Winter’s imminent return brings with it a myriad of skin care concerns, mostly involving excess dryness. To fight potential flakes it might be time to up the ante when it comes to moisture, but do all signs point to
skin serums? The small bottles of concentrated skin savers come with a lot of hype – but do they live up to their reputation? With so many serums on the market it can be hard to know what to buy — and what to bypass when it comes to skin care products. To help ensure you don’t waste your money we take a closer look at what skin care products to shop for and what to expect from this oft-confusing piece of the complexion puzzle.

We asked Jennifer Cueto, skin care expert and head aesthetician at Concepts Salon & Spa in Toronto, for more insight into whether or not skin serums really can help us achieve the glowing complexion we covet. She explains that when used to target specific complexion concerns, serums can be a helpful skin care step. “They are active in solving any applicable issue for the skin type that they are made for,” she says.

Serums explained

While it may seem like just another form of moisturizer, serums are more potent than your average anti-aging cream. “Serums are the most concentrated form of a given skin care product,” Cueto says. They have very little filler and contain a greater concentration of active skin care ingredients (vitamins, antioxidants, plant extracts), formulated with smaller molecules so they can better penetrate the skin, she explains. Unlike regular moisturizers, which sit on the surface of the skin, a serum gets into the deeper layers to better tackle various complexion concerns.

Serums allow you to apply those active ingredients, whether they are for dry skin, ageing skin or redness, directly to your skin as the first part of your skin care routine. This allows your skin to absorb the most targeted ingredients first, Cueto explains. “When you apply the serum specifically to trouble spots, you will see the quickest results.” You can also use serums to pin-point even more specific trouble areas such as
crow’s feet, frown lines and age spots.

So should you really use these skin care products? Find out on the next page …

Who should use a serum?

All skin types can benefit from using a serum because different serums are made for a variety of skin issues. Hydrating serums target dry or mature skin,
anti-aging serums target fine lines and wrinkles and there are even serums that help balance oily and
acne-prone skins and target breakouts.

When shopping for a serum the type of active ingredients to look for depends on the skin care issue that you are looking to treat, Cueto says. When it comes minimizing the signs of ageing and specifically targeting wrinkles, look for serums with retinol. For this she recommends using RoC RETIN-OX Wrinkle Correxion Anti-Wrinkle Serum, an ultra-light concentrated serum that works to increase surface cell turnover.

If you are trying to remedy dry, aging skin, look for a product containing hyaluronic acid, which helps with moisture retention. Bio-peptides are also an important ingredient to look for to smooth skin and minimize fine lines. They help build collagen, stimulate cell renewal and speed cell turnover. If oily skin and breakouts are your main concern, look for a serum containing glycolics.

Adding a serum to your skin care routine

To maintain healthy,
soft skin all winter, Cueto says the most important skin care steps include exfoliation, constantly wearing sunscreen to protect the skin, drinking water to stay hydrated from the inside out and moisturizing (especially at night). Though not a necessity, if you need a bit more help, she recommends adding a serum to your regimen for improved results.

Serums should be applied after cleansing and toning so that the active ingredients are the first to be absorbed by cleansed skin. Put one or two small drops into your hand and massage gently over your face. Wait five minutes to let the product sink in, and then apply your regular moisturizer. If you are using an eye cream, this would also go on after your serum and if you have oily skin, a serum can be worn alone. Though serums can be expensive, a little goes a long way. Two small drops should be enough for your entire face and décolleté.

Read more:
10 essential nighttime skin care products

Nighttime skin care essentials
The best pore refining products
Foundations for flawless skin