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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Unmasking the secrets of serums

What exactly can these creams do for us?
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - June 24, 2010
By: Sheila Lim
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Unmasking the secrets of serums

You may have seen beauty products called "serums" being sold at cosmetics counters, read about them in beauty magazines, or even had them applied to your skin during facial treatments.

Their higher cost compared with regular face creams means that serums are used almost exclusively in spas as part of a facial treatment, so many of us know less about them than other common products. Now, what exactly are serums, and what can they do for us?

What’s a beauty serum?
A serum can simply be described as a moisturiser of superior quality, or as a potion with multi-vitamins for nourishing the skin and enhancing its condition.

It’s similar to a moisturiser in design and purpose. Though there are different formulations to serve different needs, most serums function as anti-oxidants and boost collagen production, and are designed to smoothen, soften and hydrate the skin. They are used to treat skin problems like dehydration, redness, inflammation, fine lines, wrinkles and enlarged pores.


Makers of serums claim that their formulations contain potent anti-ageing ingredients (such as vitamins C and E, and collagen) which can penetrate deep into the skin where their benefits can be maximised. They usually also promise users that they will feel an immediate change in their skin upon the first application, and spot visible results within three to four weeks.

Why should you use a beauty serum?
The difference between a serum and a moisturiser is that the former contains highly concentrated ingredients made up of molecules much smaller than those in a moisturiser.

Because serums are more readily absorbed and contain active ingredients, they are able to penetrate deeper into the skin, thus enabling them to work more intensively and produce more dramatic results.

These are the ways through which serums can create a healthier and more radiant complexion: they can help boost collagen production, firm and lift skin, even out skin tone, stimulate circulation and brighten skin, and boost the skin’s natural defences against environmental pollutants. Most serums also contain exfoliating ingredients that could help reduce the appearance of dark spots, discolouration and pigmentation.

How do you use a serum?

These pricey and tiny vials of fluid are like luxurious and well-designed undergarments – they sit seamlessly beneath the surface, yet magically improve your visual appearance.

Though they’re expensive, you won’t need to use more than two or three drops for your entire face and neck, so that tiny vial will last a long time. To reap the benefits, apply a drop of the serum to your fingertip and massage it gently into your freshly-cleaned skin in the morning and at night.

Recently, staff at the beauty spa where I go for my facials recommended that I purchase a set of “award-winning” serums costing nearly two thousand dollars! Like many women, I regard serum as too luxurious an item to be included in my daily beauty regime, so I’ll ask my beauty therapist for it as a special treat for my skin, whenever I feel that it’s in need of some serious pampering.

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