What Is A Serum and Why Do I Need One?

In response to my 9th Blogiverary Giveaway it was apparent that you, my readers want to know more about skincare for the over 40 and 50 crowd. So, I thought you might be interested in learning a bit more about serums. We beauty bloggers sometimes assume that everyone knows about anti-aging products and how to use them, but skincare these days can be so confusing! I will try to demystify serums for you today.

First–everyone over 40 should be using a serum in their daily skincare routine. I know that sounds like a bold statement, but trust me, serums are one of the most effective anti-aging products in your arsenal against aging! The type of serum you choose will depend on your particular skincare concerns. Serums are often compared to moisturizers, but they are very different. “Moisturizers are like going to the gym, while serums are like taking your vitamins, giving a boost to your overall skin health and making all the other products you use more effective.” says master makeup artist Carola Myers, founder of Carola Myers Makeup & Hair Artists.

What is it?  In the world of skincare, a serum is a liquid formulation. It is a targeted treatment that is applied topically to the area to be treated. Typically, serum is the most potent of the products in a line and is made up of smaller molecules that can penetrate deeply into the skin and deliver a very high concentration of active ingredients. Adding a serum to your skincare routine will give you the most bang for your buck and can make the biggest improvement to your skin.

What does it do?  A good serum can reduce fine lines, brighten, firm, fade dark spots and provide deep hydration. Serums have the highest concentration of active ingredients that you can get without a prescription so you WILL get results. Most serums have a thin consistency similar to a gel, however, they can be as thin as water.

When Do I Use It? Serums are meant to be used after cleansing and toning and before moisturizerAs a general rule, serums that are protective and preventative are often used in the daytime because they are loaded with antioxidants while those that are repairing or exfoliating are usually used in the evening to restore the skin while you sleep. However, I use my serums both in the morning and evening.

Which Serum Is Right For My Skin? Last week I discussed skincare ingredients in this post- Anti-Aging Ingredients A to Z. Refer to that list to find the correct ingredients for your skin issues. For example, acne or oily skin should look for a serum with salicylic acid to exfoliate and unclog pores, dry skin can benefit from a serum with hyaluronic acid, those with dark spots may prefer a serum with Vitamin C.

Here are a few serums I’ve tried and recommend:

Hydration: StriVectin Active Infusion Youth Serum, MDSUN Super Hydration B Serum, CeraVe Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Firming: TATCHA Luminous Deep Hydration Firming Serum, Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate, Reviva Labs Shop 

Dark Spots & Uneven Skin Tone: DERMADoctor Kakadu C Vitamin C & Ferulic Acid, OZNaturals Vitamin C Serum, Vitabrid Anti-Aging Serum, MyChelle Perfect C Serum

Exfoliating/Smoothing: Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Skin Perfecting Liquid, StriVectin Overnight Resurfacing Concentrate

Wrinkles/Fine Lines: Paula’s Choice Resist Wrinkle Repair Retinol Serum, RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Serum

Good serums don’t have to break the bank, look for drugstore brands like Neutrogena, L’Oreal, Reviva Labs, CeraVe and DermaE. Just remember to look at the list of ingredients and make sure they have a good amount of the actives.

I hope this helps to get you started adding a serum to your skincare. If you have questions or need recommendations, email me!

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  1. my skin color has become darker afte the birth of my children.i also have a dry skin what would be the best serum for me?

  2. excellent post! For me, the title should be changed to read “Why do I need 20 of them?” 😉

  3. tara pittman says

    I love my serums for those pesky fine lines. I want to keep my skin young looking as long as possible.

  4. Lola Seicento says

    this is such a great post, Cindy! I love serums, and have so many different types from which to choose. I use them every single day!

  5. Ha! I have heard about serums SO MUCH but I have actually NEVER KNOWN what it was! SO THANK YOU for this!

  6. I love that you’re sharing the importance of serums. I started using serums maybe 5 years ago and really swear by them!

  7. sandy weinstein says

    I use is clinical serums and have been using them for a long time. expensive but good.

  8. I use Drunk Elephant Framboos Glycolic serum, I love it

  9. There is nothing like a serum. I use them daily and often layer them. My favorite is IT Cosmetics Bye Bye but I use so many more. Great article.

  10. Too often sera and their properties are underestimated. I do not hide in the house to have many and many different types!

  11. Chelle Dizon says

    I am sometimes confuse on what product should use on my skin. I learned a lot about serums on your blog. Thanks so much!

  12. Brittany Bertolozzi-Vantrease says

    This is great advice because I honestly didn’t know! Thanks for sharing!

  13. Jesusa Gilliam says

    Thank you for sharing. I’ve noticed dark spots on my forehead, I’ll be looking for serums with vitamin C in them.

  14. Latebylattes says

    I love serums! I have a few in my daily skincare routine, but vit e is a must have.