Facial serums that contain a variety of active ingredients have rapidly become must-have skincare products, supplementing and, in many cases, replacing creams and lotions.
You’re probably wondering what does serum do for your face. Well, facial serums can help with aging, acne and hydrate your skin.
If you aren’t using serums, don’t understand the benefits of serums, or you’re wondering what serums do for your face, this guide will answer all your questions.
Understanding Facial Serums
Facial serums are lightweight, sometimes gel-like fluids that are packed with skin-boosting ingredients. Facial serums have small molecules, so they are easily absorbed into the deeper layers of the skin, and carry the ingredients more easily into the layers and cells of the skin on the face.
Because serums penetrate the skin, they usually do not contain protective ingredients like sunscreens, moisturizers, and primers that remain on the outer layers of the skin. They are also usually free of fragrances, emulsifiers, and emollients that give lotions and ointments a creamy texture during application.
Facial serums are lighter and absorb more quickly than oils and moisturizers, and don’t stay on the surface of the skin. For that reason, they are ideal to layer beneath other skincare products, and easy to incorporate into a skin care regimen.
For super affordable and effective serums check out CeraVe and Cetaphil serums here.
What Does Serum Do for Your Face?
There are dozens of different types of facial serums, with different benefits and effects. What serum does for your face depends on the ingredients in the formula. Here are some of the most popular types of serums and their most effective ingredients.
Anti-aging face serums
Anti-aging serums are incredibly popular. Some of the most popular anti-aging facial serum ingredients are:
- Retinol. Retinoids are derived from Vitamin A. Many forms of retinoid are only available by prescription, but retinol is available over the counter and the most common anti-aging skincare ingredient. Retinol exfoliates that skin, promoting cell turnover and speeding collagen production. For this reason, retinol helps to refresh the appearance of the skin, reducing the look of wrinkles and creases, and creating a brighter, smoother surface texture.
- Niacinimide. Niacinamide is a stable form of Vitamin B3 with a huge range of benefits for the skin. It promotes hydration and elasticity, fights skin damage and free radicals, and improves skin tone by reducing redness hyperpigmentation.
Anti-acne face serums
People with acne skin are understandably cautious about their skincare routine, avoiding products that clog pores and cause inflammation. Because they do not clog pores and have powerful ingredients, serums are a great way to reduce acne. Just beware that which one you use is important based on your skin type, as many of these products can result in much drier skin. Here are some of the most powerful acne-fighting serum ingredients:
- Salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that is a precursor to aspirin. Salicylic acid is a gentle exfoliant, helping skin to shed the dead top layer of skin cells and removing debris that clogs pores. It also reduces swelling and inflammation, helping to even skin tone.
- Benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide is an essential acne-fighting ingredient that has been used in skincare products for decades. Benzoyl peroxide is a gentle antiseptic, killing inflammatory bacteria in the pores of the face. It is especially effective against Cutibacterium acnes, the main acne-causing bacteria. It is also effective at unblocking clogged pores, so it fights acne in two ways.
Hydrating face serums
Hydrating face serums designed to help combat dry skin and to aid in skin moisture retention can be used in addition to moisturizers and creams, for people with dry, damaged, or aging skin. They can also be used to replace creams and moisturizers for people with healthy skin. Even better, because they don’t sit on the surface clogging pores, they can even be a great choice for people with oily skin. In other words, most experts agree that a hydrating serum is an excellent daily choice for virtually all skin types. Here are some of the most effective hydrating serum ingredients:
- Hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a substance naturally produced in the fluids of the body, and it is a staple in most hydrating skin care products. It is a humectant, a substance that attracts and retains moisture. Hyaluronic acid can bind over one thousand times its weight in water, causing the skin to plump and swell with moisture. Smaller hyaluronic acid molecules penetrate the skin more deeply, moisturizing deeper layers, while larger molecules moisturize only the outer, surface layers.
- Ceramides. Ceramides are the lipids normally found in the outermost layers of the skin, forming an essential part of the skin barrier. Topically applied, they help strengthen and hydrate the skin.
- Vitamin E. Vitamin E helps to moisturize the skin and promote healing, but it is also a powerful antioxidant that fights skin damage and may even help to reduce the appearance of dark spots. It helps to strengthen the skin barrier and reduce irritation.
Brightening face serums
Brightening face serums are used to reduce the appearance of inflammation and hyperpigmentation. This type of skincare product creates a lighter, more even skin tone. The most popular brightening ingredients are:
- Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals, reduces inflammation, and reduces skin damage. Vitamin C also promotes collagen production in the skin, so it is a popular ingredient in anti-aging serums as well. Keep in mind that there are also special Vitamin C serums out there.
- Ferulic acid. Ferulic acid is another antioxidant that fights skin damage. It appears to have a synergistic effect when combined with Vitamin C, so many brightening serums contain both ingredients.
Exfoliating face serums
Exfoliating face serums help to break down and remove the dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, revealing the younger, fresher skin beneath. Exfoliating serums can unclog pores and improve skin’s texture, reducing the appearance of pores and fine lines. Exfoliating serums usually contain a gentle acid that dissolves the bonds that hold surface skin cells in place, and there are a huge range of exfoliating ingredients, including:
- Glycolic acid. Glycolic acid is a powerful exfoliator, reducing the appearance of wrinkles, scars, and pores.
- Lactic acid. Glycolic acid may be too harsh for sensitive skin, so lactic acid is a gentler alternative.
- Alpha hydroxy acid. Alpha hydroxy acids are a class of acids (lactic acid, glycolic acid, malic acid, etc are all alpha hydroxy acids) that exfoliate the skin, promote collagen production, and fight sun damage.
Because everyone wants smooth, even, healthy skin, many of these ingredients are combined in different ways in different face serum formulas. Most anti-aging face serums, for example, include hydrating ingredients, and most exfoliating serums will brighten.
For this reason, it is important to read the labels carefully, and avoid “doubling up” on ingredients, especially if you have sensitive skin. For example, if you already use anti-acne products with exfoliants, you may want to avoid excess exfoliant ingredients in a brightening or smoothing serum.
Retinol causes sun sensitivity, so take care when adding a retinol serum in addition to a retinol night cream. Fortunately, there are so many different types of serum, it’s easy to find the right one for your needs.
Facial serums help to protect and nourish skin from within, while fighting many of the most common skincare complaints, like acne or wrinkles.
It is possible to find a face serum that addresses almost every skin problem, by combining different ingredients for different effects. However, it is important to remember that, because they work from the inside out, most face serums do not have immediate, visible effects.
Instead, most face serums start to have visible effects after 2-4 weeks, and full effects after 8-12 weeks. Consistency is essential to get the full effect of a face serum, and get all the benefits of what serum does for your face.