With the rise of the #nomakeup selfie, being able to brave the bare-faced look has become more than a trend—it’s a mindset. It’s about having the freedom and confidence (and yes, the vulnerability!) to forgo our precious cover-up tricks to unveil a healthy complexion and our most raw, unedited selves… but just a tad more beautified. Sounds reasonable, right? If you want to learn how to go foundation free, it starts with the holy essential of skin care: face serum.
What's a face serum?
Far more potent than your average skin cream, a face serum is the MVP of your anti-aging routine. This vitamin-rich fluid targets the deeper skin layers, unlike a moisturizer, which is a more mild and superficial treatment. By delivering a concentrated dose of antioxidants to the epidermal cells (the source of collagen creation), it activates the growth of healthier, stronger skin.
So for anyone with the goal of going foundation free, finding the right serum should be your top priority.
The rise of rescue serums
More sophisticated than your standard serum, this type is designed with a more methodical approach to how the antioxidants penetrate the deeper skin layers.
Currently, there are many popular versions on the market, most notably the Rescue Serum by Joanna Vargas and the Rescue Super Serum by Dr. Dennis Gross. Both of these beauty-cult favorites were inspired by the original, the Rescue Serum by EMK.
Curious about how they differ? Let’s dive into how the original Rescue Serum works, and why it’s earned the loyalty of celebs and spas across Beverly Hills.
To meet today’s higher demand for naturally beautiful skin, we’re seeing more science-centered skincare brands focusing on a specialty treatment known as a “rescue serum”.
It’s a matter of “synergy”
Using a face serum without a synergy-based formula is like splurging on a fake Chanel bag. Its appearance might look convincing but the design will never function as “the real thing”. And while many brand worshippers are happy to shell out for the imposter, you’re better off investing in something authentic, be it couture or otherwise.
Now you might be wondering, “what’s synergy?”. Simply put, it refers to the technology behind how a cosmetic chemist layers different ingredients together in a formula. Synergy happens when the ingredients become more powerful when combined as compared to their individual effects.
Not only is synergy the backbone behind the EMK Rescue Serum, but it’s the key value that sets it apart from the Rescue Super Serum by Dr. Dennis Gross.
A comparative review of ingredients
A face serum that’s designed with synergy in mind will help achieve your foundation-free skin goals.
For example, just like the Rescue Serum by Joanna Vargas, the EMK version also contains a premium version of vitamin C. But what actually separates the two formulas is a matter of synergy.
Vitamin C in Rescue Serum
Vitamin C delivers antioxidants to the dermis, protecting your cells from free radicals to brighten the skin and delay wrinkles. But not all vitamin C is the same. Some versions are cheaper and less potent, such as ascorbic acid, while others are much more effective and thus, more expensive for companies to produce).
Which vitamin C works?
The Rescue Serum by Joanna Vargas contains Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, a luxury type of vitamin C that’s pricier because it’s highly stable. The downside, however, is that it’s relatively new, so there’s not enough research exploring the extent of its ability to boost collagen at the deeper dermal layers.
That’s why cosmetologists and doctors alike lean toward serums made with sodium ascorbyl phosphate. It’s highly stable so even when exposed to sunlight or oxygen, the antioxidants will hold their potency. The EMK Rescue Serum contains this type of vitamin C and goes one step further: it uses synergy. By layering the ingredients together in optimal harmony— a breakthrough that takes decades of research— the vitamin C is maximized to work at the highest point of its potential.
Healing mushroom extract
Adaptogenic herbs, like Shiitake Mushroom in particular, are also vital to creating a potent face serum that visibly lifts and firms your skin.
Since ancient times, Chinese herbalists and doctors have used medicinal mushrooms for their healing and rejuvenating powers. So, we can understand why the Rescue Super Serum by Dr. Dennis Gross is made with a medley of mushrooms: Maitake, Chaga, and Cordyceps Sinensis, along with other vitamins, peptides and fatty acids. And while this combo is proven to work (like that fake Chanel handbag...), the synergy of ingredients must be perfectly aligned to get those real-deal results.
Getting that foundation-free look isn’t only about treating your skin to high-quality vitamin C.
Mushroom extract + synergy science
With this science in mind, the EMK Rescue Serum contains mushroom extract (maitake), but more importantly, its formula is synergy-focused. For over 40 years, the in-house chemists have been working to achieve a flawless level of synergy—a mission that delivers the strongest anti-aging results.
Think of this concept as trying to balance an equation or mixing colors to get the exact-right shade of lavender. This objective means that in order for the mushroom extracts to work in a serum, they must be harmonized with complimentary ingredients. And unlike what most brands are willing to admit, creating such success with a skin serum takes decades of lab testing and research.
No matter how fabulous the formula, we must always be realistic about going foundation free. Remember that nobody has perfect skin. Even the most polished and brightest faces in Hollywood have flaws like visible pores and acne scars. We’re all just human, after all. So when it comes to having reasonable skincare goals, never aim for perfection—it’s just not possible. But you can, however, aim to wake up with naturally glowing skin without foundation. Just use a face serum.