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Polish & Prime: So what are serums, anyway?

In the past year or so, I’ve noticed what seems to be a new beauty product on the market – facial serums. I know they’ve been around for awhile, but it only seems recently that they are being pushed to be an everyday part of our skincare regime.

I was curious to do some research on them to see if they are actually beneficial and provide results beyond the ole’ 3-step cleanse, tone and moisturise routine.

As well as my own research (Google really is my friend), I interviewed the lovely and knowledgeable Tarj Mavi, the creator of La Mav. I first used La Mav about a year ago, because my former flat-mate was a huge user of the brand. My skin reacts well to their product, and I appreciate the company’s core commitments, which is why I trusted going to them for answers.

So, what exactly are facial serums?

Tarj explains facial serums as being a “liquid formulation of treatments with high concentration (10%-60%) of active-ingredients to deliver potent nutrients to the skin to treat specific skin concerns such as fine lines, wrinkles, pigmentation, uneven skin tone, dehydration etc. They are absorbed quickly to deliver the Bio-Actives into the deeper layers of the skin whereas most of the moisturisers are targeted to act on the top layer.”

Essentially, serums are used to target specific skin concerns you may have, and they are able to penetrate through more layers of skin than other products.

Can I use them in place of moisturisers?

You might be thinking – well, if this treats more layers of skin, surely I don’t need a moisturiser. Unfortunately, Grasshopper, it’s not that easy. Tarj explains,

“They work alongside moisturisers as they are very light in consistency and for some individuals may not provide enough moisturisation. Serums are meant to provide high levels of active-ingredients into the deeper layers of the skin while moisturisers hydrate the topical skin.”

All of this is sounding quite expensive, are you sure I need both?

While serums do run on the more expensive side of beauty products (a bottle generally seems to be around the $40 – $70 mark, but you can find some for as low as $20 and some as high as $330), it’s important to remember you only need 1-2 drops for your face and 2 for your neck/decolletage, so a bottle lasts for some time (a 30ml bottle lasts generally around three months for me, and I use it nightly).

And as Tarj explains, “Serums provide higher concentration of bio-actives and deliver results quicker than a moisturiser.” So, if budget is a concern, I would be more inclined to spend money on a serum that addresses your relevant skin concern, and then use a moisturiser on the cheaper end of the scale (even if all it promises is moisturising).

How do I apply it?

Serums are best applied after toner and before moisturiser (remember to let your face dry between each application). It’s always important to read the directions of the particular type you get, as some are different in their consistency and application. Serums  that are more oil based tend to come with a drop applicator, while ones that have a little more cream to them come with a pump.  It’s really important to remember that with these products,  a small amount goes a very long way.

So, what serum should I get?

It’s important to address the part of your skin causing you concern, and pick your serum to target it. As Tarj mentioned earlier, serums mostly address issues such as dryness, dullness, uneven skin tone, and fine lines and wrinkles.

I’ve suggested a few brands for specific concerns below, but please note, I’ve only included brands I (or someone close to me) have personally tried, because I don’t want to recommend something I’m not familiar with. So please, if you know of a good brand,  let us know in the comments!

If you feel that your skin is prone to being dull… (like mine, because I don’t sleep enough and sometimes drink mammoth lattes instead of eating): La Mav’s Vit-C Advanced Nightly Repair NectarClarins Blue Orchid Face Treatment Oil, Antipodes Apostle Serum

If it’s dry… La Mav’s Hyaluronic Acid Hydra-Max SerumClarins Santal Face Treatment OilAntipodes Hosanna Intense Hydrating Serum

If you’re concerned about the signs of ageing…L’Oreal Youth Code LuminosityRoc Multi-Action Intensive SerumAntipodes Organic Avocado Oil & RosehipLa Mav Commiphora Extract Ultra Plumping Serum

So, should you use a serum? The choice is dependent on your skincare needs. I love my serums, and those around me have noticed a difference in my skin since I begun using them. But if you’re perfectly happy with your skin and your regime and are still in your teens or early twenties, then it can be a step that might not be necessary for now. Just remember though that your skin won’t be so effortlessly radiant forever, and to quote a million American football movies, the best defense is offense.


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