What is a Serum? Benefits, How to Use, Best Types

What is a Serum? Benefits, How to Use, Best Types

Everyone likes getting results, and when it comes to skin care, one of the best options for getting that glow long-term is adding a face serum to your daily lineup. They’re powerful, targeted to specific skin care issues or needs, and easy to apply.

There are tons of facial serum options on the market, so it can feel a bit overwhelming trying to figure out whether you want to opt into face serum — and what the best serum choice is for you.

In this post we’ll go over what is a serum, face serum benefits, what are the best serums for different skin types, how to apply serum and cover any other questions you might have about face serum. Let’s jump in!


Main Takeaways: A serum is a product that contains concentrated amounts of one or two key ingredients designed to target specific skin care needs.

Good to Know: Serums aren’t meant to replace other products. If you use a hydrating serum, you should still use a moisturizer.

Recommended Products: Nectar of the C Vitamin C Serum.


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What Is Face Serum?

So what is a serum? Face serum is a special addition to your skin care routine that can deliver added benefits and extra oomph.

Serums differ from moisturizers and creams in that they offer concentrated amounts of one or two key ingredients that create powerful results for specific skin care needs.

Serums are light and tend to absorb more quickly. They usually come in an eyedropper-style container, and go on after toner and before moisturizer.

There are several ingredients most commonly used in face serums. Some serums combine several of these, while others focus primarily on one or two. These ingredients include:

Vitamin E — This is a strong and powerful antioxidant known for its ability to protect, nourish, and moisturize skin. It also softens, so you can get that silky smooth feel.

Vitamin C — Vitamin C is a key ingredient in lots of skin care, and takes top billing in many facial serums. Vitamin C enhances that youthful look and helps to boost rejuvenation and improve skin tone and radiance. Overall, it enhances the look and feel of skin.

Retinol — A form of Vitamin A, retinol plumps up skin, minimizing the look of fine lines and wrinkles. It’s also an antioxidant, so it gives you that added nourishment.

Hyaluronic acid — This ingredient occurs naturally in our bodies and helps keep our skin and tissues hydrated, but we produce less of it as we age. It moisturizes, plumps and helps skin to retain moisture.

Peptides — Peptides are antioxidants that smooth and improve the texture of skin. They’re the building blocks of collagen and other proteins, so they play a key role in keeping skin looking fresh and amazing.

Face Serum Benefits

You might be wondering why serum is important for skin? Depending on the face serum you choose, there are all kinds of different benefits.

A face serum can:

  1. Hydrate — Hydration is one of the key components when it comes to maintaining beautiful skin. Ingredients like vitamin E, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid can all provide significant moisture, helping skin to stay refreshed, youthful looking, and healthy.
  2. Reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles — As we age and our skin starts to show wear and tear, ingredients like vitamin C, retinol, and hyaluronic acid can all help minimize the signs of aging.
  3. Smooth skin and refine texture — The texture of our skin is what gives it that special sparkle, and ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and peptides can all help to smooth and refine.
  4. Provide antioxidant protection — Antioxidants fight environmental stressors that can actually accelerate the aging process. They’re found in vitamin E, vitamin C, retinol, hyaluronic acid and peptides, all of which can help provide long-term protection for your pretty face.
  5. Plump skin and create a more youthful look — When your skin is able to retain moisture, it has that plump, youthful look that’s au naturale when you’re young. To keep that going over the long haul, vitamin C, retinol and hyaluronic acid can help.
  6. Minimize the appearance of dark spots — Dark spots are annoying, and certain ingredients can help to fade the look of them and even out your complexion. Go for vitamin E, vitamin C and retinol. 

    What Are the Best Face Serums?

    Now that you know a little bit about the benefits of facial serum, you’re probably asking the million dollar question: what face serum do I need? It depends on your skin type, and there are a multitude of options for different facial serums.

    The best serum for you is based on what makes your lovely skin unique — it’s all about the results you’re looking for.

    Best serum for glowing skin

    If having glowing, Instagram-worthy skin is your goal, you’ve got plenty of options. The best serums to help your skin get glowing include vitamin C, retinol, hyaluronic acid and peptides.

    Best serum for dry skin

    Hydration is key if you’re looking for a serum to add to your dry skin care routine. You need ingredients that will help your skin retain, rather than lose, moisture. The best face serum options for dry skin include vitamin E, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid.

    Best serum for sensitive skin

    When you’re dealing with sensitive skin, you want to opt for ingredients that won’t further irritate or dry out your epidermis. Vitamin C is a great option, but make sure you opt for Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, a more stable and gentle form of vitamin C than L-Ascorbic Acid which is frequently found in skin care products. Fleur & Bee vitamin C serum uses Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate so it’s appropriate for all skin types. And because they’re naturally produced by the body, hyaluronic acid and peptides are also good choices for sensitive skin.

    Best serum for combination skin

    If your skin tends towards both dry and oily, it’s best to opt for a serum that’s designed to handle both. The best face serum options for combination skin are vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and peptides.

    Best serum for oily skin

    If your skin tends to get a little oversaturated with oil, choose a serum that balances your skin’s natural oils. Opt for vitamin C, hyaluronic acid or retinol.


    How to Apply Serum

    Serum is the third step in your twice daily skin care routine. If you’re wondering whether to apply serum or moisturizer first, serum is the answer as it absorbs more quickly.

    Here’s the best way to apply your face serum:

    1. Cleanse your skin with a natural face wash.
    2. Apply toner.
    3. Put a few drops of serum on your fingers or directly onto your face. Smooth onto skin. Let absorb for five minutes.
    4. Apply moisturizer.
    5. Apply eye cream.
    6. Apply sunscreen (in the a.m.).

      Pro tip: Applying the serum directly to your face can make your product last longer in the long run as it won’t absorb into your fingertips.

      Frequently Asked Questions About Serum

      Do serums really work?

      Yes, face serums are designed to deliver key skin care ingredients more quickly in order to get specific results long-term. They’re lightweight and contain concentrated ingredients like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, peptides, retinol, etc. For the most part, serums don’t work instantly, but they do deliver results over time.

      Should I use facial serum?

      It depends on your skin care needs, but face serums are effective for a variety of different purposes including to get glowing skin, to moisturize, to minimize the signs of aging and more.

      What does face serum do?

      From hydrating the skin in order to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles to minimizing the appearance of dark spots and refining skin’s texture, serum truly does it all (a good serum with antioxidants in it to protect the skin from environmental stressors is worth the cost and effort alone). Serum can smooth the skin and even exfoliate. It really just depends what you’re looking for your serum to accomplish.

      Can I use face serum under eyes?

      Facial serum isn’t designed to use on the sensitive, thinner skin under your eyes. It’s better to apply face serum on the rest of your face and opt for an eye cream that’s made specifically for that area.

      Can face serum cause breakouts?

      Sometimes using new products can cause temporary breakouts. But over time, face serum shouldn’t cause any breakouts or issues with your skin, assuming you’re using a quality product. Make sure you opt for a product with natural ingredients that is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores.

      Face serum vs moisturizer vs face cream

      Face serum serves a different purpose then moisturizers and creams and is not meant to replace a moisturizer. While moisturizers and creams are designed primarily to hydrate, face serum can serve a variety of different purposes. Face serums are more lightweight, and typically consist of one or two key ingredients designed to maximize specific results, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, retinol, etc.

      Adding a Face Serum to Your Skin Care Routine

      Now that you know what a serum for face can add to your routine, you’ll be better prepared to sift through what’s available and choose a face serum that’s right for you.

      Just make sure to bring home a face serum that gives your unique skin the special attention it needs!