Rebuild Your Routine: Get Specific With Serums

Welcome to another edition of Rebuild Your Routine! By now we've covered the basic universal steps - cleansing, exfoliating and toning. But this is where things start to get more advanced and more customizable. The world of serums is vast but fun (I promise!) to explore. Let's get started!

Images by @gagewoodphoto courtesy of Sorella Apothecary

Serums 101: Serums are an extremely broad topic. Serums encompass products that are highly concentrated and designed to supplement your routine. They typically come in a liquid or gel form and are designed to go on before moisturizer. You can also apply serums under a mask to boost the results. The blends are numerous and there is one for just about every skin type or concern. Today we'll talk about many types of serums, with one exclusion - Vitamin A or Retinoids. Retinols are a very specific type of serum which I have covered in-depth here and will circle back to in a future Rebuild Your Routine update.

Benefits: Serums provide a concentration and extra potency that most of your other products do not. Using a serum helps you take your skin care to the next level, and more aggressively target specific concerns. Serums can be used to treat aging, texture, uneven pigment, dehydration and more. How Much and How Often: Depending on the serum, usage will vary greatly, so make sure you follow directions. Some serums can be used daily, while others are potent enough that you might only use them every couple of days. Some are meant to be used in the morning, whereas some are designed to be used at night. With serums, what seems to be universally true is that a little goes a long way. Because of the high concentration of actives and a lack of filler ingredients, you may only need a pea-sized amount. You can also blend serums to address multiple concerns at once, or dilute a serum by cocktailing it into your moisturizer or SPF. This is something I recommend when starting a new serum, as a strong serum can sometimes be irritating and you may need to buffer it. Once your skin adjusts, you can apply directly. Always apply before your moisturizer and SPF, as serums tend to be more of a liquid consistency and absorb quicker. What to look for: Because serums are so diverse, it can be overwhelming to try and choose the right one. For our purposes here, let's talk a little about what is used to treat what. From there, you should have a better idea of what you need. You may also choose to use more than one serum to address your specific issues. For Hydration: Remembering that even oily/acne skin types need hydration, a hydrating serum is a great booster to any regimen. Hyaluronic acid is one of my favorite ingredients for dry skin, as it helps bind moisture and can help improve everything from fine lines to texture. You can also look for ingredients like phospholipids, panthenol and allantoin to help protect the skin. For Aging Skin: In addition to the hydrating ingredients listed above, peptides are one of the best things to look for in an anti-aging serum. There is no such thing as a bad peptide. They help stimulate collagen, plump fine lines, firm texture and keep the skin performing at a youthful rate. For Redness and Irritation: Preventing inflammation can be helpful not only to sensitive skin but also skin that is blotchy or irritated from a breakout. Look for ingredients like aloe, chamomile, red marine algae, licorice root, green tea, white tea and zinc. For Dull Skin or Discoloration: Vitamin C rules when it comes to treating hyperpigmented, sun-damaged or dull skin. It is a powerful brightening ingredient, which helps treat existing damage and suppress excess melanin production that causes dark spots. Vitamin C is also a great line of defense against aging and free radical damage. For Exfoliation and Texture: Although it falls more under the category of exfoliation, you can address texture issues with an exfoliating serum. Look for ingredients like glycolic, malic, lactic and tartaric acid which help digest dead skin cells and promote a smoother appearance. Just be mindful to use alpha-hydroxy acids like these in moderation. Using them too much can strip and irritate the skin.

What to avoid:

I'm a big proponent of "cocktailing" your products. We've already discussed blending serums or buffering them with a cream. But before we get too excited playing chemistry set with our products, you should know there are a few combos to avoid: Vitamin C + Copper Peptides or Alpha-Hydroxy Acids: Too many actives at once. Can be too irritating for the skin. Alphahydroxy Acids + Retinol: Because both are exfoliating, you can end up with too much of a good thing and strip the skin. Additionally, both cause photosensitivity, making you more susceptible to a sunburn without proper SPF. BHAs + AHAs: Beta-Hydroxy acid, salicylic acid, is a potent acne-fighter but be careful using it in conjunction with other exfoliating acids like glycolic. Both at once can be too much, so stick to one or the other for breakouts.

Serums i {heart}:

For Hydration: Main Squeeze Hydrating Serum by Sorella Apothecary, B-5 Hydrating Serum by intelligent elixirs

For Aging Skin: Facial in a Bottle by Sorella Apothecary Pomegranate Acai Antioxidant Serum by Sorella Apothecary, or 15% Vitamin C Anti-Aging Serum by intelligent elixirs For Dull Skin or Discoloration: Lemon Ligthening Serum by Sorella Apothecary Brightening Serum by Intelligent Elixirs, or 15% Vitamin C Anti-Aging Serum by intelligent elixirs

For Sensitive Skin: Beta-Cartone Papain Renewal Serum by SkinScriptRX


Still have questions about serums? Email me at: jenny @ I love answering your routine queries!

About the blog:

This is a blog about everyday skin health. As an esthetician I strive to provide comprehensive skin care advice and knowledge to anyone who wants to know more.

Read on and please don't hesitate to reach out! I love educating people about their skin and am always happy to respond to questions.

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