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Article: Serums - do they confuse you? Read this..

Serums - do they confuse you? Read this..

Serums - do they confuse you? Read this..

Serums are probably the most difficult area of skincare to understand, because there are so many of them! Yet if you want to take your skin to the next level, don’t let that put you off, serums have the ability to transform and hold the most promise.

'The stars of the show in any well developed routine'

In straight forward terms:  

Serums deliver highly concentrated ingredients in a purposeful way

Ingredients with a smaller molecule weight, that allows them to penetrate deeper into the skin where cellular change can happen.

It's where you'll find the most advanced, pioneering and high-tech formulations (from great brands)

Where in your routine do they go?

In the middle of your routine, before applying moisturiser.


Gels, Oils, Lotions, but typically they are water-based formulations and light-weight, for penetration.  

Types of serums:

Antioxidants, brightening and exfoliating, collagen boosting peptides, soothing and calming, vitamins including retinoids and hydrating serums.

Soothing Serum

How to choose a serum?

Different to that of cleansers or moisturisers, you choose serums based on your skin ‘concern’ rather than skin type.

Concerns such as: signs of aging, dehydration, hyper-pigmentation, sensitised skin, free radical damage, blemishes. Oiliness and Dryness whilst a skin type, can be a relevant concerns and you can choose serums to help these concerns too. 

If you have more than one concern?

Prioritise anything that hurts or can cause mid to long-term scarring, typically inflammatory issues such as acne, roasacea, psoriasis, perioral dermatitis like conditions.  These are always considered first for obvious reasons.

Aside from this we are a huge fan of focusing on ‘hydration’ and ‘prevention’ first. The old saying of prevention before cure. Prevention in the form of antioxidants against free radical damage, causing collagen degradation.  

You can get some excellent multi-functional formulas that offer both hydration and superior antioxidant protection in one. We are obsessed by these.

Following this you can then start thinking about addressing other concerns such as signs of aging and pigmentation.

Layering of serums:

If you have more than one concern you can absolutely layer, but we wouldn’t recommend going beyond two serums.  Serums in their nature allow for elegant layering without interfering with your moisturiser or make-up.  As a general rule apply the thinnest formula first. 

Use can use both your morning and evening routine to target and 'treat' different concerns. 

AM Routine typically focuses on - Hydration and Antioxidant Protection and any additional concern you want to treat in your morning routine i.e. collagen boost, pigmentation. 

PM Routine - Repair and Rejuvenation 

Have fun:

Serums are by far the sexiest, most exciting part of your routine (followed by exfoliating acids in toner/mask form)  Have fun and mix it up depending on your current skincare needs.  Your cleanser, moisturiser and SPF on the other hand tend to be (and should be) regular staples.

It’s worth noting that before you consider investing in serums, do have your basics in order. Cleanse, Moisturise and SPF.  If you’re not cleansing your face properly (too much or not enough) no serum will correct that. Same for moisturiser and Spf. 

Beware of marketing nonsense, and brands competing on single led - higher ingredient %'s. Formulation is absolute king when it comes to overall product effectiveness.

Final word:

Serums are truly what set brands apart. You can almost get away with a not so well formulated cleanser, but the same cannot be said for serums.  If you’re going to spend money anywhere in your routine, it’s best prioritised and spent here.

If you have any questions leave them in the comments below. 


Words by: The Skincare Edit – Team

Images from: Votary, Zelens, Alpha-H

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