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Life was so much easier when we were all using Noxzema (gasp!) and Oxy (yikes!) however, these days, simple cleansing just won’t cut it. As we begin our graceful ascent into our later years—the graceful glow as I like to call it—we should all add a serum into our daily routine. Serums are highly concentrated formulas containing active ingredients designed to penetrate the deepest layers of the skin. They can target specific problem areas within your skin because the molecular structure of a serum is much smaller than what can be found in your everyday skin care products. The majority of serums are water-based which can work well for nearly every skin type, but there are a few that are oil-based.

If you want to get to the root of your skin care concerns, you often have to look beneath the skin. The blemish or signs of aging we see on our faces are just the visible signs of skin damage that could have been weeks or months in the works. This is why serums are essential to a good skin care regimen. The not-so-awesome news: highly concentrated active ingredients are a bit more costly than other skin care products. So be prepared to spend quite a lot of money on what appears to be not so much. Don’t worry, the saying big things come in small packages holds true for serums—a little goes a long way.  And while, yes, you are adding one more product into your daily or nightly (or both?) routine you’ll find that it’s totally worth it.

You want to place serums after cleansing and before moisturizing. If you’re thinking you can skip a step by just adding your serum into your moisturizer, sadly, it doesn’t work that way. Mixing a serum with any other products cuts the efficacy of the serum. Pressing a serum into your skin will garner the best results. Let’s get in to what kind of serum you should use and at what age you should start using it.


It’s likely that you won’t need to start exploring different serums until your reach your late twenties. This is a good time to incorporate a serum containing Vitamin C, resveratrol, and ferulic acid. Vitamin C helps increase collagen production and has antioxidant properties. Reservatrol is a polyphenol antioxidant found naturally in red grapes, nuts, and berries. It is particularly useful in protecting against UVB damage and increasing the effectiveness of your sunscreen throughout the day. Ferulic Acid is a hydroxycinnamic acids that helps fight free radicals.


Now is the time you want to get one step ahead of your wrinkles. You’ll want to use serums that target anti-aging containing ingredients such as Vitamin A, malic acid, and Coenzyme Q-10. Vitamin A is a good source of retinol which helps to reduce wrinkles by boosting collagen and elastin. Malic Acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) found naturally in apples that helps restore a youthful glow promoting collagen formation and helping to even the skin tone. Coenzyme Q-10 (or CQ-10) also promotes collagen production and is an antioxidant.


This is around the time our skin begins to get drier. Look for serums fortified with hyaluronic acid, vitamin Eniacinamide, and ceramides. Hyaluronic acid is the great hydrator that is found in most skin care products. As a serum it really helps to retain moisture in the skin due to its high humectant properties. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects the skin from free radicals. You can actually reverse the visible signs of aging with niacinamide. Derived from niacin (also known as vitamin B3), this antioxidant prevents Trans Epidermal Water Loss (TEWL) and restores the skin’s elasticity. Ceramides help form the skin’s protective barrier, lock in moisture, and protect against sun damage.


If you’re experiencing some hyperpigmentation look for serums containing kojic acid, bearberry, lactic acid, or licorice root. For breakouts you’ll want a serum that contains salicylic acid, zinc, and retinol. If your skin is super sensitive look for ingredients like aloe, chamomile, and lavender.

When you visit your esthetician, it’s likely that they will use a few different serums to treat different problems. Now that you know about serums, book an appointment to learn more about which serum will work best for your specific skin concerns and skin type!

Image Credit: Instagram user @Itsbankhead via Blackhaiirstyles on Tumblr