If you follow us on Instagram you will have seen me talk about the new local skincare company, (Skin Ingredients), numerous times over the past few months. This range of five skin serums was created by Dr Alek Nikolic, a world renown aesthetic medical practitioner (and my personal botox magician), to provide women (and men) with access to products which contain prescription-strength ingredients without the unpleasant side effects, or the bracing price tags.

The concept was sparked when Dr Nikolic realised that there was a real need for medical grade cosmeceuticals to be available without having to visit a doctor’s office. The trick was finding the balance between the potency of the ingredients and the maintenance of the skin’s barrier – Dr Nikolic sought to create products that offered the results of doctor prescribed cosmeceuticals but that also, critically, didn’t irritate the skin. The process has taken years, with the following five principles remaining front and centre throughout the research and development phases:

*to use the best and highest concentration active ingredients available;
*to combine ingredients in every serum that also repair and maintain the skin barrier;
*to use ingredients that minimise skin reactions;
*to make products readily accessible and
*to ensure that all products can be easily added to any basic skincare regime.

Dr Nikolic kindly sent me three serums to try in November 2018, and I have been testing them exclusively over the past three months. This post is not going to take the form of a review, as I have already reviewed the serums on our Instagram Stories and YouTube channel several times. My aim is to instead provide a comprehensive breakdown of the serums and their formulation intricacies in an effort to explain how they work, what makes them unique, and what results you can expect to see. gloss | radiant shot

What is it and why do I need it? An antioxidant. Antioxidants can help to protect your skin from the damaging effects of the sun (and other external aggressors, like pollution) by speeding up the skin’s natural repair systems and directly inhibiting further damage. Using an antioxidant will help counteract the signs of UV and environmental damage, and they are especially effective in improving hydration, reducing pigmentation, increasing collagen production, and improving fine lines and wrinkles.

What are the key ingredients and what makes the formulation unique? 

The formula contains 10% Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate (“AT”)a stable, oil-soluble derivative of Vitamin C. Pure strains of Vitamin C can cause irritation, but this derivative can allegedly be used in higher concentrations without any drawbacks, and because it’s oil-soluble, it can penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin to do some serious anti-ageing work. The formula also contains a blend of ingredients which improve elasticity, tone and texture, enhance the skin’s barrier, reduce inflammation and increase hydration. AT has also been shown to stay longer in the skin as it is not eliminated through the water channels, thereby providing a longer lasting effect.

How much does it cost? R1,300/30ml marvel | hydro boost

What is it and why do I need it? A hyaluronic acid serum designed to counteract the signs of dry, damaged skin. Hyaluronic Acid (“HA”) is a natural substance found in the human connective tissue, whose function is to cushion and lubricate. It is also a humectant, meaning that it draws water from the environment into the skin, helping to keep it hydrated. It plays a critical role in the maintenance of moisture levels, nourishment of the skin’s matrix and improvement in the appearance of firmness, plumpness and smoothness.

What are the key ingredients and what makes the formulation unique?

This formulation contains a 5% HA Complex, as well as AT, Vitamin E and Ceramides. The issue with HA is that it depletes as we age, with reserves starting to dip from as early as our twenties. Coupled with that is the fact that HA has a short life cycle in the skin, with 30%-50% degrading every 24 hours. Maintaining these reserves at a deeper cellular level is a real challenge, and unfortunately the size of the HA molecules in many serums and moisturisers are simply too large to penetrate the skin for optimal hydration. marvel contains high strength combinations of small, medium, and large molecular weight HA for maximum skin penetration and hydration. Added to the mix, you’ve got some nice anti-oxidants (AT and Vitamin E), and some Ceramides to repair the skin barrier, protect the skin against environmental damage, and improve hydration.

How much does it cost? R1,050/30ml flash 2 | repair shot (granactive retinol 1%)

What is it and why do I need it? A 1% retinol. Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A and is the form most easily absorbed by the body. Retinol acts as an antioxidant and collagen stimulator simultaneously, so not only does it protect your skin against damage by free radicals (sun, pollution etc), but it also stimulates cell turnover, thereby lessening the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots. Additional benefits include an improvement in hydration and skin laxity, a smoother skin texture, an improvement in breakouts, blemishes and bumps, a reduction in excess oil production, as well as a healthier, youthful glow.

What are the key ingredients and what makes the formulation unique? flash 2 contains 1% Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate (“HPR”), the newest member of the retinoid family. At the head of the retinoid family sits retinoic acid, which is the only form of retinoid which can be interpreted by our skin cells. All other retinoids (such as retinol esters, retinol and retinaldehyde) need to first be converted into retinoic acid by our metabolic system in order to be effective. This conversion process can hamper the strength of the retinoid, meaning that although you might experience less irritation, it will inevitably take longer to see results, and the results themselves might not be all that impressive. For example, retinol esters need to be converted into retinol, then into retinaldehyde, and finally into retinoic acid before the skin cells can interpret them, meaning that although they’re great for those new to retinol, or for those with sensitive skins, they’re not going to pack much of an anti-ageing punch. The flip side is that with fewer conversion steps comes the increased risk of skin irritation, so whilst you might see more impressive results, chances are you will have experienced flaking, peeling, redness and other skin irritations along the way.

The benefit of HPR is that, because it’s directly related to retinoic acid, it doesn’t require conversion at all and binds directly to the retinoid receptors in your skin cells. And you need not worry about the unpleasant side effects, because the manufacturers have ensured that that the risk for irritation when using HPR is significantly reduced. In basic terms, you’re getting the efficacy of retinoic acid without the associated signs of irritation, and this makes flash one of the safest, and most effective, options on the market.

How much does it cost? R980/30ml 

Additional notes: Retinol can increase skin sensitivity to the sun, so be vigilant with your SPF!

If you want more information on these products, or the other two products in the range, head on over to the website. It is extremely comprehensive and provides detailed information on what each serum is designed to do, the ingredients used, and how to use them. There is also a particularly fascinating case study section which features some impressive before-and-after Visia pictures. I love a good before-and-after, and if those don’t motivate you to try serums, I don’t know what will!

The serums are available from participating stockists and online at, and all new customers are required to complete a assessment test prior to check-out. This test is essential as it helps the team to make sure you are using the right products for your skin type/concern, and if not, to point you in the direction of something more suitable.

I hope that you have found this post helpful, and if you have any questions, let me know!

This blog post is sponsored by