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Serums 101: What Are These Magical Skin Potions?

Posted by Nikki Wisher on Oct 30th 2020

Serums 101: What Are These Magical Skin Potions?

Do you ever get that feeling like your skin is just “meh?” Do you feel like you need something to make your skin care routine actually help you instead of keeping you treading water, but you aren’t sure what that “something” is?

I’ve felt that too. I’d wander jam-packed skincare aisles in the drug store and wonder which of these hundreds of products was the missing piece for me.

Then I took a turn toward skin care in my career, started learning about all the products and what they did, and click! Off went that light bulb. I needed a serum.

Most people (like my past self) don’t actually know what serums are or how they work, though. Here’s your chance: all the answers you need about serums.

What Are Skin Serums?

A serum is a skin care product that is packed with highly concentrated ingredients. Think of it like one of those short but intense workouts: all the benefits of using several products but concentrated into one tiny package.

Serums also have a very thin consistency. They’re usually clear, feeling like a liquid or a gel.

Those are the two things serums have in common: their consistency and their high concentration. That’s about it. There are serums for almost any goal you might have for your skin, so every serum has different ingredients.

Why Are Serums So Popular and Effective?

Serums pack a powerful punch, and it isn’t just because their ingredients are so concentrated. The thin consistency plays a role, too.

Serums are thin because they have very small molecules. This lets them penetrate into your skin better than most other particles.

While serums are effective for a typical routine, you’ll often see skin care professionals use them during in-office skin treatments too. Procedures like micro needling and microdermabrasion pave the way for serums to penetrate even deeper, making them effective enough to give you better treatment results.

What Type of Face Serum Should I Use?

This is the tricky part with serums: finding the right one for your skin. There are somewhere around one kazillion options, so how do you narrow the pool?

Take out your notebooks, folks! Start by making a list of your skin goals and decide what your top priority is. That might be youthfulness, an even complexion, hydration, or acne control to name a few.

Next, jot down any ingredients your skin is sensitive to. This helps you know what to avoid.

Now it’s time to go on the hunt. Online reviews can help, but you can also take a trial-and-error approach of picking a serum based on your goals and seeing how it works.

While there is an endless array of serums out there, there are a few common categories you’ll find.

1. Anti-Aging Serums

These might be the most plentiful serums out there. Most will contain proven age-defying ingredients like retinol or hyaluronic acid.

These products work by stimulating collagen growth to firm your skin while also restoring youthful hydration. My personal favorite is BABOR’s HSR Lifting Extra Firming Serum.

2. Brightening Serums

As our skin gets older, it can become dull and flat. Sun damage joins the fun by adding discoloration to your complexion.

A brightening serum like Biopelle’s XCP Brightening Serum evens out and brightens your complexion for a more radiant look. You might also see serums labeled as “vitamin C serums,” and these have the same benefits.

3. Hydrating Serums

Dryness is one of the most common skin issues around, and moisturizer alone doesn’t always cut it. You can give your skin an extra refreshing boost with a hydrating serum like the Cellex-C Skin Hydration Complex.

How Do I Use Serums in My Skin Care Routine?

As with any other product, using your serum the right way can make all the difference in your results. After you choose a serum that fits your goals, follow these tips to make sure you get the most bang for your buck:

· Start with a test patch. Use the serum on a small, discreet area of skin like under your chin. See if your skin gets irritated in the area after using the serum for a few days. If it doesn’t, you’re clear to start using the serum on the rest of your face.

· Always use your serum on clean skin. Within your daily routine, use a serum after your cleanser and exfoliant but before any creams or moisturizers.

· Follow the use instructions on the product, which can vary because every serum is unique. If you have sensitive skin, though, it may be best to use the serum less frequently for the first week or two. Work your way up to the suggested usage.

· Don’t expect instant results. I suggest giving your skin at least eight weeks of consistent use before you judge your results. Remember that for some serums, the results can keep building over time too.

These tips hold true with any serum you choose, whether you’re trying to turn back the clock or transform your skin from a desert into a rainforest.

Unleashing the Power of Serums for Your Skin

Serums are some of the most powerful allies your skin can have. With their highly concentrated ingredients and their ability to reach the deeper layers of your skin, serums can accomplish so many skin goals, but too many people skip them because they don’t realize what serums have to offer.

Now you have all the knowledge you need to put serums to use, and when you find the perfect fit, your skin will thank you.