What Exactly Is a Face Serum?

If you don’t already use a face serum in your skincare routine, now is the time to add one. Meant to be applied after you wash your face but before you moisturize, face serums deliver active ingredients better than other products. That makes face serums a powerful tool for fighting issues like dry skin or wrinkles.

The Benefits of Face Serums

I asked Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas Salon and Skincare Collection, to break down the benefits of face serums. She listed a few:

  • Face serums are more concentrated.
  • Face serums can penetrate better.
  • Face serums are lighter in weight than a cream or lotion.
  • Face serums are more universal. Any skin type can use a serum.
  • Face serums can be used alone in the summer with just sun protection on top.

Vargas said that the ingredients in her Rejuvenating Serum line (which gets a low-hazard rating of 1 from EWG) can target various concerns. “It is made from argan oil for vitamin C, jojoba oil for balancing oil production, olive oil for skin softening, neroli oil for better circulation, and rosehips oil for environmental protection,” she explained. The result: “it improves your skin’s ability to heal and improves the texture of the skin.”

The Proper Way to Use a Face Serum

Now that you know the benefits of face serums, how can you make sure you get the most out of yours? In the morning, apply your face serum before your moisturizer and sun protection. Vargas also suggested using a serum before bed. “Sleeping with a great serum on the skin really helps the skin to rejuvenate and repair so much faster,” she told me. 

Apply your face serum before your moisturizer.

For either day or night, try combining a serum with a cream. “It will give everyone an extra layer of moisture and protection against dryness,” Vargas said. It’s also a good idea to read the directions of your face serum, for information on frequency of use.

What to Look for in a Face Serum

The ingredient list holds the key to an effective serum. “A serum made with organic ingredients tends to assimilate into the skin better and has a lot of vitamins and minerals to help keep the skin balanced all day,” Vargas told me. “Look for one containing green ingredients like chlorophyll, which will hydrate and oxygenate to bring that glow back,” she continued.

“A serum made with organic ingredients tends to assimilate into the skin better.”

According to Vargas, you may want something different for day and night. “For a day serum, you want to use something that is hydrating under makeup, but also oxygenates. I like using one that contains hyaluronic acid because it holds 1000 times its weight in water.”  She also said serum that contains chlorophyll will help increase the lymphatic system and de-puff. And ingredients like argan oil or vitamins A, C and E can increased protection against cell mutation from pollution and sun.

In addition to Joanna Vargas Rejuvenating Serum, I like Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum with konjac root, hyaluronic acid, and ferulic acid.

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