Why You Need A Serum In Your Skincare Routine?

What is Serum? 

Serum is a treatment product that effectively delivers higher percentages of actives into your skin. Most often, serums are clear, gel or liquid based and weightless. They are tend to be less thick than moisturizer. Serums are far more concentrated than creams, which is why they are more expensive. 

Why You Need A Serum? 

Serums have smaller molecules which can penetrate deeper layer into your skin to give better results. Serums also deliver higher concentration of active ingredients to your skin to target your skin concerns. They are customized to target and treat different skin problems like dryness, fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and acne. This is why serums give better and faster result than your other topical products. 

Serums are loaded with nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, humectants, peptides and acids. So which serum is the best for you?  There's no "one size fits all" when it comes to serums, you'll first want to figure out your skin's specific needs. Different active ingredients target different skin concerns. If you have oily and blemish-prone skin, you may want to choose a serum which contains salicylic acid or tea tree oil to get rid of excess sebum, blackheads and whiteheads. 

Types of Serums

Hydrating Serums

Hydrating serums deliver extra layer of moisture underneath face creams, face oils and sunscreens. Hydrating serums usually using humectants to draw moisture from your surrounding into the stratum corneum. They typically contain hyaluronic acid, glycerin, propylene glycol, Aloe Vera, panthenol or Sodium PCA. Hydrating serum is best for all skin types, even oily and acne prone skin or sensitive skin. You can layer up with other serums depends on your skin specific concerns. 

Hyaluronic acid being the well renowned and most researched humectant all the time. Scientifically, the molecule of hyaluronic acid is known for holding 1000 times its weight in water, making it a humectant that's always pulling in moisture to deliver it straight into your skin. There are different molecular weight of hyaluronic acids products available in the market. They can be classified as low, medium, high molecular weight of hyaluronic acids. Higher molecular weight hyaluronic acids sit on the top of your stratum corneum to plump your skin instantly. This is the reason why you will feel your skin becomes so bouncy after applying a hyaluronic acid serum. low and medium molecular weight hyaluronic acids are able to penetrate deeper into epidermis layer. A combination of molecular weights will trigger different complementary pathways and perhaps will lead to even better results than just high molecular weight alone 

Antioxidant Serums

Antioxidant serums are designed to protect your skin by neutralizing free radicals that cause skin aging. Free radicals are mostly generated by UV rays and pollution attack your skin cells and cause collagen and elastin degradation, skin dullness and formation of wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. Using an antioxidant serum to defense the damage effects of free radicals is the way to prevent premature aging. Some antioxidants also brighten your skin, calm irritation and smooth fine lines. Antioxidant serums usually contain Vitamin C, ferulic acid, green tea extract and Vitamin E. We recommend pairing your antioxidant serum with a sunscreen to get the optimal protection for your skin.

Vitamin C is one of the most potent and powerful antioxidant so far. Vitamin C not only neutralize free radicals , but it also helps to reduce hyperpigmentation, brighten your complexion and promote collagen synthesize. There are different forms of Vitamin C serums available in market. The most used and well researched Vitamin C form is L-Ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid also comes with different concentration. If you are a new user of Vitamin C serum, start with concentration of 5-10%  for better skin toleration. Vitamin C serum with higher concentration of 15-20% are recommend for those with stubborn hyperpigmentation. However, Ascorbic acid are water soluble and prone to oxidation by air and light. Thus, look for dark, opaque and air restricted bottle or pump to help ensure the ingredients remain stable. Some ascorbic acid serums are stabilized by the addition of ferulic acid, a powerful antioxidant that make ascorbic acid remain more stable. Meanwhile, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (THD), a fat-soluble topical Vitamin C which is more stable and less irritating but it is more expensive. 

Anti-Aging Serums 

Anti-aging serums are among the most effective, non-invasive ways to address signs of aging. Anti-aging serums target all signs of aging, including fine lines, wrinkles, loss of firmness and uneven skin tone. These serums are powered by ingredients like retinol, glycolic acids and peptides to promote the production of collagen and elastin in dermis layer, plumping your skin, improving rough skin texture and relaxing the contraction of your muscles. Retinol so far is the most effective anti-aging ingredients, however it takes up to 3 months to see the visible results. However, retinol may cause some irritation, but not everyone experiencing the same symptoms. If you experience irritation after using retinol, you may want to switch to products that contain retinaldehyde or bakuchiol.

As we aged, our skin production of collagen and elastin decrease gradually. This is why we are experiencing skin sagging, loss of firmness and elasticity and formation of deep wrinkles. Peptides are another important anti-aging important. Peptides are amino acids, the building block for protein in our body. Signal Peptides like Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-12, Palmitoyl pentapeptide-4 (Matrixyl) and Palmitoyl tripeptide-5 (Syn-cell) act like messengers sending signals to different part of skin to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. Neurotransmitter peptides, touted as “Botox-like,” block the release of chemicals that cause the muscle contraction of expression lines, thus smoothing wrinkles. Among the most used neurotransmitter peptides in cosmoceuticals are Acetyl Hexapeptide-3 (Aigireline), Pentapeptide-18 (Leuphasyl) and Tripeptide-3 (Syn-Ake). 

Resurfacing Serums

Resurfacing serums are the exfoliating treatment to slough away dead skin cells and speed up skin turnover to reveal a smoother skin texture. Resurfacing serums normally contain Alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, malic acid) and Beta hydroxy acids (Salicylic acid) in different formulation and concentration depends on your skin conditions. They dissolve the bonds that hold dull, dead skin cells on the surface of the skin so the skin will gently shed, revealing smoother, brighter skin underneath . The major difference between AHA and BHA is AHA is water soluble while BHA is oil soluble. If you have dry and sun damaged skin, use AHA (glycolic acid, lactic acid). If you have oily and acne-prone skin, use BHA as it can penetrate into pores and unclogged your pores to reduce the formation of pimples, blackheads and whiteheads. Meanwhile, AHA can promotes collagen production, brighten skin tone, improve skin texture, corrects skin discoloration and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. If you have sensitive skin, mandelic acid and lactic acids are the best choice to start with because they are less active than glycolic acid. 

Brightening Serums 

Brightening serums are targeted to reduce hyperpigmentation, dark spots and acne marks while boosting radiance and even out skin tone. Brightening serums always loaded with ingredients that can interfere with the production of melanin. Brightening serums contain Vitamin C, niacinamide, alpha arbutin, Kojic acid or tranexamic acid. Since tyrosinase is the enzyme that responsible for the production of melanin through melanogenesis, thus suppressing tyrosinase activity is the most effective way to reduce melanin production. Vitamin C, arbutin, kojic acid and tranexamic acid are good tyrosinase inhibitors. 

The brightening described above refers more to general radiance or youthful color. Brightening serums can make your skin look younger, healthier, and more vibrant regardless of skin tone. Think of the resulting brightening more like a newfound glow. The complexion-boosting benefits are often the best part of using a brightening serum. Avoid brightening serums that contain bleaching agents. As mentioned. you should avoid brightening serums which contain hydroquinone. Hydroquinone can cause some negative side effects like severe skin dryness, burning and redness. 

Calming Serums

Calming serums soothe sensitive skin, reduce inflammation and redness and strengthen your skin barrier. Sensitive skin always appear to be dry, prone to redness and irritation, fragile and they have broken capillaries and damaged skin barrier. The most popular ingredients you can find in a calming serum are Centella Asiatica, ceramides and niacinamide. Numerous K-beauty products that contain Centella Asiatica are labelled as "cica cream".  Madecassoside, the active compound in Centella Asiatica has well established wound healing, skin soothing and antioxidant activities. Our skin barrier, the stratum corneum layer prevents water loss and act as a permeability barrier prevents the entry of irritants, allergens and microorganisms. Due to the disruption of skin barrier, sensitive skin always prone to irritation more easily. Ceramides playing a crucial role in rebuilding and restoring skin barrier. You can find different types of ceramides in a calming serum/cream, including ceramide EOS, ceramide EOP, ceramide NP, ceramide AP, phytosphingosine and sphingoside. 

When and How to Use A Serum?

Serum should be applied after you wash your face and apply your toner or essence, before your moisturizer and sunscreen. Antioxidant and brightening serums are best use in the morning while resurfacing and anti-aging serums are recommended to use at night. Hydrating and calming serums can be used in the morning and night, twice daily. You can always layer up to 2 types of serums for each application, for example applying hydrating serum first, follow by antioxidant serum. Always wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen in the morning, especially if you have been using a glycolic acid or retinol serum at night. For those who are using an acidic serum, such as AHA/BHA or L-ascorbic acid serum, always apply them first and then follow by other non acidic serum like anti-aging, hydrating or brightening serums. Regardless which serum you are using, always remember to lock your serum with a moisturizer (lotion, fluid, cream or balm).