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The 4 Best Serums Now

The best four serums to get you healthier-looking, brighter, lifted and more radiant skin.

What Promises to Help Strengthen Skin’s Immunity?

Shiseido’s Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate, $105

The definition of healthy skin isn’t a complexion that glows as if it has been backlit. Nor is it bouncy supple skin that defies gravity, or a face free of blotches, lines or wrinkles. It is skin that behaves normally, says  Junichi Hosoi, PhD, cutaneous biology research group, Cosmetics Basic Research Center (CBRC), Shiseido Research Center.

 “Healthy skin is not weak or super strong, over reactive or hyper sensitive. It’s normal, doing what it is supposed to do – defend and repair – efficiently. But the degree of normality depends greatly on skin’s immunity. And that affects other skin functions, which in turn affects skin’s appearance.”

Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate

The bottle is curved at the back so that it fits ergonomically in the hand.

Skin immunity has become the holy grail of cosmetics skincare now. Hosoi and his cohorts at Shiseido and Harvard University, US, have been studying skin’s health and how it immunises itself for 20 years. But the subject is tricky. “When skin immunity is weak, you’re exposed to diseases. When it’s too strong, you’re exposed to allergies,” says Dr David Fisher, chief of Department of Dermatology and Director of CBRC, Massachusetts General Hospital, US. “It’s like a double-edged sword.”

The commander-in-chief of skin’s immune system is the Langerhans cell. It detects intruders (bacteria, foreign substances) and warns other cells to fire up their immune functions. But what it also does is go into self-protection mode when other stimuli (environmental and internal distresses) cause skin problems. Langerhans cells “sedate” skin with a calming enzyme that only they have. It doesn’t come in endless supply. The more stressed we are – in today’s context, pretty much all the time – the more the stuff is used up. The older we are, the less of it is produced. To get optimum immunisation, it’s recommended that Langerhans cells be armed with a steady supply of this calming agent.

Shiseido’s Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate, a liquid serum, reportedly enhances the double-prong defence mechanism of the Langerhans cells for stronger skin that is more protected, resistant to external and internal damage, recovers more quickly and feels healthier. What’s in it: a cocktail of botanicals – ginkgo biloba leaf extract to provide antioxidants, and eastern herb perilla and thyme for antibacterial properties. Use it twice a day after toner/softener, but before other skincare, as it’s ideal as a pre-serum too. –JE