There is so much talk about serums and many people have added them into their skincare routines. But what are their benefits and where do they fit in?
Serums contain active ingredients in a concentrated form often with low molecular weights. This means they can penetrate deeper into the skin than a moisturiser. Although moisturisers often contain active ingredients the vehicle, whether it is cream or gel, often means that it works on the skin's surface only to provide, more often than not, hydration.
So why do we need serums?
If we are effective in our cleansing, providing hydration and protecting our skin via SPF as the fundamental steps of skin health, what is it about serums that can be of benefit? It is more about how we want our skin to look and feel. Within the serum family there are several different types. Dry dehydrated skin? Then look no further than hyaluronic acid. Anti-aging? Here is where vitamin A or retinol can be helpful. Skin looking a little dull or lacklustre? Step up vitamin C and exfoliants. These are just some of the types of serums that can help our skin but when do we apply them? Serums are usually applied after cleansing, toning, if doing,l and before your moisturiser. They usually come in little bottles with pipettes and very little product is needed to cover the skin's surface.
I'm going to explain some of the more common serums, and their active ingredients, so you can see how they may benefit your skin care routine.
For dry/dehydrated skin
Hyaluronic acid is often the ingredient of choice when it comes to providing essential hydration to the skin. It is known as a humectant (draws and retains moisture) and occurs naturally in the dermis layer of the skin. Its ability to retain water gives immediate smoothness to rough skin surfaces and significantly improves skin appearance.
Tip: It is best to apply hyaluronic acid to damp skin to ensure water is absorbed with the acid. Otherwise it can draw water out from your own skin!
For anti-aging - fine lines and wrinkles
Here is where vitamin A and retinol have been shown to make a difference. It is one of the few substances with a demonstrated ability to reduce and prevent fine lines and wrinkles (1).
Tip: retinol should be introduced gradually in low concentrations and then built up over time to avoid irritation which can sometimes occur.
For dull, tired, pigmented skin
Vitamin C is often the ingredient of choice in this category due to its well-known antioxidant effects. There is some evidence that vitamin C protects against the sun and it helps the damage caused by UVB. It can help control collagen synthesis and can have a skin-lightening effect.
Exfoliant style serums can also be of benefit here. Serums containing acids (AHAs) such as lactic or glycolic can help remove the dead skin layer to leave the skin looking more revitalised.
Tip: Vitamin C is known to be unstable because of its reaction with water causing it to degrade. It's good to check out a good reputable source of vitamin C.
For oily/breakout-prone skin
Vitamin B3 (niacinamide) is an anti-inflammatory and may be beneficial to those with oily skin prone to breakouts. It has been shown to reduce appearance of pores, by improving the elasticity of the skin, and improve overall skin texture. It is generally well tolerated with only rare cases of mild irritation reported with highly concentrated serums.
For damaged or sensitive skin
Vitamin E is a powerful anti-oxidant which provides long lasting support and hydration to skin that needs soothing or calming. It is suitable for sensitive skin and can help repair skin if it is rough, dry or flaking.
But...I want all these benefits!!
Adding in a serum doesn't mean you can only have one. Keep an array of serums and use them according to your skin requirements. Get to know your skin and you will figure out what is lacking in your routine. For example, using hyaluronic and vitamin B in the morning and vitamin A every other night might be what suits you best. Maybe you prefer the effects of vitamin C along with vitamin E. Many serums have a few ingredients to make it even easier to apply.
Try... Skingredients Skin Protein Serum
(a combination serum with vitamin A, C & E) or Biofresh Probiotic Regenerating Serum
(containing hydrating ingredients and probiotics to soothe dry and tired skin).
Let me know which serums you have found that has helped in some way. If you need advice or a recommendation, get in touch with me @michelletonicskincare