Serums are having a moment. Open any beauty blog, magazine or product lover’s medicine cabinet, and you’re sure to see the latest must-have skin serum popping up right between the cleanser and moisturizer. But what exactly is all the hype about…and should you start to incorporate serums into your skincare regimen? To get the skinny, we reached out to Dermatologist Dr. Adam Geyer, for an expert take on the benefits, differences, and the right products to try.

The Basics

“As people have become savvier about their skin-care routines, layering has become increasingly prevalent. By using a serum, people are able to intensify the strength of their regimen or round out the ingredients they are applying to their skin to provide a more comprehensive approach to anti-aging and hydration,” Geyer says. “Serums are usually formulated with a higher concentration of active ingredients so that a few drops are sufficient to cover the entire face. The texture is usually lighter than a moisturizer, which allows for it to be used as a stand-alone product for someone with oilier skin, or used under a moisturizer for someone with normal to dry skin.”

The Application

“Serums should be applied twice daily. They are the first products that should be applied to the skin after cleansing and toning. A sunscreen should be applied over the serum in the morning and a moisturizer appropriate for an individual’s skin type should be used over the serum at night.” Geyer suggests. “Apply the serum with one or two fingers (so as to avoid wasting the serum on your hands) and massage thoroughly into the skin.”

The Options

Now that you’ve got the basics and application covered, which product should you choose? Well, the answer depends on your objective, naturally. “There are many different types of serums and both the active ingredients and the texture of the serum can provide different functions and benefits. Serums formulated in a water base tend to be well suited to those with oily skin and those with a richer texture, or formulated with oils, tend to work well for those with drier skin. However – it is really the combination of active ingredients that defines the serum – with the main six categories being antioxidants, peptides, retinol, growth factors, alpha and beta hydroxyl acids, and unique botanicals,” Geyer says.


Serums That Improve Skin Tone and Reduce Wrinkles 

Antioxidant rich serums (such as those rich in Vitamin C) tend to work will at preventing oxidative strain from pollution and UV radiation that we are all exposed to during the day, making them ideal for application under a sunscreen in the morning. These multifunctional serums work to protect the skin as well as improve the evenness of the skin tone and reduce the number and depth of facial wrinkles,” Geyer says. 

Our favorite serum for improving tone: Skinceuticals C E Ferulic 

 skinceuticals serum

serums That Firm Skin 

 “Serums rich in peptides can help to boost collagen and elastin production and restore firmness to the skin,” Geyer suggests.

Our favorite firming serum: L’Oréal RevitaLift Triple Power Concentrated Serum

 l'oreal paris serum

Serums That Brighten and Regenerate Skin 

“Serums formulated with retinol can help accelerate cellular renewal and can brighten the skin and make it appear more luminous and smooth, but care should be taken not to over-apply these serums as they can have a tendency to irritate the skin if applied too liberally,” Geyer says.

Our favorite regenerating serum: Garnier Ultra-Lift 2-in-1 Wrinkle Reducer Serum + Moisturizer  

 garnier serum

Serums That Renew Skin 

Finally, serums rich in essential oils and Omega-3 fatty acids, can help the skin to repair itself overnight and make sure that the skin’s barrier function is working at its best,” Geyer suggests. 

Our favorite renewing serum: Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate

 skin serums kiehls

And now you’re fluent in serums, dear friends.

 Have any other skincare questions you’d like answered? Leave ‘em below and our MDC experts may tackle them soon!


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