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Today we're talking through the revamped library of antioxidant serums from Alpha-H; they cover off your main non-exfoliating actives with their Vitamins A, B, C and E, so let's jump right into the ingredients and added extras in these specific formulas...
Let's start with the Vitamin A Serum with 0.5% Retinol* | £46. This simple milky serum is powered with 0.5% retinol, which is a really skin-friendly concentration in my books. Retinoids, as a class of ingredient, are amazing in terms of well-ageing; they help with discolouration, sun damage and fine lines. They're actually the only group of ingredients that have been shown time and time again to reverse existing signs of ageing rather than just preventing further environmental and sun damage. Retinol isn't generally my favourite retinoid, as it can be a little harsh for my skin. I'd say 1% is what I'd consider a strong concentration in a true retinol product so 0.5% is a nice, intermediate level for most people. If you've never used retinoids before, you could potentially start with this, so long as your skin isn't particularly sensitive and you've successfully patch tested. It's not massively punchy but it works well, and I actually really like using it on my neck (and chest) because that skin is a little more sensitive and it's great for that. It isn't drying for my skin personally (though bear in mind that I'm a seasoned retinoid user) and it's set in a moisturising base of buffering ingredients to take the edge off any potential irritation, such as squalane, jojoba oil and macadamia seed oil. It's one of the few retinol products I personally really enjoy using and I recommend checking it out if you're a little intimidated by retinoids but want to give a 'proper' retinol a go.
Next, we have the Vitamin B Serum with 5% Niacinamide* | £46. Despite the packaging not advertising this, alongside niacinamide (Vitamin B3) this product actually also contains copper peptides and panthenol (Vitamin B5), plus hyaluronic acid. Let's break down each of these ingredients! Niacinamide is a fantastic all-rounder, to be honest; it helps regulate oil production in the skin, it boosts up the skin barrier function (by increasing ceramide production) and helps with hyperpigmentation by inhibiting its spread through the skin, therefore reducing the size of blemishes scars. 5% is a proven effective, but still skin-friendly concentration, which is great. Copper peptides can potentially help boost collagen production (making them great from a well-ageing perspective) and can have a healing and reparative effect on the skin. Panthenol is soothing and also helps the skin retain hydration, and hyaluronic acid is a humectant, meaning it draws moisture into the skin. My natural desire was to compare this to Niod's CAIS 3, given it's the most famous copper peptide formula; this is both cheaper and more complex, in terms of the range of ingredients included, which is great! This is definitely thicker and gloopier but it's also more hydrating. I feel like this product is a good skin day bottled, to be honest! It plumps, hydrates and you're getting those background niacinamide benefits without using a really strong formula that could be irritating. My only negative is the slight foaming effect I sometimes get when applying this product, which is a fairly common issue with niacinamide-based serums.
We also have the Vitamin C Serum with 10% Ethylated Ascorbic Acid* | £46. As I mentioned, all skin vitamins have antioxidant properties, but Vitamin C is particularly noteworthy for this. Antioxidants protect the skin from free radical damage from our environment, so are an essential preventative measure for any well-ageing skincare routine. This particular form of Vitamin C is a derivative, so essentially it's pure ascorbic acid that's undergone a bit of tinkering to make it more stable and to remove the need to formulate at such a low, potentially-irritating pH. The thing you're losing in the process are those proven collagen-boosting benefits, though this product is gentler and is shelf-stable. You're still getting the benefits of a more radiant complexion and a more even skin tone too, which are both great things. If you're struggling to find a gentle, effective Vitamin C at a decent price: definitely give this a go. It delivers on that bouncy, juicy skin look and it did help the overall tone of my skin. It comes in a non-sticky gel formula which also contains licorice root extract, another tyrosinase-inhibitor to help with hyperpigmentation. There are also plant antioxidants in the mix to bolster the Vitamin C and hydrators such as glycerin. Again, it's a really well-rounded formula and I happily used this as my only AM serum for a good while.
Last - but not least (as it's an absolute favourite of mine!) - is the Vitamin E Serum with 1% Ceramide Complex* | £46. This is the only formula in the vitamin lineup that doesn't contain actives; instead, it's designed to be your replenishing skin barrier support. Vitamin E is of course an antioxidant, but it's also a fatty ingredient, meaning it's moisturising for the skin. This milky serum also contains ceramides and cholesterol (fundamental components of your skin's lipid barrier), macadamia oil (to soften and nourish) and evening primrose oil (rich in omega fatty acids to replenish the skin). We also have squalane, which is a plant-based, skin-imitating oil that's perfect for using on dry skin, as well as a hyaluronic acid derivative. It's a simple formula that's free from fragrant ingredients (like most of the products in this line) and it's an understated favourite of mine; as we head into the winter, serums like this that calm and reinforce the skin barrier are the unsung heroes within a skincare routine. This is an elegant example of this kind of product and if my skin is feeling dry or irritated then I instinctively reach for this and it does the job perfectly!
All in all, I really recommend checking out this line; the formulas are well-rounded (obviously, you're paying a little more for this if you pit the products against cheaper single-ingredient actives) and effective but gentle on the skin. If you're more on the sensitive side or you want to get into active skincare but aren't sure where to start: this lineup covers off all of the important non-exfoliating bases, so it's a perfect place to start!
Have you tried any of these formulas?