Face serums are a popular skincare product and a constant topic for debate. While beauty enthusiasts swear by these potent products, skin experts and lovers of minimal skincare will tell you that they are not an absolute compulsion. Having said that, face serums have indeed grown to be liked by many, solely based on the fact that they can be used to target specific skin issues and deliver on their claims flawlessly. There are many benefits to this trendy product, but how exactly do you pick the best serum for your face? We asked a dermatologist and here are our key findings.


1. Benefits of face serum

Benefits of face serum

According to Dr. Sravya C Tipirneni, “The difference between face serums and other skincare staples is that they have a higher percentage of active ingredients. The concentration of active ingredients in serums is almost double, hence they penetrate better into the dermal layer of your skin. Even though they are viscous in nature, they feel light and are free of heavier formulations of molecules that are used in oily creams and moisturisers. If you are looking for collagen rejuvenation, collagen stimulation and adding amazing ingredients like peptides, retinol and plant extracts, serums are the way to go!” As for the many types of face serums, you can choose from, read on!


2. Types of serum for face

Types of serum for face

Now that you are familiar with the benefits of using face serums, here are some of the best types of face serums to choose from...


- Vitamin C face serums

Vitamin C face serums

Vitamin C is one of the best antioxidants available, causes the least amount of allergic reactions in clients and works to fight environmental and free radical damage on your skin. It also has a lightening property, hence can effectively target blemishes, sunspots and acne scars. It works overnight to rejuvenate the skin and brighten the skin, thus can be used as an antioxidant and anti-aging serum, both in one.


- Brightening face serums

Brightening face serums

Brightening serums can contain one, two or a combination of different extracts and molecules depending on what you’re looking for in your skin type. It could contain a combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, ferulic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, kojic acid and many others. These combinations ultimately decrease the production of melanin in the skin and hence lighten it as a result. They can be helpful for you if you have very tanned skin, sunspots, freckles, and ephelides. They are also effective on post-procedural marks, acne scars, pigmentation, and can help give your skin a clear and even-toned look.


- Retinol face serums

Retinol face serums

Retinol serums are particularly used by a certain age group as an anti-aging staple. They are a derivative of vitamin A and are excellent to treat fine lines and wrinkles. They come in different concentrations and need to be slowly and gradually introduced in your skincare routine. Your skin needs to get habituated to a retinol serum, so expecting magical results in a week or two may disappoint you.

Also, jumping headfirst with a high concentration of retinol serum can cause skin reactions. So, consult a dermatologist on how to start using a retinol serum depending on your skin’s response and tolerance of this potent anti-aging molecule.


- Hyaluronic acid face serums

Hyaluronic acid face serums

Hyaluronic acid has become very popular lately. It consists of excellent hydrating and moisturizing properties. It is able to seep into your skin cells and plump them up. It can eliminate the feeling of dehydration in dull and wrinkled skin. HA serums can give you a fresh, glowy and dewy complexion, and work as an excellent moisturiser.

Hyaluronic acid face serums are especially beneficial if you have oily skin and acne-prone skin. Since heavy moisturisers can further clog your pores, HA serums can be used to maintain the essential moisture levels instead.


- Plant or botanical extracts based face serums

Plant or botanical extracts based face serums

Botanical extracts or plant-based serums often include ingredients like green tea, chia seed, glycolic acid (sugarcane) and sometimes even vitamin C (ascorbic acid extracted from lemons). Botanical extract-based serums have a certain advantage over the others - they react less, your skin is more receptive to them and has fewer chemicals in them. However, they might not have as strong lightening, brightening or curative properties as the chemical compositions do.


- AHA + BHA face serums

AHA + BHA face serums

AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) and BHA (beta hydroxy acid) exfoliating serums are very popular with oily and acne-prone skin types. An AHA, like glycolic acid, can help remove blemishes, help shrink open pores, reduce brown spots, decrease tanning, act as a superficial exfoliant, and play the role of an anti-aging agent as well. A BHA on the other hand, like salicylic acid, works to de-clog your pores, removes acne and blackhead/whitehead causing keratin debris from the skin, regulates oil secretions from the sebaceous glands and dries out the skin to help reduce acne and greasiness. AHA + BHA serums also work as a powerful chemical exfoliant to remove the superficial layers of your skin and give it a rejuvenated look.


3. The ideal way of applying face serums

The ideal way of applying face serums

Here are some key things to remember while applying face serums:

  • To ensure maximum absorption, apply your face serum within the first few minutes of cleansing your face.
  • Separate your serums into daytime and nighttime categories.
  • If you have oily skin, apply the serum as your regular moisturiser. If you have dry skin, layer it under your regular moisturiser.
  • Instead of skipping the serum, you can use it as a base under your makeup.
  • For your nighttime serums, make sure you are not layering too many things on top of them as the extracts in them are already very potent.
  • Apply with clean fingers and do not rub them in too much to avoid irritating the skin.

4. Precautions to take while applying face serums

Precautions to take while applying face serums

  • Before starting any new serum, do a patch test first. You can test them either on your neck or your jawline. Observe for 24 to 48 hours for any kind of reaction and only then start using the serum on the entire face.
  • Make sure serums with too many active ingredients do not get too close to the eyes as that may cause irritation and sensitivity.
  • Always take your skin type into account while choosing the right active ingredients in your serum.
  • Mixing or layering too many serums that are probably not supposed to go together can cause unwanted reactions on your skin.
  • Do not introduce very high concentrations of active ingredients to your skin right away. You need to habituate your skin gradually, start with a lower concentration first and observe how they react with your skin.

5. FAQs about face serums

FAQs about face serums

1) Will my skin get worse if I stop using face serums?

A. It is both a myth and fact that once you start using face serums you cannot go back to something else. In reality, it depends on your personal choice. If potent ingredients suit your skin needs, you wouldn’t feel the need of going back to a routine without the serum. Whereas some people don’t feel the compulsion of using them and can switch back to a basic CTM routine.

2) Can I mix different face serums for better results?

A. It is not advisable to experiment with too many serums at the same time. According to Dr. Tipirneni, mixing potent face serums can lead to disastrous results, often leading to scarring and pigmentation.

3) Can a vitamin C face serum cause acne?

A. Yes, vitamin C face serums have shown to cause acne in some people. This detail is often overlooked because of the popularity of the ingredient. So, make sure you do a patch test prior to using it.