What Is a Facial Serum?

The question on the mind of everyone who is trying to get into skin care is “what actually is a facial serum?”. With skincare becoming the new in-thing, it’s starting to replace extensive makeup bags with carefully tailored skincare routines, so now seems like the perfect time to scrub up on our knowledge of exactly what a skincare facial serum is!

Skincare isn’t just restricted to cleansers or moisturisers, there’s a whole new world of skincare products that stretches far beyond the realms of just taking your makeup off after a long day’s wear. If you’re wanting to elevate your skincare routine to the next level, or you have some skin troubles you’d like to banish, then serums should be something you consider.

What is a facial serum?

If you already cleanse and moisture your face you should consider throwing in a serum to really round off your skin care experience. Slot it in between the two just like a skin care sandwich and you’ll soon begin to see the benefits.

Unlike other types of skincare, serums are highly concentrated with specific ingredients to effectively tackle skin problems. Serums are liquid formulas that are usually clear or a milky coloured consistency and are the most useful skincare ingredient for targeting specific troubles you may have with your skin.

Depending on the serum you choose, a serum can pretty much do it all – dry skin? No problem, there’s a serum for that. Dull skin? Yep, there’s a serum for that too. We’ll get on to the specific types of serums soon, but just know, whatever problem your skin seems to be having it’s highly likely that introducing serums into your routine will help to banish it.

Types of facial serums and their benefits

The world of serums is pretty vast, and like any beauty product it isn’t a one size fits all situation. There is some crossover between serums with certain formulas providing multiple different benefits, however, to make it a little easier to understand we’re breaking it down into six different sections.

Skin brightening serums

What is a skin brightening facial serum? Well, brightening serums do just that – brighten the skin from dull and tired to bright and beautiful by smoothing out your complexion and banishing uneven skin tone. Usually skin brightening formulas will contain antioxidants like vitamin C and peptides.

The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Antioxidant Vitamin C Serum

Hydrating serums

Hydrating serums will transform your dehydrated, dry skin into the smooth and silky look and feel you’ve always wanted. Those with really dry skin will sometimes find a simple moisturiser just doesn’t cut it … and that’s when serums step in. Hydrating serums will include ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ceramide, and extracts such as jojoba oil to help inject moisture into your dehydrated skin.

The Inkey List Polyglutamic Acid Hydrating Serum

Mineral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum

Acne serums

When looking for a serum that can tackle acne issues, you’ll want to look out for ingredients such as salicylic acid, beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) and alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA). If you know you already have acne prone skin, then a top tip is to start using acne preventing serums before they even have time to flare up.

Acne serums will help to tighten the skin while minimizing and unclogging pores by absorbing excess oil from the skin.

Paula’s Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum

Mario Badescu Anti-Acne Serum

Anti-aging serums

Perhaps one of the main reasons many of us reach for serums is to reverse and prevent the effects of aging on the skin. Anti-aging serums are suitable for any age, but it’s actually advised that we start using them in our skin care routine as early as our twenties to really reap all the benefits.

Anti-aging serums smooth out texture in the skin and make the face appear firm and plumped while recognisably minimising the appearance of wrinkles. Perhaps the most notable ingredient found in anti-aging skin care is Retinol. Retinol helps to promote the production of elastin and collagen in the skin.

The Ordinary Buffet Serum

ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Renewal Serum

Exfoliating serums

An exfoliating serum has many positive benefits. But what is a facial exfoliating serum? Perhaps the most notable benefit of an exfoliating serum is its ability to remove dead skin cells from the skin, leaving you with a toned, even complexion. On top of this you may even find it helps to make your skin look less aged by reducing fine lines and correcting discolouration. As an added bonus exfoliating serums also help unclog pores to prevent the potential of breakouts.

Dr.Jart+ Pore Remedy PHA Exfoliating Serum

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% Superficial Peeling Formulation

Renew and repair serums

The main reason to use a serum is to turn back the clock and help your skin thrive. Renewing and reparative facial serums help to stimulate the natural repair functions in our skin. In time, using a renew and repair type serum will ultimately turn back the clock on years of damage to the skin caused by things such as sun damage and exposure to natural elements. If you’re looking to fade acne scars and minimise the look of fine lines adding a repairing serum to your skin care routine is an absolute must.

Kiehl’s Vital Skin-Strengthening Super Serum


GUERLAIN Abeille Royale Double R Renew & Repair Serum

How to use a serum?

Apply your serum all over your face and don’t forget to bring an excess down your neck. Depending on the strength and ingredients of your serum your will either need to apply twice a day or just once either morning or night. This is where it’s always a good ideas to read the ‘how to use’ advisories that go with the product you purchase.

It will usually take around a week before you start seeing visible benefits from your serum application. Stick with it and before long your dull, dry skin will be looking more luminous than ever before.

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