Why Face Serums are Actually Worth Investing In


Photo Credit: Joseph Šlaich

Splurge on Serums

When it comes to skincare products and the usually extortionate price tag on them, it can be hard to decide which products to spend more money on.  Serums are worth investing in as their ingredients are usually highly concentrated. In the world of skincare, serums are often hidden away from popular consumption, yet should be one of the most important products in your skincare routine.

What is the Role of Serums?

The role of serums is to revitalize skin. A serum contains groups of small molecules that penetrate into the skin and leave it look vibrant and lively. It is worth the extra money as it contains a higher concentration of active ingredients that seep deeper into your skin, ultimately making your skin appear smoother. This is why it is perfect for anti-aging.

Due to the nature of serums, there is not one universal serum for all skin types. Each serum has different ingredients that are perfect for dealing with different skin issues.

Tata Harper advice that unlike changing a moisturizer seasonally, serums should be used all year. “Just change the hydrating part of the routine by season, going for something heavier in the colder months.”

Are Serums and Oils the Same thing?

Although there is some overlap between oils and serums, the two products are not the same. Unlike oils, serums are usually water-based. However, you can get oil based serums which go on top of your moisturizer, while the water-based serums go underneath.  May Lindstrom explaining the distinction clearly as:

– An oil’s main purpose is hydration and nutrition.
– Serums do this, but they also brighten, act as an anti-wrinkle mechanism, tighten and exfoliate.
– Some serums you can use without the need for an oil, but other serums need the external use of a separate oil or moisturizer.

Serums are also not the same as moisturizers. Moisturizers usually include ingredients like mineral oil and petrolatum, as well as lubricating and thickening agents. However, serums do not contain these ingredients and therefore serve a different purpose.

How do you Apply Serums?

Serums can come in many forms – oil, gel, and liquid, being the most common. It is best to use serums on targeted problem areas as opposed to the whole face, as the product is fabulous at combating wrinkles and pigmentation. This way, you only need a few drops and the product will last much longer.

You apply serums after toner and spot cream, and before your moisturizer and eye cream. Any easy way to integrate it into your routine is putting it on before any product that will make absorption difficult.

Laurie Polis, MD, suggests that if you are using a chemical sunscreen which contains oxybenzone or avobenzone, that it should go on “clean, bare skin first, You need to give it time to be absorbed, because, in order to be effective, it must interact with skin cells. (A sunscreen with a physical block like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide can be applied last, after a serum or moisturizer.) Apply a serum next and, finally, moisturizer if you need it. Polis also recommends serums or sunscreens with moisturizers built in because they save time.”

Apply over semi-wet skin for it to penetrate better. Most come in an easy pipette style, or pump, design. Apply a tiny amount on your skin using your finger. 

Apply by pressing the product, gently, into your skin.

For sensitive skin, wait a few minutes before applying the serum as skin that is too damp from being washed can cause irritation.

If you plan to use a moisturizer over the top of it, wait a few minutes for maximum absorption. At night time, make sure you do your skin routine early enough for absorption before you’re in bed! 

Which Serums are the Best to Use?

Now, this is a bit of tricky business. There is no one universal serum that is right for all skin types, and the active ingredients in different serums target different skin issues.

Acne: Vitamin C, Retinol, and Salicylic or Lactic acid – it promotes cell turnover and calms inflation.
Dull Skin: anything with antioxidants like green tea, or ferulic acid, algae. Ferulic acid targets free radicals and cellular repair. Glycolic acid (retinoid)
Dry: Vitamin E, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and glycolic acid – this will increase moisture.
Wrinkles: Peptides.

Our Beauty Edit Choices:

Ole Henriksen Truth Serum
Vintern’s daughter Serum
Marie Veronique

As well as these products….

Are there any Dangers to Serums?

Our advice is to be careful. Because the formula in a serum is so concentrated, your skin may be sensitive, so don’t use too much product and always patch test first.

Also, do no amalgamate or create alchemy with your serums, as combining vitamin A (or retinol) with vitamin c tends to create a reaction. If you are using a retinol serum, Marmur advises that you do not use it with products that contain salicylic acid or Lactic acid.

For individuals with skin issues such as Rosacea or eczema, serums should be patch tested first! If serums penetrate too quickly into people who have these skin issues, it could lead to irritation.

Anymore questions on serums? Leave them in the comments. Let me know, which is your favourite serum to use?
  1. Dec 23, 2017 2:01 pm

    I found that really useful. There are so many products out there I don’t know what to do with. I now understand Serum!! Thanks

  2. Aug 6, 2018 4:07 pm

    Great article! There are a ton of products out there so your information is helpful.


  3. Aug 20, 2018 9:53 pm

    I’m using a serum probably every night but kind of did it skipping the moisturizer part. Thanks for sharing it was very useful and reminder for me. ☺️

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