Beauty Review: serums from Dr Alek Nikolic

Beauty blogging can sound glamorous and exciting BUT the reality is that most of the time it’s guilt and confusion…

Let me explain!

Most women (I’m talking non-bloggers here) use a handful of products every month – tried and tested favourites that they stick to without thinking about it. But beauty bloggers attend a huge amount of events, listen to hundreds of skincare talks about the latest ingredients, get sent an enormous amount of products to trial and a BAZILLION press releases (you don’t want to see my inbox!).

For someone who wants to trial each and every product before reviewing it on the blog this only leads to complete overwhelm – for me and my skin!

Initially I tried to write product reviews about products I personally tested. The problem was that I always felt it was wasteful to throw away a half finished product and I wanted to really get a good sense of the product so I would end up using the product I was testing until it was finished… as you can image, with my doorbell ringing every day, this meant I was falling WAY behind on testing, and ultimately writing about, all these amazing products.

In the past year I’ve had to become a lot more specific in which products I trial (and which ones I pass on to my Beauty Babes), it’s meant I’ve become much more discerning about the skincare ingredients I want to use on my own skin – I need to ensure that they are really going to help my skin look and feel it’s best. I’m looking for fewer products but ones that show significant improvements!

Enter from Dr Alek Nikolic

Who is Dr Alek Nicolic?

Dr Alek Nikolic has been an aesthetic medical practitioner for more than two decades and runs a busy practice in Wynberg, Cape Town with business partner and wife Sam. He has performed over 20 000 procedures to date and as such is responsible for lecturing and training numerous medical practitioners both in South Africa and internationally, including Bangkok, Rome, Warsaw, Paris, Prague, London, Monte Carlo, and China. Highly respected in his field, Dr Nikolic is the Vice President of the Aesthetic and Anti-Ageing Medicine Society of South Africa and is an appointed Allergan Local Country Mentor in Facial Aesthetics. In 2015 he received an award for his outstanding contribution to Aesthetic Medicine in South Africa.

I’ve been trialling this new range of (it stands for skin ingredients) serums from this acclaimed South African aesthetic practitioner since May this year and I can honestly say they are products that really work.

Every serum is formulated to help protect and repair the outer layer of the skin (the “barrier”) as well as target and help prevent specific concerns: acne, ageing, texture, hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles. Powerful ingredients target specific skin concerns, strengthen and repair the skin barrier, visibly improve texture and tone leading to the ultimate healthy skin.


So why do I need to use a serum? Doesn’t my moisturiser do the same thing? What is the difference between a moisturiser and a serum?

A moisturiser sits on the surface of the skin and holds moisture in. The molecule is large, so it can’t absorb by the skin itself.

A serum has a much smaller molecule that can penetrate deep into the skin. This means that active ingredients can be absorbed and deliver visible results. Serums can be therefore be targeted to your specific skin concerns: hydration, acne, dehydration and pigmentation.


The range from includes 5 highly effective serums that can be added into any skin care routine, regardless of the brand currently used. The products contain various essential ingredients that deliver incredible, visible results with regular use. The packaging is simple, but the results are anything but!


The 5 different products are:

marvel: hydro shot (R1050 for a 30ml OR R1900 for a dual pack) – BUY ONLINE HERE

A super hydration booster for the skin that helps hydrate dry and damaged skin, and works to repair the barrier structure and function. It contains a 5% hyaluronic acid complex with varying molecular weights that work to draw water from the air into the skin for maximum hydration and penetration through all the layers of the skin. The formula contains ceramides (excellent for moisture) and Vitamins C & E that offer antioxidant protection from free radical damage.

Use for: Counteracting dehydrated skin, improving skin barrier health, stimulating collagen production, reducing signs of ageing including pigmentation all while protecting against environmental damage.

Used by: All skin types

To use: Apply to clean, dry skin morning and evening AFTER applying other serums. Use two small pumps to cover entire face and neck.


gloss: radiant shot (R1300 for a 30ml) – BUY ONLINE HERE

Gloss delivers a powerful shot of antioxidants that counteract environmental damage. This product contains an oil-soluble form of Vitamin C (Ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate – AT) that penetrates better than the regular ascorbic acid, which is water–soluble. Ascorbic acid needs to be acidic (formulated to a low pH) to be absorbed through the skin barrier and it is this low pH that can cause sensitivity reactions on the skin. AT is not dependent on the water channels or aquaporins like ascorbic acid is so it stays longer in the skin. It has the ability to penetrate to the deep dermal layers. AT is also more stable than ascorbic acid so it has a much slower oxidising breakdown with air exposure.

It contains high levels of Vitamin E and Ferulic acid ester – one of the most effective, yet gentle antioxidants. D-Panthenol & hyaluronic acid boost hydration while Niacinamide improves skin elasticity.

Use for: Stimulating collagen production, reducing hyper-pigmentation, improving the look of fine lines, wrinkles and general skin ageing

Used by: All skin types

To use: Apply 2 small pumps in the morning onto clean, dry skin before any other serums. Allow to absorb before applying before applying any other treatments. Always wear an SPF 30 or higher when using this serum.


pure: medi shot (R700 for 100ml) – BUY ONLINE HERE

This is a fantastic treatment for anyone struggling with acne and blackheads. It’s formulated with prescription grade, maximum strength 2% salicylic acid, an ingredient that is gentle, yet super effective at treating problem skin. The hyularonic acid in pure is Hylasome® EG10 and this ingredient has a number of additional benefits when compared to ‘normal’ hyaluronic acid. This is a chemically cross-linked hyaluronic acid derived from a non-animal source. Cross-linking means that the hyaluronic acid is bound together by other molecules. The reason for this is to prevent or slow down the breakdown of the hyaluronic acid by our enzyme known as hyaluronidase. This allows for a longer effect.

Also included are pineapple & papaya extract – both gently exfoliate through a proteolytic effect to break down proteins. Nicinamide helps to improve the appearance of the skin and is a very effective skin-restoring ingredient while reducing the impact of environmental damage to the skin. Zinc PCA aids in skin healing and prevents acne by regulating the skin’s oil production. Research has shown it has anti-aging benefits due to its ability to thwart destructive enzymes in skin that can damage its surface and lead to an aged, wrinkled appearance.

Use for: Calming inflamed skin, keeping breakouts under control, improving the appearance of enlarged pores, lines & wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and dullness. fades pigmentation marks and hydrates the skin.

Used by: All skin types (except those with dry/ sensitive/ reactive skin). Those with acne-prone, problem skin.

To use: If acne is a concern, moisten a cotton pad with the pure solution and apply to the affected areas every 3rd night for the first two weeks, then every second evening after that. ALWAYS use an SPF in the day when using this product. The pure medi shot should be used at night-time only.


flash: repair shot (There are 3 strengths of Flash: 1 contains 0.6%, 2 has 1% and 3 contains 2%. R880, R980 & R1250 respectively) – BUY ONLINE HERE flash comes in three formulations that contain various strengths of Retinoate (the least irritating form of Vitamin A). Hydroxypinacolone retinoate is granactive retinol which refers to the delivery system of active Vitamin A which means that you get the benefits of retinol without the irritation normally associated with retinol use. Flash also contains Vitamins C & E, 2% Ceramides and 5% hyaluronic acid.

Use for: Fighting the signs of aging, counteracting the signs of UV damage, plumping out fine lines and wrinkles, boosting hydrating, repairing the skin’s barrier and fighting pigmentation.

Used by: All skin types – First time users of retinol should start by using flash 1, then progress to flash 2, and then to flash 3.

To use: Apply to clean, dry skin at night before any other moisturiser or serum. Two small pumps are all that’s needed to cover face & neck. Always wear an SPF 30 or higher when using this serum.


bounce: combo shot (R1800 for a 30ml) – BUY ONLINE HERE

This formula combines the most powerful active ingredients in the range for maximum benefit from a single product. It’s designed for those who want and prefer a single serum. Formulated with high strength retinoate, lipid-soluble vitamin C, vitamin E, ceramides and hyaluronic acid, this serum was the product Dr Alek developed for himself as an all-in-one for daily use. Think gloss and flash 2 in one, but with a higher dose of Vitamin C for extra pigmentation fighting action!

Use for: Counteracting the signs of UV sun damage and ageing, improving texture and hydration, reducing pore size, stimulating collagen production and reducing fine lines and wrinkles.

Used by: All skin types

To use: Apply to cleansed dry skin at night before any other serums and allow to absorb completely. Use two small pumps to cover face & neck. Always wear an SPF 30 or higher when using this serum.


My results

I’ve been trialling two of Dr Alek’s serums for my own particular skin issues: Marvel: hydro shot for hydration and Gloss: radiant shot for reducing the signs of skin aging.

My skin looks and feels the best it has in years, but the proof is here for the viewing as over the past 6 months I’ve been visiting Vashti at Dr Alek’s practice in Wynberg Chelsea regularly to keep track of my skin’s progress using the Visia complexion analysis technology. that showcases the results deeper in the skin.

I first started the regime a bit haphazardly because we went away for 3 weeks and I wasn’t quite as diligent with my routine… and my sunscreen… as I should have been! The results didn’t show much improvement after the first 2 months so once we returned I set out to be more “religious” with my application of the products and I was far more diligent with applying both the Gloss and the Marvel every single morning (in that order) and the Marvel every evening, as well as a daily moisturiser with SPF30. The improvement in my regular routine really paid off and the results were apparent after 1 month and then again after 2 months they were even better! It just shows that to really get the best out of your product you need to be using it correctly and regularly!

Here are a few of my BEFORE and AFTER photos – taken with 3 different types of light to record and measure surface and subsurface skin conditions and identify improvements in texture, wrinkles, pigmentation, redness and even bacteria levels (good ones!) that demonstrate a healthy barrier function.

From my own evaluation by sight and feel the texture of my skin looks and feels better and there was far less redness on my cheeks (thanks Rosacea!)

The texture of my skin has improved and my pores are radically improved. The purple graph above shows that my pores were better than 29% of women my age whereas now they are 51% better! That’s a great improvement for just 2 months.

As you can see, after 2 months of intensive use, there was definitely an improvement in my porphyrin levels (above) which indicates a healthy skin barrier.

My brown spots have also decreased with daily use of the 2 x serums that were recommended to me. What I have noticed is that on the surface of my skin the pigmentation marks I had are more pronounced, but this means that they are coming to the surface of my skin where they will be “sloughed” away by exfoliation and, therefore, the brown marks will ultimately be reduced!

Tips for using serums

When used correctly, once a day, a 30ml bottle of serum should last 2 to 3 months. serums are formulated to be used around the eye area and can even be applied to the upper and lower eyelids as this is the thinnest skin in the body and needs as much stimulation by active ingredients as possible. It’s important to introduce serums slowly to this area. Every 4th or 5th day for 2 weeks, then every 3rd or 4th day for 2 weeks and so on until daily use is tolerated.

All products are Vegan and free of Parabens, Sulphates, Gluten, Soy & nuts.

The line is available from selected salons and aesthetic practices around South Africa. It can also be purchased on, following an online assessment.




Tel: 021 797 0960



YouTube: Skin Ingredients



Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for over 9 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

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