If you ask many, they will say nothing is as confusing as the term serum, particularly in the context of skincare. If you ask me, I will tell you nothing is as intimidating as skincare products that come in little packages. It’s as if they hold the world within. Its either you get it or you don’t. If you don’t, it’s likely that you will end up damaging your skin, or wasting your money – because such products are usually quite expensive.
That’s why, in this article, we shall breakdown everything you need to know about facial serums so you can refine your experience as you go about your skincare journey.
- Serums Vs Ampoule
First things first, serums and ampoules are not the same even though they’re often paired in articles and when people are talking about skincare. Yes, both come in tiny dropper bottles and both carry active ingredients with a high potency yet the two are quite different. While serums are thought to have a more viscous consistency and with active ingredients, ampoules are simply higher concentrated versions of serums. Which one to buy comes down to your skin conditions and your budget. Check out the ultimate Korean skincare glossary and skincare guide.
- Serums are for everyone, not just mature skin
Traditionally, serums used to be highly concentrated treatment products designed to address ageing issues. Nowadays there’s a variety of facial serums each made to address different skin issues.
So why should you consider it? A serum has low molecular and thus can penetrate the skin easily to deliver the nutrients infused in it. For this reason, it is considered more effective and fast in addressing any skin concern than a moisturiser or a cream. Therefore, whether you have oily skin, dry skin, mature skin, sensitive skin or concerns like redness, acne, fine wrinkles or dullness, all you need is to find a serum that can address your skin concerns and use it consistently.
- What if you don’t have any skin concerns
Hydration is the genesis of great skin. If your skin is flawless and it doesn’t have any issues, use an all-purpose or a hydrating serum like the Innisfree green tea seed serum. It will keep your skin nourished and hydrated. Unlike creams and moisturisers which sit on the skin to trap or create a barrier that prevents moisture loss, serums penetrate deeper into the epidermis delivering nutrients that help your skin stay beautiful from within. In other words, facial serums are a form of preventative skincare that help your skin to stay protected from future skin concerns.
- Water-based vs Oil based facial serums
Perhaps chemistry might’ve not been your favourite subject, but here’s where the knowledge comes in handy. Not to scare you, but different serums contain different ingredients and certain ingredients work better at night than during the day and vice versa.
Oil-based serums are a bit viscous. They take longer to absorb and thus perform better at night. Although they can be used during the day too. On the other hand, water-based serums deliver nutrients such as Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid and therefore they are great to use during the day. This is why you need vitamin E in your skincare routine
If you have dry skin choose water-based serums as they soak fast into the skin. Again water-based serums with ingredients like hyaluronic acid will be suitable since they can deliver extra hydration.
Ironically, if you have oily skin, oil-based serums are most suitable for you. This is because oils melt the lipids and oils on the skin, soaking into areas where water-based serums might not. That doesn’t limit you from using water-based serums though.
Apply water-based serums when its hot and use oil-based serums during the cold season for extra protection.
If your serum has retinoid as an ingredient, use it at night only.
- How to apply and layer facial serums
Cleanse and exfoliate your face before applying the serum. You may use a gentle exfoliator like The Face Shop Jeju Volcanic Lava Pore Scrub Foam or a physical exfoliator like the Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Peel Off Mask.
Dense serums work effectively if you warm them up using your palms before applying. Hence after doing so, spread the serum in circular upward motion and pat for it to absorb into the skin. Wait for a minute, then layer your essence or moisturiser.