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By Natasja, 20 february 2023

What is a serum and how do you use it?

What is a serum?
Maybe, you're thinking: “I already have so much to do, do I really need to use a serum?”. Well, it could be that adding a serum in your beauty routine is giving your skin a big boost. It’s a win-win situation: your skin will look much better and less stressed. Additionally, using a serum is not complicated. In essence, it is a super-concentrated fluid that specifically target a skin problem. That makes a serum different from your day and night cream. These are more all-round products that protect your skin and provide moisture, but don't contain high doses of active ingredients. On the contrary, a serum only contains active ingredients and nothing else - no sunscreen or anything like that. Therefore, you can target a specific problem with a serum and expect faster results. If you want to fight fine lines and wrinkles, for example, you can do so with a serum based on hyaluronic acid or retinol.

What kind of serums are there?
The traditional serum has a water-based formula and feels thin, almost watery. But as the facial oil trend grew, these were also increasingly marketed as serums. This type of serum is thicker and more oily (and sometimes it's just a face oil but is called a serum). The oil trend also changed the serum packaging: from a pump to a glass bottle with a dropper to measure the drops. You can use a water-based serum under your day or night cream. The molecules are very small so they need all the space to penetrate into the skin. With oil-based serums, you have a choice: if you have very dry skin, you can apply the serum under your moisturizer or even over your moisturizer, whichever you prefer. They have larger molecules and will not deeply penetrate into the skin. It’s more like a layer over the skin. Of course, there are many different goals why you could use a serum. Read on to find out how to choose a serum that fits your skin needs. 

How to choose a serum
A serum can hydrate, soothe, exfoliate, plump, fight acne and more, depending on the active ingredients used. It's important to determine your specific skin needs before choosing a serum, as there is no one size fits all. If you are suffering from acne, look for a serum with salicylic acid, like Suki's ClearCycle Purifying Blemish Serum. Salicylic acid is an exfoliant that removes impurities and excess oil and unclogs pores. If you have dry skin, look for a serum with hyaluronic acid or vitamin E, which will replenish moisture and nourish the skin. Examples of vitamin E serums include Made by Coopers' Superfood Face Firming Serum and SKINHAPTICS' Prestigious Oil. If your skin is dehydrated, try Baebody's Hyaluronic Facial Serum or Suki's HydraCycle Hyaluronic Acid Milk Serum. To target hyperpigmentation or even out your complexion, vitamin C is your go-to ingredient. It helps to slow down the melanin production and fades pigmentation spots. However, this will take some time, even with a strong serum. Examples of serums with vitamin C include John Masters Organics' Intensive Daily Serum with Vitamin C & Kakadu Plum and Suki's BrightCycle Vitamin C Serum. For fine lines and wrinkles, look for a serum with retinol (vitamin A), which accelerates collagen production for firmer, smoother skin. Retinol should be applied at night before bed (it makes the skin more sensitive to the sun) and once a day is sufficient. Suki's Pro-AgeCycle Natural Retinol Serum and Baebody's Retinol Facial Serum are good options. Always apply a moisturizer or nourishing night cream after using a retinol serum.

How to use a serum
Serums typically come in small bottles because you only need a small amount of the active ingredients. Apply the serum as the second or third step in your skincare routine, immediately after your cleanser and toner (if you use one). The amount equivalent to a pea is enough for your entire face. If you want to treat your neck and décolletage as well, use two peas. Apply the serum to dry skin and wait a minute before applying your day or night cream. Too much skincare hassle? Then remember this rule: apply the thinnest product first and the thickest last. In the morning, top it off with an SPF cream.

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