Meet the single most important product in your skincare regime: the best face serum
A lot of people think that the cornerstone of a good skincare routine is the moisturiser. Wrong. The wunderkind of the skincare world is, in fact, the best face serum.
What these little bottles of joy can do is pretty much unrivalled in the skincare world. Even the very best moisturiser can’t do what a powerful serum can.
However, serums can be quite tricky to get your head around. Cleansers cleanse; moisturisers moisturise, but serums? Not so obvious. Plus it can feel like there are about a million different options on the market.
In short, serums treat. Everything from dehydration and wrinkles, to dullness and pigmentation. Skin experts agree it’s the single most important product in your skincare regime and the one you should invest the most money in. Let’s dig a little deeper…
What is a face serum?
Serums can be water-based or have more of an oil feel. In terms of where they sit in your regime, they’re applied after your best toner and before moisturising.
Due to their high concentration and potency, serums are the most effective way of delivering active ingredients into the skin.
‘With a much lighter consistency than your face cream, serums are made up of tiny molecules that absorb into the skin on a deeper level,’ says consultant dermatologist Dr Justine Kluk.
Moisturiser is thicker and sits on the surface of your skin where, among other things, it seals in moisture and all the goodness from a serum into your skin.
When do you apply face serum?
Twice daily is the golden rule, but the serum you apply in the morning should differ from the one you use before bed. You’ll find some work best whilst you’re sleeping, like retinol serums, and others, like the best vitamin C serums, are ideal during the day.
‘During the day, the priority is protecting against inflammatory and oxidising elements,’ explains Dr Barbara Sturm. ‘This means anti-pollution protection, UV protection, and using a hyaluronic acid-based serum. At night, it’s essential to use active ingredients that assist the body’s repair processes while you sleep.’
Once you’ve applied your serum, follow up with the best moisturiser for dry skin, or one of the best moisturisers for oily skin, depending on your skin type.
How to choose the best face serum for your skin type
‘Make a list of goals for your skin; for example, brightening or hydrating,’ says Kluk. ‘Focus on the top one or two priorities and select ingredients that tackle these first. You can always adjust them as your needs change.’
Ingredients like polyglutamine and the aforementioned hyaluronic acid are great at delivering hydration to all types of skin, while different exfoliating acids – the AHAs and BHAs – can help to brighten, improve skin texture, clear breakouts and even reduce the appearance of redness and pigmentation. Antioxidants are great at fending off environmental aggressors and boosting radiance, and retinol is the only proven ingredient to reduce wrinkles.
Be sure to always apply your hydrating acid serum first, then your treatment one second.
Best face serums 2022
Our beauty team have tried and tested many, many serums over the years and have become quite the experts on what makes a decent serum and what doesn’t. They looked at everything from price and packaging to ingredients and texture. And of course the results.
Here’s our beauty editor-approved edit of the best face serums that money can buy.