Face Serum: What Is It & How to Correctly Apply
While you probably already use skin care products like moisturizers and sunscreen, you may still be wondering: what is a serum and should I be using one? While implementing this extra step in your skin care regime may seem cumbersome, it can pay off if your goal is to target specific concerns.
What Is A Serum?
Serums are lightweight, oil- or water-based liquids that can be applied to your skin after cleansing and before moisturizing. These customizable solutions are hyper-concentrated with active ingredients that are better able to penetrate the top layer of your skin, thanks to their molecular composition. As a result, you can enjoy faster benefits—from minimizing dark spots and acne to smoothing out signs of aging like fine lines or wrinkles.
How to Apply Face Serum
Knowing how to apply face serum in your skin care routine is key to getting the results you want. It's usually the second step in your regimen, right after cleaning your face—or the third step if you use a toner. Keep the following in mind
- Make sure to conduct a patch test on the inside of your wrist and wait for 24 hours in case you have an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients.
- Because of their potency, there's no need to slather serums on—a little goes a long way, so use just a pea-sized drop or two.
- Smooth the serum over your clean, dry skin, then wait 30 seconds to layer on any other products, including moisturizer and sunscreen, which can help seal in the serum further.
Face Serum Benefits
Whether you're looking to exfoliate, plump or give dehydrated skin an extra shot of moisture, the benefits of using face serums are endless. Consider stocking up on these four types of serums:
Hyaluronic acid serum
Dehydrated and sensitive skin types love this type of serum, which grabs onto water like a sponge and pulls it in. These deeply hydrating serums should always be followed by a skin cream to help lock in the moisture. To give it an extra boost, spritz your face with a face mist before applying the serum so that there's more moisture for the hyaluronic acid to hold on to.
Salicylic acid serum
This powerful acne-fighting serum exfoliates away dead skin cells, unclogs pores and helps reduce bumps and blemishes, while improving your skin's overall tone, texture and radiance.
Vitamin C serum
For urban dwellers especially, Vitamin C serums can work really well for protection against pollution, as well as free radicals, sun damage and inflammation—all of which can contribute to aging. Vitamin C is also great for boosting your skin's natural repair process, increasing collagen production and preventing sagging and hyperpigmentation.
Lactic acid serum
By encouraging the regeneration of skin cells, lactic acid helps achieve a brighter, smoother appearance. It can be a better choice for dry, sensitive skin than more aggressive serums in the alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) family.
What Serum Should You Use?
There's no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to skin serums. The best face serum for you depends on what you're trying to achieve with your skin. Look to the ingredients as a guide.
To brighten up dark spots, discoloration or hyperpigmentation, choose a serum with:
- Vitamin C
- Kojic acid
- Tranexamic acid
To minimize your fine lines and wrinkles, look for serums that help speed up the cell turnover process with formulas that include:
- Glycolic acid
To maintain the moisture of your skin barrier, protect your dry skin from further damage with antioxidants and vitamins such as:
- Vitamin E
To get your breakouts under control, reduce oil production and clear out congestion in your pores with:
- Salicylic acid
Should You Use Serum or Moisturizer First?
You should always use your serums first, before your moisturizer. A good rule of thumb is to always start your skin care regime with products that have the thinnest consistency and work your way up to the thickest.
While you can expect impressive results with the right kind of serum, it's important to remember they don't occur overnight. Like everything else, consistency in your skin care routine is key to achieving the results you want.