What is Face Serum?

Allison Richard

A face serum is a clear, thick, liquid beauty product often formulated to target a specific problem. Some people use them to help reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots, while others choose formulas that help prevent acne and brighten the skin. A serum may contain many different ingredients, including vitamin C, rosehip oil, glycerin, cucumber, and aloe.

A jar of face serum.
A jar of face serum.


There are face serums meant to treat many different skin types, and each of these mixtures contains ingredients specifically geared toward one complexion type or another. Products for dry skin typically contain rosemary, chamomile, and almond oil, which help hydrate dry patches and may also help smooth away fine lines and wrinkles, making them anti-aging as well. Carrot seed, glycerin, and grapefruit extract, which contains vitamin C, may also appear in anti-aging formulas.

A toner should be applied before the serum.
A toner should be applied before the serum.

Mixtures for oily skin usually include rosehip oil, peppermint and lavender. Acne-prone individuals may benefit from these ingredients, and rosehip oil in particular may help heal blemishes and scars. Other ingredients in acne-fighting serums include aloe, cucumber, and calendula.

Face serum is applied after gently cleansing the skin of the face and neck.
Face serum is applied after gently cleansing the skin of the face and neck.

Eye serums are a variety that is usually applied to the thinner, more delicate skin around the eyes. They help decrease wrinkles and fine lines and also help reduce the appearance of dark circles, which are often made more prominent by dehydration. Formulas for the eyes may be lighter in weight and gentler than those meant for the face and neck.

Certain face serums are formulated to fight acne.
Certain face serums are formulated to fight acne.


Users should typically apply a face serum just before bed, after washing the face and neck with a gentle facial cleanser. The face should be slightly damp during application; this helps the liquid absorb into the skin. These formulas are thin and slippery, allowing them to spread over a very large area, so most people only need a few drops to cover the skin from the hairline to the base of the neck. If they are used, toner should be applied before the serum and a moisturizer after.

Eye serums help reduce the appearance of dark circles under the eyes.
Eye serums help reduce the appearance of dark circles under the eyes.

Serums and Moisturizers

Though serums and moisturizers are similar, there are some significant differences between the two. Face serums are extremely concentrated, which is part of why so little is needed. They are also made of very small molecules, which allows them to penetrate deeply into the skin, smoothing and healing from the inside out.

Moisturizers, on the other hand, are designed to stay on the top layer of skin, keeping the surface hydrated. They help keep the skin from being dry, flaky, and dull, making it look soft and supple. Some face serum formulas also contain moisturizers, eliminating the need for an additional product.


If the serum is discolored or yellows over time, it may mean that it has oxidized or become rancid. Oxidized products can be harmful to the skin and should be thrown away. Consumers should pay close attention to the expiration dates on all beauty products, and choosing items packaged in smaller containers may help people use them up before they go bad.

Face serum moisturizes and brightens the skin.
Face serum moisturizes and brightens the skin.

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Discussion Comments


Is there any relationship between this kind of serum and the liquid portion of blood? If not, the name is bizarre.


I used to moisturize in my 20s and now at the age of 51 I do not have a single line or wrinkle. I am in the process of marketing my own line of skincare to share my recipes and make a small income due to redundancy. I have to admit I use antioxidant serum and only the most expensive eos will do the job in concentrations you won't find in shop bought stuff.


I have been using this serum and am out. My supplier in my home country is out of stock. Can anyone tell me where I can order this product.


Informative post! Serum is a great antioxidant and ingredient for anti aging treatments and also helpful to protect your skin from damages.


I saw my roommate using a face serum and i decided to opt for it. i hope it'll remove all the black spots on my face.


I am totally in love with my antioxidant face serum. I had been using cold cream since forever, but when my daughter finally dragged me to an aesthetician, she convinced me to update my beauty routine.

I started with a Vitamin C face serum, then graduated up to a full-on antioxidant serum.

I would definitely recommend women to start using a face serum when they're younger -- it really does make a difference.


Do those anti-aging face serums really work? I read the other day that women are supposed to start using a firming face serum in their 20s, but that seems really early.

That kind of made me wonder if those things really work, or if all just marketing claims.

Does anybody without an axe to grind have any information on this subject?


Nice article -- I always thought that face serums were just lotions with a fancier name...the things you learn!

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