Serums 101

Hydrating serums, brightening serums, calming serums, firming serums, etc.

The category of serums is probably the most expansive and varied in the skincare industry. They are often a very targeted treatment step with one or a few highlighted ingredients that is applied before a moisturizer. 

Serums are a quick and efficient way to address specific concerns. So what are common concerns and what kind of serums are used?


The most common serums for dehydration are hyaluronic acid serums.  Hyaluronic acid is a wonderful humectant, which is an ingredient that has the ability to draw in a large amount of water. There are other ingredients that are great humectants such as glycerin, propanediol and squalane. This works hand in hand with a moisturizer because the serum is able to draw in hydration and a moisturizer will help create a barrier to lock in that hydration.


Especially in winter months, our complexion can seem a bit flat and dull. A helpful product could be an exfoliating serum. The process of exfoliation will clear away dead skin cells that can build up and cause texture. Once that top layer of dead skin is removed, a more radiant and plump layer of new cells will be on the surface. These serums can include fruit enzymes or exfoliating acids like glycolic, lactic or salicylic.


Hyperpigmentation, or darkening of the skin, is caused by a handful of things like sun exposure, inflammatory conditions, aging etc. A great topical serum to use for evening out skin tone, is a vitamin c serum. Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the appearance of darkened spots and even tone. Keep in mind that there are a handful of varieties when it comes to vitamin c! If you have experienced a sensitivity to vitamin c, send us a note and we can offer some alternative recommendations and tips!


We have talked about the different types of breakouts and the best way to take care of your skin to reduce them, and serums can be a helpful tool to ease inflammation and redness while aiding in the healing process. Exfoliating serums are helpful for skin that feels congested under the surface, but if the breakouts are at the surface or have broken skin the best route is a calming, soothing serum that will prevent further damage to compromised skin. Keep an eye out for ingredients like zinc for redness and inflammation, niacinamide for regulating oil production and reducing acne, oils like blue tansy and tea tree also aid with the diminishing of breakouts. 


We have already mentioned some ingredients in this blog post that would be helpful for the goal of aging gracefully - exfoliating (whether with a retinoid, acids or enzymes) for reducing fine lines, vitamin c for evening out skin tone, or humectants like hyaluronic acid for plumping and staying hydrated - all are helpful for diminishing signs of aging. As we age, we lose elasticity and that taut feeling. Firming serums can be a helpful addition and often include ingredients like peptides, amino acids, fermented complexes - all of these help reestablish your moisture barrier and offer a bit of smoothing and lifting.

We hope this offers some clarity in the clutter of skincare buzzwords and builds confidence around selecting a serum that can benefit you! If you have any questions about ingredients or products - send us a note here!