Serums 101: How to Add Serums to Your Routine

So you’ve nailed down your skincare essentials: cleanser, moisturizer, and SPF. But now you’re ready to take your skin to the next level. This is where serums come in.

What exactly does a serum do?

A serum is basically a turbo booster for your skincare routine. It usually comes as a liquid or gel and is formulated with higher concentrations of active ingredients to target specific skin concerns, from dehydration to acne to dark spots. Because these active ingredients are so powerful and concentrated, they’ll penetrate the skin more deeply and produce visible results more quickly.


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Who should use a serum?

Anyone can use a serum! The best way to get started is to figure out what skin concern you want to work on: Does your skin get irritated easily? Are you finding your skin feels more dehydrated as the weather gets colder? Do you want to get rid of hyperpigmentation? Then you can find a serum that will help.

How do I use a serum?

My number-one tip is to start slow. You don’t want to add a ton of products to your routine at once and potentially damage your skin’s moisture barrier, making your skin more vulnerable to irritation and breakouts. Instead, add one serum at a time, using it every few days for at least a couple of weeks to see how your skin tolerates it. Then you can start using it every day or add another product to the mix.

Building a reliable routine takes a lot of patience that even skincare veterans struggle with, but your skin will thank you if you take things slow. Once your skin has adjusted to using serums, you can even apply them over damp skin, which helps your skin absorb the ingredients better.

What serums should I try?

Where should you get started on your journey into the world of serums? Here are some of my favorite serums for addressing some of the most common skincare concerns:

Skin concerns:

Dark spots, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) acne scars

Murad Rapid Dark Spot Correcting Serum:

Murad Rapid Dark Spot Correcting Serum - Environmental Shield Skin Brightening Face Serum - Glycolic Acid Hyperpigmentation Treatment Backed by Science, 1.0 Fl Oz Murad Rapid Dark Spot Correcting Serum - Environmental Shield Skin Brightening... @ Amazon Amazon Prime

Murad’s serum is distinguished by its 30 years of dark spot brightening expertise. The key ingredients include patented Resorcinol Technology and glycolic acid. Resorcinol is an antioxidant that not only corrects existing dark spots but also works preventatively for a more even skin tone in the future. Glycolic acid, a renowned exfoliant, enhances natural radiance by removing dulling surface cells. The serum is suitable for normal, oily, combination, and dry skin types, making it versatile for a broad range of users.

Clinical studies support Murad’s claims, with 84% of users showing a reduction in the look of dark spots in just 14 days. Beyond dark spot correction, the serum offers additional benefits such as brighter (91%), smoother (94%), and more radiant skin (89%). Dr. Murad emphasizes the serum’s efficacy, noting that it delivers powerful and clinically proven dark spot correction without the need for a doctor’s visit.

La Roche-Posay Glycolic Acid Serum with Kojic Acid and Vitamin B5:

La Roche-Posay Glycolic Acid Serum with Kojic Acid and Vitamin B5, Reduces Dark Spots and Discoloration, Skin Tone Corrector to Brighten & Even Skin Tone La Roche-Posay Glycolic Acid Serum with Kojic Acid and Vitamin B5, Reduces Dark... @ Amazon Amazon Prime

La Roche-Posay’s Glycolic Acid Serum takes a different approach by combining 10% pure glycolic acid with tranexamic acid (TXA), lipo-hydroxy acid (LHA), and vitamin B5. This lightweight serum targets visible dark spots, age spots, discolorations, and uneven skin tone. Notably, it is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin. The glycolic acid provides exfoliation, TXA addresses skin discolorations, LHA offers renewing properties, and vitamin B5 ensures the skin feels soothed and moisturized.

Users of La Roche-Posay’s serum can expect brighter and radiant skin in just two weeks, with a significant reduction in the look of dark spots and discolorations after four weeks. The inclusion of tranexamic acid, recognized by dermatologists, adds a layer of specificity in addressing skin discolorations.

Dermalogica Biolumin-C Serum:

Dermalogica Biolumin-C Serum, Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum for Face with Peptide and AHA - Exfoliates and Reduces Unbalanced Pigmentation for Brighter, Firmer Skin, 2 Fl Oz Dermalogica Biolumin-C Serum, Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum for Face with Peptide... @ Amazon Amazon Prime

Dermalogica’s Biolumin-C Serum stands out with its high-performance anti-aging formula. It features an ultra-stable Vitamin C complex, peptides, and AHA. This serum aims to enhance the skin’s natural defense system, brighten the complexion, firm the skin, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Suitable for all skin types, the serum provides a comprehensive approach to addressing various signs of aging.


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The benefits of Dermalogica’s serum extend beyond dark spot correction; it also exfoliates, reduces unbalanced pigmentation, and prevents free radical damage. The advanced bio-technology combined with peptides and AHA works synergistically to optimize the bioavailability of Vitamin C. The optimized delivery system ensures that the ingredients penetrate effectively, renewing the skin for a brighter, firmer, and more radiant complexion.

While Murad Rapid Dark Spot Correcting Serum focuses on clinical dark spot correction and prevention, La Roche-Posay Glycolic Acid Serum emphasizes a gentle approach suitable for sensitive skin. Dermalogica Biolumin-C Serum takes a comprehensive anti-aging stance, using advanced bio-technology and a stable Vitamin C complex.

Skin concerns:

Acne, redness, sensitivity, uneven skin, oily skin

Mario Badescu Anti Acne Serum for Combination & Oily Skin:

Mario Badescu Anti Acne Serum for Combination & Oily Skin | Clarifying Gel-Serum that Tackles Clogged Pores | Formulated with Salicylic Acid and Glycerin | 1 FL OZ Mario Badescu Anti Acne Serum for Combination & Oily Skin | Clarifying Gel-Serum... @ Amazon Amazon Prime

Mario Badescu’s Anti Acne Serum is formulated with combination and oily skin in mind, addressing common concerns such as acne and excess oil production. Its multifaceted approach includes patented Resorcinol Technology and glycolic acid, targeting not only existing acne but also aiming to prevent future breakouts. Personal usage of this serum underscores its effectiveness in managing acne and controlling excess oil. The serum’s versatility across different skin types is a notable feature, making it suitable for a broad spectrum of users.

The formula’s emphasis on prevention sets it apart, providing a proactive solution for maintaining clearer skin in the long run. Additionally, the serum’s affordability makes it an attractive option for those seeking an effective yet budget-friendly acne solution.

CLINICAL Pro-Heal Serum Advance+:

Pro-Heal Serum Advance+ antioxidant-rich serum containing vitamin C, E, and A for redness, rosacea, inflammation, 1 Fl Oz Pro-Heal Serum Advance+ antioxidant-rich serum containing vitamin C, E, and A... @ Amazon Amazon Prime

In contrast, the CLINICAL Pro-Heal Serum Advance+ positions itself as an antioxidant-rich serum tailored for addressing redness, rosacea, and inflammation. Formulated with vitamins C, E, and A, this serum offers a clinical-grade solution for those dealing with specific skin concerns beyond acne. Personal usage experiences highlight its efficacy in reducing redness and enhancing overall skin texture.

The serum’s dermatologist-recommended status and clinical-grade formulation instill confidence in its potential benefits. While it comes with a higher price point, users find value in its targeted approach, particularly for conditions like rosacea. The inclusion of potent antioxidants adds a layer of skin nourishment, contributing to an overall improvement in skin health.

Glo Skin Beauty Beta-Clarity BHA Drops:

Glo Skin Beauty Beta-Clarity BHA Drops - Salicylic Acid + Retinol Clarifying Serum, Helps Refine & Rebalance for a Clearer, Brighter Complexion (1 Fl Oz) Glo Skin Beauty Beta-Clarity BHA Drops - Salicylic Acid + Retinol Clarifying... @ Amazon Amazon Prime

Glo Skin Beauty Beta-Clarity BHA Drops differentiate themselves by focusing on acne-prone skin with a Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) formula. This serum is designed to address acne and blemishes, making it an ideal choice for those specifically seeking a solution for breakouts. Personal usage experiences reveal its efficacy in reducing breakouts, minimizing pores, and promoting clearer skin.

The targeted use of BHA sets this serum apart, as it is well-known for its ability to penetrate and exfoliate within the pores, making it particularly effective for acne-prone skin. Users appreciate its non-drying formula, contributing to a positive overall skincare experience. However, like any product, everyone’s sensitivities may vary, and some users have noted concerns about the product’s scent and potential irritation, especially for those with sensitive skin.

Mario Badescu Anti Acne Serum excels in addressing acne and oiliness with a preventive focus, CLINICAL Pro-Heal Serum Advance+ targets redness and inflammation with a clinical-grade approach, and Glo Skin Beauty Beta-Clarity BHA Drops provides a specialized solution for acne-prone skin with the inclusion of BHA.

Skin concerns:

Uneven skin, dullness, visible pores

PCA SKIN Vitamin B3 Brightening Serum:

PCA SKIN Vitamin B3 Brightening Serum, Anti Aging Serum for Dark Spots and Skin Discoloration, Made with Hydrating Niacinamide and Antioxidants, Helps Minimize Redness and Uneven Skin Tones, 1.0 Pump PCA SKIN Vitamin B3 Brightening Serum, Anti Aging Serum for Dark Spots and Skin... @ Amazon Amazon Prime

PCA SKIN’s Vitamin B3 Brightening Serum is designed to address uneven skin tone, dark spots, and skin discoloration. Formulated with Vitamin B3 (niacinamide), this serum aims to brighten the complexion and combat signs of aging. The intent behind this product is to offer a solution for people dealing with uneven skin and dullness, seeking a serum with anti-aging benefits.

When I used it the PCA SKIN serum has shown efficacy in addressing uneven skin tone and dark spots. The inclusion of Vitamin B3 brings a brightening effect, contributing to a more radiant complexion. Niacinamide, known for its anti-inflammatory properties, also helps in reducing redness and irritation, making it suitable for sensitive skin. The lightweight texture of the serum allows for easy absorption, contributing to a positive skincare experience.

StriVectin Tighten & Lift Advanced Neck Cream PLUS:

Sale StriVectin TL Advanced™ Tightening Neck Cream PLUS, 1.7 oz for Tightening and Firming Neck & Décolleté Lines, Visibly Reducing Sagging and Crepey Skin for Smooth Healthy Looking Skin StriVectin TL Advanced™ Tightening Neck Cream PLUS, 1.7 oz for Tightening and... @ Amazon Amazon Prime

StriVectin’s Tighten & Lift Advanced Neck Cream PLUS focuses on tightening and lifting the skin on the neck and décolleté area. Enriched with Alpha-3 Peptides™, this cream targets signs of aging in areas prone to sagging. The intent is to provide a specialized solution for those seeking to address sagging skin and dullness in the neck and décolleté region.

For me, the StriVectin cream has proven effectiveness in firming and lifting the skin in the neck and décolleté area. The incorporation of Alpha-3 Peptides™ contributes to the anti-aging benefits, promoting a more youthful appearance. The cream’s rich and nourishing texture provides hydration to the delicate skin in the neck region, addressing dullness and improving overall skin texture.

Skin concerns:

Dehydrated skin, dullness, sensitivity

Bioderma – Hydration Serum – Hydrabio:

Bioderma - Hydration Serum - Hydrabio - Hydration Booster - Hydrating Feeling - Facial Hydrating Serum for Dehydrated Sensitive Skin Bioderma - Hydration Serum - Hydrabio - Hydration Booster - Hydrating Feeling -... @ Amazon Amazon Prime

Bioderma’s Hydrabio Hydration Serum is crafted to provide intense hydration for dehydrated and sensitive skin. The serum incorporates the patented Aquagenium™ complex, which stimulates the skin’s ability to retain moisture. Using this serum has revealed noticeable improvements in rehydrating the skin, leaving it feeling plump and revitalized.

The lightweight texture of the serum ensures quick absorption, making it suitable for daily use. It serves as an effective first step in a skincare routine, preparing the skin to absorb subsequent products. The Hydrabio Hydration Serum’s focus on deep hydration without causing irritation or clogging pores makes it a staple for addressing dehydrated skin concerns.

Institut Esthederm – Intensive Hyaluronic Serum:

Sale Institut Esthederm - Intensive Hyaluronic Serum - Moisturizing - Wrinkles and Fine Lines - Dehydrated Skin, 1 Fl Oz (Pack of 1) Institut Esthederm - Intensive Hyaluronic Serum - Moisturizing - Wrinkles and... @ Amazon Amazon Prime

Institut Esthederm’s Intensive Hyaluronic Serum is designed to combat dehydration by harnessing the power of hyaluronic acid. This serum is intended to boost the skin’s moisture-retaining capabilities, providing a plumping effect. Personally incorporating this serum into a skincare routine has demonstrated its efficacy in revitalizing dehydrated skin, imparting a supple and dewy finish.

The serum’s concentrated hyaluronic acid formulation caters to the needs of dehydrated skin, promoting long-lasting hydration. Its versatility allows for use as a standalone product or as a hydrating layer beneath other skincare products. The serum’s ability to address dehydrated skin without any greasiness or residue adds to its appeal.

Sesderma Hidraderm Hyal Body Lotion:

Sesderma Hidraderm Hyal Body Lotion, 13.5 Fl Oz Sesderma Hidraderm Hyal Body Lotion, 13.5 Fl Oz @ Amazon Amazon Prime

Sesderma’s Hidraderm Hyal Body Lotion offers a comprehensive approach to hydration, extending beyond the face to nourish the body. Enriched with hyaluronic acid, this body lotion is specifically formulated to combat dehydration and dryness. Incorporating this body lotion into a skincare routine has revealed its effectiveness in providing lasting moisture, particularly for areas prone to dryness.

The lotion’s silky texture ensures smooth application, and its quick absorption prevents any sticky or heavy feeling on the skin. Using Hidraderm Hyal Body Lotion on a regular basis has contributed to a visible improvement in skin hydration and suppleness. The body lotion’s emphasis on delivering hydration throughout the body makes it a convenient and effective solution for dehydrated skin concerns beyond the face.

What serums are you going to try next?

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A passionate beauty specialist and blogger with a deep love for skincare and wellness. More about me here.

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