There are many serums on the market, but which one is right for you? Serums are meant to focus on specific concerns, boost anti-aging results and improve overall skin health. They are not meant to replace moisturizers because they do not have emollients, thickeners, or active sunscreen ingredients. Serums can be used twice daily (except those with retinol) and should be applied before a moisturizer.
Here is a guideline to help you choose the right one for you (ingredients to look for are italicized):
Botanical stem cell serums are powerful antioxidants that helps reduce the destruction of cellular death in the skin and fight free radical damage (Echinacea, Orange, Gotu Kola or Globularia Cordifolia).
Vitamin C serums help to combat oxidative stress and hyperpigmentation. They help to increase the effectiveness of a sunscreen as well as to reduce inflammation (Ascorbic acid or Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate).
Hyaluronic acid serums act as a humectant to pull water into the skin to plump up skin tissue. It also helps to improve penetration of other products.
Peptide serums address more direct skin concerns such as hyperpigmentation, acne, fine lines or wrinkles, depending on which peptides are incorporated. Peptides are small chains of amino acids that act as cell communicators. Peptide serums can be incorporated into home care regimes using multiple applications for better results. Remember, peptide serums like any other serums are not meant to replacement a moisturizer and should be applied after cleansing and before a moisturizer or sunscreen. There are four peptide serums and they have their own unique function:
• Oligopeptide 68 – an enzyme brightener to reduce hyperpigmentation
• Palmitoyl Tripeptide 5 – for boosting collagen production
• Palmitoyl Tripeptide 8 – for soothing the skin from inflammation and sensitivity
• Pentapeptide 18 – has a Botox-like effect on the skin that relaxes the muscles to soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
Retinol serums have Vitamin A, which is an antioxidant, but make sure to use this type of serum at night only because it will reduce the effectiveness of a sunscreen. This serum can help reduce the appearance of pore size (not the pore itself), soften the skin, reduce breakouts, even skin tone and improve cellular turnover to keep the skin looking fresh. A retinol serum may cause the skin to flake, turn red and dry initially (use in small amounts until the skin builds up a tolerance). It will be more effective if used with a product that has hyaluronic acid. If are considering a chemical peel or waxing, it is best to stop the use of any retinol product at least a week before a treatment to prevent the skin from becoming over reactive. Those who suffer with Rosacea and eczema or are pregnant or breast feeding should avoid using this type of serum.
Zangl, A. And Ferrill, E. (2015). Les Nouvelles Esthétiques & Spa, “Serum Savvy”. April 2015, p. 16-24.