Serums!! What are they and why should I be using them?
Updated: Oct 7, 2022
Many ladies out there cleanse, tone, and moisturise but they find serums are complex and intimidating and so they avoid them. Or others just buy whatever serums they see without understanding if it is the right fit for their skin or how to use them in order to get all the benefits of their new magic potion.
In this blog, my goal is to explain to you what serums are, the different types, and how to use them so you can really get the most results for your money. This way no matter which serum you select based on your price point, skin needs, skin type, or lifestyle you will have the equipped knowledge to choose wisely.
Let's start easy!
What is a Serum?
Serums are products that have concentrated active ingredients to specifically target skin concerns. Yes, your cleanser may have salicylic acid but a serum will have a higher concentration of the BHA and it stays on your skin for a longer duration which means getting more benefits. This is why you need to add serums to your skincare army. They are small but they are mighty.
What Types of Serums are There?
Serums can have two base ingredients. Water/aloe and oil.
If you have a glass of water and pour in oil you know that the two repel one another and oil will sit on the surface. But if you pour juice into your water it dissipates quickly into the water. This is because like attracts like and oil molecules are larger than water molecules so they rest above them. So why does this matter with serums?
Light texter for under your makeup
Water has smaller molecules so they can penetrate deeper into your tissues.
Take a long time to absorb
Do not need to be protected from UV light, which means they have more/ stronger active ingredients
Nourishing, and rebuild and protect your natural skin's barrier
How to use a Serum?
After your serum has been applied then you want to apply your moisturiser. Moisturisers (as they often contain some form of oil) form a barrier on the skin which keeps moisture and active ingredients from evaporating out of your skin.
Serums need to be used consistently, and given time before you judge if they are working or not. As a general rule, you need to give them 4-6 weeks before you can judge their effectiveness.
Some serums may cause you to break out, dry out, or cause slight redness as your skin acclimatises to your new weapon. Retinol for example is strong and so you may need a buffer (a weaker retinol cream to ease your skin in before using the normal percentage).
If your serum is strong and your skin isn't used to high-quality products or products with strong ingredients you can add a few drops to your moisturiser to slowly introduce it to your skin.
What do Serums Treat?
There are thousands upon thousands of serums to pick from.
The Way to Pick a Serum is to Start by
Picking your Skin Complaints.
Important things to note:
You can lay two or three serums at a time on your skin. Dermatologists do not recommend more than three as this could clog your pores and aggravate your skin concerns.
So you could have two for your morning routine then two different serums
in your night-time routine.
There are serums that treat several skin concerns in one bottle.
Some serums are used for the whole face while others are extremely targeted only for the skin around your eye, or lip serums as another example.
So if your crows' feet are bothering you, you may want to opt for an anti-aging eye serum and then a brightening face serum to treat dull skin. Or if you suffer from puffy eyes opt for a de-puffing eye cream and then an acne-treating serum for your hypothetical adult acne (thanks a lot facemasks!).
Or if you are layering serums: Start with your water-based brightening serum and then put on your anti-aging oil-based serum.
You can see how you can really customise your skincare in this way to treat your unique skin concerns.
What ingredients should I look for?
As you can see certain ingredients treat several things.
This is due to the treatment of different skin concerns is the same method.
So With Ingredients Able to Treat a Variety of Skin Concerns Why Would you Want More than One Serum?
Serums and skincare, in general, have become highly sophisticated. They are packed with great ingredients. So when you buy a serum for hyperpigmentation for example there are several ingredients in it that are targeted to treat specifically hyperpigmentation. And the same of course goes with all targeted serums that are designed to treat specific skin complaints.
Now there are several serums that treat numerous skin complaints. For example, dermalogica’s ‘Smart Response Serum’ hydrates, brightens, soothes redness and reduces the look of fine lines and wrinkles.