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Everything You Need to Know About Hydrating Serums

April 11, 2021

Everything You Need to Know About Hydrating Serums

Serums: Are they really necessary, or are they just another product experts try to add to our routines?

While serums aren’t an absolute must, pairing one with your moisturizer can really take your skincare regimen to the next level. If you’re looking to turn back the clock and preserve your skin’s youth, a serum is a worthwhile investment. These powerful potions are packed with targeted ingredients to treat specific concerns—whether it be fine lines, dark spots, or dryness.

It’s a well-known fact that hydration is key to maintaining your skin’s youth. That’s where hydrating serums come into play. No matter your skin type, a good hydrating serum can help to keep your skin nourished, plump, and radiant.

Keep reading to learn all about hydrating serums—including ingredients to look for and how to incorporate one into your routine:

5 Reasons to Use a Hydrating Serum

Serums are typically applied after cleansing and toning, and before moisturizing. They tend to be thinner than lotions and are designed to deliver potent ingredients directly to the skin.

There is a serum for virtually every skin type. When choosing one, it’s important to consider the goals you have for your skin. For example, if you’re looking to fight signs of aging, consider a retinol serum. If you’re in need of a daytime serum to protect your skin, you may benefit from an antioxidant serum.

If you suffer from dry skin or are not sure what kind of product to start with, you can never go wrong with a hydrating serum. While no two serums are exactly the same, in general, hydrating serums offer the following benefits:

  • Improves skin tone & texture: Fatigue, stress, and lifestyle choices all have the potential to cause damage to your skin over time. A hydrating serum helps bring life back into your skin by providing it with the moisture it needs. Continued use of a hydrating serum can help skin to feel smoother and appear more radiant. 
  • Provides a layer of protection: This might seem obvious, but hydrating serums help to improve skin’s moisture retention. A healthy skin barrier prevents skin from drying out. Paired with a good moisturizer and SPF, serums protect the skin from environmental damage caused by pollution and UV rays. 
  • Quick absorption: Serums are made up of smaller molecules that penetrate deeply into the skin. This allows them to deliver a high concentration of active ingredients. Upon application, molecules quickly absorb into the skin without leaving behind any heavy residue. If you’re looking for quicker results, a serum is one of the best products you can use. 
  • Balances oil production: Oftentimes, people with oily skin types will avoid moisturizing in fear of their skin becoming even more oily. However, a lack of hydration can actually fuel this problem by causing your glands to compensate by producing more oil. For those with oily skin, a hydrating serum can help to keep the skin balanced, eliminating the need to create excess oil. 
  • Anti-aging: Hydrating serums can improve skin’s elasticity and slow premature aging. Fine lines and wrinkles are much more likely to form when skin is dry, so keeping it plump with a hydrating serum can treat signs of aging and prevent them before they even occur.

Signs Your Skin Could Benefit From a Hydrating Serum

Hydrating serums can benefit a variety of skin types, and they can be used by all ages. Whether you have young, acne-prone skin or mature skin, hydrating serums have a lot to offer.

Here are a few signs that your skin could benefit from a hydrating serum:

  • Skin feels tight: Have you ever experienced a tight feeling in your skin? This is a key indicator that it may be dehydrated. A hydrating serum might be just what your skin needs.
  • Dry patches or flaking skin: Dry patches and flaking skin are other key indicators of dehydrated skin. If you experience this, your skin may be in need of additional moisture. As with anything, however, consult with a dermatologist when in doubt. 
  • Excess oil: As mentioned, a lack of hydration can cause your skin to produce excess oil. Incorporating a hydrating serum into your routine might help to keep unnecessary oils at bay.
  • Fine lines & signs of aging: Serum is sometimes referred to as ‘youth in a bottle.’ There are many hydrating serums on the market that are designed to target signs of aging—whether it be wrinkles, fine lines, dark spots, or sagging.
  • Dull complexion: Skin that appears lackluster or flat can be caused by many different factors, such as dead skin cells, stress, environmental factors, or dehydration. Two things you can do to bring dull skin back to life are exfoliate regularly and use a hydrating serum. 
  • Redness & irritation: Redness and irritation may be your skin’s way of telling you that it needs more TLC. Many hydrating serums are designed to soothe the skin, which in turn, can even skin tone and calm irritation.

Ingredients to Look for

There are thousands of serums out there, each one designed with a specific purpose in mind. So how on earth are you supposed to choose?

When purchasing serums, or any beauty product for that matter, it’s important to look at the ingredient list. Here are a few ingredients to look for in serums:

  • Vitamin C: Brightens skin tone and fades discoloration caused by acne scars, age spots, and sun damage.
  • Vitamin E: Fights signs of aging, free radicals, and moisturizes the skin.
  • Retinol (vitamin A): Stimulates collagen production to firm and plump the skin.
  • Peptides: Promotes cellular repair and stimulates collagen production.
  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs): Fades discoloration. Prevents clogged pores and breakouts by exfoliating the skin.
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA): Calms redness and puffiness, reduces pore size, and fights free radicals.

Perhaps one of the most common (and powerful) ingredients found in hydrating serums, however, is hyaluronic acid. This superhero ingredient draws moisture to the skin and locks it in for a youthful, plump appearance. By deeply hydrating the skin, it reduces wrinkles and fine lines.

Why Use a Hyaluronic Acid Serum?

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a clear, gel-like substance that is naturally produced by the body. It exists in our skin, eyes, and connective tissues. Its main function is to lubricate and retain moisture.

HA maintains the structure of the skin and gives it a hydrated, plump appearance. Hyaluronic acid is a humectant. One of its most impressive feats is that it can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water! It also fights harmful free radicals that can damage the skin.

Unfortunately, the amount of HA produced by our bodies naturally decreases as we age. Oftentimes, this is what causes wrinkles and fine lines to deepen, and skin to sag. However, there are preventative measures that can be taken—such as using a hyaluronic acid serum.

Hyaluronic Acid Benefits

  • Keeps skin hydrated throughout the day (or night)
  • Fortifies the skin’s natural lipid barrier
  • Promotes skin cell regeneration
  • Protects skin from environmental factors
  • Fights against signs of aging
  • Firms and plumps the skin
  • Increases skin elasticity
  • Leaves skin silky and smooth
  • Calms redness and irritation 
  • Balances oil production

Incorporating a Hyaluronic Serum Into Your Routine

It’s important to note that serums are designed to work with the other products in your skincare lineup, not replace them. Even if you’re using a hydrating serum, you shouldn’t skip out on moisturizer.

So how can a hydrating serum, like a hyaluronic acid serum, be incorporated into your skincare regimen? Here’s a simple, step-by-step routine:

  1. Cleanse
  2. Tone 
  3. Apply a pea-sized amount of your hydrating serum, gently patting it into your skin
  4. Moisturize (and apply sunscreen if it’s during the day)
  5. Apply eye cream
  6. Finish with a facial oil

If your serum contains hyaluronic acid, be sure to apply it to damp skin. Hyaluronic acid absorbs moisture like a sponge, so if it’s applied to dry skin, it can actually absorb moisture from the skin instead of pulling it toward it—the opposite of what it’s supposed to do!

After patting your serum into damp skin, always be sure to follow up with a moisturizer. This will really lock the moisture in and ensure your skin reaps all of the serum’s benefits.

There you have it—a complete guide to hydrating serums! Whether you’ve never used a serum before or are on the hunt for a new serum to try, keep these tips in mind. You’ll be on your way to glowing, radiant skin in no time!