Expert Q&A: What Are Serums And Do Black Women Need Them?
About two years ago, I really started to delve into skincare. I had heard that the real proactiveness against aged skin starts in your ’20s, and I wanted to ensure that I wasn’t just focusing on the makeup that I was putting on, but the ingredients I was putting into my skin. While I had gotten my acne under control (aside from pizza-fueled nights or over-caffeinated mornings), I still felt like my skin would go into haywire at random times.
One of the first things I learned about were serums, which I honestly didn’t even know Black women could use. I thought it was just another item in a skincare regimen that was just for show, not a real item that you needed for healthy skin. And wow, was I wrong. Almost immediately, I began seeing small noticeable differences in my skin, a real fete given the fact that I’m constantly on the go, and don’t get enough sleep and water (don’t be me, y’all).
I know you may be wondering what a serum is all about and why you should use it. Well, a serum is used to ensure your skin is getting all types of hydration. “The unifying purpose of serums is super hydration,” Dr. Craig Kraffert, Board-Certified Dermatologist and President of Amarte told MadameNoire. “Because of this, they are applied before moisturizers – the idea is to lock in this humectancy with next-step product applications.”
Now of course, you may be wondering just why a serum would go before a moisturizer, especially since we’re taught about moisturizing our skin and not necessarily adding a serum. Well, the order matters because you go from lightest to heaviest product in your skincare regime, mentions Kraffert. “Serums are typically composed of water, light silicone-based lubricants, humectants such as hyaluronic acid, allantoin, phytocollagen, and betaine, and active compounds of various types/purposes.” Serums are typically made from active ingredients that contain molecules small enough to penetrate the outer layer of the skin, and then injecting all those amazing ingredients deep into your skin. It’s because of the ingredients that serums are applied first before your moisturizer of choice. But before you go scrimmaging for a serum, afraid that you’ve missed out on time, Dr. Kraffert notes that a serum is not an end-all-be-all. “I wouldn’t say serums are necessities, but serums greatly improve skin hydration and are also typically calming.”
Okay, so if you’re just diving into serums, you may be wondering what to look for. Honestly, your serum will probably change or alter due to your skin needs, but Dr. Kraffert suggests one full of antioxidants. “Your serum should be full of botanical extracts and antioxidants, and lightweight yet powerful hydration properties as a primary benefit. A water-based serum, like Aqua Veil Pure Hydration Serum, is a good one.” And depending on your skin type, you may find that you need serums that help with different things. Here’s three of the biggest ones that I could think of:
“For very oily skin types, a hydrating serum is preferred. These products are designed to hydrate with the minimum of perceptible emollient residue. Amarte Aqua Veil Pure Hydration Serum is an example of such a product and is perfect in this setting. It is super-hydrating, its emollient effect is durable, it delivers multiple anti-inflammatory and calming extracts, and it promotes pigmentary uniformity. Those with oilier skin types may not need to apply a traditional moisturizer after serum application.” Others that I have tried that I think are worth the splurge is the Olay Total Effects Moisturizer + Serum Duo which also has SPF 15 (Black can crack, y’all.) If you have some mulaaa to spend (which is fine because you really get your money’s worth), try the Juno Hydroactive Cellular Face Oil by Sunday Riley. And if you need something in the middle, you can snag the Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum from First Aid Beauty.
“To optimize and retain hydration, a hydrating serum should be applied before a moisturizer,” noted Dr. Kraffert. “The key to optimizing day-to-day aesthetics and, to a lesser extent, beauty preservation over time, is to super-hydrate the skin and lock in very high water levels. High skin hydration levels are essential to optimized aesthetics as they provide a smoother skin surface while decreasing visible pore size and wrinkle width.” So pretty much, making sure that your skin is hydrated from the inside out helps keep you lookin’ young. Other serums that I’ve tried that I’d greatly recommend for people with dry skin are the Pixi by Petra Overnight Glow Serum and even The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid that is only $6.80 (and y’all, this product is LIT.)
“For those with pigmentary dyschromia, consider seeking a serum with arbutin and other brightening agents (such as kojic acid or azelaic acid),” he said. You can also go for things that have vitamin C that’ll help with lightening discoloration. Drunk Elephant’s Glycolic Night Serum is a great option, as well as their C-Firma Day Serum which helps with uneven skin tone and elasticity. Also, I’d like to note here that I am always willing to pay a few dollars extra for Drunk Elephant products because I love their products. LOVE.
At the end of the day, you have to find what works for you, but just know that adding a serum in your life is going to help pay off in the long run! Be sure to continue your research and test products out as you go. Now go and flourish your skin for the summer!