August 21 2019 – Tyra Johnson-Brown
What are the facts about serums? Serums are a skincare product you can apply to your skin after cleansing but before moisturizing with the intent of delivering powerful ingredients directly into the skin. Serums are particularly efficient and suited for this task because it is made up of smaller molecules that can penetrate deeply into the skin and deliver a very high concentration of active ingredients. This makes them a great tool for targeting specific skincare concerns, like wrinkles. Serums work and have zero fillers, lead to fewer breakouts and yields a less oily complexion.
Benefits of Using a Serum
Serums contain the highest concentration of active ingredients that you can get without a prescription. Cleansers and moisturizers usually contain between 5 and 10% active ingredients, whereas serums can contain up to 70%. This means that your results will be different, whether you’re looking to even tone, reduce fine lines, brighten, firm or get rid of dark spots.
The biggest difference between a serum and a cream or lotion is what the formulation doesn't include. Serums leave out occlusive, or airtight moisturizing ingredients such as petrolatum or mineral oil that keep water from evaporating. They also contain fewer lubricating and thickening agents, like nut or seed oils. Most serums are water-based, eliminating oils altogether. Those few concentrated drops are super-efficient. Serums are made of very small molecules, so the skin absorbs them quickly and deeply. The thicker, heavier ingredients in creams form a barrier on your skin, and that’s great for locking moisture in, but it can also lock active ingredients out.
So, because serums are far lighter (and faster to absorb) than moisturizer, they keep your skin hydrated without contributing to that greasy feeling that we all hate so much. And because you’re keeping hydrated, your skin won’t go nuts overproducing sebum, thus making you less oily in the long run.
Is Serum Right for My Skin?
As we always suggest, get to know your ingredients first, and make the best decision according to your skin type.
Acne-prone: Look for vitamin C (increases collagen production, enhances skin’s repair process, and reduces inflammation), retinol (also an antioxidant, reduces inflammation), zinc (soothes irritation, regulates oil production), and salicylic acid (unclogs pores).
Dry: Look for vitamin E (an antioxidant, protects cells from oxidative damage), niacinamide (improves skin elasticity, increases ceramide levels in skin), glycolic acid (gently exfoliates and lightens discoloration), and hyaluronic acid (retains moisture).
Feeling dull: Look for antioxidants like green tea extract, resveratrol, ferulic acid (these combat free radicals, increase effectiveness of sunscreen by day, and promote cellular repair and healing by night).
Just a FYI: Because serums are super potent, more is not always better. Be careful before applying so much onto your skin. Powerful ingredients can irritate sensitive skin. A little can go a long way. Always patch-test accordingly.