By Malena Ogryzlo-Harbers
From the creams to masks and peels, there is a multitude of products promising to smooth, tighten and hydrate your skin. But no matter which products we choose, one mantra applies: we all want results – fast. Enter serums. They are quickly becoming the beauty weapon of choice among A-listers to help boost the benefits of their daily creams. Here, we guide you through serum territory.
Serums are packed with active ingredients. Just as face creams can be anti-aging, hydrating or protecting, serums offer targeted solutions to skin-care problems such as age spots, dehydration, diminished collagen or fine lines. “Serums are developed to deliver the active ingredients precisely where they are needed,” says Dr. Daniel Maes, vice-president of research and development at Estee Lauder. “As opposed to a cream where the texture and scent is very important, serums are formulated to keep the active molecules stabilized and to deliver them properly regardless of how the formula feels.”
Having been around for more than 15 years, there are serums for just about every skin type. Many contain antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E as well as skin-plumping peptides, hyaluronic acid and even collagen. “Serums are made up of either an oil or water base to facilitate the penetration of the concentrated ingredient into the skin,” says Maes. “They don’t contain wax or lipids, which slow down the penetration of ingredients, so they are also lighter than a cream and absorbed quickly.” Because they penetrate the skin immediately, serums are an ideal choice for a non-invasive beauty boost.
Choose a serum that addresses your particular skin concerns rather than fuss over whether it’s an oil or water base, recommends Toronto-based dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett. Be sure to always apply serum to clean skin, on a daily or twice-daily basis, prior to moisturizing. If you’re treating age spots or fine lines, serums can be used as a spot treatment, rather than over the entire face.
There is a second group of products vying for counter space alongside serums: solutions. “They are like a serum on steroids,” says Kellett. While serums are made en masse, solutions are handmade in small batches by pharmacists, and therefore, tend to be much more potent. And while serums can contain up to 20 ingredients, a solution is much purer, using only three ingredients. While a solution is much harder to find over the counter, they typically contain high amounts of anti-aging ingredients, such as vitamin C or vitamin A.