How to Get the Best Results from Your Face Serum

Clarins' Serums

Whether you’re new to the world of face serums or you’ve been including a product in your beauty routine for some time now, there are three things you need to know to get the very best from your face serum for skin that appears visibly plump, radiant, and refined. These are: What is a face serum? How do you choose a face serum that is best suited to your skin type? And, how should you use your face serum for glowing results?

Let’s start by discovering how this unique product delivers a boost of benefits to your skin.

1. What is a face serum and how important is it in my beauty routine?

Skin has to work really hard for us these days. Environmental pollutants, busy stressful lifestyles, and extreme heat and cold can result in skin that appears dull, lined, and dehydrated. Face serums have the important task of delivering a concentration of ingredients to the skin that amplify the benefits of your cleanser, toner, and moisturizer. In essence, a face serum is the extra help your skin needs to appear firmer, visibly smoother, even toned, and moisturized. A face serum can even make pores appear smaller. Since face serums have a thinner, lightweight texture, they’re perfect to use daily under your moisturizer after cleansing and toning.

What are the special ingredients in a face serum?

Face serums are made up of a high concentration of key ingredients that deliver a boost of benefits to your skin. Clarins face serums use a range of botanicals sourced from around the world. Some of these ingredients are seasoned stand-bys, while others are at the forefront of skincare innovation. Clarins’ face serums make use of the best herbs, exotic fruits, soothing flowers, and tree extracts – and the formulas are constantly improved as new breakthroughs are made in technology and plant science. All our best-selling products are enhanced as new discoveries are made.

Key ingredients used most often in best-quality serums include antioxidants that help to protect the skin from free radicals responsible for aging skin. The plant-based formulas in powerful anti-aging serums can help to visibly firm and lift skin for a youthful look. Anti-inflammatory ingredients like arnica and aloe vera calm redness and help to reduce inflammatory cell damage. Hydrators like ceramides, amino acids, and essential fatty acids, fortify the skin's barrier. Regular use of these key ingredients can improve the skin’s ability to retain moisture and protect itself from damaging environmental factors. The result is skin that appears visibly plump, hydrated, and unlined.

Is face serum the same as face oil?

The quick answer is, no. Face serums are usually water-based. It can be confusing when face oils are sometimes marketed as “serums”. Water-based face serums have thinner, lightweight formulas that allow them to perform optimally under your moisturizer – nourishing the inner layer of skin with molecules so small they’re able to penetrate the skin really well. On the other hand, face oils with their larger molecules are often applied on top of a moisturizer to lock in the moisture of your face cream.

Keep in mind that the terms “hydration” and “moisture” are not the same thing. Although both are important for the optimal health of the skin, hydration refers to the water content in the skin whereas moisture refers to oils in the skin. A face serum adds water to the skin, plumping it up so your moisturizer that follows works more efficiently. The beauty of a face serum is that it allows you to address additional skin concerns like dark spots or enlarged pores, while leaving your moisturizer to get on with its job.

Is serum an essence?

Face serum and essence are similar. They are both used after cleansing and before moisturizing, and they are both aimed at addressing skincare needs that go beyond simple hydration. It’s their texture that makes them different. Serums have a thicker consistency and are more concentrated, while essences have a more fluid texture. In some countries, though, serum is marketed as an essence.

Why do face serums cost more than moisturizers?

The higher cost of face serums is proportionate to the many benefits that the product delivers. Serums are typically the most costly products in skincare lines because their concentration of key ingredients is more expensive than the thickeners in a moisturizer. Although you may pay more for your face serum – its formula is designed to pack a beauty punch! – and when applied properly, a one ounce container of serum should last for months.

Does serum expire quickly?

Face serums contain ingredients like ascorbic acid (vitamin C) that can oxidize when exposed to air and become less effective over time – but science has come to the rescue. Many of these ingredients have been modified to last much longer and keep right on benefitting your skin. Your face serum will be effective for six months to a year if kept in a cool, dry place.

2. How do I choose a face serum that is best suited to my skin type?

Finding the best face serum for your skin begins with your personal skin goals. So what are your skincare concerns? Would you like to refine your pores, visibly reduce the appearance of wrinkles, firm face contours, address dark spots, or wake up your skin to increased radiance and hydration?

Clarins has a targeted serum for every concern, including aging skin, deep wrinkles, firming, hydration, dark spots and brightening, contouring, mattifying, and sensitivity. Just a few drops is all it takes to power up your beauty routine and prep your skin for perfection.

What is the best face serum for wrinkles?

Good quality serums have the ability to visibly reduce wrinkles, visibly promote skin firmness, minimize the appearance of pores, and assist with hydration to smooth the appearance of lines.

Look out for innovative products that contain powerful plant-based ingredients that address visible signs of aging, like avocado. The fruit of the avocado tree was considered sacred by the Aztecs. It is exceptionally rich in vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and proteins. In cosmetics, avocado unsaponifiables (the most precious part of the oil) are used to promote and maintain the appearance of soft, supple skin texture. Avocado peptides help purify and visibly plump the skin.

Innovative face serums use formulas that are concentrated with the latest advancements in plant science to visibly firm, lift, and tighten for facial contours that appear redefined and hydrated. Potent Kangaroo Flower and Mitracarpus extracts appear to lift and smooth the face - both fabulous ingredients in the fight against wrinkles and skin slackening!

White Lupine extract is a new plant discovery and an ingredient that can help to visibly tighten skin for a more youthful look. Organic Blue Agave and Quinoa extracts are known to form a supportive mesh on the skin’s surface for an immediate lift effect while hyaluronic acid deeply hydrates skin – a botanical powerhouse of hardworking ingredients!

Which face serum is best for oily skin?

Face serum is not just for dry skin! A face serum can be of real benefit to oily skin types – by visibly reducing the appearance of pores and helping the skin to absorb the natural oils it creates. Since our bodies are about 80% water and our skin is the last organ to receive nutrients internally, a face serum can give your skin that external hydration boost it needs. Face serums for oily skin are targeted, concentrated treatments that unclog and minimize pores to help balance the skin’s moisture levels and keep skin looking fresh and clear.

Things to look out for when choosing a face serum for oily skin: the serum should always be non-comedogenic—which means it does not tend to cause blackheads by blocking the pores of the skin. The formula should not contain ingredients that could cause excessive drying of the skin. Alcohol in particular strips the skin of moisture which then only encourages pores to increase their production of sebum – leading to pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads.

The best face serums for oily skin make use of hydrating ingredients like green tea and hyaluronic acid or glycolic acid and retinol that, when used at night, help to unclog pores, exfoliate dead skin cells, and brighten skin by increasing cell turnover.

Ingredients to look out for in mattifying serums that visibly tighten pores for a refined, shine-free complexion, are Vine Flower extracts that appear to firm the pore, and mattifying Organic Strawberry Tree fruit extracts—that visibly tighten and purify enlarged pores so they appear dramatically reduced in size. Another powerhouse botanical ingredient is tamarind pulp acid that naturally exfoliates pore-clogging debris to promote the appearance of smooth and refined skin texture for a visible boost of radiance.

Which face serum is best for dry skin?

You may have naturally dry skin, or the winter chill might have wiped the glow from your complexion. One of the quickest and most effective ways to get relief for dry skin is a face serum.

These include sudden temperature changes, indoor and outdoor pollutants or environmental stress. This can result in thirsty skin that feels tight, lacks radiance and is prematurely lined. Unfortunately, fine lines are often exacerbated by dry skin, lending a more tired appearance. Look out for a serum that quenches thirsty skin and uses ingredients in their formulas that help to enhance the skin’s ability to retain moisture.

Which face serum is best for sensitive skin?

Those with sensitive skin know that finding skincare products can be a challenge. Look out for products that contains soothing ingredients like avocado, lavender or mint to calm irritations and inflammations. With continued use, this serum restores balance and clarity to sensitive skin.

Which face serum is best for dark spots and uneven skin tone?

Serums that help to reduce the appearance of dark spots, discolorations, and dullness should leave your skin looking visibly fresh and revitalized, without altering your natural skin tone. Ingredients to look out for include oxygen-boosting superfruits, Rose-myrtle and Acerola, that help alleviate skin congestion to revive dull skin. A breakthrough brightening ingredient that appears to visibly reduce the look of dark spots is Acerola seed extract–rich in vitamin C.

So if I don’t have any particular concerns should I avoid using a face serum?

Even near-perfect skin can benefit from the use of a face serum. If there are no specific skincare concerns you’d like to address, a face serum used once a day can visibly improve your skin’s texture thanks to its collagen and vitamin C content. You will also notice over time that spots and scars appear to be less visible as they lighten with regular use of a plant concentrate serum. You will also notice your pores appear to reduce in size – which also means fewer spots, blackheads, and whiteheads. Face serums also help to reduce the appearance of inflammation and redness, and revive skin that has lost its dewy glow due to everyday environmental pollutants, and spending time in heated or air-conditioned buildings.

I have a couple of skincare concerns – can I include more than one face serum in my beauty routine?

Yes, you can! But we recommend that you use one face serum in the morning and your second serum at night. Although face serum formulas are lightweight and gentle, they’re designed to deliver a concentration of key ingredients to the skin – so, for example, you could use a dry skin face serum for a moisture boost in the morning and a sensitive skin serum at night to calm irritations and inflammation.

1. How should I use my face serum for glowing results?

Clarins doesn’t just design formulas – we also design application methods to make sure you’re getting the most out of your products. To maximize the efficiency of your face serum, you’ll need to make sure you’re applying it properly.

That’s where our Beauty School comes in. Our team of experts work to create easy-to-follow application methods that allow the products to perform at their best. These expert techniques are easy to replicate at home (and they feel indulgent, too).

Here’s how to apply face serum:

  1. Warm: Bring serum to skin temperature by warming between palms so that skin accepts it instantly. 3 seconds should be enough.
  2. Apply: Use the natural weight of your hands to distribute the product evenly over your face and neck. 8 seconds is all this takes.
  3. Drain: Use Clarins’ Draining Pressure Method to enhance circulation, revive radiance and promote healthy looking skin. Repeat: 3 times on the cheeks, 3 times on the forehead, 5 times on the neck and décolleté. 16 seconds later and you’re all set.

For more tutorials and pro-tips for your face-care routine, have a look at Clarins' Beauty School - you’ll find video guides for just about every aspect of your regimen!

Tip: When it comes to face serums it’s important not to overuse the product. It’s a common misconception that the more serum you use, the better the results. Face serums are a lot more concentrated than moisturizers so a little goes a long way!

When is the best time to apply face serum?

A face serum can be applied either in the morning or at night after cleansing and before using your moisturizer. You could apply your serum both in the morning and the night for a more intense treatment - or, if you’re using two different face serums to address your skincare concerns, you can use one type of serum in the morning and the other at night. Always apply face serum to cleansed skin and remember not to use too much product at once.

If your face serum contains the ingredient retinol, it’s important you use this serum at night only. Retinol is a vitamin-A derivative originally used in anti-acne treatments. This powerful ingredient increases cell turnover to bring fresh cells to the surface of the skin, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and hyperpigmentation as well as blemishes. Retinol also makes the skin ultra-sensitive to sun damage so it’s best never to apply a face serum containing retinol during the day when your skin is likely to come into contact with sunlight.

If your day serum contains ingredients like antioxidants, humectants, or acids that can make the skin susceptible to sun damage, remember to apply adequate sun protection after giving your moisturizer about 10 minutes to be absorbed into the skin.

Can I use face serum around my eye area?

Under eye serums can help to reduce the appearance of fine lines, dark circles, and under-eye dryness – they’re an instant pick-me-up for brighter eyes! A breakout product in recent years, under eye serums are increasing in popularity thanks to the extra care they deliver to the delicate and often problem-prone under-eye area. Eye lifting serums are able to penetrate the skin more deeply than eye creams and they deliver a powerhouse of nourishing, high-potency ingredients to this area. Under eye serums are also quickly absorbed into the skin which makes them ideal for applying under makeup.

Ingredients of note are Zingiber Zerumbet extract, Alchemilla extract and Horse Chestnut escin—that visibly lift and brighten eye contours to reduce the appearance of dark circles while helping to nourish the eyelashes.

It’s true that face serums are far more than the latest beauty trend. The powerhouse benefits they deliver to the skin and their brightening, tightening, problem-solving results mean they’ve taken their rightful place as part of the daily skincare routine.