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Have your skincare results plateaued, or are you starting to see signs of premature ageing? A facial serum might be the product you need to take your complexion from woe to glow. Targeting everything from wrinkles to pigmentation, acne and redness, facial serums deliver a concentrated dose of skincare ingredients in light, easily absorbed formulas. However, with so many different options on offer, it can be hard to know where to start…


If you’re thinking of upgrading your skincare regime with a facial serum but have more questions than answers, read on. We’ve tackled all your serum queries in our comprehensive article. Welcome to Serum 101.

So...what even is a face serum? Please tell me!

While often containing moisturising ingredients, serums are different from moisturisers, which create a barrier to lock in hydration. Penetrating the skin more deeply, a facial serum delivers a concentrated dose of one or more active ingredients, such as antioxidants and vitamins. This high concentration of beneficial ingredients makes serums particularly effective at targeting specific skin concerns, from recurring redness to wrinkles, dullness or dehydration.


Generally water-based, serums are lighter and thinner than moisturising creams. Their potency means they’re often more expensive; however, you only need to use a small amount to see benefit. With a luxurious, silky texture, serums are also lovely to use, making them a welcome addition to most skincare routines.

What are the benefits of a face serum?


Do you want fewer breakouts, an even skin tone, or a smoother, plumper complexion? Facial serums have a wide range of benefits, including hydrating, brightening, fortifying, exfoliating, soothing and rejuvenating the skin. The specific serum benefit will depend on the active ingredients included in the formula, with Vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and retinol being three of the most popular.


Vitamin C serum benefits


A great all-rounder, a Vitamin C serum delivers all-important antioxidant protection, boosts radiance, and promotes collagen production for a smooth complexion with reduced fine lines and wrinkles. La Roche-Posay’s Pure Vitamin C10 Serum also boasts salicylic acid for enhanced brightening and softening benefits. With Neurosenine to soothe sensitive skin, it is best applied in the morning before sun and pollution exposure.



Hyaluronic acid serum benefits


A serum containing moisture-binding hyaluronic acid will re-plump and hydrate the skin, making it especially beneficial for dry or dehydrated complexions. With a thirst-quenching water-gel formula, La Roche-Posay’s Hyalu B5 Serum contains a duo of pure hyaluronic acids to restore volume, plus soothing Vitamin B5 (panthenol) to fortify the skin’s barrier and diminish ongoing dryness.



Retinol serum benefits


Retinol is the gold-star anti-ageing active, and a retinol serum can help to resurface, repair, and renew the skin. Increasing cellular turnover, it improves skin texture and tone, while fading dark spots and minimising wrinkles and fine lines. As it can increase sun sensitivity, it’s best to use retinol products, such as the Retinol B3 Serum, as part of an evening routine.

What serums are best for sensitive skin?

If you have sensitive skin, you might think that serums aren’t for you – but you’d be wrong. There are plenty of serums with ingredients that benefit sensitive and reactive skin types.


As dryness and sensitivity are often linked, hyaluronic acid can be beneficial. Soothing, barrier-boosting B vitamins including niacinamide (B3) and panthenol (B5) also increase comfort and promote stronger, more resilient skin.


While all La Roche-Posay serums are formulated for maximum efficacy and tolerance in sensitive skin, the Neurosenine-enriched Toleriane Ultra Dermallergo Serum is clinically proven to reduce skin sensitivities in 28 days.


How to properly apply serum?

Serums work best on bare, clean skin, so prep your face by cleansing and removing any makeup. Next, apply 2-3 drops (or a pea-sized amount) of serum to the face, and massage into the skin. It might not sound like much, but serums are concentrated formulas and a little goes a long way! Wait a few minutes, or until your skin is dry to touch, before applying another skincare product.


It’s generally a good idea to follow your serum with a moisturiser to enhance its benefits and lock in moisture. However, this may not be required if you have oily or acne-prone skin.


Using a serum in the AM? Always ensure you follow its application with a high-level broad-spectrum sunscreen, such as those in the Anthelios range. Use Serum + Sunscreen together for a complete and effective anti-ageing regime. 


How to layer serums?


When layering skincare, the general rule of thumb is to apply products from thinnest to thickest, finishing with sunscreen. The same rule applies to serums. If you are applying more than one, apply the serum with the thinnest texture first.


If both serums are of the same consistency, apply your top priority serum first. This will be the one that contains actives to address your most pressing skin issue. Or, if using in the morning, this will usually be an antioxidant serum, such as the Pure Vitamin C10 Serum.


When layering serums, it’s best to leave a few minutes between each layer. This allows each product to be integrated within the epidermis so the skin can uptake what it needs.

How many serums can you use?


When using serums remember that more is not necessarily more. Dermatologists deal with a lot of overly stimulated, reactive skin – and this is often caused by patients using too many ingredients at once. It’s therefore best to layer no more than two serums, morning and/or night, and to ensure you add these gradually.


Introduce one serum at a time, starting with the product that addresses your main skin concern, whether that’s pigmentation, redness, or fine lines. Once your skin is tolerating (and benefiting) from the first serum, you can add another. And if something’s not yielding results? Take it away and try something else.

Serums ingredients to combine with care!


What about layering different actives – which serum ingredients can and can’t mix? We’ve addressed this in detail in our serum layering article. However, these are the essentials you need to know.


While there aren’t definite layering ‘no-no’s’, some ingredients should be combined with care. This is because layering ingredients with similar actions – especially at high percentages – can overstimulate the skin, resulting in redness or irritation.


Take care when using a serum containing a chemical exfoliant such as glycolic acid or salicylic acid, alongside another acid, or retinol. While hydroxy-acids and retinol have different actions, they all enhance cell turnover. To avoid compounding this effect, application may need to be spaced out to different days or time of day.


To start targeting your skin concerns today, check out our range of face serums for sensitive skin.