I’ve been introduced to some great new serums lately, but many have been on the expensive side (like the wonderful ReLuma, for example). So, I’ve been back through the archives and put together a Five Best serums for under $100. These are between $50 and $100. Last year, I did a Five Best for under $50 and I’ll be updating that very affordable collection soon. In the meantime, don’t expect ReLuma like results from these, but you will get better skin without feeling as if you can’t afford new shoes again this year.

Cosmedix Affirm ($62). Although I’m not a big fan of white label formulas (where companies buy up a ready-made potion and then slap their brand on it), in this case you are getting a good product for much less than some very similar ones.  Affirm is an antioxidant powerhouse with catalase, spin trap, thioredoxin, a kind of antioxidant protein that has a role in cell-to-cell communication, and fullerenes. I like the inclusion of aminoguanidine. It seems that it inhibits the cross-linking of proteins that cause signs of aging such as break down of elastin. Read the full Affirm review.

La Vie Celeste Day/Night Restorative Face Cream with R-Lipoic Acid ($65 in the shop). A light cream for day, night or both. It absorbs with a smooth, matte finish.  It has LVC’s signature ingredient R-lipoic acid, a chirally correct form of alpha lipoic acid. This “universal antioxidant” helps fight both future skin damage and repair damage done in the past. There are botanical antioxidants from apricot kernal, green tea and spirulina. When Emily reviewed this, she said it worked flawlessly under makeup and concluded that “after a couple of weeks of morning-and-night use, I was very happy with how smooth, healthy, and well-hydrated my face seemed”. Read Emily’s review

Hydropeptide Power Lift ($80). This has four peptides, a slew of antioxidants and, they boast, 21 hydrating elements. One of the best ingredients is aldenine. This is the result of combining tripeptide-1 with soy and wheat proteins (all of which are here). Aldenine is a radical scavenger and it specifically goes after the reactive carbonyl species. In my experience, it really smoothes skin tone (even some badly sun damaged rough and red areas on my neck). Tripeptide-10 citrulline is also a welcome addition because it mimics a molecule that regulates collagen fibers. As I mentioned in my review of Hydropeptide Power Lift, it isn’t formulated for purists, but it does work.

Your Best Face Concentrate Antioxidants ($55 in the shop). I don’t really recommend using this on its own as your primary serum. It was designed to mix with other things, such as vitamin C. It is a good way to be thrifty: you can mix some your usual potions and lotions to give them an antioxidant boost; or as a base for your own DIY concoctions. You can also use it with LED light (eg the affordable Aurora by Sirius).

Dermagenics Ultra Anti-aging Moisturizer ($85) is very unisex and great for those who want to save money by having a multi-tasker (this will do hands and neck as well as face). The key ingredients are a peptide called hexapeptide-9 and artemia extract, which are supposed to boost collagen production amongst other things. I should also mention that the texture of Ultra is very light and extremely well-behaved: it smoothes on easily, is completely absorbed, leaving no greasy residue and it is without much scent. Read my Dermagenics review

Ingredients in Cosmedix Affirm

Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Protein, Aqua (Water), Peumus Boldus (D-boldine) Leaf Extract, Glycerin, Catalase, Cassia Angustifolia Seed Polysaccharide, Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), D-alpha-tocopherol, Silicone, Heavy Water (Deuterium Oxide), Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Resveratrol, Whey Protein, Thioredoxin, Xanthan Gum, Vaccinium Angustifolium (Blueberry) Fruit Extract, Glutathione (L), Superoxide Dismutase, D-beta-glucosamine, Aminoguanidine, Spin Trap (PBN), Fullersomes, Citrus Reticulata Leaf Oil, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Oil, Benzyl Alcohol

Ingredients in La Vie Celeste

Aqua (Purified Water), Sweet Almond (Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis) Oil*, Sesame Seed (Sesamum Indium) Oil*, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil*, Emulsifying Wax (Behentrimonium Methosulphate and Cetearyl Alcohol), Shea Butter (Butyrospermum Parkii)*, Green Tea (Camellia Sinensis) Extract, Spirulina (Spirulina Platensis Geitler) Extract, Sodium Lactate, R-Lipoic Acid, Cosmocil CQ (Polyaminopropyl Biguanide), Grapefruit Seed (Citrus Paradisi) Extract*, Pomegranate (Punica Granatum) Extract, Olive Leaf (Olea Europaca) Extract*, Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis) Leaf Extract*, Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic) Acid.

Ingredients in Hydropeptide Power Lift

Water, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Propylheptyl Caprylate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, C4-24 Alkyl Dimethicone/Divinyldimethicone Crosspolymer/Isodecyl Isononanoate, Glycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Lecithin, Dipeptide Diaminobutyroyl Benzylamide Diacetate, Tripeptide-10 Citrulline, Acetyl Glutamyl Heptapeptide-3, Tripeptide-1, Pseudoalteromonas Ferment Extract, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Triethanolamine, Phenoxyethanol, Hydroxethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Butylene Glycol, Squalane, Ceteareth-20, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Panthenol, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Echinacea Purpurea Extract, Buddleja Davidii Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Menthyl Lactate, Propylene Glycol, Polysorbate 60, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, PPG-12/SMDI Copolymer, Polydiethyleneglycol Adipate/IPDI Copolymer, O-Cymen-5-OL, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Benzoate, Diacetyl Boldine, Tropolone, Caprylyl Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, 1, 2-Hexanediol, Fragrance.

Ingredients in YBF Antioxidants

Reverse osmosis water, olivem (cetearyl olivate, sorbitan olivate), propylene glycol, ferulic acid, vitamin e, spin trap (phenyl butyl nitrone), Lipochroman-6 (dimethylmethoxy chromanol), sodium hyaluronate, paraben DU

Ingredients in Dermagenics

Purified water, squalane, ceresin, sodium acrylates copolymer, hydrogenated polyisobutene, phospholipids, polyglyceryl-10 stearate, sunflower seed oil, hexapeptide-9, cyclopentasilioxane, dimethicone, vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer, glycerin, ethoxydiglycol, jojoba oil, sodium hyaluronate, artemia extract, sodium pca, green tea extract, tetrahexydecyl ascorbate, allantoin, phenoxyethanol, mixed tocopherol, methylparaben, propylparaben.