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  5. What Is A Face Serum & How Does It Work?

Are you looking for a product that offers the best nourishment for your skin? Serum can be the magic potion to add to your skin care routine.

Cleansing, toning and moisturizing have been part of our routines for ages now. But it's time you make a place for serums in your skincare regime to flaunt healthy, radiant, spot-free skin.

In this article, we tell you why you should start using them and how to use them to derive best results.

What Expert Says

“Face serums are transparent or translucent forms of topical application. They have superior spreadability & absorption and are designed specially for enhanced active delivery."

Abhisikta Hati, Senior Product Development Executive, SkinKraft

What Is Face Serum?

Face serums are lightweight formulations that contain active ingredients and can be applied to your skin directly. They are usually clear, gel-based or liquid, and less thicker than moisturizers. Serums are designed to hydrate, protect, and nourish your skin [1] and weed out several skin concerns such as:

  • Anti-aging
  • Dark spots and hyperpigmentation
  • Acne and clogged pores
  • Dehydration
  • Uneven skin tone, redness and sensitivity

Is Serum A Lightweight Moisturizer?

Serums tend to moisturize your skin and can be called lightweight moisturizers. For maximum benefit of hydration, use a barrier repair moisturizer along with your face serum.

In the words of Abhisikta Hati, Senior Product Development Executive at SkinKraft, “Face serums are transparent or translucent forms of topical application. These are mainly liquids which can be applied with a dropper. Serums have superior spreadability & absorption and are designed specially for enhanced active delivery. Whereas the main principle of moisturizers is to hydrate & repair skin with a suitable combination of humectants and ceramides.”

Function Of A Face Serum

Serum delivers powerful ingredients directly into the skin. That's because it's made up of smaller molecules with high penetration power that sinks deep into the skin unlike heavy creams and delivers a high concentration of active ingredients. Due to the higher concentration, you may see visible results in a shorter period.

Some of the primary functions of a face serum include:

  • Provides hydration, antioxidants and a concentrated dose of nutrients to the skin
  • Soothes sensitive skin
  • Shields the skin from free radicals and damage
  • Lightweight, gets easily absorbed into the skin
  • Improves the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, etc. [2]

How To Use A Face Serum?

You can apply serum twice daily - once in the morning after cleansing your face and once at night before moisturizing.

  • Take a thin layer of serum of your choice (about a pea-sized amount) into your palm. If your serum comes with a dropper, then nothing like it! You can control the quantity you use and add a drop or two more if need be [3].
  • Spread it evenly between your palms gently.
  • Dab the serum all over your neck and face using small, gentle motions.
  • Wait for a few minutes. Let the serum penetrate your skin.
  • Continue with your usual skincare routine.


Serums contain potent ingredients that might irritate your skin, especially if it's sensitive. Hence use it within the limit. Also, do a patch test before using.

What Is The Best Face Serum?

There are plenty of face serums available in the market that target skin concerns like fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, skin dullness and so on. Choose a serum that contains ingredients suitable for your skin type.

  • If you have acne-prone skin, look for serums that contain Vitamin C to increase collagen production, retinol that refuses inflammation, zinc that calms irritated skin, salicylic acid that unclogs pores, etc.
  • In case you’ve dry skin, opt for serums containing Vitamin E that protects skin cells from oxidative damage, glycolic acid that gently exfoliates, or hyaluronic acid that retains moisture.
  • For dull skin, look for antioxidants like green tea extract that fight free radicals.
  • If you have a normal skin type, you can go for a glycolic acid-based serum that traps the moisture in your skin and keeps it rejuvenated.

How To Choose The Right Face Serum?

Before choosing a face serum consider this,

Skin Type - Be aware of your skin type and the ingredients that go into your face serum. You do not want ingredients that dry up your skin if your skin type is already dry.

Skin Issue - What are you trying to address with a face serum? Is it the fine lines around your mouth or the dark spots that are a result of sun exposure?

Always look for ingredients like the following:

Hydrators such as ceramides are like the cement of the skin and prevent water from escaping.

Antioxidants like vitamin C and grape seed extract help protect against sun damage and fight the signs of aging.

Hyaluronic acids can do wonders in treating dehydrated skin. They make sure that the skin doesn't lose any of its natural moisture and thus stay replenished.

Anti-inflammatories, including zinc, arnica and goldenseal, soothe redness and prevent inflammatory cell damage.

Retinol-based serums are ideal for those with acne-prone skin. You can use such serums to address concerns such as fine lines, wrinkles, etc.

 Plant-based ingredients like licorice helps in skin lightening and helps you get rid of those dark spots.

Top 5 Benefits Of Face Serum

1. You will experience an improvement in your skin texture due to collagen content. Your skin will become firm, smooth, and plump besides looking young.

2. You will witness lesser spots, pimples, and scars with regular use of a serum.

3. Size of open pores is reduced thus leading to lesser blackheads and whiteheads.

4. Under eye serums reduce puffiness, dryness, and fine lines around the eyes.

5. When you use serum, you will notice less inflammation, dryness, redness, etc. There will be lesser breakouts too thus making your skin feel fresh and moisturized.

How To Get The Most Out Of A Serum?

Less is more: Don't apply too much serum as they contain potent ingredients. Applying excess quantities can irritate the skin.

Cleanse first: The powerful ingredients in face serums might stick to dirt and dead skin. Thus to let it get absorbed properly into the skin, make sure to cleanse your face thoroughly before applying a serum. Use tepid water to wash your face. Hot water can make your skin sweat, therefore, restricting absorption while cold water can close pores thus blocking the goodness of the serum.

Apply to damp skin: For dry skin, apply serum when it is still damp because the moisture makes it easy for penetration [4]. For sensitive skin, allow your skin to dry before applying serum. Doing so will slow down the penetration of serum which is more likely to lead to irritation.

Avoid colors and fragrances: Serums are packed with potent ingredients. The extra fragrances and colors interfere with absorption of the product.

Don't apply serums after moisturizers: Moisturizers or face oils are thick skincare products that seal in other skincare products you apply before them. Serums on the other hand are lightweight and can't penetrate the barrier created by heavy moisturizers or face oils. So applying them before a moisturizer does no good to your skin.

What Is The Best Time To Apply Face Serum?

Face serum can be applied during the day and at night. Apply a serum after cleansing your face and pat drying. If you are applying serum at night, make sure not to layer too much. Night cream or moisturizer forms a heavy layer. So it is important to apply either a serum or a moisturizer.

Ideal Age To Start Using Face Serums

Serums contain powerful ingredients that can have an impact on the metabolism of cells. Face serums can turn out to be way too active for younger skin. The ideal age to start using face serums would be late 20s and early 30s. This is the age at which the first signs of aging appears.

You can continue using face serums till the age of 50+. Including a face serum in your skincare regimen will not only enhance your skin but also protect it. After all, you want to protect the largest organ of your body - the skin.

How Long Does It Take For Face Serum To Work?

Face serums contain active ingredients in concentrated amounts. The time to show desired results depends on the type of serum. Ideally, it takes 4-6 weeks to see visible results.

What Is The Difference Between Serum And Face Oil?

Serum is water-based and the potent ingredients penetrate deeper in the skin.

Face oils, on the other hand, work on the surface of the skin to retain moisture. They have a thicker and oilier texture. Face oils take much longer to sink into the skin.

Face oils are usually for dry skin. But there are a lot of face oils that are non-comedogenic and can be used for oily skin too.

Wrapping Up

Face serums benefit your skin in several ways and help you manage many of your skin woes like large pores, wrinkles, dryness, etc. You can add this wonder elixir in your skincare routine to achieve flawless skin. There are many choices of serum available so choose one based on your skin type and needs. If you’re not sure if a face serum is right for you, or which type to use, consult a dermatologist.

Begin By Knowing Your Skin

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