How to Choose a Serum
Written by Marcia Kilgore
26 Feb 2020
They’ve become an essential step in a daily skincare routine - but they can do multiple different functions. So how do you know which will be best for you?
Serums are skincare’s ‘treatment step.’ They are light, sink in easily, don’t feel rich or greasy on the skin and can carry a whole array of potent ingredients. In the past decade, they’ve gone from being an ‘optional extra’ to being the cornerstone of most skincare routines - in fact, some people choose a moisturizing serum and skin the ‘face cream’ step altogether.
But all this ubiquitousness has meant that there are now many serums to choose from, promising a myriad different benefits. So we’ve put together a fool-proof guide to finding the best moisture-boosting serum for your skin type.
So. What do serums actually do?
We don’t like to generalize, because each person’s skin is so different, but skincare serums really accomplish one of four actions: they either moisturize (adding hydration or lipids), they exfoliate (removing keratinized, skin-dulling surface layers), they stimulate (regeneration from underneath) or they vitaminize (for antioxidant support and brightening).
Skincare serums either moisturize, exfoliate, stimulate or vitaminize
Why do serums seem so complicated?
Because there’s so much choice out there. But it’s actually quite easy to choose a serum, and here’s why: while the ‘old’ beauty industry might like you to think there’s some secret to getting the right ingredients for a glowing face, there really isn’t. It’s simple science. In fact, plumping your skin up with moisture can only be accomplished (at the moment) in one of two ways – by layering on lipids or adding humectants. That’s it.
What kinds of serums are best for oily skins?
(Light) hydration: If you’re naturally oily, or your skin gets shiny by the middle of the day, or you tend to need face powder, and even at the age of say, 40 (some of us are, some of us aren’t, that’s all we’re saying), you still have to worry about blackhead build-up, it’s likely you want a serum that’s more ‘hydration’ than oil, like our Triple Hyaluronic Acid & Lipopeptide Serum.
Marine Hydrating Complexes, like in our Youthbomb, reinforce the structural integrity and elasticity of the skin
So under your favorite moisturizer, you’ll want to layer something that brings water into the skin’s surface, like Hyaluronic Acid, Marine Actives, whole leaf Aloe Vera, Vital Hydraplex, Saccharide Isomerate or Unsaturated Phospholipids. These ingredients act as moisture magnets, pulling and anchoring water from the lower layers of the skin and the surrounding environment, to plump and hydrate the surface of your skin.
What kinds of serums are best for dry skins?
(Richer) moisture serums are what you need if: you’ve got chronically dry skin; have never been oily; you wouldn’t want a world-class face powder if we forced it on you; you feel like somehow your skin is too tight for your face; you’re on airplanes a lot; you do a lot of skiing, hiking or mountain activities; you never even really think about the size of your pores, or you can’t even see them.
You’ll also want to know you’re getting an optimum dose of moisture, which is why it might be good to go for a serum that’s packaged into individual doses, like our Superactive Capsules Essential Ceramides+ . Capsules have the added advantage of keeping the ingredients fresher (some ingredients are less stable than others, and can lose their potency if exposed to the air for too long, so mono-dose capsules can often deliver just about as intense a dose of moisture/vitamins/nutrients as you can get).