Sometimes, it can feel like you need a beauty degree just to figure out what various skin care solutions actually do. Take serums, for instance. What makes them any different to moisturisers? And what are the benefits of adding this extra step to your skin care routine?
What are Serums?
It is easy to be left mystified by what a serum actually is and what it actually does, and you’re not alone because even the best of us are baffled on occasions by its contradictions. It’s moisturising but not a moisturiser, oily but its not a face oil, watery but its not an essence…
So, let’s make this easy. Serums are skin care products that are designed to deliver high concentrations of specific active ingredients to the skin. These active ingredient concentrated formulas can include antioxiants, AHA and/or BHA acids, Vitamins such as Retinol, Vitamin B, Vitamin C and Vitamin E, Hyaluronic Acid, Plant Stem Cells, Botanicals and Peptides to name but a few.
What good serums don’t have, or leave out, is occlusives, or moisturising ingredients such as petrolatum or mineral oil that act only by forming a barrier on top of the skin to keep water from evaporating. They also contain fewer lubricating and thickening agents, like nut or seed oils. Most serums are water-based, eliminating oils altogether and contain the most potent dose of active ingredients. There are many different types of serums on the market that perform different jobs, ranging from acne to hydration to skin brightening and anti-aging.
A good serum should apply easily, feel lightweight and be quickly absorbed. It is a skin care product that you apply to your skin after cleansing but before moisturising with the intent to deliver a potent shot of ingredients directly into your skin. Serums typically have a distinguishing smooth delicate lotion, gel-lotion, or silky fluid texture and have a pleasant feel on the skin. A great serum will be compatible with your moisturiser, complementing its benefits rather than competing with them.
In skin care, face serums are used as potent enhancements to many regimens. These products are formulated with greater amounts of active ingredients, and because they are generally lighter than your traditional face creams, they can penetrate your skin deeper (serums have a lipid-soluble base which allows the active ingredients to penetrate into the epidermis as opposed to lotions and creams that simply lay on the surface of the skin creating a barrier to prevent moisture leaving the skin) to truly make a difference. With continued use, serums offer visible results that may not be realised with most creams and lotions alone. There truly are serums for every skin condition.
Benefits of Using a Serum?
If you think of your skin care routine as a three course meal, a serum is like the main course. After kicking things off with an appetiser (cleansing your face), and before treating yourself to dessert (a nourishing moisturiser), you fill up on all the important nutrients to feed your hungry skin (serums). Good serums can help target, treat and manage skin conditions such as anti-aging, acne and problematic skin, oily congested skins, dry skins, sensitive and red skins, pigmentation and sun damage.
Everyone’s skin is different, but on average, we would expect it to take between four (4) to six (6) weeks to see how your skin responds after adding a new serum to your skin care regimen. Depending on the serum and the current state of your skin, you might even see initial results, like increased skin hydration, in just a few days. Because good serums possess the ability to penetrate deep into your skin, paired with the fact that they contain concentrated doses of effective ingredients, serums can often be pricey, but if it’s results you’re after, this isn’t a step you’re going to want to scrimp on.
The active ingredient(s) in serums, because of their concentrations, can occasionally cause irritation and dryness in those who have sensitive skin. It’s a good idea to layer a more substantial moisturiser with the serum if your skin tends to be on the sensitive or dry side. Our skin care expert can advise you on the best combinations of skin care products for your skin type and skin condition you are wishing to treat.
Generally, you should use a serum all over your face and neck twice daily, once in the morning and then again in the evening, before applying your moisturiser. For best results follow the instructions you receive with each serum, or seek the advice of our skin care specialist.
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