More than your cleanser or moisturizer, who doesn’t love a great effective face serum to whip your skin into shape? With new-fangled ingredients and claims of perfect skin in a bottle, it can be a bit overwhelming choosing a serum. The price points can often be quite intimidating as well. Possibly one of the more frustrating elements is that it takes about 28 days for your skin cells to fully cycle over so you’ll have to commit to one serum for about a month just to see if it actually works. Before you throw up your hands in exasperation, we are here to help with some of the basics for you to find your perfect face potion.
If you want hydrated skin… Definitely go for anything with hyaluronic acid. This stuff basically helps your skin retain moisture by binding water molecules to it and not letting go. Your body naturally produces it to lubricate and cushion joints—it’s your first line of defense against moisture-loss in the body. What’s great about it is that it doesn’t feel like a heavy moisturizer, but it does the work of one. If you’re always prone to dryness, don’t discount facial oils. While not technically serums, oils like rose hip, chia seed, sea buckthorn, and camellia (aka tsubaki) are excellent hydraters that won’t necessarily clog pores.
If you’re searching for a brighter complexion… Lots of things contribute to a dull, uneven, or hyper-pigmented complexion. Sun exposure, poor sleeping habits, smoking, and sometimes genetics (sorry). You do have some control in your hands, though. Vitamin C serums (aka L-ascorbic Acid) are great for brightening since the ingredient contains powerful antioxidants that fight and reverse damage from free radicals that wreck your skin cells. Among the more recent brightening ingredients that are gaining popularity for being super effective is snail mucin. Yes, snail slime. Don’t worry, it feels just like any serum/cream when you find it in skincare and it’s actually very effective at repairing scars, healing any sort of discolored or uneven/blemished spots, and is generally attributed to give skin that glow-from-within. The way it works is that it heals your skin while at the same time fighting bacteria that may be causing breakouts, so your skin cells are able to repair themselves as they turn over, which incidentally can also be sped up with mucin. What you are left with is new glowing skin that’s shed any scar tissue from either acne or other general blemishes.
You’re trying to get a head start on your anti-aging game… There’s nothing wrong with being prepared. And keep in mind that the purpose of anti-aging products isn’t necessarily to turn back time, but rather to slow its effect on your skin. Why age prematurely if you don’t have to? We hope you’re wearing sunscreen daily to prevent that, but otherwise another line of defense could be in your sleep. Nighttime serums are able to use stronger ingredients without the worry of interference from UV rays, plus they’re able to work on your skin while your body can focus on repairing itself as you sleep. Retinols are a good ingredient for acne (generally of the cystic kind) but also plumping up fine lines and wrinkles already forming to stop them in their tracks (if that’s a concern of yours). Nighttime serums generally focus on cell repair and renewal, as well as extra hydration and vitamin-depositing. You may find these serums a bit gloopier and therefore shinier than what you’d be cool with wearing in the daytime anyhow.
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You’re not sure what you need but you just want your skin to look amazing… Okay, so if you’re blessed with “normal” skin that is otherwise unfettered from blemishes aside from the occasional PMS breakout, but you feel like it could be better and you’ve tried everything short of overhauling your diet, a serum could certainly help. But it may not be a magic potion necessarily, since they’re not cure-alls. Including something with glycolic acid or AHAs in it will help to gently slough dead skin cells and prevent them from clogging your pores, leaving you with smooth clear skin and tighter pores. Aloe vera can help reduce redness as well as boost hydration—same goes for rose hip seed oil. Ultimately, great skin is hydrated, free of dead skin and impurities, and even-toned. Many serums try and cover a combo of these things, so just keep an eye out for the ingredient list rather than the marketing description. Anything with licorice (for brightening and anti-inflammatory properties), ceramide or squalene (for strengthening skin cells), collagen (to plump up your skin in general and if you have fine lines) or fermented ingredients, will aid in banishing free radicals, keeping those skin cells chugging along nicely, and boost the moisture levels of your skin.