If you’re looking to amp up your skin care routine with a product that offers a bigger, more powerful dose of active ingredients than a cleanser or moisturizer, A FACE SERUM MAY BE THE ANSWER.
Designed to nourish, protect, and hydrate your skin, a face serum is a great next step after cleansing and before moisturizing.
What is a serum?
“Serums are thin-viscosity topical products that contain concentrated amounts of active ingredients,” explained Dr. Shainhouse, FAAD, board certified dermatologist at SkinSafe Dermatology and Skin Care.
The concept with a serum is that larger amounts of active molecules will potentially penetrate the skin’s surface for optimum effectiveness. Also, due to the higher concentration, it typically takes a shorter amount of time to see visible results.
Many people wonder why they can’t just use a moisturizer or face cream on their skin in place of a serum. While there is no hard and fast rule, research suggests using both, and to layer accordingly.
Because a serum is lighter and delivers active ingredients to the skin quickly, it goes on first, after you’ve cleansed your skin.
But you also need to seal the serum to maximize the benefits, which is why a moisturizer or face cream is the next step.
Think of a serum as the secret weapon for treating skin issues like discoloration, dullness, fine lines, or acne — and a moisturizer as the key to hydrating your skin.
Types of face serums and ingredients
When it comes to choosing a skin serum, it’s important to recognize there are different types of serums, as well as specific ingredients to look for based on your goals.
In general, face serums fall into the following categories:
free-radical fighting serums
acne-prone and sensitive skin serums
reparative/texture improvement serums
How to use a serum
The best way to use a face serum is as a base layer under your heavier products like moisturizer, sunscreen, and makeup.
“While younger skin generally doesn’t need much more than a gentle cleanser and daily broad-spectrum sunscreen, it’s helpful to get into a healthy, preventative skin care regimen.”
“Doing so may help prevent discoloration, oxidative damage, dehydration, and premature skin aging and wrinkles,” she added.
You can use a face serum once or twice a day after cleansing and toning your skin. Think of it as the step after you clean.
How often you apply a serum to your skin depends on your goals.
Frequency of face serum application
Anti-pigmentation and antioxidant serums work best when applied in the morning. This helps protect your skin against environmental assaults and free radical production produced by light, including UV and high energy visible light.
Anti-aging serums are often best suited for night-time application. This allows the ingredients to work with your body’s circadian rhythm for skin repair and turnover.
Hydrating serums for drier skin can be applied twice daily to help keep your skin dewy and moisturized.
To get the most out of a face serum, consider these tips:
Apply skin care products from thinnest to thickest. Most serums work best when applied as the first layer, in direct contact with clean skin after you’ve used a cleanser.
If the active ingredient is too irritating or drying, you can apply it over another product to create a buffering effect.
The bottom line
Face serums are lightweight products that contain a high concentration of active ingredients. They absorb quickly into your skin, making them an excellent next step after cleansing.
There are many different types of serums, each with a unique purpose and ingredients. Some serums help to brighten your skin or reduce blemishes, while others focus on boosting hydration or fighting the signs of aging.
Some serums work better in the morning, while others work best when applied in the evening.