The case for adding a serum to your skincare regime

Serum, oils, peels, masks. There are so many different types of skin care products nowadays that it can get confusing to know what everything does. Then you have to decipher if your skin type is suitable, what order to apply them or if you can afford the added cost in the first place. All resulting in women sticking to the same beauty ritual because hey, if it ain’t broke, right?

We also try our best not to overcomplicate things because it simply won’t get done if it’s too laborious. However, out of all the new products full of promise on the market, there is a new step in our regime that is sticking around for good- the serum. We’ve been using Dermalogica Biolumin-C Serum for 6 weeks and have noticed an improvement in skin texture and fine lines. We weren’t using a serum at all previously so this could play a part in seeing good results, but it definitely drew our interest in serums generally. So much so we went directly to Dermalogica Education Manager, Emma Hobson to learn more about the power of such a relatively small amount of fluid.

Dermalogica Biolumin-C Serum $130

 

Why should we add a serum to our beauty regime?
Serums are highly concentrated active products that target specific skin problems such as pigmentation, breakouts, lines, dehydration and sensitivity containing ingredients such as antioxidants, peptides, vitamins and anti-inflammatories. They are designed to target the deeper layers of the skin creating visible, tangible changes within the skin. They work at their optimum when applied on a recently exfoliated skin.

Serums absorb readily into the skin and act quickly resulting in the majority of the time with a visible and tangible response from the skin. Serums can come in various consistencies, some are very watery, some a very light creamy gel, some are in an oil base. Each is created to target specific depths of the skin and thus are made accordingly with the corresponding ingredients. Serums contain a unique set of ingredients each targets a specific skin condition and need and are chosen accordingly.

Is serum more important with age? Is it more important in winter?
Serums are an excellent treatment product at any age, as there are various types of treatments for all skin types and conditions. Generally speaking for all skin types, I love lightweight and hyaluronic acid-based serums that give a massive injection of moisture to the skin, fantastic for plumping and smoothing out the dehydration lines.

As we age, look for ingredients such as retinol, considered to be one of the best performing ingredients to effectively address the signs of premature ageing and photodamaged skin. The result of which is that the skin becomes much denser, plumper, more hydrated with reduced wrinkle depth, improved skin tone and an overall healthier, luminous glow.

In winter, keep the skin hydrated using lots of moisture boosters (serums) and don’t overdo it with a thick moisturiser to try to compensate for the extra dryness. You can certainly use a slightly richer moisturiser to nourish the skin or use a few drops of an oil serum at night or in your moisturiser in the day, but avoid going too ‘heavy’. Using a night time oil-based serum to provide extra nourishment and moisturisation fortified with vitamins and peptides. I like argan, rosehip seed and rose oil, blended with essential oils and combined with peptides as they can deeply replenish lost oils and give lacklustre skin a fresh, dewy appearance.

Will it cause clogging if I have oily skin?
Generally speaking, manufacturers avoid any comedogenic ingredients (meaning they clog pores). Therefore you will be pretty safe knowing the serum product you are applying won’t block your skin (unless it has other ingredients that can cause breakouts!).
All skin types can use a serum, it is just dependant on the ingredients and the frequency.

Do I still need a moisturiser? What role does moisturiser play alongside serum?
Please don’t skip your moisturiser. All skin types need a moisturiser to protect them from the environment and keep them hydrated and smooth. A moisturiser keeps the skin’s protective barrier intact, which helps prevent increased skin sensitivity and bacterial invasion as well as keeping the skin protected from the effects of the environment.

While moisturisers act as a hydrating, protective barrier, serums are generally more potent, concentrated treatment products designed to work deeper layers of the skin and address specific concerns.

What is the recommended order of application?
The skin loves and responds well to the layering of products as you can get a higher percentage of actives working in tandem and hitting the ‘sweet spot’ within the skin where they work most effectively. A lot will depend on the consistency and function of the product as to which goes on first (and the manufacturer’s instructions). Rule of thumb is you’d apply the most liquidy/watery consistency first, followed by the oilier, denser or heavier ones. E.g. toner or essence, liquid serum, light eye gel or cream, oil serum, then moisturiser and sunscreen. Some sunscreens are recommended to be applied directly on the skin first after toning.

Are there different serums for different skin types or functions?
If you have a healthy functioning skin you may only need to apply a single serum, often the common challenge for most skins is dehydration so a hydrating serum is the preferred choice. However, if you have multiple concerns serums can be patchworked over the skin, some can even be layered to treat the skin accordingly.

What is the difference between a serum and an oil?
Traditionally, serums are water-based, however, today they can come in various consistencies – some are very watery, some a very light creamy gel, some are in an oil base. So there is some overlap between the two. Generally speaking an oil will have a larger molecular structure than a water-based serum so won’t penetrate as deeply, however, they both serve their own purpose in a skincare routine.

Face oils are simple to use and great for everyone. You have a few options such as a cleansing oil that powers through dirt, grime and even stubborn makeup, or a lightweight facial oil or serum packed with vegetable oils, plant extracts, peptides and vitamins that can be used am or pm to help strengthen, moisturise and protect the skin.

Using a night-time oil-based serum to provide extra nourishment and moisturisation. I like argan, rosehip seed and rose oil, blended with essential oils and combined with peptides as they can deeply replenish lost oils and give lacklustre skin a fresh, dewy appearance.

Emma Hobson: Education Manager for the International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica
Emma Hobson: Education Manager for the International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica

Read more professional tips like advice from Ella Bache on what to change in your skin care after turning 50.

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