What are serums? Things you should know before including them in your skincare routine

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Many things improve with age; unfortunately, our skin is not one of them. Wrinkles, brown spots, and general dullness often creep in as the years tick by. To reverse these problems many women are turning to a skin serum or a retinol. Layering skincare ingredients will give you the healthiest and happiest skin, but you can have too much of a good thing and overload the skin surface if you’re not careful.

Serums are typically applied to the skin after cleansing but before moisturising. Face serums often contain active ingredients like hyaluronic or glycolic acid and they are very useful for targeting specific skin concerns, such as acne, dryness, clogged pores, dullness, dark spots and more.

As you begin to explore the vast world of serums, it’s important to choose a formula that appeals to your specific needs. Maybe you would like a more radiant complexion. Perhaps you want to decrease visible signs of ageing, or we’re after a smoother texture following years of acne trouble. Whatever our issue, here are the most common serums recommended to use accordingly.

Vitamin C Serum 


Vitamin C serum is also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C serum serves as an antioxidant helping to protect against free radical damage, according to dermatologists. A vitamin C serum features a highly natural formulation of active ingredients that can easily penetrate the skin and treat specific skin concerns. It consists of smaller molecules, making it easy to work through the seven layers of the skin. 

Vitamin C serums are best applied in the morning. They provide antioxidant protection, so applying them before sunscreen helps defend your skin from environmental damage and brightens your complexion.

Vitamin C is a morning serum, so it can work to protect our pores during the day from UV, free radicals, and other environmental exposures.  According to Dr Garshick, a dermatologist, it can be useful for people who want to brighten their skin especially, and it can also assist to balance out skin tone, making dark patches look less noticeable.

Hyaluronic acid serum

close-up-loreal-cosmetic-Hyaluronic acid serum - facial serums
Representational image. Photo: Pexels

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a naturally occurring glycosaminoglycan found throughout the body’s connective tissue. Glycosaminoglycans are simply long unbranched carbohydrates, or sugars, called polysaccharides. HA is the main component of what gives your skin structure and is responsible for that plump and hydrated look.

As you age, your skin’s natural hyaluronic acid levels decrease, leading to dryness and wrinkles. Using hyaluronic acid or serums with HA can help counteract this process by replenishing moisture and promoting a smoother, more youthful appearance. It can improve skin elasticity and firmness, reducing the appearance of fine lines and making the skin look more supple.

You can start using hyaluronic acid in your 20s or 30s to maintain skin hydration and delay the signs of ageing. It can be incorporated into your daily skincare routine through serums, creams, or moisturisers. Apply it to clean, damp skin to maximise its hydrating effects.

Niacinamide serum 

Niacinamide serum facial serums
Representational image. Photo: Openbeautyfacts

Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, is a water-soluble vitamin that has various uses and benefits for the body. It helps build keratin, a protein that maintains skin health. It’s also been shown to make your skin stronger, smoother and brighter.

It is commonly used in skincare products due to its positive effects on the skin. Some of its benefits include regulating oil production, improving the skin’s barrier function, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and helping to fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation. 

The best time to use niacinamide serums is during your morning and evening skincare routines. Niacinamide serum can be applied directly after cleansing and gently patting the face dry. If you want, you can apply toner first. The key is to apply it to damp skin so that it can be easily and quickly absorbed. After applying your serum, make sure you lock it in with a moisturiser. 


Retinol facial serums
Representational image. Photo: Openbeautyfacts

Retinol is a form of vitamin A with many uses in skin care. It’s used to treat acne and has anti-ageing effects. Retinol increases skin cell production (proliferation). Retinol or serums with retinol help unclog pores. Retinol also exfoliates your skin and increases collagen production, which can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, giving your skin a fresher, plump appearance.

Retinol is a powerful tool against ageing skin and acne, but it’s not for everyone. If you are prone to allergies or have sensitive skin, you might want to try skincare products with alternative anti-ageing or skin-clearing ingredients. Importantly, retinol makes our skin more sensitive to sunlight so be sure to use sunscreen and avoid the sun as much as you can while you use retinol products.

If you are trying a retinol product or serums with retinol for the first time, try a little bit on a small area of the skin (a patch test) to see if you have any negative reactions. If, after a couple of days, your skin patch isn’t very red or itchy it will work for you. while using retinol make sure you do not scrub your face just a gentle cleanser then apply retinol in a thin layer to your entire face (be careful not to get it in your mouth, nose and eyes).

You should only use a dose that’s about the size of a pea. For the first couple weeks of treatment, apply retinol only every other day. Finish with a facial moisturiser that won’t clog your pores.

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