Walk into any beauty store and you’ll find shelves filled with face serums. Google “face serums” and dozens of products, brands, and articles telling you the “X best serums for XYZ” pop up on your screen.
Trying to find and buy the right face serums can be hard. There are numerous categories of serums offering different benefits, various brands selling serums at various prices, and a host of ingredients you may not be able to pronounce. So how do you pick the right face serums? With our help!
Do I need a serum for my face?
YES! We know with all the options out there, and oftentimes when you see the price, you may feel overwhelmed and think you don’t need a face serum. But you do. Even all you minimalist skincare routine gals could use one to three serums. If you don’t, your skin is missing out on some significant skin benefits. Want to defy the laws of aging? A face serum can help. Looking to protect your skin while brightening it? A serum can do that, too. Depending on the active ingredients they’re made with, face serums can complement and complete your current skincare routine.
What ingredients should I look for in a face serum?
Face serum is like a bullet ant—it releases a lot of power for something in such small packaging. In this case, serum’s power is used for good to boost the health and appearance of your skin. And it does so by using only essential, skin-nourishing ingredients.
Here are some common ingredients used in face serums:
This ingredient is uber absorbent. It’s able to pull in water and lock in moisture to hydrate your skin. It also smooths away fine lines, enhances elasticity, stimulates a dewy complexion, and treats acne.
You shouldn’t just swallow your vitamins—they need to be in your skincare products. Face serums are packed with vitamins, most notably Vitamins A (retinol), C, and E. Vitamin A is an anti-aging ingredient that boosts collagen production, tightens pores, and evens out your skin tone. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects your skin from UVA and UVB rays, brightens your complexion, and fights the signs of aging. Vitamin E is a moisturizing, brightening, and skin-tone evening antioxidant.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
AHAs are chemical exfoliators. They remove dead skin cells so you have a lighter, brighter, and clearer complexion.
Want to look younger? DMAE is your ingredient. It reverses any sagging or drooping, so you have firmer, tighter skin.
This ingredient helps your skin absorb more moisture, allowing your skin to stay soft and flexible and giving your face that youthful glow.
Peptides boost collagen production and repair your skin on a cellular level, thus firming your skin and minimizing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
Stem cells can actually repair all the different cell types in your body. They renew and protect your skin and its cells and stimulate collagen production. Most stem cells used in face serums come from plants.
This ingredient’s benefits are about as long as its name. MSM promotes collagen, treats acne, illuminates your complexion, and improves how the skin absorbs nutrients.
Botanical Extracts and Oils
This is a rather large category of ingredients that includes jojoba oil, lavender oil, thyme, aloe vera, pomegranate, oil leaf extract, and much more. Botanical extracts and oils have vitamins, antioxidants, fatty acids, and amino acids. All of these things help them reduce wrinkles, fade aging spots, soften the skin, lighten complexion, resist free radicals, and repair and protect skin cells.
There are more ingredients and all kinds of ingredient combinations used to make different face serums. But if we were to tell you about all of them, we’d be writing a short chapter book.
How To Pick the Right Face Serums for Your Skin Type
To fully reap the benefits of face serums and their ingredients, you need to find a formula that works for your skin type.
Face Serum for Oily Skin
A lightweight, water-based serum is best for oily skin. Look for ingredients that are hydrating but light and can minimize your pores, control oiliness, and help you feel refreshed. Salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and hyaluronic acid are good ingredients for those struggling with oily skin, as is green tea. You also can’t go wrong with a Vitamin C serum. Stay away from serums that have a lot of plant oils as they can make your face feel greasy and clog your pores, as well as ones that will dry out your skin or have alcohol in them.
Face Serum for Dry Skin
Is your skin as dry as the desert? Opt for a skin-plumping, hydrating serum with a rich texture that’s formulated with plant oils, like jojoba oil, amino acids, Vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid—the latter is the best we saved for last so it stays top of mind.
Face Serum for Sensitive Skin
With sensitive skin, choose a face serum that’s gentle on your skin. Find one made with natural ingredients meant to hydrate, soothe redness and blotchiness, and strengthen your skin. And as you’re probably already aware, proceed with caution and apply a small test amount when using a new skin care product.
Face Serum for Combination Skin
Do you deal with dry skin in certain parts of your face and oiliness in others? Then you want a serum that can do it all; one that hydrates your dry areas but isn’t too oily or heavy for the areas that are oilier. Along with hydrating, serums that soothe, brighten, and firm your skin are great too, like a Vitamin C serum or retinol serum.
Face Serum for Normal Skin
If you’ve been blessed with normal (aka well-balanced) skin, you have the most options because you don’t have to worry about certain ingredients irritating your skin. But ingredients like AHAs, glycolic acid, and aloe vera are good to have in your face serum.