Monday, June 9, 2014

Beauty Squared Beauty Lessons: Serums

A reader has asked us to do a post about serums. It struck me as funny since I've been using serums for years, and doesn't everyone use one? Or at least doesn't everyone know what they are and choose to use them or not, like everything else? Serums are a part of my beauty routine, but clearly, not everyone's. So let's dive in and learn all about serums.

What is a serum?

A serum is a gel or cream containing high concentrations of active ingredients. They come in a variety of different formulas, depending on specific skin problems - fine lines and wrinkles, age spots, acne, large pores, dull skin, etc. Think of them like a vitamin or a superfood for your skin. Unlike moisturizers, which stay mainly on the surface of the skin to moisturize the outer layer, serums are readily absorbed into the skin's epidermis

How do I use a serum?

Choose a serum based on your skin type (oily, dry, sensitive, combination).

Serums are best applied to the skin while it's still a bit damp, to ensure the best absorption. They tend to be a gel-like liquid consistency and absorb easily. Simply smooth into freshly cleaned and dried skin. Depending on the steps in your skin care regime, serums typically should be applied after all cleansing steps (post-cleanser, post-toner) and before moisturizer. 

Each serum will have application instructions included. 

Why should I use a serum?

Serums can be used for a variety of reasons but they're designed to target a specific skin problem - fine lines, large pores, acne, irritation, dullness, etc. Choose one that will target your main beef with your skin.

How much should I pay for a serum?

Serums come in a range, just like moisturizers and cleanser, from drugstore brands to high-end brands to specialty brands to organic brands. Serums tend to be pricier than cleansers and moisturizers but you probably can find one that will suit your budget. Drugstore brands Olay and L'Oreal have serums in their product lines for about $30 and you can go up to $100 for a serum from Kiehl's or B. Kamin. Then there are the $200+ serums from brands like La Mer and Prevage.

If you find a serum too pricey for twice-a-day use, use it just in the morning to boost your skin's radiance, or in your nighttime routine for extra impact.

My skin is sensitive - can I use a serum?

If you have rosacea or eczema, you probably want to stay away from serums. They can be too intense for sensitive skin due to their potency and how easily they're absorbed by the skin. 

Also, be wary if you regularly get chemical peels or any products that make your skin sensitive. A serum could be irritating and worse, react to the products you're using.


A serum can be an excellent addition to your skin care regime. While you may need to do some hunting to find one that works for your skin, and they can be expensive, they can also make a big difference in your skin. Most skincare brands offer samples so take advantage and test out a few different brands before buying. 

Be cautious if you're prone to skin sensitivity, and use only a serum that suits your skin type.

Do you use a serum? Share your favourites in the comments below!


1 comment:

  1. Great post girlies. I use a Vitamin A serum from Alpha H which I find is really good for cell turnover and pigmentation!
    I just wanted to let you know that I've nominated you for a Liebster Award, check it out HERE!
    Sarah | bowsandpleats