From application to various active ingredients to the right order in your beauty routine. Here's everything you need to know about skincare serums.
The essential elements of a skincare routine are cleansing, a good moisturizer, and sunscreen. However, if we want to make our care a little more intense, a serum is the type of product that we should undoubtedly resort to. After all, serums are care products that contain a higher concentration of active ingredients with which we can respond to our specific needs in a much more targeted manner. This is exactly why there is such a large selection of products that contain both the best-known ingredients - such as hyaluronic acid or retinol - as well as those that have not yet become well known - such as growth factors or niacinamide.
It can be extremely difficult to make the right choice of serums if you don't have the knowledge. Many questions arise: At what age should we start incorporating serums into our routine? When exactly should we use them? How do I apply a serum correctly and what is the difference from a normal moisturizer?
Elena Ramos, pharmacist, an expert in dermo-cosmetics and co-director of The Secret Lab, reveals the secret of serums.
Anyone who thinks that serum with vitamin C and a moisturizer with the same active ingredient are the same thing is wrong. As Elena Ramos explains, "the perfect synergy for healthy and beautiful skin lies in the use of serum and cream in a constant and complementary manner. Each fulfills its own function and has properties that you need to know in order to use both products correctly".
When asked what the difference between the two products is, the expert for dermo-cosmetics replied that "the size of the particles in the serum is smaller than that of creams, which means that it has a higher concentration of bio-elements and active ingredients that penetrate deeper layers of the skin ( Creams, in contrast, stay on the surface (epidermis) of the skin because they are made up of more concentrated emulsions that take more time to be absorbed, as they mainly have a moisturizing function and a higher concentration of oily, less watery Have components ".
This difference is clearly evident in the texture of these two products, because the cream is usually denser than the serum, as the latter "is characterized by the fact that it is liquid and light," confirms the expert. And precisely because of the ability to penetrate deeper into the skin, the specialist emphasizes that after the application it is always important to complete the routine with another product such as a cream. Otherwise, the epidermis would be unprotected. She also points out that serums never include sunscreen in their formula, as there should always be another step after application.
A serum and a cream with the same active ingredient are not mutually exclusive, on the contrary: Using two products with the same active ingredient increases the effect. Ramos explains: "In a serum that contains hyaluronic acid, for example, this active ingredient will be formulated in smaller particle size than in a hyaluronic acid cream. So if you want a very specific effect on your skin, you should use a serum: special Serums with peptides, hyaluronic acid, and shea butter are nourishing; if you need luminosity, take a vitamin C. The serum provides your skin with active ingredients that you need for a targeted result and intensifies the effect of the cream, whose main function it should be to moisturize the epidermis and protect it from external factors ".
As mentioned earlier, the serum should usually be the step before the moisturizer. The order of the products would be cleansing, toner, serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen (the latter of course only when it is daytime), whereby this ritual can be supplemented by more or fewer steps, such as an eye cream or a face spray.
The application may vary depending on the product. In fact, there are some brands that have developed their own specific way. In general, however, you can take a few drops of the product and spread it on your face and neck. If you have a serum with a dropper, you can apply the drops (three or four at most) directly to the face and neck.
According to the expert, there is no fixed age at which we should start using serums. Rather, it depends on the condition of our skin. For example, a 15 year old with acne should use a serum rich in hyaluronic acid to deeply moisturize the skin and avoid the side effects of anti-acne treatments. When it comes to anti-aging serums with active ingredients like vitamin C, 25 is a good age to start using, as this is where the synthesis of collagen and elastin in our skin begins to decline.
The age of the skin depends largely on the care we have given it over the years - use of sunscreen, the right products, balanced diet - but we can take additional measures at any point in time. Expert Elena Ramos recommends starting the use of hyaluronic acid to hydrate the deep layers of the skin from the age of 20. At 30, it's time to start preventing and treating expression lines. Vitamin C is particularly suitable for this. From your mid-30s and 40s, you should use retinol (vitamin A) to stimulate the cell renewal of your skin. DMAE is an unbeatable firming and firming agent that is very suitable for people aged 50 and over. Later on, growth factors, which are necessary to promote collagen and elastin synthesis, as well as tissue densification, are particularly beneficial.
While we have to take our skin type into account when choosing a suitable cleanser, a facial toner, a moisturizer, or even a sunscreen - whether it is dry, mixed, oily, or particularly sensitive - according to Elena Ramos, we can focus entirely on the active ingredient with serums.
According to the expert, it depends on the active ingredients that are included in the formula. We can use certain ingredients during the day and others at night in order to achieve the greatest possible effect. We should always make sure that the serums are a safe combination for our skin. "There is an infallible, effective, and very simple formula: vitamin C with sunscreen in the morning and retinol at night," says Elena Ramos. The rest can be used in the morning and at night, although the time of application usually decides. DMAE, for example, achieves an immediate tightening effect, so it is usually applied in the morning to "show off" the tightened skin. And at night, when the skin is repairing itself, the best time would be to apply growth factors ".
Here you will find a selection of serums with different active ingredients: