The Secrets Behind Beauty Serums

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There’s something mysterious about beauty serums. Many wonder exactly what they do, how to use them, and when and where to apply these magical elixirs for optimal results.  


What they do

Facial serums transport molecules deep within our skin to exert beautifying benefits, such as hydrating and nourishing delicate areas. Popular ingredients include antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, and botanical agents for anti-aging, hydration, brightening, and beyond. A serum containing vitamins C, A, and E and resveratrol, for instance, fights free radicals that damage cells due to oxidative stress from UV rays and environmental toxins.

How to use serums

It’s best to apply just three to four drops of serum after washing your face and before using moisturizer and/or makeup. Designed to quickly disperse active ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids, retinol (a derivative of vitamin A), enzymes from plant or fruit extracts, and citric acid for exfoliation, each serum blend usually serves a specific purpose and skin type. It’s best to layer no more than two serums, starting with the thinnest, for best absorption.

Where and when to apply

Apply facial serums to your cheeks, forehead, and chin and/or under your eyes to help prevent discoloration, wrinkles, oxidative damage, and dehydration. Choose a formula geared to your specific needs, such as plumping up the delicate area beneath your eyes. Skin specialists generally recommend using anti-pigmentation and antioxidant serums, such as those containing vitamin C, which becomes less effective when exposed to light, in the morning. Use hydrating serums during the day. Apply anti-aging serums in the evening to assist overnight skin repair. Those with especially sensitive skin may want to try serums containing bakuchiol, a plant-based alternative to retinol that stimulates collagen production, or mandelic acid in lieu of glycolic and salicylic acids. 

When you crave something stronger than cool compresses, cucumbers, or caffeinated tea bags to reduce under-eye puffiness, consider facial serums. Or try hydrating serums to soothe dry skin in lieu of natural almond or coconut oil.