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You may have enjoyed the great outdoors all summer long, but your skin…not so much. Even if you apply sunscreen every morning, chances are you haven’t been reapplying throughout the day, meaning your face has absorbed those pesky UVA/UVB rays that cause skin damage. Sun exposure can trigger hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, breakouts, rashes, and, of course, sunburns. Add to that the dehydration caused by Colorado’s altitude and indoor air circulation, and your skin probably feels no better now that summer is over than it does at the end of winter.
A proper skincare regimen is the best remedy for sun-damaged skin, and serums are the magic step you shouldn’t skip. Serums can help restore hydration levels, target fine lines, and repair discoloration. If you don’t already incorporate a serum in your routine, fall is the perfect time to test them out, before the weather really cools down. Just remember: Results don’t happen over night. It could take between two to six months to see results in correcting discoloration and improving wrinkles. If you’re ready to repair your skin and prep it for the chilly season ahead, read on for my top picks:
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If you’re looking for a lightweight serum, Devita Luxe C17 Serum is for you. It absorbs fast, making it a great option for skin that doesn’t require a lot of hydration. The big bonus here is stable, high-potency vitamin C (17 percent) that brightens, while omega-rich sea buckthorn helps nourish skin and repair damage. Another plus? The slight citrus scent is refreshing, not overbearing. $42.95; devitaskincare.com
Beautycounter’s No. 1 Brightening Facial Oil is my top pick for all-around best C serum. This hydrating serum (thanks to marula oil, which is rich in omega fatty acids) absorbs quickly, which means it can be used both day and night. Your skin will be smoother, brighter, and glowing. $69; Beautycounter, 1801 Blake St., Suite 100, 720-325-2082, beautycounter.com
H2A Botanicals’ Rosehip & Saffron Emerald Serum gives skin a luminous glow, while also improving clarity and tone. I found that my fine lines were less pronounced and hydration levels boosted. It even helped clear up a small breakout I had on my chin (thanks to the healing black cumin seed oil, which also gives this serum a very particular scent that, for me, became addictive). H2A has also charged this serum with emeralds, which they claim can help fight off energy blockages, while providing powerful healing properties. Another plus? All H2A products are handcrafted in micro-batches at the brand’s apothecary kitchen in Fort Collins. $84; h2abotanicals.com
Another emerald-charged serum is Sonder Grace’s CBD Restorative Face Serum. This Colorado brand’s face potion has a heavier texture than some of the other serums, leaving a bit more residue on the skin, but it’s also more hydrating (enough to maybe even go sans moisturizer right now). This face treatment also includes full-spectrum CBD oil, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. (If you’re not sure why your face products have CBD in them, check out 7 CBD and Hemp Skincare Products Worth Trying.) $75; sondergrace.com
The Sun Serum: Phyto Defense + Repair by Laurel Skin is a favorite of Vert Beauty owner Amanda Hume. This multi-functioning product is a concentrated moisturizer, serum, and defense oil in one. Handmade in small batches, the serum repairs skin from sun damage and other environmental stressors through a cocktail of organic ingredients, including bilberry, licorice, and gotu kola (also known as centella asiatica). Expert Tip: To get the maximum benefit from your serum, apply it on damp skin. $88; Vert, 3442 W. 32nd Ave., 303-623-8378, vertbeauty.com
Feeling dehydrated? If you’re in need of a major moisture boost, pick up Indie Lee’s Daily Vitamin Infusion. This serum is enriched with ceramide and squalene, giving it serious hydration and nourishing properties, yet is still lightweight. A dose of vitamin C helps with discoloration and fine lines. Plus, for those who are sensitive to scents, this product contains zero fragrant essential oils. $65; Aillea, Cherry Creek Shopping Mall, 3000 E. First Ave., 303-551-0564; Larimer Square, 1408 Larimer St., 303-997-6209, aillea.com
Alpyn Beauty is the brainchild of former Manhattanite and 20-year beauty industry veteran, Kendra Kolb Butler. Now based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, her fast-absorbing PlantGenius Survival Serum brightens skin (thanks to bearberry leaf and licorice root extracts, as well as vitamin C), while azelaic, glycolic, and lactic acids gently exfoliate skin. Denver-based makeup artist Katelyn Simkins says she likes its luminescent finish, which makes it perfect to mix with a little liquid foundation for a sheer glow. $68; Aillea stores, aillea.com
Cult favorite Maya Chia The Super Couple Ultra Luxe Face Oil is a slightly herby-scented serum that harnesses the power of astaxanthin, a buzzy carotenoid—a class of antioxidants that gives salmon, tomatoes, and carrots their orange glow. Astaxanthin helps skin retain moisture, improve elasticity, protect against UV damage, and decrease fine lines. All that said, this product can be too active for sensitive skin, so if your skin is easily irritated, go with a different serum or limit your usage of this product to once a day or just a few times a week. $85; Aillea, Cherry Creek Shopping Mall, 3000 E. First Ave., 303-551-0564; Larimer Square, 1408 Larimer St., 303-997-6209, aillea.com
Another pick from Amanda Hume is Odacite’s lightweight A Summer In Hossegor serum. This clean beauty brand’s star potion is loaded with vitamins A, C, and E, omega fatty acids, and papaya enzymes to help brighten skin and fade brown spots. The star ingredient is organic wild carrot seed oil—yes, another carotenoid! Hume loves the luminous glow she gets from this serum, along with its sweet-citrus scent. $165; Vert, 3442 W. 32nd Ave., 303-623-8378, vertbeauty.com
If you’re looking for a seriously luxe anti-aging option, then Mileo’s Elixir Oud is for you. Beautifully packaged in a glass bottle more reminiscent of a high-end fragrance than a face serum, this velvety, hydrating oil has a gorgeous golden amber color and is very much a full sensory experience—from the intoxicating smell to the application ritual (an insert explains exactly how to apply the potion). Potent natural ingredients include red narcissus, tuberose, and gardenia flowers, which help to restore and protect skin’s collagen and elastin, while amla fruit provides a high dose of vitamin C and E, and babchi seed acts as a natural alternative to retinol (so it’s less irritating). $295; mileonewyork.com