Q&A: Your guide to face serums, how they work, and how to pick one for you

SUGAR LAND, Texas – Serums are everywhere these days, promising beautiful skin with just a few drops each morning. But do they live up to the hype?

Dr. Sherry Ingraham of Advanced Dermatology in Sugar Land treats patients of all ages & skin types and says when it comes to serums, they can help improve a number of skin problems if you pick the right one.

What is serum?

Ingram: Serums are nutrients for the skin. Serums are skincare products that are designed to deliver high concentrations of specific active ingredients to the skin. There are many different types of serums on the market that perform different jobs, ranging from hydration to skin brightening battling acne, anti-aging, dark spots, and other skin problems.

How do you use one/apply it?

Ingram: For best results, you should use a serum all over your face and neck twice daily, once in the morning and then again in the evening, before applying your moisturizer.

What kind of issues can they target?

Acne, anti-aging, dark spots, and other skin repairs and rejuvenations.

Product Breakdown

Both women and men are turning to serums as a simple yet effective tool.

“If you want an anti-aging serum, you want to look for serums that have plumping ingredients like hyaluronic acid — that’s a moisturizer that’s in a thin layer of serum. A lot of those serums are combined with retinol,” Ingram said.

And those formulas don’t have to break the bank. Dr. Ingraham says a number of over-the-counter serums are ideal, including Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost for added moisture and La Roche Posay’s hyaluronic acid serum. Both formulas fall between a twenty and $30 price point.

As for where you should splurge? Look for potent Vitamin C serums.

“If you want pure vitamin C as an active, or you’re looking for vitamin C’s benefit — will it lighten dark spots, will it stimulate collagen, will it help prevent DNA damage — you need a really potent vitamin C in an amber bottle and you’re gonna pay a little bit more for that,” Ingram said.

Dr. Ingraham says the higher-end vitamin C serums can cost upwards of $150 per bottle but can last several months, and you can even use any excess on the backs of your hands to prevent brown spots. No matter which serum you choose, go easy on the application.

“Less is more when it comes to serums. You want a very, very thin layer. A little bit goes a long way when it comes to serums. But once I show patients how easily it’s absorbed, they say, ‘That I can do,’” Ingram said.

Dr. Ingraham recommends SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic for all skin types and patients.