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What is a Serum?

The word “serum” has been buzzing around the beauty and health space for awhile now, and I love that people are finally catching on to the magic of this skincare essential.

What is a Serum?

Serums are water-based skincare products with a thin gel or lotion-like consistency that are packed with a high concentration of top performing ingredients. Serums are so effective because they are made up of small molecules that can easily pass through the skin’s outermost layer and penetrate deeply, delivering a high concentration of active ingredients directly where the skin can put them to use. They are essentially like a powerful shot for the skin.

Serums are not oils or moisturizers. They contain no emollients, which means there is nothing to interfere with their concentrated ingredients as they reach the skin.

Benefits of Serums

The ingredients in a serum work to address one or several skin concerns, from clearing blemishes to treating dryness to fading dark spots to firming skin. Serums can also help with cellular turnover, preventing signs of aging on the skin.

As with most skincare products, serums are not a one size fits all product, and their benefits vary depending on ingredient. Here are a few of my favorite ingredients:

  • Retinol (used in my Perfect Change Serum): helps repair sun damage, reduces hyperpigmenation and smooths out wrinkles
  • Hyaluronic Acid (used in my Hyaluronic Plus): hydrates the skin and plumps up fine lines making them less visible
  • Vitamin C (used in C Glow): increases collagen production, enhances skin’s repair process and reduces inflammation, while brightening the skin and improving hyperpigmentation
  • Salicylic Acid (used in my X5 Serum): clears and prevents blemishes
  • Glycolic acid (also used in my X5 Serum): gently exfoliates and lightens discoloration
  • Zinc: clears and prevents blemishes and regulates oil production (used in Hyaluronic Plus)
  • Vitamin E: protects cells from oxidative damage (used in C Glow)

If you have a specific skincare grievance, there is likely a serum that can address it. Serums can treat almost every skincare concern imaginable! What I love most about serums is that they can be layered. The Serum Sampler is the perfect place to start if you want to begin layering some of these clean, potent, and effective ingredients into your lineup.


So, how do I use a serum?

While using a cleanser, moisturizer and sun protection is still the foundation of a solid skincare lineup, serums are a great addition in the morning, evening or both. Personally, I use at least 1 active serum underneath my moisturizer in the morning and night. (You could’ve guess that right?!)

After cleansing your skin, apply a dime-size amount of serum (or less) to your skin. Less is more with serums! Sometimes their powerful ingredients can irritate your skin if applied too heavily.

Serums should be applied before moisturizers. While some serums contain moisturizing ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, that does not make them moisturizers in the traditional sense. Moisturizers create a protective barrier over the skin that prevents the skin’s moisture from evaporating, and it keeps environmental irritants and debris out. Serums, on the other hand, don’t contain the protective properties that creams do.

If you are using multiple serums, make sure you layer them from thinnest to thickest consistency for best results.

Serums should be always be stored in a cool dry space.

Happy Layering!

Dr. Zoe

Shop serums from Perfect Face today.

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