In the past, the products women used in their skincare routines mainly consisted of what was accessible to them in nature. The noblewomen in ancient Egypt slathered their bodies in honey to keep their skin soft and smooth, women in ancient Japan cleansed their faces with rice water, and Moroccan beauties used argan oil as a skin moisturiser.

Over the years, however, the world of skincare has evolved as new ingredients are discovered, technological advancements take place, and innovative companies find new ways to provide consumers with the latest product that claim to revolutionise our skin. No longer are our skincare routines made up of the basics of cleansing and moisturising, but there seem to be something new to add into our routines daily or the beauty industry guilts us into thinking we are compromising the health of our skin.


The Evolving World of Skincare

As consumers, it can be hard to keep up with the changing landscape of the skincare industry, what with the various trends that pop up every few months (10-step Korean skincare routine, anyone?). The new introductions skincare companies push at us can range from moments of “Why has this been missing in our lives for so long?!” to “Is my skin actually benefiting from this?” Therefore, it is our job as consumers to figure out if that new product Scarlett Johansson or any other Hollywood celebrity is promoting is truly something our skin needs, or merely a marketing ploy to reel in vulnerable customers.

That being said, there is one product that has been rising in popularity among skincare lovers for its potency and actual effectiveness in providing visible positive results to the skin: the face serum.


Serum vs. Moisturiser

Some of you are probably thinking, “Isn’t a serum just the same as a moisturiser?” Well, while face serums may contain moisturising ingredients to help in the hydration department, face serums and moisturisers are considered two different types of products. Let’s look at the differences between the two:

Amount of Active Ingredients

One difference that sets face serums apart from moisturisers is their potency. Face serums contain a high percentage of active ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and niacinamide. The amount of active ingredients in face serums can be as high as 70 per cent, whereas in moisturisers, the amount is usually only about five to 10 per cent.

Molecular Make-Up

In addition, face serums consist of smaller molecules compared to moisturisers. This allows serums to penetrate deeper into our skin, thus enabling our skin to receive the full effects of the active ingredients. Coupled with the high concentration of active ingredients, this makes face serums a powerful product for our skin as they can truly target our various skin concerns such as improving the appearance of wrinkles, evening out skin tone and fading dark spots.


Face serums are usually more lightweight in texture due to the absence of filler ingredients that can be found in moisturisers. These filler ingredients in moisturisers usually function as a barrier to keep all the good ingredients locked into our skin, allowing the moisturiser to properly do its job. On the other hand, serums are only made up of the most necessary active ingredients to target a specific skin concern and a lighter texture is necessary to enable the product to be delivered effectively into the lower layers of the skin. This is why serums tend to be either water or oil-based. Water-based serums are the most common in the market — these are meant to be applied onto the skin before richer products such as creams and lotions. Meanwhile, the larger molecular structure of oil-based serums requires them to be layered on top of cream-based moisturisers.


Do You Need a Face Serum?

Adding a face serum into your skincare routine is certainly not a must, but it can be beneficial if you wish to provide your skin with an extra health boost, especially if you have skin concerns you want to get rid of. If you do decide on incorporating a face serum into your routine, the most important thing is ensuring you are using one with ingredients suitable for your skin.

For instance, if you have dry skin, look for face serums that contain hyaluronic acid to help retain the level of moisture in your skin. If your skin is blemish-prone, opt for face serums with salicylic acid, an exfoliating ingredient that can penetrate deep into the skin and clear up clogged pores. If your skin is looking dull and lacklustre, face serums containing antioxidants such as vitamin C and E as well as alpha arbutin are the way to go as these ingredients can aid in evening out the skin tone and brighten the skin.


How Often Should You Use a Face Serum?

In general, a face serum can be applied once a day. However, check the instructions stated on your face serum to know exactly how often it can be used. Certain ingredients in serums can be pretty abrasive on the skin when used too frequently, such as retinol, so just pay attention to your skin to see how it is reacting to your serum and adjust your usage accordingly.