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Key Ingredients to Look for In a Face Serum

What ingredients do you need in your face serum? Here's what to look for. Find the best face serum for you with the help of our expert guide.

Face Serum Ingredients: The Best for Your Skin

Is a serum an extra step worth working into an already full skincare regimen? Don’t we get enough benefits from our specialized, skin-type specific face washes, morning and evening moisturizers, sunscreens, exfoliates, and eye creams? Exactly what is a serum, and why do we need one?

According to dermatologists, serums are a high-impact, clear liquid or gel-based skin product which packs a powerful punch of key ingredients into a highly absorbable fluid. A serum is quickly absorbed deeply into your skin’s layers rather than sitting on the skin’s surface the way a heavier cream or lotion does. This means that today’s best face serum products deliver deep hydration and skin-nourishing components at a depth that a cream or lotion cannot reach.

It’s also important to note that a serum should not replace a moisturizer but is rather formulated to be applied before your nightly moisturizer. Because a serum is deeply absorbed, it does not leave the surface of the skin moisturized.

Serious Serum Ingredients the Best Face Serums Wouldn’t be Without

Water: According to board-certified dermatologists, the best serums should have high water content. While it may seem absurd to pay for water for your face, water is the critical delivery method that a serum uses to penetrate the skin’s protective barrier in order to deliver the other highly concentrated ingredients to your skin cells.

  • Antioxidants: Skincare experts tell us that we should look for powerhouse antioxidants in the best face serums. Antioxidants come in the form of botanicals such as green tea extract, grape seed extract, feverfew extract, coffeeberry, and other plant-based extracts. You will also find antioxidant ingredients listed as reservatrol, Vitamin C and E, and Lycopene—which is derived from red fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants fight skin-aging free radical cells that form in our skin due to sun exposure and other environmental factors.
  • Retinol: Retinol is one ingredient that nearly all dermatologists agree is highly beneficial to the skin and can actually deliver what many skincare products promise—to turn back the clock on your skin’s aging. Retinol is a form of vitamin A with a very small molecular structure, meaning it can be deeply absorbed into skin cells where it stimulates the rebuilding of collagen, which is essential for skin structure integrity and lessens as we age. Retinol also encourages the accelerated regrowth and turnover of skin cells, so our skin functions more like it did during our younger years.
  • Hyaluronic Acid: Hyaluronic Acid is another key ingredient to seek in your serum. Many of the best face serum choices in today’s skincare market are packed with this moisture-miracle ingredient. Hyaluronic acid can literally pull moisture out of the humidity in the air around you, and suck it into your skin cells. While the oils and emollients in our skin creams help to seal in moisture, hyaluronic acid actually assists your skin to retrieve essential hydration from the air itself.

How to Choose the Best Face Serum for You

While all of the above ingredients deliver high-impact benefits to the skin, it’s also important to choose your face serum based on the needs of your individual skin, and what you hope to achieve from your serum.

If hydrating dry or aging skin is at the top of your skin wish list than reaching for the best face serum with hyaluronic acid high on the ingredients list will be of the most benefit for you.

If you are looking to brighten your skin, minimize dark under-eye circles or sun spots, then serums with Vitamin C will work for you. Vitamin C is a super-antioxidant for reversing sun damage, brightening the skin, and evening out skin tone.

If turning back the clock for a mature person, or slowing the hands of time for a younger person, is your goal, than the best face serum for you is one with a high dose of retinol—the anti-aging agent most recommended by dermatologists.

Finally, remember that the best face serums are highly concentrated, so watch your skin for any negative reactions. Always wear sunscreen, because many serum ingredients will cause your skin to become more photosensitive. And don’t forget to add your moisturizer on top of your serum to keep the skin’s surface well-hydrated.

How long do face serums take to work?

Because complete skin cell turnover takes about seven weeks, don’t give up on your serum until this time period has passed. After that time you should see some startling benefits.

Resources— StyleCaster, FaceSerum.com, OrganicBeautyandSkin.com,

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