Hydrating serums battle, part 3: The winner(s) - twindly beauty blog
The winner(s) of the comparison between the best hydrating serums and essences: We tested products from REN, Vichy, Bioderma, Clinique, Hada Labo & cosrx.
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the best hydrating serums and essences

Hydrating serums battle, part 3: The winner(s)

Three serums, three essences – who does hydration best?! We tested three Western serums (REN, Bioderma, Vichy) and three Asian essences (Clinique – that was initially just rolled out for the Asian market – cosrx and Hada Labo). Which one will emerge the winner?! Ladies and Gentlemen, twindly proudly presents: the best hydrating serums and essences!

Texture, formula

best hydrating serums and essences

Hydration for winter skin!

The texture of all shown serums and essences are rather similar. You’ll get a clear, kinda runny liquid that spreads easily and sinks in quickly. Clinique’s essence lotion is probably the runniest (they’ll tell you to apply this with a cotton pad. Rubbish! That leads to a horrendous waste of product. Apply a few drops to the palms of your hands and pat them gently on your face). The thickest is Bioderma’s, with all others grouped in between. Application is always pleasant with all shown serums/essences and I didn’t have any problems with products pilling that I layered above them. Hada Labo is a bit sticky, though. All are fairly odourless with the exception of REN’s that smells cloyingly of roses.

I wrote a fair bit about the formula of each one in the first and second parts of this little series. It’s totally impossible to say which one is the ‘best’, though – that depends on your skin’s needs and personal preferences.


Bioderma, REN, Vichy hydrating serums

Are they worth it? The Western serums featured.

REN will give you both hydration and moisture from the oil included in the formula, but sensitive skintypes, beware – potentially outbreak triggering due to fragrance.

Bioderma would be a good choice for daytime wear – the silicones in it make the texture smooth and a bit like a primer. It’s also a good choice if you want to branch out from hyaluronic acid and try other ingredients for hydration.

Vichy – great for you if you’re into natural ingredients and want ‘clean’ skincare. Also good if you’re planning to mix that into your serums and moisturizer to give them a hydrating boost.

Clinique’s essence lotion isn’t for you if your skin is massively dehydrated. It’s a great choice, though, if you’re into anti-aging skincare, because the essence has a great amount of anti-oxidants and other interesting ingredients. It’s also nice for hydration, of course, and if you’re a massive Clinique fangirl or want to branch out slowly into the world of essences, this might be a good first try.

Hada Labo’s premium essence is such a good staple if you like hyaluronic acid in your skincare. Because it’s basically nothing else, it also plays exceptionally well with everything you want to layer over it.

cosrx’s Galactomyces essence is my favourite and might be yours as well if you want to try that fabled fermented yeast extract! Cosrx’s philosophy is that they don’t use ‘filler’ ingredients to bulk up the formula, and that shows – there’s only good stuff in this essence! (Do a patch test first, though – not everyone’s skin is happy with Galactomyces.)


Performance, results

They all do the job. Easy as that. You can expect some (temporary) line smoothing and plumping from every one of them. They’ll all give you that immediate dewiness that well-hydrated skin has. Please bear in mind, though, that my skin isn’t massively dehydrated, but rather in the range of normal to sensitive combination skin.

Hydrating essences from Clinique, Hada Labo, cosrx

Worth it? The Asian hydrating essences featured (minus Clinique. Threw the bottle away when I emptied it. Sorry!)


Ahahah, now we’ll get to the good stuff!

REN Keep Young and Beautiful – $55 (30ml) – 1ml is 1,83$ (Sephora)

Bioderma Hydrabio Serum – 24$ (40ml) – 1ml is 0,60$ (Beautylish)

Vichy Mineral 89 – 30$ (50ml) – 1ml is 0,60$ (Walgreens)

Clinique essence lotion – 44$ (200ml) 1ml is 0,22$ (Sephora)

Hada Labo premium lotion – around 18$ (170ml) 1ml is 0,10$ (amazon)

Cosrx Galactomyces – around 18$ (100ml) 1ml is 0,18$ (Stylekorean)


Now that we realise that REN wants to have 55$ of your hard-earned money for a not-that-great product, I think we can all agree that the resulting decision is a hell, no.

Both French pharmacy brands ring up around the same amount of money for good products, it depends what you want from a hydrating product to determine which you should go for. I personally think that 30$ is a lot of money to pay for 89% of water…

Clinique was a bit of a surprise – their essence lotion is only slightly more expensive as the cosrx essence. If you like a lot of anti-aging anti-oxidants in your skincare and your skin isn’t too dehydrated, this one if for you.

Both Hada Labo and cosrx ring up about the same, the bummer with Hada Labo is that it’s a bit tricky to buy (amazon seems to be your best option). It’s also very much a one-trick-pony. If that trick is for you, you’ll get a very good pony, though!

If you want to have a whopping dose of that fermented stuff in your skincare, cosrx is the one for you. It also has a pleasingly small ingredient list, and those other ingredients are great. My favourite of all six products.

the best hydrating serums and essences from Bioderma, Vichy, Clinique, REN, Hada Labo, cosrx

The winner? You decide!

The end – the best hydrating serums and essences

Speaking as a thrifty skincare junkie, skip the American/English brands. Too little bang for your buck. The French do it better, same as the Asians. You don’t have to pay more than 30$ for a good hydrating product.


Beauty junkie with about 20 years of beauty experience under her belt. Editor, writer and twindly’s PR heroine. Has an unbelievably large nail polish stash and a passion for skincare. Gets a kick out of pretty powders.

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