The Scoop on Serums

by Rona Berg

Serums are still a bit of a mystery. They moisturize, but they’re not really moisturizers. They target breakouts, but they’re not really blemish treatments.

Some look and feel just like face oils, but then, why are they called serums? And, for many women who are working to streamline and simplify their beauty routines, a serum can seem like an extra, and perhaps unnecessary, step. 

But the right serum may give your skin exactly what it needs. “Most serums are packed full of antioxidants and the highest concentration of ingredients,” says Melissa Joy Olson, Founder, Euphoria Studio, a day spa in Frenchtown, NJ. “Put simply, serums help heal the skin,” she continues. “They penetrate easily and give you effective, fast and lasting results. They are very concentrated, and a little goes a long way.”

Think of a serum as a nutritional supplement for the skin. The same way that a supplement can target specific concerns--gut health, vision, thinning hair, weak nails--a serum can, too. They may be pricey, but a little goes a long way. In fact, using too much may be a detriment. Serums are so concentrated that more than a few drops has the potential to actually irritate the skin, especially if your skin is sensitive. 

Because serums are intended to penetrate deeply, many are formulated with a small molecular structure todeliver active and targeted ingredients where they are needed. “Look for serums that have specific benefits for you, with results you’d be looking for, like vitamin C for brightening, hyaluronic acid for plumping and moisturizing, willow bark extract for acne and oily skin.” 

Here are some of our new favorites. 


Dr. Wang Herbal Infusion Nourishing Youth Serum Steven Wang, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, paired up with his acupuncturist father, Gui Wang, LAC, to create a beautiful, effective, holistic skincare line, built around Chinese herbs with healing  properties. This lightweight, cold-pressed, antioxidant-rich serum--for face, neck and hands--is a miracle worker! 

Lavido Replenishing Facial Serum For extra oomph, this serum layers beautifully under a moisturizer. It is loaded with organic pomegranate seed oil, distilled lemon myrtle and cold-pressed mandarin oil to plump and firm the skin, and soften lines and wrinkles. 

Ranavat Mighty Majesty A mighty multitasker, this hair and body serum offers a high concentration of vitamin C, vitamin E and oleic Acid (omega 9), to control breakage, promote healthy hair, nourish the scalp. Apply to damp skin all over the body, after a shower, to lock in moisture. 

Osmia Brighten Facial Serum This botanical brightening treatment helps improve the texture of the skin, by boosting cell turnover. With organic argan and camellia oils, broccoli seed and prickly pear, and actives like gotu kola and algae, to help soothe and soften skin; papaya, pumpkin, and mushroom extracts are added for luminosity. 

Bella The Eye Serum A luscious, lightweight, super silky serum with nutritious oils like jojoba and baobob, evening primrose and Egyptian carrot seed, to soften fine lines and wrinkles around the delicate eye area

SanRe Argan Aura Face & Neck Serum With USDA-certified organic, non-GMO, vegan and gluten-free ingredients, this serum helps repair rough, damaged skin; hydrate and soften mature skin; and calm and clear blemished skin. Ingredients include argan, sunflower, sesame and borage seed oils, along with a host of therapeutic essential oils. 

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