Monday, April 7, 2008

The Inside Scoop on Serums

Serums are the most active format of a skin care regimen. As a rule, they are lightweight in texture and have a high absorption rate contributing to a more in-depth form of treatment. Serums address particular concerns and are applied in tandem with a cream to compliment and intensify a more specific delivery with a more marked result. For example, applying a hydrating serum under an anti-age cream will address the skin's hydration as well as the anti-age focus of the cream. The hydrating serum will also enhance the benefits of the cream as hydrated skin allows for better penetration of active ingredients. The serum and cream can team up to be a dynamic duo and address the same concern, intensifying and doubling the targeted effect.

Serum formulas require less preservatives and have higher concentrations of active ingredients because they are packaged in pump bottles, vials or ampoules that are least likely to be exposed to contamination (fingers, air). The best format is an amber glass vial as the actives are protected from light and air, however, once the vial is opened it is only active for about 45 minutes and must be used. No, it doesn't work to put tape over the top, stick a Q-tip in the opening and put it in the fridge. If the entire contents of the vial are not used it must be thown away. The downside of the glass vials? They can be a real pain to open, can give a nasty cut if you are not careful, and take time to massage an entire vial into the skin (most contain 2ml). Pump bottles are by far more user friendly dispensing the exact amount you want to apply. Pumps also facilitate local application, i.e., a serum for couperose (those nasty little veins on the surface of your skin) may only need to be applied in the area of concern.

Serums are designed to be applied and massaged into clean skin, and after a minute or so, locked in with the application of a cream. Initially, a serum is recommended in the morning and at night for 2-4 weeks, then depending on your skin, can be cut back to once a day. The initial concentration of the new ingredients will stimulate and awaken activity in the skin. Locking the benefits of a serum in with a cream is essential as serums are meant to be absorbed into the skin and are not formulated to provide protection or function as a base for make-up. Tip: Exfoliation increases the benefit of a serum even more.

If your skin care program needs to be kicked up a notch adding a serum may give your skin the boost it needs rather than changing your favorite cream. This is often a great idea when the seasons change, which always affects the skin. Another great use for these gems is to use them under your sun protection to allow your skin concerns to be treated at the same time. Serums are one of the most versatile and effective products on the skin care market.

Reviews to follow . . .