All too often I notice a slight groan when I recommend a serum to clients. They don’t really want to have to think about applying another cream, adding yet another step to their skin care routine. The Koreans are renowned for their multi step routine, while here in Ireland we are a little slower to warm to the benefits of anything beyond cleanse, tone and moisturise. Serums are an important step that we must factor into our routine, let me explain why…
Serums are a lightweight solution that easily and readily penetrate directly into the skin. They are designed to go straight past the superficial layers to get down into the deeper layers of the skin where they can be most effective. They contain the highest concentrations of active ingredients so that they can have a profound effect on how your skin performs.
They are able to do this as they contain no occlusive agents like mineral oil or petroleum. These agents will sit in the upper/ outer layers of your skin to prevent water loss. They are present in your moisturiser to give your skin the feeling of hydration and act as a barrier against environmental damage. With a serum you are not looking to moisturise the skin, what you want from a serum is to feed your skin with active ingredients. Serums provide minimal moisture, so they need to be used in conjunction with a moisturiser at night time or sunscreen during the day.
Choosing the right serum is the next step, what you need to decide is what exactly you want to treat. There is a belief that serums are merely for antiaging but nothing could be further from the truth. Serums can treat a variety of conditions such as pigmentation, acne, aging, brightening, firming and exfoliating to name a few. In an ideal world you could have a number of serums that you have in your arsenal to fight different concerns. For example I use AlumierMd A.G.E serum to combat pollution and glycation (the effect sugar has on denaturing proteins such as collagen in your skin) along with their Vitamin Rich Smoother in the morning. The A.G.E. serum protects my skin from free radical damage and traps 83% of the environmental particular matter that would otherwise penetrate the skin causing damage. The Vitamin Rich Smoother feeds the skin with vitamin C which is healing, antioxidant and anti- inflammatory. At night time I use their Retinol serum to simulate collagen production helping to slow down the aging process.
-If you want to treat pigmentation look for ingredients such as liquorice root extract, kojic acid and white shitake mushroom.
-To brighten the skin look for Arbutin a natural skin brightener that helps to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation. AlumierMd Eventone Brightening serum gets great results.
-If acne is your concern the most affective ingredient is salicylic acid which exfoliates dead skin cell from deep within the pores and helps to control acne. Image skincare clear cell restoring serum works well.
-Although Retinol is the most effective active ingredient for the production of collagen and therefore antiaging, it works best when it is combined with peptides as well as vitamin c and antioxidants. The key peptides to look out for are MATRIXYL synthe’6, Meiritage and Argireline. Environ’s new FocusCare Youth+ is a good one to try, but if you are looking for a Retinol serum the AlumierMD Retinol is microencapsulated to drip feed the retinol into your skin so that you are less likely to have a reaction that can often be associated with retinols.
-Antioxidants such as Vitamin C and Vitamin E, Reservatrol and Green Tea are all up to the job. Antioxidants work better together and the more you have the better, they will help to get the best performance out of the other active antiaging ingredients.
-If redness/high colour/ rosacea is of concern for you, Hinokitiol is a superpower ingredient derived from the Red Cedar Tree. Over 100 scientific studies show that it has soothing, anti-irritant, antioxidant and brightening properties. Niacinamide ( Vitamin B3) is also great for sensitive skin as it helps to protect the lipid barrier on your skins surface. AlumierMD Calm-R contains both.
Remember a serum is going to penetrate your skin quicker that your moisturiser, so always put them on first under your moisturiser and after you have cleansed and toned. If you have more than one serum to apply, put the one that is most lightweight on first. I find many people like to use a serum under their daily SPF during the day, this provides you with all of the nourishment, hydration and protection that you need during the daytime. At night after cleansing and toning, apply your night time serum, retinol is best used only at night. It is not compulsory to use a moisturiser at night time I find it is more of a preference than a requirement. If you have very dry or dehydrated skin you would need to apply moisturiser at night after your serum.