three words for you: hydrated, calm, and (best of all) glossy. Sure, a moisturised complexion generally gives off more of a glow than a parched one, but I was seeing legitimate luminosity that could only be the work of a unicorn-esque ingredient like niacinamide (without experiencing the dryness or irritation that usually crop up when I work an active in).

One quick fact-check later, I realised that the radiance was all down to the ‘smart niacinamide delivery system’ the products use.

Here’s the thing: if you want to glow from the inside out, you have to make sure your brightening ingredients can actually get from the outside in – an ingredient is only as effective as its delivery system allows it to be. Basically, unlike a lot of niacinamide topicals (which sit on the surface regardless of how fabulously pure the serving is), the Super Serum range allows the niacinamide to penetrate beyond the top layers of the epidermis right down to the dermis (where the magic results really happen). Consider this my formal ‘cheers’ to them for doing the legwork for my lustre levels.

I think using two products from the same range really worked in my face’s favour, too. My skin soon adjusted to drinking in its major serving of hydration in the A.M., then looking forward to some anti-inflammatory action at the end of the day. It’s worth mentioning that I experienced a tiny bit of bumpiness (as I do when I switch to any new skin care product), but after just a few days, it was (literal) smooth sailing in the texture department, and my face felt calmer than ever. It also wasn’t bright pink like usual; basically I could wear blush again without it simply matching the rest of my face.

The verdict

Detecting an absolute rave? You’re right. If I’m honest, it’s actually the most impressed I’ve been with a serum range in a hot minute (or a cool, calm one if you ask my skin). It’s the first time in a long time I’ve been able to tick off my biggest skin goal (brightness) and counteract my biggest concern (sensitivity) while also catering to my actual skin type (dry and thirsty as hell).

And the best bit (in both mine and my previously confused complexion’s book) is this: I can do all that with two single products. Basically, I’m achieving the absolute most by applying less than I previously did. So, go ahead, pick your player, and check into glow town with whatever pal (hyaluronic, vitamin C, cica or more niacinamide) you feel like bringing.

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