Why You Should Use a Face Serum

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Updated: 04/12/2021


Finding the perfect facial serum may be a daunting task! Not every face serum has the same benefit and use. The type of serum that you choose depends on the following factors:
1. skin type (i.e. oily, acne-prone vs dry, sensitive skin)
2. skin concerns (i.e. dry skin, anti-aging, acne)


Facial serums are skincare products designed in a liquid or gel vehicle with concentrated, key ingredients delivered to the skin. Typically, serums have a light, fluid texture that is absorbed quickly into the skin.


The ingredients to look for in a serum depend on the specific use for the facial serum and your skin type. Facial serums may be incorporated into your daily skincare routine to help address fine lines and wrinkles, anti-aging benefits, acne and even to help moisturize and hydrate skin.

Dry, sensitive skin: Dermatologists recommend the following ingredients in facial serums to help provide an added boost of moisture and help hydrate skin:

  • Hyaluronic acid is a key molecule for skin hydration.
  • Glycerin is a humectant, a moisturizing ingredient that draws water into the surface layer of the skin and helps reduce further water loss2.
  • Ceramides are lipids that are found in the surface layer of the skin, also referred to as the stratum corneum1.

Oily, acne-prone skin: Dermatologists often recommend the following ingredient in facial serums that may help unclog pores and minimize oily skin:

  • Salicylic acid is a type of beta-hydroxy acid and is used for the treatment of acne. This ingredient is a class of “keratolytics” meaning it helps remove excess dead skin3.

Anti-Aging Benefits: Dermatologists often recommend the below ingredients to help fight various signs of skin aging.

  • Glycolic acid is a type of alpha-hydroxy acid and is incorporated in serums to help reduce the look of dark spots and discolorations and to help skin look brighter3.
  • Retinol is a form of Vitamin A. It helps promote surface skin turnover, thus reducing the look of fine lines, wrinkles, and helping to reduce the visible signs of sun damage3.
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an antioxidant that is quintessential in one’s skin care regimen as it helps to fight skin damaging free radicals and is known to help improve signs of aging such as skin tone, radiance and texture4.


In general, serums are applied after cleansing your face and prior to any daytime or nighttime creams or lotions. The time of day in which you apply the serum is dependent on the type of serum and the ingredients within the serum. For example, serums that contain antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, are recommended for daytime use versus serums containing retinol or glycolic acid that increase sensitivity to the sun and are recommended for nighttime use.

The following are examples in how you can incorporate facial serums into your daytime and nighttime routine:


1. Wash your face with a non-comedogenic facial cleanser
2. Use a facial toner or facial mist
3. Apply 3-4 drops of a facial serum to the entire face and neck
4. Apply eye cream
5. Apply moisturizer
6. Don’t forget sunscreen!


1. Wash your face with a non-comedogenic facial cleanser
2. Use a facial toner or facial mist
3. Apply 3-4 drops of a facial serum to the entire face and neck
4. Apply eye cream
5. Apply moisturizer

For those who are prescribed topicals for daytime and/or nighttime use, consult with your board-certified dermatologist before using a facial serum.


1. Choosing a serum: When choosing a serum consider your complexion, skin type and what you want to target. Everyone has different goals and searching for a serum that contains ingredients that will target your specific needs is essential.
2. Keep it simple: While there are so many facial serums to choose from, maintaining a simple skincare routine is recommended. Using multiple facial serums throughout the day may increase your risk of skin discomfort.
3. Storing your serum: keep your serums stored in a cool, dry place to help maintain its effectiveness.
4. Application tip: To prevent over application of a facial serum. Apply 3-4 drops of the serum on the top of your hand, dab your fingertip into the serum and apply to each area of your face & neck and gently rub it in.

  1. Del Rosso, James Q. "Repair and maintenance of the epidermal barrier in patients diagnosed with atopic dermatitis: an evaluation of the components of a body wash-moisturizer skin care regimen directed at management of atopic skin." The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology 4.6 (2011): 45.
  2. Schettle, Lidia. "Probiotics: The Search for Bacterial Balance.”
  3. Zaenglein, Andrea L. "Acne vulgaris." New England Journal of Medicine 379.14 (2018): 1343-1352.
  4. Silva, S., et al. "Evolution of the use of antioxidants in anti‐ageing cosmetics." International Journal of Cosmetic Science 41.4 (2019): 378-386.

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