How to pick the best serum for your skin, and why you should be using one this summer

Humidity in the air doesn’t equal beautifully hydrated skin. Try adding a serum to your daily routine to give your face a little extra loving care

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 April, 2018, 8:03pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 April, 2018, 8:14pm

You may ask what serums are, or why should you even use one. And fair enough, they’re expensive. So why should you add an extra step to your skincare routine when whatever you’re doing right now feels perfectly fine?

First of all, don’t be fooled into thinking you don’t need skincare just because Hong Kong is humid. While that may be true for some, humidity in the air doesn’t translate into hydration for your skin. Besides, do you really want this city’s blend of humidity and smog sinking into your pores?

Skincare is like clothes; what works for one person may not work for you, and vice versa. If your skin feels tight no matter how much cream you use, if it feels deflated, or textured, or looks dull, patchy, or dry, then it’s time you started using a serum.

What you need to know about serums is that they are designed and formulated differently to moisturisers, because they serve different purposes.

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A serum is packed full of active ingredients and lacks any of the heavier moisturising ingredients, such as mineral oils, that make moisturisers so hydrating. The molecules of a serum are also much finer than a cream. This allows the serum to be absorbed by the skin more quickly and to penetrate more deeply, to treat layers of your skin that’s below the surface.

Moisturisers tend to stay on the surface of the skin, as they are formulated with thicker hydrating ingredients that form a barrier. This protects your skin from external elements, and keeps moisture locked in so it doesn’t escape.

For some, a moisturiser that suits their skin type is enough to keep it feeling healthy and looking good. Others, who don’t like the greasiness of a moisturiser, may find the lighter texture of a serum preferable. Then there are those with extra needs (or who, like me, are just extra) who use both to not only hydrate our skin but to treat it in different ways.

It’s important to note, however, that because serums are absorbed so quickly and deeply, they may not be good for those with sensitive or irritable skin. Consult a dermatologist if your skin gives you trouble.

If you’ve never used a serum before, try one that’s made to simply provide intensive hydration. Later on, if you want to treat other factors, such as hyperpigmentation, or want anti-ageing properties, you can test out other serums.

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Here’s the order in which you should apply all your skincare products (including your newly bought serum): cleanser, toner, serum, eye cream, moisturiser.

What would you like to see an explainer on next? Moisturisers or primers? Leave a comment and let us know!

Here’s a selection of serums to add to your bathroom shelf.

L’Oreal Paris Hydrafresh Genius (HK$145/175ml citywide) – simple and hydrating, this affordable product is perfect for those who are new to serums.

Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Face Serum (HK$420/30ml from Fresh) – rose is well loved for its ability to lock in moisture, and this lightweight serum will leave your skin feeling petal-soft and nourished.

Sulwhasoo Essential Revitalizing Serum EX ($810/50ml citywide) – if your skin is looking a little dull and in need of a pick-me-up, the soothing and rejuvenating properties of this serum will return a healthy glow to your face.

Tatcha Deep Brightening Serum (HK$1,700/50ml from Joyce Beauty) – this serum adds a radiance to the complexion of even the most stressed, overworked, and mentally and physically drained Hongkonger.

La Mer The Revitalizing Hydrating Serum (HK$1,800/30ml citywide) – this richly restorative product will help your skin recapture that glow that radiates youth and vitality.