Are serums a game changer in skincare?

Simple and effective, skin serums – particularly vitamin C and B-based treatments – are touted as game-changers when it comes to anti-ageing and beautiful flawless skin.

Brisbane travel blogger Amanda Twine, 39, first started using skin serums in her late 20s and says it has helped her take control of her skin health.

“I use them twice a day,” Amanda says.

“In the morning, I use Vitamin C, and at nights I use retinol (Vitamin A).

“I started using serums because I have quite dry skin, and it worked.

“But over time, I also noticed it made my skin so much softer and youthful.

“After using it for years, I get comments all the time that my skin doesn’t look like a 39-year-old’s.”

Serums packaged in small bottles also made them convenient for her travelling lifestyle.

However, in the early days finding the right one involved plenty of trial and error.

“Not all of them necessarily work,” Amanda says.

“I had to try a few brands, to begin with.

“There are brands that work that are not too expensive, that you can get in the chemist, but some are super expensive, and they don’t necessarily work.

“I find anything generally that has Vitamin C, B, and A tend to be good, but some brands are just full of fillers.”

So what exactly is a serum?

Dr Jo-Ann See from the Australian College of Dermatologists, and Central Sydney Dermatology, says serums are oil or water-based liquids that are easily absorbed by the skin.

“Your skin can get a boost with the serum because they are designed to deliver high concentrations of specific active ingredients to the skin so they can work faster compared to a cream or lotion,” Dr See says.

“Due to the fact that they absorb quickly, a face serum won’t feel heavy or greasy so that it may be better in the summer or if you suffer from acne.”

Serums also contain more concentrated “actives” than regular skin care products and therefore are more likely to work faster and more effectively,” fellow ACD spokesman Dr Adrian Lim says.

However, while these products have huge upsides, they don’t come cheap, with some brands costing as much as $125 per 60ml.

This makes them not ideal for “liberal, repeat or extensive applications; the way moisturisers and sunscreen are typically used,” Dr Lim says.

Choosing the right serum

There are plenty of skin serums out there boasting miracle ingredients, but not all serums work the same.

Ideally, it would be best to look for a serum with the right active ingredients great for the skin.

But Dr Lim says different brands have varying recipes.

“The usual caveat applies to commercial skin care products: promise versus performance,” he says.

“Some serums contain a higher concentration of active ingredients so may work faster and better on targeted areas.”

Serums that contain Vitamin C and B are commonly regarded as being among the best for skin, Dr See says.

“Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that neutralises free radicals, which are reactive molecules produced by ultraviolet damage and exposure to air pollution,” she explains.

“The multiple benefits of vitamin C serum can include reducing fine wrinkling, protecting collagen and increasing collagen production.

“It even reduces hyperpigmentation and evens skin tone, and many people see that it brightens their complexion.

“Vitamin B serum usually contains niacinamide, which is vitamin B3.

“Niacinamide helps to repair damaged DNA but also has an anti-inflammatory role.

“This type of serum can be soothing and combined with other actives to minimise irritation.”

For more beauty advice and inspirational lifestyle tips, check out the January edition of Wellness+, available free at Chemist Warehouse.