Skin Serum What is It and How to Make It Work

Skin Serum: What is It and How to Make It Work?

Sep 16, 2021

If we believe the promises, then the face serum is the “elixir of youth” with a high concentration of active ingredients that will relieve your face of imperfections like age spots or fine lines and wrinkles.

Serums are typically quite expensive compared to other skincare products. But do they really work? Why did we suddenly need to use a serum under our moisturizer?

Creams and ointments have been used in cosmetology since ancient times. Animal fats and plant oils (such as castor, argan, or olive oil) have been used to relieve dry skin. Each culture has its own natural remedies for these purposes. But face serums are a modern skincare routine invention. Usually, unlike cream or moisturizer, they are liquid and water-based. While face creams are also used to moisturize the skin, the purpose of any face serum is to moisturize the derma deeper and more effectively.

But it’s not that difficult compared to what is in the serum. Should we just trust the name on the label, or should we still understand what we are buying? Serums are usually advertised as containing active ingredients such as vitamins and antioxidants, which, thanks to a special composition with smaller molecules, penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin.

We have asked Dr. Ariel Ostad, a board-certified dermatologist from New York, to understand the ingredients of serums and find out what the benefits of this cosmetic product are.

Does Face Serum Really Work?

Let’s start with the question, do face serums really work?

“Serums definitely work. They moisturize and also promote good penetration of the active ingredients they contain into the lipid membrane of the skin,” said Dr. Ostad, and added that “the serum can penetrate the outer layer of the skin into cells. According to Dr. Ostad, the serum is a great way to moisturize the skin and keep its collagen layer healthy. The fact that the components of the serum are very well absorbed leads to “better results”.

This is a key factor because we want not only healthy skin but also that it looks healthy.

Serums are often aimed at combating such skin concerns as dry skin, fine lines and wrinkles, loss of firmness, dark spots, dull skin tone, etc. Also, this cosmetic product can be produced for different skin types: hydrating serum, anti-aging serums, daily serum, serum for sensitive skin, etc.

Dr. Ostad said that serums are helpful for people with oily skin and acne-prone skin who cannot tolerate moisturizers in the form of creams because they can cause pimples and acne. And some components of serums cannot be prepared in the form of a moisturizer. Ostad also noted that creams and milk are usually good for people with normal to dry skin types.

What does “Hydrophilic” Mean?

Dr. Ostad said that some of the beneficial ingredients in the serum are hydrophilic (water-soluble). These same ingredients cannot dissolve in cream of a denser texture, which is why face serums have advantages that creams do not have.

Thus, serums are a kind of “intermediate product”: serums contain dissolved antioxidants but do not provoke skin rashes or clog pores.

Like most women, I experimented with different products and put together a collection of both unsuccessful and worthy of a repeat purchase. Since I am one of those people who do not give up, I have applied even the most oily products to a damp face so as not to throw them away. I have noticed that the moisture allows the cream to be absorbed faster and better.

I hesitantly asked Dr. Ostad if it was the right thing to do. He replied that it was a good idea to apply a serum or cream on a damp face, it would improve the absorption of the product and its ingredients to the skin. It will be optimal to do this within a minute after a shower or bath when the pores are open and clean.

Such things help to get to know your skin, and this can be done through study and observation.

Now let’s try to understand the useful components of face serums.

What are the Ingredients of Serums and what are They Useful for?

Once you’ve figured out what works best for your skin type, you might want to know what exactly you apply to your skin.

To facilitate this task, I asked our expert to talk about the effectiveness of some common components that are included in expensive and budgetary funds.

Here is Dr. Ostad’s opinion on these ingredients:

  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) are glycolic acids from sugar cane, lactic acid, malic acid, citric acid, and tartaric acid. In low concentrations, they chemically exfoliate the skin and improve its texture.
  • Matrixyl 3000 is designed to stimulate collagen production. The component copes with this task but does not work equally well for everyone.
  • Retinol (vitamin A) effectively stimulates collagen production and removes the surface layer of the skin.
  • Copper peptides perfectly improve collagen synthesis and rejuvenate the skin.
  • The growth factor helps to stimulate collagen synthesis.
  • Hyaluronic acid (especially popular for anti-aging serums) effectively softens and helps the skin to produce more collagen, improves its elasticity and color.
  • Resveratrol is an effective antioxidant derived from grapes. But in order for the component to work, it must be stabilized.
  • Ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q10) is an excellent antioxidant. To maintain properties, it must be highly concentrated and stabilized.
  • Bee venom is an ingredient that should be avoided. Its benefits for the skin have not been proven, and it can also cause an allergic reaction. There are healthier and more effective ingredients.
  • Green tea extract (Camellia sinensis) is a wonderful ingredient. It contains polyphenols that fight free radicals. This extract is also an antioxidant and helps to preserve collagen fibers and stimulate their growth.
  • Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (stabilized vitamin C) has significant antioxidant properties, but must be well stabilized.
  • Ferulic acid is an excellent antioxidant that helps stimulate collagen production.
  • Ceramides (a skin-repairing ingredient) are also excellent ingredients for good skin hydration. They “hold” skin cells together and help maintain hydration.
  • Tocotrienols or tocopherols (vitamin E) are able to protect your skin from free radical damage, such as from exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet radiation.
  • Niacinamide (Niacinamide vitamin B3) has an amazing ability to moisturize the skin, gives energy to mitochondria (they synthesize energy in cells) to accelerate cell renewal. Thus, niacinamide is well suited for reducing signs of aging on the face and also improves skin barrier function.
  • Silicones (dimethicone and other chemical components ending in cone) are inert molecules that are used as emollients, that is, emollients that make the product smooth and silky when applied, and may also be needed to stabilize the product.

The Best Components of Serums for Different Ages

20-30 years: ceramides, niacinamide, vitamin C

30-40 years: retinol, hyaluronic acid, AHA (alpha-hydroxy acids)

40-50 years: retinol, various antioxidants (copper peptides, ferulic acid, growth factor)

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