Serums – are they really necessary?

Serums – are they really necessary?

It’s 2018 and we are all now pretty much au fait with the three step cleanse, tone, moisturise skincare routine that beauty experts have been banging on about for decades now, even if we don’t all follow it! However, now products such as serums, essences and face oils have hit the market, and the Korean 10-step skincare regime is being extolled by many beauty buffs, I am increasingly met with baffled expressions from the women I see on a daily basis. Lots of them ask about serums in particular – what are they? Are they really necessary? Why on earth are they so expensive? – so I thought it would be helpful to address these questions in order to hopefully clear up some of the confusion!

What is serum?

Serum is traditionally a water-based product that is applied to the face after cleansing and toning but before moisturising. They are made up of small molecules which penetrate deep into the skin to deliver a potent shot of ingredients and target different skincare concerns like dehydration, wrinkles, acne and dullness. Although some serums may feel more moisturising than others, they should never be used instead of a moisturiser which creates a barrier on top of the skin to keep all the good stuff in.

Is serum really necessary?

Nothing is really necessary if you don’t want to use it, but serums can make a huge difference to the way your skin looks and feels. If your skin is prone to acne, look for a serum containing vitamin C (to enhance the skin’s repair process), retinol (to reduce inflammation), zinc (to soothe the skin and regulate oil production), and salicylic acid (to unclog pores). For dry and dehydrated skin, look for vitamin E (an antioxidant), niacinamide (to improve skin elasticity), glycolic acid (to gently exfoliate) and hyaluronic acid (to help retain moisture). If your skin is dull, look for antioxidants like green tea extract and ferulic acid, which combat and promote cell repair. If your skin concern is wrinkle related, look for retinol (to boost cell repair and increase cell turnover), antioxidants like Vitamin C and green tea (to combat harmful free radicals and boost collagen) and alpha hydroxy acids (to smooth lines and fade dark spots).

Why are serums so expensive?

Generally speaking serums do appear to be super expensive for something that doesn’t feel particularly luxurious on the skin like a high end moisturiser does. However, think back to the point about them delivering a powerful shot of highly effective and concentrated ingredients to the epidermis and it all starts to make sense.

Are there any serums that you particularly recommend?

Obviously different serums work for different people, and it depends on what you are looking for in a serum, but here’s my round up of some of the most celebrated serums on the market, both budget and high end…


For acne prone skin – Balance Me Congested Skin Serum, £16 for 15ml.

For dry skin – The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, £5.90 for 30 ml.

For dull skin – The Body Shop Drops of Light Brightening Serum, £26 for 30ml.

For aging skin – No. 7 Protect and Perfect Intense Advanced Serum, £34 for 50ml.


For acne prone skin – SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Serum, £55 for 30ml.

For dry skin – Murad Hydro-Dynamic Quenching Essence, £59.50 for 30ml.

For dull skin – Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair, £55 for 30ml.

For aging skin – Korres Black Pine 3D Sculpting, Intensive Firming and Lifting Serum, £39 for 30ml.