Best Face Serums for Common Skin Conditions: A Guide
Serums are like liquid gold - highly potent fluids filled with vital ingredients that deliver real results to your skin. The powerful formulations have the remarkable ability to penetrate the skin's surface, making serums the most useful way to target specific skin concerns. Whether you want to treat dry skin, acne, wrinkles, or hyperpigmentation, here's a guide to the best face serums for common skin conditions.
What Are Serums?
Serums are highly potent skincare products filled with active ingredients used to target specific concerns. Not only do they contain vital antioxidants and other ingredients that address common skin conditions, but they do so using tiny molecules, which are better able to penetrate the skin's surface and deliver the good stuff to where it's really needed. Serums are traditionally water-based for this very reason, as oil-based products have a larger molecular structure.
The way you use serums can affect their level of efficacy. When you apply skincare in the correct order, it penetrates deeper and becomes much more effective, making the most out of your products and successfully treating skin concerns. This rule is especially important with serums because you want to take advantage of their incredible benefits. Serums are the third step in your routine after cleansing and toning. A pH-controlling toner is critical in prepping your skin and encourages maximum absorption of your serum. A word of the wise: It’s always a good idea to do a patch test with your serum because they contain such powerful ingredients.
Serums can be expensive, but trust me, the right ones are worth the investment. Here are a few of my favorites categorized by skin concern.
Face Serums for Dry Skin
Most people experience dry skin at some point, whether caused by cold winters, traveling, or arid climates. Dry skin is not only uncomfortable, but it can also cause redness and irritation, leaving the skin barrier and its immunity compromised. Therefore, the best face serums for dry skin should have hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and squalane to lock in moisture and amino acids, ceramides, and soothing plant extracts to calm inflammation and redness. Ensure your skin is moist before applying a moisturizing serum, especially with a powerful humectant like hyaluronic acid, which holds 1,000 times its weight in water.
Recommended serums for dry skin include:
- Joanna Czech The Soothing Serum
- This calming and protective serum contains ingredients that deeply hydrate, reduce the appearance of redness and other inflammation, comfort stressed and
- Oio Lab Aquasphere Multi-Dimensional Hydrating Serum
- This advanced, concentrated serum contains a complex of five hyaluronic acid compounds, two hyaluronic acid precursors, elastin, and active plant substances, which provide intense, multi-level hydration.
Face Serums for Acne-Prone Skin
Acne is expected when you're a teenager because of changing hormones. It's basically a rite of passage. But once you get into your 30s and 40s, you may start to wonder about the cause behind your breakouts. But acne doesn't discriminate because, almost always, it's caused by hormones, whether it's fluctuating progesterone and estrogen throughout a woman's cycle or cortisol, which is released when we are stressed. However, improper cleansing that leaves behind excess oil (sebum), dead skin cells, bacteria, or dirt can also block pores and cause acne.
Treating acne is a combination of clarifying the pores while calming inflammation. The skin also needs healing ingredients to help it recover, even after the bacteria is cleared away. Purifying ingredients such as salicylic acid should be balanced with light moisturizers to prevent over-drying. Whereas vitamins and peptides (proteins) rebuild and rebalance the skin once it is ready to heal. Retinol is another long-standing treatment for acne, helping to unclog pores and reduce oil production while also fighting fine lines (more on that next).
Recommended serums for acne include:
- Serum Complex Iribiol by Biologique Recherche
- This purifying serum prevents and alleviates skin imperfections by regulating sebum secretion and reducing inflammation thanks to antimicrobial active ingredients. The salicylic acid clears out excess debris and skin cells while the zinc heals the epidermis.
- Beauty Drops No. 3 by Future Cosmetics
- A moisturizing serum and overall skin treatment with powerful purifying and rebalancing qualities for acne-prone and congested skin. The 100% Water-based Serum is made with Herbal Extracts and Silk Proteins.
Face Serums for Fine Lines and Wrinkles
Fine lines and wrinkles are common signs of aging and an indicator of a well-lived life. As you get older, the skin becomes thinner, drier, and loses elasticity, slowly lessening and shifting the fat deposits in the face downward. Repeated facial expressions such as smiling can't bounce back to their original shape like they used to, leaving permanent lines and creases on the skin known as wrinkles. Sun exposure, genetics, and lifestyle factors can accelerate the development of wrinkles.
Vitamin A, commonly known as retinol, is a crucial ingredient in maintaining a youthful complexion. It attaches itself to skin cells, reaching both the dermis and the epidermis, normalizing their function and encouraging the cell to behave like its younger self. Antioxidants, such as niacinamide, are also excellent at fighting off the free radicals from our environment that induce signs of aging. Another powerhouse antioxidant is Vitamin C, which, as we will discuss next, evens skin tone and has impressive brightening effects while also increasing collagen production.
Recommended serums for fine lines and wrinkles include:
- MBR’s Liquid Surgery Serum
- Joanna swears this serum is “worth every penny”. This state-of-the-art treatment contains a medical synthetic oxygen carrier used as a hemoglobin to substitute and replace excess carbon dioxide with essential, pure oxygen offering measurable skincare results.
- Environ’s Concentrated Retinol Serum 1
- Retinol Serum 1 is the first step in Environ's Step Up System. Formulated with a high concentration of Vitamin A, it helps to normalize the appearance of skin abnormalities and damage, and promote healthy-looking skin.
Face Serums for Hyperpigmentation
Pigmentation refers to the discoloring of the skin. When the body produces more melanin, the skin gets darker, resulting in hyperpigmentation. Genetics, skin disorders, or injuries can cause this condition, but hyperpigmentation happens to almost everyone as they age due to repeated sun exposure. The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays stimulate melanin production and can cause dark spots or patches on the skin over time. These are known as sun spots, age spots, or lentigines. Post-inflammatory acne scarring differs from hyperpigmentation, but the following ingredients we discuss can significantly help with this skin concern.
Hormonal changes can also cause hyperpigmentation, especially during pregnancy, when many women develop dark patches on their faces and body. This condition is called melasma, and it often disappears on its own after giving birth.
The two best ingredients for hyperpigmentation are vitamin C and A. Vitamin C brightens the skin and evens out the tone, lightening dark spots. The high antioxidant content also make vitamin C serums an excellent preventative treatment. Some studies show that pairing ferulic acid with vitamin C amplifies its effectiveness. Vitamin A is crucial in reducing hyperpigmentation, as it regulates melanogenesis by inhibiting tyrosinase - an enzyme vital in melanin production.
Recommended serums for hyperpigmentation include:
- Vita-Peptide C-Quence by Environ
- A gentle, step-up approach to vitamins A and C and lactic acid that works to combat the visible signs of aging. The serum creates the appearance of even, smoother, and healthier-looking skin, supporting and maintaining a radiantly youthful appearance.
- The C+ Serum by Joanna Czech Skincare
- Lightweight and fast-absorbing, this serum contains a stable form of Vitamin C. It is an anti-inflammatory that helps increase collagen production, hydrates, brightens, evens skin tone, and inhibits melanin synthesis.
Find the Right Face Serum for Your Skin
As you can see, no matter your skin concern, there's a serum out there to address it. If you're looking to maintain healthy skin or don't have any major skin concerns, I still recommend having a vitamin C serum and a serum for dry skin in your collection to keep you hydrated and protected. As always, if you have questions about which serum is right for you, you can consult with your esthetician.