‘I don’t want clear, smooth, and healthy skin,’ said no one ever. Clear skin has always been considered a marker of youthfulness and attractiveness, and people have gone to great lengths to achieve the elusive airbrushed skin look. Cleansers, moisturizers, and sunscreen are now understood to be indispensable in any self-respecting skincare regimen. It may seem like a handful, but at least that’s all there is….right? Well, not exactly.
The skincare products industry is only growing bigger by the day. This means more options and products, which can be unfortunate when there are already so many, to begin with. The fact that so many new products are marketed as absolute must-haves doesn’t really help matters. This leaves many people hesitant about changing up their skincare routine. While it is true that some of these products are non-essential, and your skin can easily flourish without them, face serums are not one of them. And we’ll tell you why in a bit.
If you’ve been skeptical about face serums, are wondering whether you can live without them, are curious about what they are and how they work and are interested in finding out how to use face serums, you’re in the right place. This guide will cover everything you need to know about face serums and how to use face serums so that you’re a veritable aficionado by the end!
What is a Face Serum
A face serum is essentially a concentrated mixture of active ingredients such as hyaluronic acid or vitamin C that you apply to your skin. It is one of the most lightweight yet potent skincare products. Face serums are filled with goodies that moisturizers or other products only contain in small concentrations, and as such, they are more effective and directed. In addition, due to their thin viscosity, face serums can penetrate the skin better and deliver active ingredients. Once you figure out how to use face serums, they can potentially give quicker and better results.
Face serums are generally gel-based or in a liquid form and have a clear consistency. They are usually available in smaller containers as even a small amount goes a long way. While face serums can be oily or watery, they are not moisturizers or essences and cannot be replaced with either. While you should learn how to use face serums before application, the product is layered as a general rule of thumb. The best part of face serums is that they are great at addressing specific skin concerns such as wrinkles or discoloration. Owing to the number of active ingredients available on the market, there are various face serum formulas that you can pick and choose from based on your individual needs.
Face Serum Ingredients
Speaking of ingredients in a face serum, here are some of the most popular ones and what they do.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C helps boost collagen production and rejuvenates the skin. It brightens the skin and reduces signs of aging by diminishing fine lines.
Vitamin E: This is a powerful antioxidant that nourishes and softens the skin. It helps protect against, repair, and reduce the appearance of damage caused by UV rays and free radicals.
Hyaluronic Acid: This is a moisturizing and hydrating heavyweight that keeps our skin plump and hydrated by attracting and retaining moisture.
Glycolic Acid: Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy derivative that acts as an exfoliant to slough off dead skin cells. This, in turn, brightens the complexion and makes the skin tone more even.
Retinol: This ingredient is a vitamin A derivative that is also an antioxidant and anti-aging material. It stimulates collagen production and cell turnover and helps clear the skin.
Peptides: Peptides boost the skin’s youthfulness and lead to firmer, healthier skin. Peptides are the building blocks of specific proteins that the skin requires, so they play a large part in skin quality.
Remember: A face serum can include one active ingredient or a combination of two or more, so pay attention to the ingredients.
Why You Should Use a Face Serum
So what is it that makes face serums worth all the hype? The answer lies in the variety available for what product will benefit you best and its multipurpose usage. The potency of face serums is what sets it apart from other skincare products. Primarily, the function of a face serum is to nourish and deposit a high concentration of active ingredients on your skin. In comparison, moisturizers or face creams do not have such direct and fast-action results.
Since the key operative ingredient in face serums, whether it’s vitamin A or E or Alpha Hydroxy Acid, is so potent, it penetrates well into the skin. Once a face serum is applied to clean skin, it travels deep into the skin and takes vigorous action. Since face serums do not mess around and mean business, they are especially loved for their fast-acting quality. Depending on what type you are using, the results of face serums can even appear after the first application. In particular, users experience a brighter, healthier, and hydrated look and feel of their skin after repeated application.
If you’re concerned about how face serums apply to the skin and how they sit, considering their potency, you’re in luck. The experience of having serum on your face is an excellent reason why you should incorporate it into your skincare regimen. The consistency of serums is either gel-like, liquid or clear, and sits as a light layer on the skin. Therefore, it is an ideal step before moisturizer or face cream, as it can be layered well with other products.
Perhaps the most convincing reason for using face serums is the diverse range of issues they can tackle. They result in considerable improvements to one’s skin and are tailor-made for specific skin problems. After learning how to use face serums, adding this step to your routine can work wonders for your skin. Their effects include preventative and reparative action, making them a two-in-one deal.
Antioxidants are common ingredients in face serums, particularly concentrated vitamins, and can prevent a heap of skin-related issues. On the other hand, existing damage can also be addressed by repairing ingredients found in face serums. The most popular of these are retinoids, that target acne, discoloration, blemishes, dark spots, collagen production, and so much more.
Face serums may seem like a quick fix for many skin-related problems, but they get better. They work well with other skincare products as well and even boost their action, and vice versa. The face serum acts as an effective raw material that is locked in by a face cream or moisturizer. Your moisturizer can benefit from a hydrating face serum as well, as it receives ingredients to bind into the skin.
Types of Face Serums
When getting the know-how of how to use face serums, it’s important to know about the range of products available and what they do before you choose a serum. There are multiple types of face serums, all with their specific actions and results, and they vary in the active ingredient they contain.
Serums that fight free radical action
It sounds like more of a political movement, but believe it or not, free radicals are a phenomenon of chemistry and are foes of your skin health. Free radicals are created when two atoms bond due to the unavailability of free electrons in the environment. This fusion seems harmless enough, but a free radical particle can have harmful effects on one’s skin.
The problem is, these free radicals are formed within our body as a reaction to environmental hazards. These include high pollution, harmful UV rays, unhealthy habits like smoking, and an unbalanced diet. While the latter two can be managed by a lifestyle change, we can’t control the environment. Instead, we can use products that fight and prevent the effects of free radicals, that range from wrinkles to discoloration and dark spots, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Face serums that act against free radicals make use of antioxidants that penetrate the skin and meet the issue at its core. Antioxidants are essentially the counter to the concerning consequences of high free radical production. Vitamin A, E, and C, resveratrol, along with antioxidants like beta carotene and green tea extracts, are what you should look for in a face serum if you don’t want that free radical business on your skin.
As we grow older, our body’s collagen, or golden material, grows weaker. Collagen can be found in your muscles, ligaments, bones, hair, and skin. It is what retains hydration and elasticity in our skin, which is why, with age, our skin becomes looser, loses structure, or sags. If anti-aging products are what pique your interest, an anti-aging serum can have a fantastic impact on your collagen production and skin.
Wrinkles and fine lines are seen as a barrier to our youthful appearance, making us look aged, but boosting collagen production and cell turnover can help prevent and repair such damage. Anti-aging serums are potent in ingredients such as retinol, a powerful substance that pervades in skincare products due to its effectiveness. Other ingredients in an anti-aging facial serum include magnesium, caffeine, hyaluronic acid, and Vitamin C. If it seems like too much of a hassle, most anti-aging facial serums are labeled as such so that you can find your right pick with ease.
Since face serums provide that strong boost of active ingredients directly in the skin, you can find the best results with hydrating facial serums. Hydration is not only linked with good skin health but also prevents signs of aging like wrinkles or dark spots. If your skin is dried and stripped of essential nourishment, it can also result in breakouts and acne-prone skin.
A promising solution to this is to restore and balance the skin barrier with proper hydration. After a hydrating serum, use a moisturizing lotion or cream to lock in the moisture and get plump, healthy, glowing skin. Hyaluronic acid is a star and must-have in the facial hydration serum selection simply because of its capacity to contain water. You can expect near-instantaneous results with a hydrating serum application.
Serum for acne-prone skin
Acne is that clingy friend who nobody really likes, and after countless efforts to get rid of them, you just feel hopeless. However, if you’ve tried the Instagram clickbait hacks to clear your skin in 24 hours, and unsurprisingly, had little luck, you can try your luck with serums for acne-prone skin.
There are multiple risk factors for acne, and cases like hormonal acne are not very affected by what goes on the skin because the issue is internal. However, if you experience frequent breakouts due to factors such as inflammation or irritants, give anti-acne facial serums a shot. They are potent with reliable ingredients such as salicylic acid and niacinamide, which directly address oily skin and acne. Plant-based derivatives like aloe vera are also promising components of a good facial serum for inflammation and irritated acne-prone skin.
How to Use Face Serum Step by Step
Now that you’re (hopefully) convinced that you should include face serums in your daily skincare routine, let’s talk about how to use face serums. As we mentioned before, serums can be layered with moisturizer. You should apply a face serum all over your face and neck, but avoid the eye area since it is more sensitive.
Step 1: Cleanse your skin to remove all dirt and impurities.
Step 2: Apply a toner.
Step 3: Apply a few drops of face serum on your fingers or directly on your face. Massage it in till it is fully absorbed. If you have sensitive skin, wait ten or so minutes after cleansing before applying a face serum. Once applied, let the product sit on your face for five to ten minutes.
Step 4: Apply eye cream.
Step 5: Apply moisturizer.
Step 6: Apply sunscreen (only in the morning skincare routine).
Now you’ve got how to use face serums down pat!
Face Serums FAQs
Who can use face serums?
Anyone can use face serums, depending on their skincare needs. However, if you have skin problems like eczema, avoid using face serums as they can irritate your skin. Talk to your dermatologist or esthetician if you’re confused about whether you should use a face serum or which one will suit you best.
What can’t I mix a face serum with?
Product interactions are a crucial part of learning how to use face serums. Generally, a face serum can be mixed with moisturizer, but you should try and layer it for optimum results. Most different face serums can also be used together, but you should be cautious when mixing certain ingredients such as vitamin C with AHA or retinoids with acids. Talk to your dermatologist or esthetician before beginning any skincare regimen to ensure it is safe.
Can I use face serums in place of moisturizers?
Face serums can have moisturizing properties but they are not a replacement for moisturizers or face creams. Moisturizers have more nutrients and are thicker and better suited to retaining moisture throughout the day, so never skip out on them, especially if you have dry skin.
How often should you apply a face serum?
Follow the instructions on the face serum label, but generally, you should start with once a day application. You can move on twice a day application if there are no adverse reactions.
How long before a face serum works?
It can take anywhere from five to seven weeks to see results from face serum applications, though sometimes you can start seeing an improvement after a few days. Your skin might get worse in the first few days of using a face serum, but this should clear up on its own. Remember to be patient and stick with it. Good things come to those who wait!