Serums make your skincare routine more powerful than it already is. It elevates the effect of your everyday steps, doing all the heavy lifting so all you need to do is wait for results. And aside from being consistent, the most important thing is to tailor your serum to your specific skin type and concerns. This will save you not only your precious time, but those hard-earned coins, too.
What are serums and how do you use them?
But first, what are serums in the first place? Essentially, serums are potent skincare products that are formulated to address specific concerns. There are brightening serums, hydrating serums, serums that prevent signs of aging, and many more. What also sets a serum apart from a moisturizer, for example, is its runny texture that absorbs quickly—think something between a toner and a gel-based cream.
When it comes to where a serum would fit into your routine, it would depend on the texture you're dealing with. If your serum has a thin, watery feel, apply it after cleansing and before your moisturizer. Meanwhile, if you have a thick, oil-based product, use it as your last step. That said, serum should always be applied before sunscreen.
With all the basics out of the way, let's move on to actually shopping for a serum. Ahead, we break down everything you should know when choosing the best serum for your face. Get ready to take notes, because we're talking textures, active ingredients, and more!
Best Face Serums for Dry Skin: Hydrating and Barrier-Repairing
Serums give dry skin a chance to have a hydration boost even before moisturizer. You'd want to look for humectant ingredients like hyaluronic acid, polyglutamic acid, and glycerin, which will help you hold on to moisture so your skin stays plump and comfortable all day. Ceramides have the same moisture-locking perks with a side of skin barrier repair, perfect for those who suffer from peeling, redness, and other signs of sensitivity. Lastly, the texture of your serum depends on your preference, though milky and emollient serums help add a smooth slip to a dehydrated surface the best.
Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum
B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum, P2830, DRUNK ELEPHANT, Sephora.ph
The Inkey List Polyglutamic Acid Serum
Polyglutamic Acid Serum, P1070, THE INKEY LIST, Sephora.ph
Pixi Hydrating Milky Serum
Hydrating Milky Serum, P1810, PIXI, Sephora.ph
Best Face Serums for Mature Skin: Exfoliating and Brightening
Dryness is one of the most common concerns on maturing skin, but your serum of choice should do more than moisturize and give an instant glow. Give attention to formulas that have skin-renewing and plumping benefits, such as those that have retinol, alpha-hydroxy acids, peptides, and fermented ingredients as actives. All of these will slough off dead skin without harsh scrubbing, leaving you with a smoother, more-even toned complexion.
For a beginner-friendly treatment for dark spots and just prevention in general, you can turn to serums with niacinamide (or vitamin B3) and vitamin C. Both help brighten the skin overall, while the latter provides protection from harmful free radicals. That's not to say your skin won't love a generous heaping of humectants (hyaluronic acid, glycerin) and ceramides, because these would definitely address your dehydration and texture woes, too.
Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum
Retinol Youth Renewal Serum, P5050, MURAD, Rustan's
Pond's Age Miracle Ultimate Youth Essence
Age Miracle Ultimate Youth Essence, P1219, POND'S, Watsons
Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules Line Erasing Night Serum
Retinol Ceramide Capsules Line Erasing Night Serum, P3800 (30 capsules), ELIZABETH ARDEN, Lazada
Best Face Serums for Oily Skin: Sebum-Balancing and Brightening
When you have oily skin, your serum could either provide lightweight hydration, prevent breakouts, or help you control shine. Some formulas have it all, but you can definitely choose your fighter depending on how your skin feels that day.
Light, oil-free serums with salicylic acid will help keep your pores clear and prevent breakouts, while lactic acid serums will prevent acne-causing bacteria from flourishing and lighten acne marks. Niacinamide serums are also popular for this skin type for its sebum-balancing and dark spot-fading perks. But when all you need is a light veil of hydration, a water-based hyaluronic acid serum should do the trick without a greasy feel.
Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment
Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment, P5095 (30ml), SUNDAY RILEY, Sephora.ph
Selfless by Hyram Salicylic Acid And Sea Kelp Pore Clearing And Oil Control Serum
Salicylic Acid And Sea Kelp Pore Clearing And Oil Control Serum, P1415, SELFLESS BY HYRAM, Sephora.ph
It's Skin Power 10 Formula VB Effector
Power 10 Formula VB Effector, P550, IT'S SKIN, Lazada
Best Face Serums for Acne-Prone Skin: Soothing and Brightening
Acne can be caused by a plethora of factors, so if you're suffering from a bad breakout, it's still best to consult a dermatologist for your treatment options. That said, you can still alleviate some of the pains of acne with a good serum. To zap active zits, acne-fighting components like propolis, tea tree oil, and salicylic acid (willow bark extract is a great alternative for sensitive skin) are your best friend. Meanwhile, exfoliating serums with AHAs (glycolic acid, lactic acid, or malic acid) can prevent dead skin from developing into breakouts. For breakout soothers and after-care, you can opt for soothing formulas with centella asiatica, madecassoside, or aloe or brightening serums with niacinamide.
Keep in mind that formulation is important for this skin type as well—try to stay away from heavily emollient serums and opt for gentle, lightweight formulas (water-based or oil-free) that won't worsen your skin condition.
COSRx AC Collection Blemish Spot Clearing Serum
AC Collection Blemish Spot Clearing Serum, P1320, COSRX, Watsons
Farmacy Honeymoon Glow AHA Resurfacing Night Serum
Honeymoon Glow AHA Resurfacing Night Serum, P3590, FARMACY, Sephora.ph
Olay White Radiance Serum Niacinamide + Cica Super Serum
Radiance Serum Niacinamide + Cica Super Serum, P1499, OLAY, Lazada
Best Face Serums for Sensitive Skin: Hydrating and Calming
It can be quite frustrating to find a serum for highly-reactive skin. There's just too many unfriendly ingredients out there, and at the end of the day, anything can still break you out. However, this is no reason to lose hope. As long as you know what your skin dislikes, you can find a serum to add to your rotation. In fact, because any skin type can be sensitive, you can pretty much shop all the products above if it passes your checklist!
If you're not sure what to choose, you can always start with a mild, hydrating formula. Humectants (hyaluronic acid, glycerin) are practically foolproof, but you can also look out for something like thermal water that doubles up as a calming ingredient. And because most sensitive skin have damaged skin barriers, serums with ceramides or panthenol (vitamin B5) can help build your complexion's tolerance levels back up. If you're dire need of soothing action, cica (or centella asiatica) serums are aplenty everywhere especially in K-beauty. FYI, cica is a great addition for a maskne-fighting regimen, too!
Avène Hydrance Intense Rehydrating Serum
Hydrance Intense Rehydrating Serum, P2040, AVENE, Watsons
QuickFX Ceraboost Rescue Serum
Ceraboost Rescue Serum, P449, QUICKFX, Watsons
Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Serum
Cicapair Serum, P2680, DR. JART+, Sephora.ph