Want results? Find the best serum for you and use it properly
Serums promise big benefits. And I have to admit, I drank the Kool-Aid in search of the best serum. But the added step to our morning routines hasn’t resulted in glowy, hydrated, wrinkle-free, toned undereye for everyone I know. So, I asked why when I met Dr. Mike Bell, skincare scientific advisor for Boots UK. (The skincare company which recently expanded the No. 7 line of serums to include three new serums – Restore & Renew Face & Neck Multi Action Serum, Lift & Luminate Triple Action Serum, and Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Serum – which is why I sat down with him to talk about how we might be using serums all wrong.)
Turns out, some of us are doing just that. Find out if you are making any of these four serum mistakes.
1. You use serum instead of a moisturizer
Serums tend to be more expensive, so if you think swapping a serum for a moisturizer gives you more bang for your buck, you’d be wrong.
“People don’t understand the role of a moisturizer versus a serum, when to use them how to use them,” says Bell, noting that serums do not contain SPF, because those ingredients can make other active ingredients less effective by up to 33 percent. “Serum contains the highest amount of active ingredients. It’s single-minded to focus on a concern.” And not all you see in the beauty aisle will tackle everything so make sure you use the best serum that suits your needs. (Like how I snuck in that serum mistake of not using the appropriate serum?) “The moisturizer is multipurpose, of course, for moisturization and for sun protection.”
So by swapping them, you miss out on the results of hydrating, which can cause premature wrinkles and other skin-health issues.
2. You put your moisturizer on first
“If you have a layer of moisturizer on the skin and then you add the serum, the serum is going to find it much harder to get into the skin,” says Bell. In fact, that SPF and other ingredients layer the skin, which can be an obstacle for your serum. “It must be applied over the top the serum. You want the serum to go on first, and to be absorbed by the skin.”
3. You are not using the right amount
Some people don’t know how much serum to apply, so it can vary, which can affect how it affects the skin, says Bell. He adds that the clinical trials for No. 7 serums all measured a pea-sized amount to be effective for the face. “But if you are applying it to the neck too, use a bit more. Add another pea.” Use more than that and “you will just waste your money. It’s not a larger dose for better effects.”
4. Only using it once a week or once a day
Serums are not like masks or acne creams. It’s not a treatment. It is a part of your daily skincare regime. Bell says: “Use it twice a day. Once in the morning, under your day cream and at night under your night cream. The clinical trials measured against that, and that is what you will get results from.”
5. Using the wrong serum for your skin concerns
This is a case of matching what is on the label with what you feel your skin needs. So if you have the best serum for your skin issues, use it properly with moisturizer, apply the right amount twice a day, you should see results. “In terms of clinical research and targeted concerns, these are the things that are really clinically proven,” says Bell.