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Dr. Schultz's Tips & Tricks

Chances are you’ve heard of serums, and you may even have a few in your medicine cabinet. They’re those fancy-sounding luxury products that seemingly combat every skin issue in the book. But in reality, are you using true serums or products marketed as serums to make them sound a little more luxurious than perhaps they are? Today we’re breaking down the truth about serums so you can be sure you’re getting the best products and not just a marketing tactic.

Truth #1: Real Serums Are in a Single Chemical Phase

If you’re not a chemist or dermatologist, this might sound complicated, but it’s simple. Technically, a serum is any product in which all the ingredients are in a single chemical phase, which means all the ingredients in the serum dissolve into each other without emulsifiers. An emulsifier will hold a product comprised of water and oil together. Think of the water and oil in your skincare products like oil and vinegar for a salad dressing — they separate apart, and so they need emulsifiers to keep them together. The difference with serums from other skincare products is that the ingredients dissolve into each other without separating out. This is why they don’t need extra emulsifiers to hold them together. And why should you care about that in your serums? Read on...

Truth #2: Real Serums Are Highly Concentrated and Specific

Because serums don’t need emulsifiers, they boast a high concentration of their active ingredients. This means you only need to apply a few drops, so real serums tend to come in small bottles and are often on the high end of a skincare line. Because of those highly concentrated ingredients, real serums should be fairly specific in addressing single skincare concerns rather than being products that promise you multiple solutions for multiple skin issues. Individual serums should be promoted to help treat wrinkles, or help you gain moisture, or brighten your skin, and so on. But more and more, this border has become blurred as some marketers try to promise a variety of skin solutions with disregard to a real serum’s highly concentrated nature.

Truth #3: Real Serums Can Be Used In Your Day and Night Routines

Real serums can be used as daytime or nighttime products. At both times of day, your face should be prepped with a cleanser and toner before applying your serum to insure optimal benefits. Remember that the order of application of your skincare products is fairly simple. Apply them from lightest in texture to heaviest. And this applies to your serum as well. While we assume serums are lighter, and they tend to be, some serums may also be thicker in texture, so use the lightest to heaviest rule in their application. The good news is that serums are concentrated so you only need a few drops, and they tend to be applied as one of the first products after cleansing and toning.

Sifting the truth from the marketing can help you make the best choice when picking out the right skincare products for you. Using a serum — one that’s highly concentrated, specific to your skin issues, and seamlessly fits into the rest of your skincare routine — is an investment worth making. Just remember, don’t get caught up in the marketing hype. Choose real serums and you’ll get real results.

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