Get Ready

What the F*ck Are Serums?

by Hannah Amini

There are two primary facets of skincare: cleansing and moisturizing. It’s hard to justify adding a new step to your routine, especially if doing so requires a product with a hefty price tag.

If you’re ready to take the plunge, investing in a serum is a great first step. And don’t worry, we’ve got the full scoop for you.

So, what are serums?

Serums and essences are made up of water, oil, actives, and peptides. The makeup of each serum can differ depending on the desired effect, but overall, they contain similar ingredients.

Peptides are, essentially, the building blocks of proteins. In the context of skincare, peptides combine with similar compounds to build the skin’s most vital protein: collagen.

Collagen lies beneath the outer layer of skin (epidermis) in the inner layer (dermis). It makes up the majority of the latter, but it also hangs out there with nerves, blood vessels, and fats.

What’s so special about collagen?

Do you ever look at childhood pictures and envy your radiant, spotless skin? (I’m totally guilty.) Back then, we all had collagen to thank.

It’s primary asset is keeping skin smooth, firm, and glowing. Our skin checks all of these boxes when we were young because of the high rate of collagen production, which keeps its momentum until age 20.

As we grow older, collagen production typically decreases by 1% a year, and our existing collagen starts fragmenting (breaking down). Fragmentation rates increase from things like UV radiation and smoking.

Things to watch out for

Not all serums are created the same, so it’s important to look out for potentially harmful ingredients. Drunk Elephant’s created “suspicious six” list of serum ingredients to avoid: essential oils, drying alcohols, silicones, chemical screens, fragrance and dyes, and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). Essential oils cannot be used directly on skin. The only plausible reason to add them to a serum is if they’re diluted with a carrier oil.

A Beginner’s Guide

If you’re new to serums, don’t worry! Take in all the info above, and start with some of our suggestions below.

No Fuss

Rosehips and peonies, yes please! Bold and Bare mastered the all-in-one with their Bare Elixir. Avocado oil is used as a carrier to bring out the benefits of its flower extracts. This lightweight serum acts as a moisturizer and primer.

For the Skincare Maniac

The affordable solutions from The Ordinary give the perfect opportunity to fully nerd out your skincare routine. Create your own concoction, or shop pre-arranged sets.

For Some Extra TLC

Your body needs some love, too! Glow from the face down with Moroccan Oil’s Night Body Serum, with ingredients that nourish, firm, and protect from environmental aggressors.

And if you’re still looking for options, shop some Chillhouse approved below

Feature Image via Hannah Amini

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