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If you’re an old-fashioned type of gal who loves her cleanser, moisturizer and the occasional exfoliator and a face mask chances are you’ve heard of the word ‘serum’ thrown around but never gave it a lick of thought. Well, you’re in for a sweet ride, or better yet an education. Serums, as popular as they are, are still not getting all the credit they deserve, and it’s high time we eradicate this injustice. Serums are an absolute miracle and you need them gracing your skin ASAP, so stay tuned and discover exactly why.

Moisturizers are great, but…

As beloved and essential as moisturizers are, they come with limits. They can only do so much for the skin before their magical effect reaches a wall. Well, that wall can be jumped over with the mighty serum. Now, to start with the basics, let’s first unveil the curtain and discover what a serum actually is. Its formula is lighter than a lotion or a cream and it commonly comes as a liquid containing more concentrated active ingredients than moisturizers. While these contain 5-10% of active ingredients, serums can carry up to 70%, which essentially makes a serum the highest concentrate you can get over the counter.

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What does this mean for my skin?

We’re glad you asked. We use moisturizers to achieve a radiant, youthful-looking skin. We use night creams to fight off the fine lines and wrinkles that seem to wait for the night to fall so they can strike. Unfortunately, due to their formula, these creams can do only so much, but serums are an absolute miracle that transcends the boundaries and helps you achieve the impossible. They have a way of getting under the surface level of your skin and penetrating deep into your pores. Their active ingredients, such as vitamins, minerals and stem cells, are therefore able to do their job and give you the look you have been craving for so long.

When you buy a serum, you’re not only buying a product, you are buying a ticket to fresher, younger, healthier, firmer and line-free skin. According to celebrity makeup artist Kristofer Buckle using a serum regularly can give your skin a firmer, smoother texture, make pores appear smaller and increase moisture levels, and there isn’t a single one of those things we don’t want for our skin.

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But how do I find the one that’s just right?

Ok, this is where you meet a fork in the road. There are essentially two types of serums – water and oil based ones, so it all comes down to your skin type. If you’re battling acne, a serum containing anti-inflammatory ingredients such as vitamin C or salicylic acid is the way to go for you. Now, one of the most common misconceptions out there is that oily and acne prone skin can’t benefit from oil-based serums and facial products in general.

In fact, if you exfoliate overzealously and deprive your skin of moisture you run the risk of producing more sebum, so feel free to try an oil based serum and see how that goes. If on the other hand you are a delicate flower with dry and sensitive skin, a serum that contains vitamin E and hyaluronic acid is just what the doctor ordered. Look for a serum with argan, coconut or jojoba oil will keep it both soft, pampered and wrinkle-free.

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Hmm… ok, so when do I apply it?

This is one of the most common questions women have. The benefits of a serum seem amazing, but where is its place? Luckily, dermatologist Jeffrey Benabio, MD is here with the answer. He states that the best time to ‘squeeze in’ the serum is right after the cleanser and before everything else. If you apply a moisturizer, sunscreen, or foundation too soon, these could block the penetration of your serum—which is a waste of a great product.

If you have sensitive skin, wait till it’s dry before applying a serum, as damp skin may absorb the active ingredients too quickly, causing irritation. If you want to get the most out of a serum, you have to be patient, let it do its magic, dry, and then go about applying everything else on your list.

The best part…

While there are serums out there that can be quite pricey, they are definitely worth the investment. First off, they’re highly effective, which means that you’re spending money on something that actually works. Secondly, when applied properly, a 1-ounce container of serum should last months, which makes them quite economical when you think about it.