Sometimes, it can feel like you need a beauty degree just to figure out what various skincare solutions actually do. Take serums, for instance. What makes them any different to moisturisers? And what are the benefits of adding this extra step to your skincare routine?
What are Serums?
It is easy to be left mystified by what a serum actually is and what it actually does, and you’re not alone because even the best of us are baffled on occasions by its contradictions. It’s moisturising but not a moisturiser, oily but it’s not a face oil, watery but it’s not an essence…
So, let’s make this easy. Serums are skincare products that are designed to deliver high concentrations of specific active ingredients to the skin. These active ingredient concentrated formulas can include antioxidants, AHA and/or BHA acids, Vitamins such as Retinol, Vitamin B, Vitamin C and Vitamin E, Hyaluronic Acid, Plant Stem Cells, Botanicals and Peptides to name but a few.
What good serums don’t have, or leave out, is occlusives, or moisturising ingredients such as petrolatum or mineral oil that act only by forming a barrier on top of the skin to keep water from evaporating. They also contain fewer lubricating and thickening agents, like nut or seed oils. Most serums are water-based, eliminating oils altogether and contain the most potent dose of active ingredients. There are many different types of serums on the market that perform different jobs, ranging from acne to hydration to skin brightening and anti-aging.
A good serum should apply easily, feel lightweight and be quickly absorbed. It is a skincare product that you apply to your skin after cleansing but before moisturising with the intent to deliver a potent shot of ingredients directly into your skin. Serums typically have a distinguishing smooth delicate lotion, gel-lotion, or silky fluid texture and have a pleasant feel on the skin. A great serum will be compatible with your moisturiser, complementing its benefits rather than competing with them.
In skincare, face serums are used as potent enhancements to many regimens. These products are formulated with greater amounts of active ingredients, and because they are generally lighter than your traditional face creams, they can penetrate your skin deeper (serums have a lipid-soluble base which allows the active ingredients to penetrate into the epidermis as opposed to lotions and creams that simply lay on the surface of the skin creating a barrier to prevent moisture leaving the skin) to truly make a difference. With continued use, serums offer visible results that may not be realised with most creams and lotions alone. There truly are serums for every skin condition.
Benefits of Using a Serum?
If you think of your skincare routine as a three-course meal, a serum is like the main course. After kicking things off with an appetiser (cleansing your face), and before treating yourself to dessert (a nourishing moisturiser), you fill up on all the important nutrients to feed your hungry skin (serums). Good serums can help target, treat and manage skin conditions such as anti-aging, acne and problematic skin, oily congested skins, dry skins, sensitive and red skins, pigmentation and sun damage.
Everyone’s skin is different, but on average, we would expect it to take between four (4) to six (6) weeks to see how your skin responds after adding a new serum to your skincare regimen. Depending on the serum and the current state of your skin, you might even see initial results, like increased skin hydration, in just a few days. Because good serums possess the ability to penetrate deep into your skin, paired with the fact that they contain concentrated doses of effective ingredients, serums can often be pricey, but if it’s results you’re after, this isn’t a step you’re going to want to scrimp on.
The active ingredient(s) in serums, because of their concentrations, can occasionally cause irritation and dryness in those who have sensitive skin. It’s a good idea to layer a more substantial moisturiser with the serum if your skin tends to be on the sensitive or dry side. Our skincare expert can advise you on the best combinations of skincare products for your skin type and skin condition you are wishing to treat.
Generally, you should use a serum all over your face and neck twice daily, once in the morning and then again in the evening, before applying your moisturiser. For best results follow the instructions you receive with each serum or seek the advice of our skincare specialist.
Looking for results-driven professional skincare? We have it covered at NASCENT with brands such as Aspect, Aspect Dr, Aspect Minerals, Aspect Sun, Colorescience, Cosmedix, Cosmedix Elite, Dermaquest, PCA Skin and Societe. Look for Free Delivery, Gifts & Regular Specials.
Please Note: Aspect Dr products feature higher-level active ingredients to ensure maximum efficacy without a prescription. These products are only sold at select physician, skin clinics, and spa locations. If your purchase contains any Aspect Dr products – our Skin Specialist is required to speak with you regarding the use of these products before your purchase can be authorised and shipped.
A Guide to Selecting the Best Skincare Products
Your skin is the bodies largest organ. Its major functions are protection, regulation and sensation. If our skin is not functioning to its full ability, these functions may become compromised.
It’s easy to get lost in the sea of skincare options these days. Not only are there doctors, dermatologists, skin professionals and aestheticians telling you this or that, you also have YouTubers, bloggers and beauty enthusiasts flooding you with thoughts and ideas too. It’s no wonder there are so many skin issues and concerns these days. When you don’t know where to start or what information is reliable, how is your skin really going to respond? More importantly, the use of incorrect skincare products can actually exasperate your condition or cause additional skin problems.
The use of professional active ingredient skincare is recommended. The “Professional” skincare products we recommend on this site can only be purchased through certified stockists and practitioners who are required to provide their professional advice on the application of these products, (as opposed to those you can purchase over the counter (OTC) in the department stores and supermarkets). These recommended professional products contain;-
- higher levels of active ingredients to boost your skin’s health and correct skin problems
(OTC product lines have less active ingredients to minimise the chance of irritation to protect the buyer)
- are backed by clinical studies
(not exaggerated unsubstantiated claims)
- are made in small batches and distributed to trained or licensed skin therapists, spas and salons to be supplied with professional advice on their use
(OTC products are made for the masses and sold in department stores and supermarkets)
- contain small molecule technology for dermal and epidermal penetration
(OTC products that lack active ingredients, have large molecules which are not able to penetrate the skin. When a product can’t properly penetrate the skin, it will only “superficially” treat and temporarily provide relief to skin concerns. This gives the illusion that the products are working without actually treating the skin. Professional lines use molecular technology that penetrates the skin producing clinical results)
- are packaged in airless pump packs to eliminate spoilage of ingredients when exposed to the air
- have pH balanced and adjusted ingredients – skin functions at its prime when the natural pH is between 4.5 and 5.5.
(Often OTC products don’t take pH into consideration and will leave the skin in an alkaline state. When the skin is alkaline, bacteria and free radicals (such as pollution) can invade the skin)
- do not contain unnecessary fillers and preservatives
Professional skincare often has a reputation of being “too expensive” but that is more often than not actually far from the truth. A good professional line will price their products according to the concentration of active ingredients versus fillers and are actually overall more budget-friendly. It is a common mistake to overuse products which leads to the perception that professional skincare is more expensive. Our Skin Specialist will advise you on the appropriate amount and when to use the products according to your skin condition and type.
When used properly, professional skincare products will last longer and work better giving you the ultimate bang for your buck. OTC products will have a lower upfront cost but over time can be similar in price or more expensive than professional skincare and won’t actually repair the skin condition being treated.