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  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

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What does serum do for your skin?

How to incorporate this product into your skincare routine—and why you may want to.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Sep 30, 2023 • 7 min read
Medically reviewed by Jessica Mefford, NP
A Facial Serum
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Sep 30, 2023 • 7 min read
Medically reviewed by Jessica Mefford, NP
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Integrating high-quality facial serums into your skincare regimen may significantly enhance the overall outcomes of your skincare routine. The effectiveness of these serums stems from their concentrated active ingredients.

Here, Curology’s licensed dermatology providers will explain what facial serums are, how they can target your skincare needs, and what facial serum might be the right choice for you.

All about face serums

Cosmetic serums can be potent formulations containing a high concentration of active ingredients in either water or oil bases. These concentrated serums, also known as concentrates, set themselves apart from creams by offering a higher proportion of biologically active components. This quality gives certain serums efficacy in addressing a variety of cosmetic concerns.¹

One of the notable advantages of serums is their ability to swiftly target specific areas of your skin due to their rapid absorption characteristic.²

Regardless of age, most people can use serums to address a wide range of skincare needs. This versatility makes them valuable in many skincare routines. Whether the objective is to combat signs of aging, improve hydration, diminish hyperpigmentation, or enhance overall skin health, serums may offer solutions for a multitude of skin issues.³

Serums can deeply penetrate the skin, thanks to their high concentrations of active substances. This attribute enables them to deliver potent benefits and effectively target underlying skin concerns. Moreover, the rapid absorption of serums ensures that the active ingredients reach the intended areas without leaving any greasy residue behind.⁴ That said, this may not be true for all serums on the market.

What do face serums do?

Discover the effects of brightening, hydrating, and anti-aging serums.

Brightening

Brightening serums, like a vitamin C serum, offer many potential skin benefits. Skin cannot produce vitamin C by itself, so it needs to come from outside sources like serums or diet. In the skin, the most abundant form of vitamin C is called L-ascorbic acid,⁵ which is typically found in these serums. 

When applied to the skin, it can help fight signs of aging. It does this by working as a powerful antioxidant, which protects your skin from damage caused by the sun and helps reduce dark spots. Vitamin C also helps increase collagen production.⁶

Hydrating

Hyaluronic acid (HA) serum can lead to numerous benefits for the skin. As a natural substance found in the body, including the skin, its key function is to enhance skin hydration by attracting and retaining water. This quality leads to improved skin texture and diminished appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, giving the face a smoother and more youthful look.⁷ 

Additionally, HA serum can support skin health by increasing the presence of hyaluronan in the skin. By choosing skincare products with HA, individuals can experience the benefits of enhanced skin hydration and a more youthful complexion.⁸

Anti-aging

Niacinamide serum, also known as vitamin B3, has been shown to be well-tolerated by the skin and offers various benefits for the appearance of aging facial skin.⁹ Topical niacinamide has demonstrated some anti-aging benefits such as improving the appearance of wrinkles, enhancing the skin’s elasticity, and reducing hyperpigmentation and redness.¹⁰

How should you apply serum?

Navigating the vast world of skincare can be overwhelming, but with the advice of dermatology providers, crafting a personalized routine becomes more manageable. A comprehensive skincare regimen should involve cleansing, addressing specific skin concerns, moisturizing, and using sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) protection.¹¹

skincare routine should begin with proper cleansing using a mild cleanser tailored to individual skin types. For acne-prone skin, opt for a gentle cleanser that removes excess oil, while dry skin benefits from a hydrating cleanser.¹²

Specific skin concerns can be addressed by incorporating serum into a skincare routine. For example, Vitamin C serums can help combat signs of aging and dark spots. Application of Vitamin C can be done in the mornings. 

Last, sunscreen is a must for protecting the skin from harmful rays. Apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30, broad-spectrum protection, and water resistance before going outdoors.¹³

Consistency is key as results may take at least 30 days to become visible. Tailor skincare routines to specific needs and skin concerns to achieve optimal results.¹⁴

A personalized solution for your skincare needs

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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Choosing facial serums should not take guesswork. Curology’s team of licensed dermatology providers can share personalized skincare recommendations based on your specific concerns. All you need to do is answer a handful of questions and take a few photos of your skin concerns. Click here to sign up for a trial* with Curology today.

FAQs

What does a serum do to your face?

Cosmetic serums are formulations with a high concentration of active ingredients that can offer efficacy in addressing various cosmetic concerns. 

Regardless of age, serums can address a wide range of skincare needs, from combating signs of aging to improving hydration and reducing hyperpigmentation. They can provide good results and boost confidence if used correctly.

When to start using vitamin C serum?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, you can use Vitamin C serum if you see dark spots or signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles.¹⁵ That said, vitamin C serum may be used before any visible signs of aging. It’s important to talk to your dermatology provider for advice on when to incorporate specific ingredients. 

Does serum help with wrinkles?

Certain serums may help improve the appearance of wrinkles. Studies show that using a facial serum is effective and well-tolerated in treating photodamaged facial skin.¹⁶ It can improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, skin pigmentation, elasticity, radiance, and overall appearance, based on both investigator and subject assessments. Significant improvements can be observed as early as four weeks into use.¹⁷ It’s important to note that results may vary depending on your specific serum and its ingredients.

What are the steps for a face routine?

A comprehensive skincare regimen should include cleansing, addressing specific skin concerns, and sun protection. 

To start, use a mild cleanser tailored to your skin type. Address specific concerns with serums or other treatments. Moisturize and always protect your skin with broad-spectrum sunscreen, SPF 30 or higher.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don't have to:

  1. Sasidharan, S., et al. Formulation and evaluation of fairness serum using polyherbal extracts. International Journal of Pharmacy. (July 2014). 

  2. Sasidharan, S., et al. Formulation and evaluation of fairness serum using polyherbal extracts. International Journal of Pharmacy. Ibid.

  3. Sasidharan, S., et al. Formulation and evaluation of fairness serum using polyherbal extracts. International Journal of Pharmacy. Ibid.

  4. Sasidharan, S., et al. Formulation and evaluation of fairness serum using polyherbal extracts. International Journal of Pharmacy. Ibid.

  5. Rattanawiwatpong, P., et al. Anti-aging and brightening effects of a topical treatment containing vitamin C, vitamin E, and raspberry leaf cell culture extract: A split-face, randomized controlled trial. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. (2020, January 24).

  6. Rattanawiwatpong, P., et al. Anti-aging and brightening effects of a topical treatment containing vitamin C, vitamin E, and raspberry leaf cell culture extract: A split-face, randomized controlled trial. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. Ibid.

  7. Draelos, Z.D., et al. Efficacy Evaluation of a Topical Hyaluronic Acid Serum in Facial Photoaging. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). (August 2021).

  8. Draelos, Z.D., et al. Efficacy Evaluation of a Topical Hyaluronic Acid Serum in Facial Photoaging. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). Ibid.

  9. Bissett, D.L., et al. Niacinamide: A B vitamin that improves aging facial skin appearance. Dermatol Surg. (July 2005).

  10. Bissett, D.L., et al. Niacinamide: A B vitamin that improves aging facial skin appearance. Dermatol Surg. Ibid.

  11. Ludmann, P. Dermatologist-recommended skin care for your 20s. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (2023, February 23). 

  12. Ludmann, P. Dermatologist-recommended skin care for your 20s. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Ibid.

  13. Ludmann, P. Dermatologist-recommended skin care for your 20s. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Ibid.

  14. Ludmann, P. Dermatologist-recommended skin care for your 20s. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Ibid.

  15. Ludmann, P. Dermatologist-recommended skin care for your 20s. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Ibid.

  16. Mccall-Perez, F., et al. Efficacy and Tolerability of a Facial Serum for Fine Lines, Wrinkles, and Photodamaged Skin. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. (July 2011).

  17. Mccall-Perez, F., et al. Efficacy and Tolerability of a Facial Serum for Fine Lines, Wrinkles, and Photodamaged Skin. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. Ibid.

Jessica Lee is a certified Nurse Practitioner at Curology. She received her Master in Nursing from Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, CA.

*Cancel anytime. Subject to consultation. Results may vary.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
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Curology Team

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Jessica Mefford, NP

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