jordan dunn

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If there’s one skincare product that doesn’t get the hype it deserves, it’s serums.
Normally, no one can tell you how and why they’re beneficial to your skincare regime. So as always, we’re here to help decode the confusion and turn these skincare theories into fact. A serum is one of the most potent formulas on your shelf as it’s packed with active ingredients that can target multiple skin issues.

Serum’s high concentration of active ingredients and small molecular structure allows it to penetrate the skin on a deeper level. It’s essentially a water-based cocktail of all the best ingredients the beauty world has to offer, like AHA’s, BHA’s, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It’s really lightweight too, so it’ll literally glide onto your skin and sink in almost immediately. Apply a pea-sized amount after you’ve cleansed and toned for maximum effect (find out how to product lay, here) – and don’t think more is better, as it’s such a potent formula, too much product could irritate your skin.

How is it different to the other products on my shelf?

If you’re wondering how it’s different to your moisturizer or face oil, it’s what a serum doesn’t include. Serums are normally free of heavier, moisturizing ingredients which would otherwise dilute them. This is why serums are normally pricier than moisturizers, as you’re basically paying for just the best ingredients.

A lot of people think a serum is the Western equivalent to an essence, but that’s not true. The main difference is the texture; serums are slightly thicker and an essence is much more watery. Also don’t be fooled into thinking a serum is just a lightweight moisturizer, as moisturizer creates a barrier so that your skin can retain moisture. And it’s not like an oil either, as not only is the consistency completely different, but an oil is a raw ingredient, derived from plants. Instead, a serum contains man-made, beautifying compounds as well as natural vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. They also contain less lubricating oils than a facial oil making it easier to wear throughout the day as you don’t have to worry about that mid-day shine (making it ideal for acne-prone and oily skin).

What serum should I splurge on?

Like everything in skincare, you need to get a serum that’ll suit your skin type. As serums are so potent, they’re extra efficient at solving specific issues, like dry or oily skin, acne, and sensitive skin – we told you they were kinda magical! The most important thing is to look for ingredients that work well for your skin type:

Oily/Acne-Prone Skin: Vitamin C, retinol, zinc, salicylic acid, lactic acid.

Dry/Sensitive Skin: Vitamin E, niacinamide, glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid.

Normal/Combination Skin: Hyaluronic acid, ferulic acid.

Mature Skin: Retinol, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E.

We love the Bioderma Hydrabio Sérum, $24.90, perfect for dry, mature or normal skin, or the Clinique Acne Solutions Acne + Line Correcting Serum, $44, which works well for oily and acne-prone skin.

Serums may be more expensive, but they are worth it! The bottom line is, a serum is more powerful and contains more active ingredients than most other skincare, allowing it to target issues a lot quicker than other formulas.