It used to be that our daily beauty routines were relatively simple and used only a few products. A cleanser, a moisturiser and perhaps an exfoliator would be all that was needed. However, these days we seem to be confronted by an avalanche of products, from masks to facial serums.

The best facial serums for beginners promise many benefits for plump, smooth and youthful skin. But what are facial serums exactly and should you be using them regularly?

What is Facial Serum?

Facial serum, and serum in general is a type of skin care product that is water-based and is highly-concentrated with ingredients that deliver strong results. These serums contain powerful ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, retinol or vitamin C, either with one key ingredient, or a combination of two or more powerful ingredients. These small molecules that can easily enter the skin in order to deliver superior benefits, rather than simply sticking to the surface as is the case with certain beauty products. This allows serums to bring highly-concentrated doses of beneficial molecules directly to the skin.

Serums typically have a light, liquid-like texture as opposed to heavy creams and lotions that stick to the skin. Instead of being based on heavy ingredients such as shea butter and jojoba oil that are common in creams and lotions, they use lighter, synthetic substances such as silicone or glycerine. Different serums can have various benefits depending on the ingredients they contain. Different serums are highly effective in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, minimising dark spots, managing acne, or boosting hydration.

Benefits of Face Serums

Serums can have a wide range of benefits for the skin of the face. The exact advantages of each serum vary depending on the exact ingredients, however, in general serums with their concentrated and targeted ingredients can be highly beneficial.

Many serums have antioxidants such as vitamin A, C and E that reduce inflammation and help to manage the signs of ageing. Another common ingredient are retinols that create a smooth, even skin tone. The best serums have a high concentration of hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, as well as botanicals and antioxidants.

These ingredients can help to minimise wrinkles, fine lines, pigmentation, redness and other skin problems. The targeted nature of serums and the way that they can penetrate the skin means that they can address these issues much more effectively than topical creams or lotions.

Serums are particularly beneficial for people with dry skin. Serums are among the best ways to hydrate the skin, having more powerful moisturising properties than even the most expensive creams and moisturisers. But penetrating the deeper layers of the skin, serums can moisturise it from the inside, providing deep, lasting effects that make the skin moist and plump.

These powerful moisturising effects also make facial serums ideal for slowly and reducing the signs of ageing. Serums often contain antioxidants like Vitamin C, grape seed extract and pomegranate extract. By delivering these antioxidants directly to all layers of the skin, this can rein in free radicals and reduce the signs of ageing.

Another common benefit of facial serum is that they can help to manage acne and repair scarring in the skin. The anti-inflammatory ingredients in facial serums such as aloe vera extract, zinc, arnica and goldenseal are effective in repairing damage to the skin and balancing the immune system, which in turn reduces scarring and acne.

How to Use Serums

Facial serums should be applied directly to clean skin so that the nutrients and active ingredients can so their magic. This means that you should always apply your facial serum directly to the skin after you have cleansed it, but before you apply any other product. The serum will not work so well if there is a barrier of moisturiser, sunscreen, or a layer of dirt and grime between the skin and the product.

Serums work best when applied underneath moisturisers. This allows the serum to deliver the benefits directly to the skin and locks in the beneficial ingredients for maximum effect. After putting your serum on to clean, dry skin, apply a moisturiser or cream over the top.

Potential Side-Effects of Serums

Serums are usually made of natural ingredients that although powerful are generally safe to use. However, because of their high concentration, it is possible that they could irritate the skin so it is important to be careful. If you have sensitive skin, exercise a degree of caution and test a small amount of the serum on your skin to check for any negative reaction before applying it to your whole face.

Possible adverse side effects of facial serums include irritation, dryness and inflammation. However, if used properly and according to the manufacturer’s instructions, people with most skin types will not experience any adverse reactions. If you do notice any adverse side effects after starting to use a facial serum (or indeed any new product) you should stop using the product immediately and visit your doctor or dermatologist for advice. They will be able to recommend the appropriate dosage or an alterative product.