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You take pride in taking care of your skin and have been conscientious with your routine: cleanse, tone, moisturise – and as a bonus, an occasional mask. You try to eat right and sleep adequately – heck, you even make sure you drink loads of water every day. But why does it look like whatever you’ve been applying on your face isn’t yielding the result of the glowing complexion that you’ve always desired?

There are multiple causes for it. Let’s go through some of the most common – but surprising! – reasons that may explain your plight.

1. Your skin barrier is damaged

Kiehl's Skincare Tips 1

This is because our skin is subjected to more daily stressors than we may be aware of.

While skin-ageing is a natural and inevitable process, but the rate at which it happens is often accelerated by internal and external factors.

These stressors are prevalent in your everyday life and can impact your skin; for example, when you were 18 years old, stressing over that major examination, studying through the night with nothing more than cup noodles for sustenance, and more recently, when you were exposed to city pollution as you waited by the road for 15 minutes for your private hire ride to arrive.

When our skin is constantly assaulted by various stressors, the skin barrier is weakened, making it vulnerable to free radical damage and causing skin to lose its resilience, suppleness, and radiance.

A damaged skin barrier also makes it more challenging for your skin to absorb all the goodness from your skincare products, effectively “wasting” away all that investment you’ve made.

So, before you even try to nourish and improve the look of your skin, change the objective of your skincare routine. Make building a stronger skin a priority; it will act as a foundation to help you achieve a healthier, younger appearance later.

2. You don’t incorporate a serum into your routine

Kiehl's Skincare Tips 3

Let’s say your skin barrier isn’t very damaged and your skin welcomes skincare ingredients readily. However, you only have a very basic routine and aren’t using a serum.

Some people have the misconception that all they need is an amazing moisturiser to achieve a great complexion. Well, they only got it half right.

A good moisturiser is important because it works on the epidermis (surface) level to help seal in moisture and every skincare ingredient you’ve applied before it into your skin so they can do their magic.

However, if you haven’t applied a serum in between, there’s really nothing for the moisturiser to seal in, except your skin’s natural moisture.

A serum, on the other hand, is designed to deliver concentrated active ingredients in tiny molecules which can penetrate deeply into the skin. In fact, using a hydrating serum can help improve the performance of your moisturiser so you’ll see even more hydrated, supple skin!

If you’re hoping to see transformation to your skin such as brighter skin tone, less obvious wrinkles, or reduced redness, incorporating a high quality serum into your skincare routine is definitely going to amp up your results.

3. You are using an unsuitable serum

Kiehl's Skincare Tips 2

If you’re a serum user and aren’t achieving your desired skin, the problem may lie in your choice of serum.

There are skincare enthusiasts who grab the latest, most talked-about serum in the market, hoping that it’s the youth elixir that will change their life. However, there needs to also be consideration of a few things:

  • Is it suited for your skin type?
  • Does it address what your skin needs?
  • Do the ingredients agree with your skin especially if it is damaged or sensitive?

Just like how you won’t give a thirsty person a sandwich but a glass of water because even though both are good, only one would be more helpful at that moment – you need to find a serum that helps your skin exactly where it needs.

I took my own advice and transformed my skincare routine

As the editorial director of Daily Vanity, I have the privilege of learning from many skincare experts over the years and picked up many tips that I’ve also shared with my readers.

There’s only one problem – a really big one: I don’t always practise what I preach.

I have started seeing more imperfections in my skin since I entered my 30s. But now that I’ve reached the mid-30s mark, I continue to see my skin weaken more obviously.

The days that I can sleep at 4am and wake up at 8am still looking refreshed are gone. My skin’s redness is more noticeable and new dark spots show up when I miss a few days of sunscreen reapplication. Pressure marks on my skin (you know, those pillow lines that you wake up with on your face?) don’t go away as quickly; and this is more apparent these days since I put on a mask, when I’m out sometimes for an entire day if I have a full-day shoot.

This is when I decided that I have to start taking my own advice (which I’ve shared with you earlier):

  • Focus on strengthening my skin barrier
  • Not be lazy and use a serum
  • Invest in one that suits my skin needs

Kiehl’s Vital Skin-Strengthening Super Serum review: Why it works

I turned to my friends at Kiehl’s for recommendations and they replied unanimously: try the new Kiehl’s Vital Skin-Strengthening Super Serum.

Kiehl's Vital Skin Strengthening Super Serum Review 1

They said that their chemists created this formula for 2x stronger skin* to combat daily stressors.

This formula is powered by 11KDA Hyaluronic Acid: the ideal molecular size for targeted, deep and fast delivery within the skin’s surface layers.

This ingredient is super (no pun intended) amazing because it has been scientifically tested to deliver skin-strengthening hydration to the most vulnerable layer of your skin that’s most susceptible to external aggressors. This effectively helps to fortify your skin.

Imagine sending your strongest troops to guard the highly important but very vulnerable part of your land – definitely sensible!

Kiehl's Vital Skin Strengthening Super Serum Ingredients

As with many Kiehl’s products, this serum also contains a host of botanical ingredients. The Kiehl’s Vital Skin-Strengthening Super Serum is enriched with Adaptogenic Herbal Complex (Anti-Pollution Indian Ayurvedic Holy Basil, Anti-Fatigue Korean Red Ginseng Root, and Anti-Stress Chinese Schisandra Berry).

Adaptogenic herbs are esteemed in traditional practices across different cultures for treating fatigue and stress.

Kiehl’s formula with Adaptogenic Herbal Complex helps to replenish and fortify skin for visibly improved texture and resilience.**

Results based on a clinical and consumer study on 58 Asian subjects living in a polluted, urban environment show that the Kiehl’s Vital Skin-Strengthening Super Serum helped them resist the effects of skin ageing stressors and achieve two times stronger skin that is more resilient, more radiant with reduced fine lines in four weeks.

These results sound so promising, I was really excited to start using the product after I read about it.

*Stronger skin results based on skin strength index = composite average score of skin suppleness, plumpness and resiliency.
**Results based on the inhibition potential of sebum peroxidation compared to untreated skin using a polluted model consisting of UV and cigarette smoke.

Kiehl’s Vital Skin-Strengthening Super Serum review: How to use

Kiehl's Vital Skin Strengthening Super Serum Review 3

The great thing about the Kiehl’s Vital Skin-Strengthening Super Serum is that you can either use it as the only serum in your routine or underneath your current serum(s).

I use it both in the morning and night. On days when I’m really lazy pressed for time, I use it alone after cleansing and toning, and before moisturising. Other days when I feel that a little self-care is in order, I’ll cleanse, tone, apply Kiehl’s Vital Skin-Strengthening Super Serum, followed by two other serums and then finish off with my favourite moisturiser.

Kiehl’s Vital Skin-Strengthening Super Serum review: First impression

Kiehl's Vital Skin Strengthening Super Serum Texture

The Kiehl’s Vital Skin-Strengthening Super Serum comes in a pump bottle, which I love, because it means it’s less likely to be subjected to contamination and easier to get the right amount to apply.

Just one pump allows me to apply the product onto my entire face and two pumps let me have sufficient serum to apply onto my neck area too.

It dispenses as a refreshing serum that leaves a cooling sensation. Upon first look, it appears like there’s some weight to it, but it turns out to feel delicate and comforting, and absorbs into skin within five seconds, max.

I love that once it’s absorbed, it leaves no tacky nor greasy feeling, and my skin feels smooth and soothed, and all ready for other skincare products.

Because the texture is so lightweight, it can be easily absorbed and applied underneath other serums. I find that this attribute makes it easy to introduce the serum into my current skincare routine.

Kiehl’s Vital Skin-Strengthening Super Serum review: Does it improve my skin?

Skin is more resilient and better able to retain moisture

In order to see whether it has helped my skin be able to retain moisture better than before as a sign of better resilience, I measured my skin’s hydration level every day for a week at the same time in the morning before applying any skincare products.

Kiehl's Super Serum Review Hydration Reading

While the difference isn’t huge in the first few days, I started seeing an upward difference from the fourth day and then it continues to perform better than before. This appears to show that my skin is more able to retain moisture better, which may mean that my skin barrier is stronger now.

Skin feels softer and looks brighter

While I was touching my cheek to brush away hair that was irritating me, I noticed by chance that the cheek area near my nose felt softer to touch. The area used to feel a rougher and drier.

Unfortunately I didn’t expect this skin improvement and didn’t take any close-up of the area before I started using the Super Serum. But here’s a close-up of the area now.

Kiehl's Vital Skin Strengthening Super Serum Review Closeup

I also find that I wake up to less tired-looking skin. In one early morning video call, which I attended without any makeup, my associate even told me that I looked like I had a full night’s rest (I didn’t) – score!

My overall complexion also appears more radiant and less fatigue at the end of the one-week trial. Goodbye, highlighters, that used to help me fake that eight-hour sleep!

Kiehl's Vital Skin Strengthening Super Serum Review Before After

Kiehl’s Vital Skin-Strengthening Super Serum review: Conclusion

Kiehl's Vital Skin Strengthening Super Serum Review 2

I started out wanting to improve my skincare routine and expected it to be a long, arduous journey. I think I got lucky because I’ve got friends in the beauty industry to share tips and recommendations with me so this process was cut. (Thanks, Kiehl’s!)

This little “experiment” also proves that finding a good serum that focuses on strengthening your skin’s resilience can really make all the difference – and within a really short time – so I urge you to try the tips I’ve shared at the start of this article for yourself!

Kiehl’s Vital Skin-Strengthening Serum retails for S$79 (30ml) and is available at all Kiehl’s boutiques and selected online retailers. Shop now for stronger skin.

This article is brought to you by Kiehl’s.