9 Crucial Facial Serum Benefits & Must-Have Ingredients 

facial serum benefits
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Does your skin need a complete overhaul or are you just hoping to maintain your youthful glow?  There are many different types of facial serums on the market that can make a dramatic impact on the appearance and health of your skin. Which ones will work best for your skin concerns? Which ingredients are most helpful? Let’s take a look at the benefits of facial serum and why you should include one in your skincare routine.

What Is a Facial Serum

A serum is a high concentration of active ingredients designed to penetrate deep into the layers of the skin and target specific skin concerns. Serums are water or oil-based and can be applied topically once or twice a day depending on the ingredients.  

Check out this article to find out exactly how to apply face serum.

Facial Serum Benefits

A face serum is the best way to boost your skin’s natural defenses, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, hydrate dry skin, and help with acne-prone skin. A good face serum will also help improve the appearance of scars, dark spots, and hyperpigmentation. It will also often contain antioxidants that protect against free radical damage. Find out the difference between serums and moisturizers here.

There are so many skincare products out there promising to do all of the things a facial serum can do, but most can’t match the power of a serum. Here are the benefits of facial serums and how they could be a game-changer for your skin.  

1. They penetrate deep into the skin. Because serums are typically developed using smaller molecules of the active ingredient, these molecules are better able to permeate into the deepest layers of the skin. This allows it to be more effective in doing the job it was designed to do; whether that be to improve hydration, increase collagen, or decrease hyperpigmentation. 

2. They remain on the skin for hours rather than minutes.  Serums are meant to be applied either at night or in the morning and left on the skin until the next time you wash your face. This lengthy contact time with the skin gives the ingredients more time to take action, resulting in much more rapid results than many other products.  

3. They can address several skin concerns in one swipe. Nobody likes to spend hours a day applying different creams, gels, and oils. Serums can pack in numerous key ingredients to help improve the look and health of your skin. You can confront aging skin, acne, dryness, and more, all in one simple application.  

4. They improve skin texture and tone.  If you’re hoping for smooth, glowing skin, a serum can be your best friend. With ingredients like vitamin A and C (both natural exfoliators), dead skin cells will be sloughed away to reveal fresh new cells, giving you that youthful radiance we all desire.  

By reducing inflammation and redness, and fading dark spots, Vit. C can even out and brighten dull skin.

5. They can help hydrate. Many serums contain an ingredient called hyaluronic acid. This Pub Med article points out that HA “has a high water retaining ability and has recently been shown to be present in the epidermis”.  

Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP), a form of vitamin C that can be found in some serums, has also been shown to prevent water loss and improve hydration.  

Niacinamide, another active ingredient found in serums, aids in restoring the skin barrier, increasing the skin’s ability to prevent water loss and lock in moisture

6. They can improve acne. Serums containing concentrations of vitamin c, niacinamide, or retinol can do everything from diminishing redness and inflammation, reducing excess oil, promoting cell turnover to reducing clogged pores, and increasing collagen production to speed skin healing and improve skin tone.

7. They remove spots and blemishes.  Many of the actives in serums will fade dark spots from acne scars and sun damage. Typically, hyperpigmentation (spots) develops because of an overproduction of melanin. Vitamin C inhibits melanin production which helps to get rid of these dark spots and prevents new ones from forming. Retinoids stimulate the production of collagen which will also help fade hyperpigmentation. 

8. They diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  Serums are best known for their anti-aging effects. Ingredients such as vitamin A and C increase skin renewal and accelerate collagen production, thereby minimizing the appearance of wrinkles. The hydrating properties of hyaluronic acid and niacinamide also help to plump the skin and disguise fine lines.

9. They protect from future damage. Many serums contain antioxidants that will help shield your skin from the sun and free radical damage, radiation, and other external factors environment.  Studies show that layering vitamin C serum under a broad-spectrum sunscreen is more effective at reducing free radical damage from sun exposure than just sunscreen alone.

What Active Ingredients Are in Face Serums

Serums can be oil or water-based. Some serums have only one key ingredient while others combine several. Here are the active ingredients to look for and the ways they can help you achieve that flawless skin we all desire.

Vitamin A (Retinol) 

Retinol is among the most clinically proven anti-aging ingredients available.

It promotes collagen production which helps to strengthen and firm skin.

Retinol is exfoliating, increasing cell turnover to shed dead skin cells.

We produce less collagen and our skin’s natural exfoliating mechanisms slow down as we age, resulting in dull, saggy skin. 

Retinol tightens pores and decreases hyperpigmentation, evening out skin tone, and texture.

Vitamin A helps keep your skin looking healthy and youthful.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C fights inflammation and decreases redness helping reduce the look and severity of acne.

It also has antioxidants that prevent free radical damage caused by the sun and other pollutants.  

This vitamin also boosts collagen production which helps with repairing skin damage from acne, sun exposure, and aging. 

Collagen helps to tighten and firm skin as well as decrease fine lines and wrinkles.

Its ability to inhibit melanin production helps to fade hyperpigmentation resulting in a more even, radiant skin tone.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E has potent antioxidants that help stave off free radicals and protect skin from signs of aging.  

It helps to improve the appearance of skin by brightening and evening out its tone and texture.

This key ingredient also helps keep your skin hydrated, leaving you with a smooth, supple complexion.

Vitamin E has been proven to increase the efficacy of Vitamin C four-fold when applied together. 


Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)

Niacinamide helps strengthen the skin barrier so that it can fight off environmental damage to the skin.

Because Niacinamide aids in restoring the skin barrier, this, in turn, increases the skin’s ability to prevent water loss and lock in moisture.

It promotes collagen production. When collagen is increased, the skin will become more firm and elastic.

Topical B3 can help to prevent the overproduction of melanin that causes hyperpigmentation.

It helps regulate and stabilize oil production in the skin. This stabilization in sebum production then helps to prevent oily skin and treat mild acne.

Topical niacinamide stimulates cell turnover, helping to shed dead skin cells. This will lead to brighter skin and a more youthful glow.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic Acid’s claim to fame is in its ability to restore moisture in dry skin.

Our skin loses the capacity to retain moisture as we age. 

Moisture is one of the requirements to maintain a supple and young-looking appearance. Without an adequate amount, our skin begins to lose plumpness and firmness.

Hyaluronic acid serums are extremely effective because this key ingredient absorbs up to 1,000 times its weight in water, making it an ideal moisturizer for the skin.

Well-hydrated skin will look smoother, tighter, and more youthful. 

Hydrated skin also increases absorption of the other important nutrients in your facial products.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

AHAs are natural acids derived from fruits. They can also be listed as glycolic acid, lactic acid, triple fruit acid, malic acid, or sugar cane extract.

These acids exfoliate the skin, removing dead skin cells from the surface. This will help clear pores and prevent acne. It will also give your skin a fresh, youthful glow.

AHAs can help to correct sun spots, age spots, and acne scarring, which will brighten and even out skin tone.

This cell turnover also helps to increase the absorption of other key ingredients in your skincare products.

Other Ingredients Found In Face Serums

DMAE (Dimethylaminoethanol)

DMAE is a compound used in some serums to reduce wrinkles and smooth skin. 

Although research on the effectiveness of DMAE is limited, there’s some evidence that applying DMAE topically may help improve skin.

One review published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology concludes that DMAE may improve skin firmness and reduce inflammation.  


Peptides are amino acids found in proteins utilized by the skin. 

Peptides can stimulate collagen production which will lead to firmer, smoother, more youthful-looking skin. 

Peptides work well with vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide. Never use peptides with AHAs as they will reduce the effectiveness of the peptide.  


Glycerin works as a humectant, drawing water from the surface of the skin into the deeper layers.  

 In a 2016 study, glycerin was found to be “the most effective humectant” available to improve hydration when compared with other humectants.   

Green Tea Extracts

Green Tea functions as an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory. 

It has also been shown to have antimicrobial properties and can help to treat oily skin and reduce acne breakouts. 

Stem Cells

Some serums incorporate stem cells, claiming that they diminish wrinkles and firm skin. Unfortunately, there is no evidence to back up these claims. 

The stem cells that serums use are derived from plants, and are unable to communicate with human skin cells because plant and human cells speak a different “language”. 

Also, stem cells must be kept in a very controlled environment to maintain efficacy. Serums do not provide the environment needed to keep stem cells from breaking down.

Growth Factors

Growth factors can strengthen, repair, and rejuvenate skin, improving elasticity and firmness. In a  2020 study, hydration, firmness, and elasticity were improved after applying growth factors topically for 12 weeks.   


Resveratrol is an antioxidant found in berries, chocolate, and the skin of grapes. 

It’s beneficial in protecting the skin from pollutants, decreasing redness, and soothing irritation.   

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)

ALAs are known to be effective in treating inflammation and aging. 

ALAs exfoliate and promote cell turnover. They will improve skin tone and give you a more radiant, youthful look.

Botanical Extracts And Oils

There is an abundance of botanical extracts and oils used in serums. Some of these natural ingredients can have powerful and nourishing effects on the skin. But those with sensitive skin should use these with caution as some can be more irritating. Here is a list of the most popular extracts and essential oils you might find in facial serums:

  • Jojoba Oil
  • Frankincense Oil
  • Rosehip Seed Oil
  • Geranium Oil
  • Lavender Oil
  • Evening Primrose Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Aloe Vera
  • Thyme
  • Horsetail
  • Chamomile
  • Pomegranate
  • Sea Algae
  • Rosemary Extract
  • Licorice Extract
  • Olive Leaf Extract

Find how to get your serums to work their magic and penetrate into the deeper layers of your skin here.

Which Are the Best Facial Serums for Me?

Face serums are the cream of the crop when it comes to skin care. No OTC beauty product will be more beneficial to your skincare routine than a serum if you choose wisely

The plethora of ingredients in serums can be overwhelming, and it can be very difficult to decide which will work best for your skin type and concerns. 

Check out these articles, the Best Hydrating Serums 2022, and the Best Serum for Hormonal Acne in 2022, for an easy guide to help you pick the one that will make your smooth, clear, glowing skin dreams come true!

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