SERUMS 101: What You Need to Know

serums 101

For many people, the extent of their skincare routine consists of cleanser, toner and moisturizer. It can be intimidating to add more products to your routine – what if it breaks me out? Does it really make a difference? – but there’s a reason serums have become so popular in recent years. These concentrated potions target specific skin concerns (dull skin, hyper-pigmentation, signs of aging, etc.) and deliver visible results. Keep reading to discover exactly what serums are, why you need them, how to apply and some of our top picks!


Serums are essentially lightweight moisturizers that are formulated with an exceptionally high concentration of potent ingredients (vitamins, anti-inflammatories, antioxidants) to really delve deep into your skin and give you results. Each serum is designed to address a specific concern; that’s why many people use a combination of serums. Serums are comprised of smaller molecules that penetrate your skin’s layers, and target whatever skin issue you’re looking to resolve.


Serums, with their highly concentrated ingredients, deliver more visible results than any other product in a skincare routine. Use serums that work for you. Personally, I always look for brightening serums, ones that can help with hyper-pigmentation and ones with anti-aging components. Find the combination that is perfect for your skin; skincare aficionados know the key to a solid routine includes lots of layering. It can take some trial and error, but once you find your magic formula, your skin will be forever grateful.

A common concern with serums is the hefty price tag – these things tend to be expensive – but I think the results are worth the investment. You only need a few drops per use, so a bottle will easily last you at least one year. Also, consider it a preventative measure: using a great anti-aging serum can truly prevent the signs of wrinkles and fine lines. Serum now, no Botox tomorrow! 😉


After cleansing and toning your skin, it’s time to apply serum. (If you follow the Korean skincare method, serums are step 6. Click HERE to read about my Korean skincare journey.) Using the palm of your hand or your fingertips, press your serum into damp skin. Your skin will be damp post-toning, so don’t worry about wetting your face again. After each serum, wait a minute or so to really let it sink in. After applying all of your serums, it’s time for moisturizer – try to wait at least five minutes before applying your moisturizer. Do something else in the meantime – brush your teeth, fix your hair – to allow everything to absorb. Finish off your routine by applying your moisturizer as you normally do.


ole henriksen

Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Vitamin C Collagen Booster: This vitamin C-infused serum is lighter than many serums. It’s a booster, which is another word for essence, meaning it absorbs extremely quickly and feels so lightweight. Vitamin C brightens skin and boosts the production of collagen to minimize the appearance of fine lines. It also has rose hips extract which heals and repairs damaged skin.The sweet citrus scent is an added bonus. ($48 for 1 oz)

skin inc

Skin Inc. Chlorella Serum REVITALIZE: Skin Inc. has a bunch of different serums available, but the Chlorella is my personal favorite. The serums are very straight-forward: each product name includes the main ingredient and the intended function. This one, which is made of the algae chlorella, targets dull skin and reduces the appearance of dark spots for a more radiant complexion. ($45 for 0.34 oz)


Clinique Smart Custom-Repair Serum: Clinique is one of the most consistently reliable skincare brands out there – since their products are formulated with sensitive skin in mind, I always feel comfortable applying their products. This serum targets wrinkles and lines, evens skin tone, brightens, lifts and firms. It’s a multi-function anti-aging product. If you’re noticing any premature signs of aging, definitely consider this serum. ($59.50 for 1 oz)


Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum: Nothing’s worse than a serum that feels too oily or heavy – a good serum melts into your skin and feels virtually weightless. Caudalie’s Vinoperfect is as lightweight as can be. A little dollop is all you need to reduce the appearance of acne marks, scarring or any imperfections. Skin will be left brighter, more radiant and awake. Love it. ($79 for 1 oz)


Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum: If I had to choose my absolute favorite serum, I would have to pick this Murad one. If you suffer from dark spots or hyper-pigmentation, this will change your life. After a couple of weeks of consistent use, you should see a dramatic difference. The only downside is it has a pretty strong, unpleasant smell, but it disappears once it comes in contact with your skin. ($60 for 1 oz)

cle de peau

Clé de Peau Beauté Le Serum: I almost didn’t put this one on the list because the price is so crazy (I got a deluxe sample of it in a Barney’s gift bag), but it’s too incredible to not include. The luxurious serum gives your skin a major dose of moisture and completely revitalizes your complexion. Many serums deliver results after a few weeks of use, which is incredible, but I promise you see a difference after using this serum one time. You skin will look visibly brighter and more luminous. It’s magic in a bottle. ($325 for 1 oz)

estee lauder

Estée Lauder Advanced Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II: The most popular repair serum on the market, this miracle anti-aging product by Estée Lauder is a perfect product for any age. Whether you have more mature skin and want to reduce wrinkles and fine lines, or just want to prevent the signs of aging, this is fantastic. It’s meant to only be used at night – always check the serum you’re using to see if it’s intended specifically for day or nighttime use, or can be used whenever. Wake up to smoother, radiant and younger-looking skin. ($62 for 1 oz)

Do you use serums? Which are your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!

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