Creams, moisturizers, oils, serums, lotions, and potions—today's beauty lovers are spoiled for choice with a plethora of options to add to their skincare regime. While the skin's needs change according to the season, diets, water intake and ageing, it is vital for consumers to find what works best for them at various stages in life to enhance their natural glow and health. It is important to consider your skin type and the concern you would like to address before zeroing in on the serum that will occupy your beauty shelf.
Let's get down to the basics.
What are serums? Are they effective? What ingredients should you look out for depending on your skin concern, and lastly, when should you pivot?
Serums leave out occlusive (airtight) ingredients such as petrolatum or mineral oils that prevent water from evaporating. Moreover, due to their high concentration and potency owing to their smaller molecular composition, it makes serums the most effective way of delivering active ingredients into the skin. So, while moisturizers work on the topmost layer of the skin and are oil-based, serums work below the epidermis and are water-based, packing a stronger punch. Hence, the best serums are known to be power hydrators that are equivalent to eight glasses of water.
Serums are formulated specifically to work on a wide spectrum of skin concerns such as anti-ageing, dark spots and hyperpigmentation, acne, clogged pores, dehydration, uneven skin tone, breakouts, redness, and sensitivity. So let's break it down by skin concern to understand what serum(s) you need.
If you are looking at enhancing skin’s natural glow accompanied with defense against dark spots, wrinkles, pigmentation and sun damage, a power-packed vitamin C serum is your answer. Look out for vitamin C serums that are packed with the best glow boosters and antioxidants such as Japanese mandarin that boosts collagen, Kakadu plum that fights sun damage, ethoxydiglycol and propanediol, which boosts the penetration of vitamin C, Betaine that hydrates, and a tinge of rose extract can go a long way for soothing skin.
If clear, healthy & supple skin is your goal, it is important to address and fight skin concerns that blemish skin’s clarity. A multi-tasking hero, niacinamide (vitamin B3) face serum is the key to radiant skin. Niacinamide is an ingredient that battles blemishes and balances sebum production, thus fighting against the root cause of unclear and acne prone skin. Even better if it’s formulated with a rice ferment filtrate, rich in amino acids, that makes skin bright and firm. The blend of ingredients such as squalane, natural caffeine, and vitamin E can help enhance the clarity boost function, fight free radicals, slow down signs of ageing while keeping the skin hydrated.
To retain youthful, firm and collagen boosted skin, retinol face serum should be your go-to option. A blend of another super ingredient, bakuchiol, can further enhance the performance of retinol as well as counter the retinization effect, irritated, dry and inflamed skin. The wonder extract adds to retinol’s efficacy and slows down the signs of ageing by reducing fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and acne. Given the high potency of retinol, use the serum once a week and build it up to twice or thrice a week once the skin is used to it. Anyone aged 25 or above can start using this serum.
Looking for max hydration? Using hyaluronic acid (HA) face serum lends bounciness and plumpness to the skin owing to its high to low molecular weight that ensures the serum’s penetration deep within the skin to provide the ultimate hydration while also maintaining moisturization levels on the surface. Hyaluronic is found naturally on the dermis of the skin but the serum provides an added dose of HA that prevents damage due to weather, age, eating habits or water intake. It also contains efficacy boosters for deeper absorption, natural humectants that attract and retain water. The serum is also known to soothe skin that is dry or inflamed, leaving it feeling plump, hydrated, and bouncy. The best part is that hyaluronic can be paired with almost any other serum which can help cut out any dry effect that the other serums can cause and keep skin’s hydration levels intact.
Wondering how and when to start using serums? Typically, these serums are suitable for all skin types. Although a patch test is recommended. Women that are over 25 years old should begin their serum journey. Always remember, a well-formulated serum is your skin’s BFF that offers extra help to boost the overall health of your skin.
Sonali Devarkar is formulation scientist at Plum.