Whether your skincare routine is 2 steps or 20, there’s one product that should always be priority: serum.
What makes serum so special?
It’s simple. Serums are formulated to penetrate deeply into the skin and deliver a very high concentration of active ingredients. That makes them the perfect choice to treat concerns about texture, dullness, dark spots, and other imperfections.
That depends on the ingredients. Most serums combine concentrated active ingredients to target a variety of issues. Serums usually have a light, liquidy texture. They are designed to be absorbed into the skin and used beneath a moisturizer.
Below are the most popular types of face serum as well as some specific ingredients to look for based on your goals.
These formulas are all about hydration. Many contain hyaluronic acid (HA), a molecule that works to hydrate skin on a cellular level, which can help skin appear fresher and dewier. As a powerful humectant, HA also pulls moisture to the surface of your skin to keep it moisturized throughout the day. While the name includes “acid”, HA is not an exfoliant nor an irritant (it's actually produced naturally by your body).
As we age, collagen production naturally slows down and wrinkles and fine lines become more noticeable. The goal of anti-aging serums is to diminish these visible signs of aging and leave skin looking smoother, firmer, and brighter.
These types of serums often include retinol or retinoids, one of the most popular anti-aging ingredients in the skincare world. Benefits of retinol serums include enhanced collagen production, diminished lines and wrinkles, and a smoother, more even-toned complexion.
Much like the name suggests, these serums are formulated to brighten and improve skin tone. Key ingredients might include antioxidants like Vitamin C, which is known to help skin retain moisture and support cellular regeneration.
To maximize benefits, check out our guide to choosing the best Vitamin C serum right here!
Free radicals can cause some serious damage. To protect your skin, look for serums packed with antioxidants. Vitamin C, Vitamin E, CoQ10, green tea, resveratrol, Vitamin A and Vitamin B3 are some of the best when it comes to fighting free radical damage.
A few drops of skin texture serum can help improve your skin’s brightness, tone, and overall appearance. Glycolic acid is a key ingredient for exfoliation, which will help shed the old, dead cells on the surface of your skin to reveal smoother, glowing skin with more uniform tone and texture. Retinoids also help refine skin texture and tone for a more even appearance.
Botanical-powered face serums are perfect for people with this easily-aggravated skin type. Botanical extracts and other plant-based ingredients tend to be more gentle than artificial chemicals or fragrances. Seek out formulas with naturally soothing ingredients like rose water, squalane and aloe vera to help calm, soothe, and heal sensitive skin.
Using serum can have benefits — from color correction to visible glow — for just about every skin type.
Depending on your specific skin concerns and goals, you may need higher amounts of certain ingredients to achieve your desired results. This is where serums really shine. Because they’re so potent, serums are particularly good at targeting specific skin issues like wrinkles, dullness, discoloration, and even acne.
Extra hydration is one of the main benefits of face serum. A few drops of the right serum can hydrate even better than a thick moisturizer or cream. This is because serums are made up of smaller molecules that absorb quickly into the skin. Moisturizers are made of larger molecules, which means they typically won’t penetrate the skin as quickly or deeply as a serum. Many ingredients are also best delivered in an easily absorbed liquid format rather than a cream.
For strong results, follow your serum (which will deliver your concentrated active ingredients) with moisturizer to lock in moisture, seal in the serum and help the actives work their magic. Do let your serum soak in for 1-2 minutes before applying additional products.
For more info on incorporating a hydrating serum into your routine, check out our complete guide to hydrating serums.
Serums make it easier to address your skin’s needs in a more focused way. You’re never too young to start using one! Even younger skin can benefit from a preventative skincare regimen (and doing so may prevent premature signs of aging and other skin imperfections in the future).
Whether you’re already a serum superfan or just getting ready to try one for the first time, check out our top 3 favorites for healthy, glowing skin:
No matter your skin type, there’s a lot Vitamin C can do for your skin. Studies have shown that it acts as a powerful antioxidant, helps fight free radicals, boosts collagen formation, and brightens dark spots. Vitamin C can also help fade discoloration and balance oil production, making it great for oily and blemish prone skin.
Use this Vitamin C Rejuvenating Face Serum every morning and night for skin that is noticeably brighter, smoother, and glowier.
This RevitAge Replenishing Squalane & Argan Oil Serum is packed with active botanicals for strategic results. The satiny smooth light oil serum is formulated to help smooth the skin’s surface and restore moisture. It also works to minimize fine lines and wrinkles, eliminate dryness, and boost the skin’s renewal process. This serum is perfect for dry skin, mature skin and even sensitive skin types.
For deep hydration, you can’t beat the Hyaluronic Acid 62% Hydrating Serum. Key ingredient hyaluronic acid is known for its unique ability to replenish a LOT of moisture (it can hold nearly 1,000 times its weight in water) to plump skin and promote elasticity. It’s packed with botanical extracts and other skin-loving ingredients to help lock in moisture for a fresh, dewy glow. The lightweight formula works for all skin types, even oily and sensitive skin.
To fight the signs of aging, the main benefits to look for are hydration, retexturing and protective antioxidants. Retinoids are a great tool for softening the appearance of wrinkles and reducing the appearance of photodamage and discoloration. The Bio-Solutions Retinoid & Goji Berry Retexturizing Serum packs several anti-aging and antioxidant powerhouse ingredients. It also includes hyaluronic acid and carrot seed oil for moisture.
Serums work best when applied after cleansing and before face cream or oil. Slightly damp skin is more absorbent, so smooth it on just after washing your face (and after toner). The ingredients should sink in easily and get to work! Wait a couple of minutes to apply moisturizers, creams, or other serums to allow the ingredients to absorb.