Everything you need to know about adding serums to your skincare routine

In the past few months, we’ve been committed to helping you build the foundation of your skincare routine, and now, it’s time to get into serums. Serums are the powerhouse potions that can elevate your skincare routine to new heights! 

Why serums are important in your skincare routine
Image: Anastasiia Pokliatska via iStock

Serums are a powerful essence that promises targeted solutions to many skin concerns. From brightening and hydrating to beating acne, these potent formulations have become an important part of skincare routines worldwide. You would hardly see a skincare routine online without serums. For Lolami, a skincare expert, an antioxidant serum is essential to every skincare routine.

Have you ever wondered what makes serums such game-changers? Or perhaps you’re on the hunt for the perfect serum suited to your skin’s unique needs? We’ve got you covered. Let’s get into the magic behind these little wonders – what they are, why they matter, the different types, and insider tips on picking the right one for your skin. 

What are serums, and why are they important?

Serums are lightweight, highly concentrated skincare products that deliver active ingredients directly into the skin. Unlike traditional moisturisers, they contain a higher concentration of active ingredients, making them ideal for treating specific concerns. These active ingredients include vitamins, antioxidants, peptides, acids, and more, which are important for skin needs. 

Tina, a skincare creator, emphasises the essence of serums for your skin, “Serums are important in skincare routines because they usually contain more concentrated forms of active ingredients that target specific skin concerns.” Whether you’re dealing with pigmentation, fine lines, or dry skin, there’s likely a serum tailored to address your specific needs.

Benefits of serums
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These are some of the benefits of serums:

  1. Supercharged effectiveness

Serums are formulated with high concentrations of active ingredients, ensuring a potent and effective solution to specific skincare concerns. These elevated levels of beneficial components make serums stand out because they deliver evident results with minimal product usage.

  1. Targeted solutions

Serums cater to precise and specific skincare issues such as dark spots, fine lines, and dehydration. This targeted approach allows users to address and tailor their skincare routine to individual needs.

  1. Deep absorption

The light and thin texture of serums aids deep penetration into the skin. This enables active ingredients to reach the base level, ensuring that the benefits are not just superficial but contribute to the overall health and vitality of the skin.

  1. Antioxidant defense

Serums often include powerful antioxidants like Vitamin C, which provide robust protection against free radicals. This defence mechanism reduces oxidative stress on the skin, preventing premature ageing. It contributes to a more youthful and radiant complexion over time.

  1. Versatility for all skin types

One of the notable advantages of serums is their versatility. They are suited to various skin types, making them inclusive and adaptable to the needs of individuals with different skincare concerns. This versatility ensures that a broader audience can benefit from the goodness of serums without the risk of irritation.

Now you know their importance, let’s discuss the various types of serums.

Types of serums
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Different types of serums and their benefits

Vitamin C serum

Vitamin C serums have become synonymous with radiant, glowing skin. Renowned for their brightening effects, these serums are packed with antioxidants, shielding against environmental damage. The pros include improved skin tone, reduced signs of ageing, and a plumping effect. However, some users may experience irritation, particularly those with sensitive skin. Ideal for dullness, hyperpigmentation, and ageing skin, Vitamin C serums are best used in the morning to boost the skin’s natural defence against daily aggressors. 

Hyaluronic acid

For those seeking hydration at its finest, hyaluronic acid serums are the go-to choice. They excel at attracting and retaining moisture, providing a plumping effect that helps minimise the appearance of fine lines. They have intense hydration and provide a noticeable improvement in skin texture. However, they may be insufficient for dehydrated skin, necessitating an additional hydrating moisturiser. Hyaluronic acid serums are best suited for dehydrated skin and can be used daily for a consistent boost of hydration.


Niacinamide, also known as Vitamin B3, has gained popularity for its versatility. This serum regulates oil production, reduces redness, and enhances skin texture. It is also suitable for various skin types and reduces the appearance of enlarged pores. Niacinamide serums are ideal for acne-prone, sensitive, and ageing skin. Incorporate it into your daily routine for optimal results. While allergic reactions are rare, users should be cautious of overuse.


Retinol, a derivative of Vitamin A, is a powerhouse for combating signs of serious acne, hyperpigmentation, and ageing. Its pros include stimulating collagen production, leading to reduced fine lines and wrinkles. However, retinol may cause serious breakouts, irritation, and heightened sensitivity to sunlight, especially if your skin doesn’t need it and it wasn’t prescribed. This serum best suits those with serious acne and ageing skin concerns, such as wrinkles and fine lines. Begin with a few times a week and gradually increase usage as your skin builds tolerance. 


Peptide serums are loved for their ability to boost collagen production, which improves skin elasticity. They provide a firmer, more youthful complexion. Patience is key, as the results of this type may take time to manifest. For skin with a loss of firmness, peptide serums can be incorporated into your daily routine.

Salicylic acid 

Salicylic acid serums are the go-to choice for those battling acne and excess oil. They can clear pores and provide effective acne treatment. However, some users may experience dryness or peeling. Salicylic acid serums are best suited for acne-prone and oily skin and can be used a few times a week initially, with continued use adjusted based on skin tolerance.

AlphaHydroxy acids (AHAs) 

AHAs, such as glycolic and lactic acid, are exfoliating actives. They are useful for improved skin texture and a radiant complexion. They help with hyperpigmentation, acne, dullness, uneven skin tone and roughness. AHAs are best used when prescribed as they may increase sun sensitivity and burning because of their active nature.  Start with two to three times a week, and gradually increase use as your skin adapts.

Difference between serum and essence
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Difference between serums and essences 

Serums and essences play specific roles in our skincare. The lightweight texture of serums allows for deep penetration of their strong formulas, and delivers a strong boost of nutrients. 

On the other hand, essences are lighter, often waterlike solutions that focus on hydration and prep the skin to enhance the absorption of subsequent products. 

While both add to a well-rounded skincare routine, serums excel in targeted treatment, while essences mainly focus on hydration and prepare the skin for optimal absorption of the next layers.

What to know when choosing serums
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Factors to consider before choosing a serum 

  1. Skin type and concerns:

    The first thing to do is assess your skin type (oily, dry, combination, sensitive) and primary concerns (fine lines, hyperpigmentation, acne). This ensures you choose a serum that aligns with your specific skin needs to achieve optimal results without causing skin irritation.

  2. Ingredients list and concentration:

    Thoroughly examine the ingredients list, looking for key elements addressing your skin concerns. Check the concentration of active ingredients like Vitamin C or hyaluronic acid to gauge potency and suitability for your skin.

  3. Texture and absorption:

    Consider the serum’s texture to your skin type. Lighter textures suit oily skin, while thicker ones may benefit dry skin. Ensure the serum is easily absorbed, promoting efficient penetration into the skin.

  4. Compatibility and stability:

    Assess compatibility with your existing skincare routine, avoiding conflicts with other products. Also, consider the stability of the serum, opting for dark or opaque packaging to protect light-sensitive ingredients.

  5. Budget and reviews:

    Evaluate your budget constraints and explore serums offering the best value. Research reviews from trusted sources or users to gain insights into a product’s reputation and efficacy. These will guide you toward making a well-informed choice.

Adding serums to your skincare routine
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Incorporating serums into your skincare routine

It’s crucial to tailor the use of serums to your skin’s unique needs. Esthetician and cosmetic chemist Lola recently tweeted about her opinions on Vitamin C serums. She noted that the best ones brighten, provide antioxidant benefits and plump the skin. Investing in a quality Vitamin C serum is essential for its antioxidant prowess, but Lola emphasises the existence of alternatives like green tea, Niacinamide, glutathione, and other antioxidants. This shows the importance of understanding your skin’s specific needs and choosing the right serum accordingly. 

Consulting with a skincare expert also ensures you choose the right products for your concerns. According to Lolami in a recent tweet, the recommended skincare routine follows this order: Cleanser > toner > Essence > Antioxidant/Treatment serum (depending on the time of day) > Moisturiser > Sunscreen (for morning routines). Additionally, she advises that when applying serums, it’s crucial to adhere to the principle of applying from thinnest to thickest consistency. Begin with the serum that has a more watery texture before layering thicker products.

Understanding the different types of serums, their benefits, and how to add them into your routine will transform your skincare regimen. Serums are important, and with the right knowledge, they can become the cornerstone of your skincare success. 

Don’t forget to catch up on other essential skincare steps: cleansers, toners, and sunscreens.


  • Omotola Saba

    Hi, Omotola here, the human form of the 100 Emoji and the fashion and beauty writer at Marie Claire Nigeria. She started writing for fun and merged it with her love for fashion, and beauty. She's mostly at home, picking up yet another new hobby, scrolling through pinterest, laughing with her family or at dad jokes, or sleeping.

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