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What Are Face Serums?
A serum is a skincare treatment formulated with a high concentration of active ingredients. Unlike moisturizers and facial oils, serums have a thin, watery-like consistency that absorbs quickly and penetrates deep below the layers of the skin. There are many different kinds of serums you can incorporate into your routine depending on your skin type, concern, and goals.
The Benefits of a Serum for Skin
The main benefit of a serum is to treat a specific skin concern, such as acne, dullness, or aging skin. While cleansers are rinsed off and SPF sits on top of the skin to defend it against the sun, serums can sink deep into pores to deliver active ingredients and skin-changing results. A serum’s formula will vary depending on the ingredients used. For dullness, hyperpigmentation, and dark circles, you’ll typically see ingredients like vitamin C and niacinamide (both found in our Stroke of Brilliance Brightening Serum). Serums for controlling breakouts, unclogging pores, and treating oily skin (like Just Breathe Clarifying Serum) may use a BHA, such as salicylic acid, or zinc. Hyaluronic acid is often a hero in hydrating serums, while the best face serum for aging skin usually incorporates retinol, peptides, or ferulic acid.
How to Apply and Layer Facial Serums
A serum should be applied smack dab in the middle of your daily routine (AM and/or PM), after cleanser, toner, and masks but before moisturizer, facial oils, and sunscreen. Pro tip: Apply serums while the skin is still slightly damp (not soaking wet, though) from cleansing and toning. That’s because damp skin is more permeable and able to absorb the ingredients even more efficiently.
Because of the high concentration of active ingredients, 1-2 drops of a serum for the face is usually all you need (instructions, of course, vary. Always consult a product’s label to follow their recommendation). Any more than that and you may experience irritation, redness, breakouts, or sensitized skin. After applying, allow your serums a minute or two to sink in before moving on to the rest of your routine. This gives the formula a chance to penetrate the skin before applying anything else. And since most of us have multiple skin concerns, don’t be afraid to layer different serums together. If you have sensitive skin or are prone to inflammation, keep in mind that certain ingredient cocktails can spark irritation and redness. Learn what ingredients play well together first before mixing and matching.