Serums can be a bit baffling, so we thought we'd break them down for you on a need-to-know basis. Here's your serums-made-easy guide...
What are they? A mixture of highly concentrated ingredients, that are designed to penetrate deeper into skin - in a nutshell! Often, serums are a little pricier than a lotion, because of the inclusion of these active ingredients. But, you only need a little with each use, so serums should last you longer that your average lotion. They are also often packaged with a pump, or a dropper, so you can easily control the amount you dispense for each use.
What do they do? Serums should do what they say they'll do! Your best bet is to purchase a serum that is specific to your number one skin concern. Pigmentation? Acne? Anti-aging? Nourishing? There's a serum for your needs. You can also get 'all rounders' - for instance, I'm currently wearing this one - designed to 'repair' skin (but more on that later). Look at what they promise to do in their name and that is what they should do for your skin. The active ingredients included will included to specifically target these concerns.
So, how are they different to your moisturiser and why do you need to use both? Serums are different to lotions in that they are made of smaller molecules. This helps the serum to penetrate deeper into the skin, depositing all those beneficial active ingredients. This is also why you should apply your serums before your lotions/moisturiser. Heavier ingredients in these products are often designed to form a barrier on your dermis, to lock in the mositure already present within the skin. BUT, this also means that if you apply your active ingredients afterwards, they'll be locked out of your skin thanks to your lotion. So, apply your serum first (cleanse, tone, serum, moisturiser) to get the benefits.
Which one is best for me? As mentioned, the best serum for you is that one that targets your skins needs. Here are a few of my favourites for specific skin concerns...
This serum contains Olive Leaf Extract and 12 naturally occurring antioxidants to encourage a brighter complexion. Perfect for helping reduce signs of pigmentation and other dark spots, for example, post-acne markings.
This serum is designed specifically to help control outbreaks associated with oily skin conditions, by helping to clear excess sebum within pores. Its active ingredients are anti-bacterial, and include sandalwood, ginger and lemon essential oils. You can even use it as a spot treatment for acne, to treat nasty spots as they appear.
This serum is designed to improve skin’s moisture barrier fast. The active ingredient to do so is called Althalis Complex; it keeps your skin protected and hydrated. Non-sticky and non-greasy, this serum absorbs easily and is suitable for sensitive skin. Perfect for skin that tends to get dry and sensitive during the cooler, winter months.
How do you apply it? As mentioned, apply your serum after you've cleansed and toned (not gym-work needed!). You only need a little, and once dispensed dot all over your face with finger tips. Then, using light finger strokes, blend into the skin, without pulling or dragging.
If you feel some light tingling, don't worry. This can be due to the active ingredients penetrating into the skin (especially if yours includes retinoids or AHAs) but this shouldn't feel like burning, which can signal a skin reaction, just like any other product. Another tip to remember: if your serum contains retinoids or AHAs, they are best used at night before bed, rather than in the morning. You can of course, use a few different serums too. I like to use a repairing or hydrating serum in the morning, and an acne or brightening serum at night.
Once your serum is dry (wait around 1-2 minutes) then go ahead and apply your sunscreen, then lotion or moisturiser and makeup if heading out for the day!
Do you use a serum? Was this article helpful? We certainly hope so! Do sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think! - Lauren