Serums are what we, here at PureLx, call skin elixirs that are applied to your skin right after cleansing. If you have oily skin, a serum might be all you need. If you need more hydration, then serums go on before your moisturizer.
Serums keep all the active ingredients and eliminate thickening, lubricating and moisturizing additives, resulting in a highly potent formulation of antioxidants, peptides, nutrients and skin brighteners.
Serums are a top pick for many skin care pros.
Esthetician Veronica Barton-Schwartz, owner of Veronica Skin and Body Care Center in Malibu, Calif., with such celebrity clients as Olivia Newton-John, Suzanne Somers, and Cher, says: "I think everyone is doing their skin a disservice if they don't have a great serum."
Jessica Wu, MD, a Santa Monica, Calif., dermatologist, and author of Feed Your Face: Younger, Smoother Skin and a Beautiful Body in 28 Delicious Days, recommends serums saying. "They're great for people with oily skin, or those who prefer a weightless feel to their skin care products. Serums have a non-greasy finish and they don't leave behind a sticky residue."
Due to its very small molecular structure, serums are absorbed almost instantly and penetrate deeply into the skin. "The thicker, heavier ingredients in creams form a barrier on your skin," says Ni'Kita Wilson, a cosmetic chemist and vice president of research and innovation at Englewood Lab. "That's great for locking moisture in. But it can also lock active ingredients out. Without these hindrances, the active ingredients in a serum penetrate your skin faster and more effectively."
Since key active ingredients cost more than additives, serums tend to be the costliest
product in in skincare line. However, a 1 Fl Oz container of serum should last you months, if applied properly. Just a little amount, a few of the highly concentrated drops are all you need.
However, serums aren't for everyone, especially for people with chronic skin conditions like eczema or rosacea, which weaken the skin barrier. For these people, serums may penetrate too quickly, causing irritation.
"If you have mature or dry skin, you can't get away with using just a serum," says Wilson. Instead, Wilson recommends adding a serum to your skincare routine, applying the serum before the moisturizer. "There's a lot of benefit to serums, from smoothing fine lines to reducing age spots, that you can't reproduce in any other formulation," she says.
How to Apply Serums
Here's how to apply these lightweight elixirs for maximum effect.
1. After cleansing your face, apply a pea-sized amount of serum, patting it evenly over skin with your finger.
2. If you have sensitive skin, wait 10 to 15 minutes after washing your face before using serum. "When your skin is damp, applying a water-based product is more likely to lead to irritation," says dermatologist Wu. "Allowing your skin to dry completely slows down penetration."
3. You don't need to skip the moisturizer you love. Just pat on your serum first, so it isn't blocked from penetrating your skin.