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Serum Skepticism

With serums having a moment, there is more product decision fatigue. Trying to figure out serums though is not unlike other products and goes something like: What does it do? Do I need it? Wowzers, that price….Is it worth the money? Is it worth the 10 seconds it will take to put it on my face? Or the 5 minutes and an outfit change if I spill it on myself because it comes with a dropper? Will it irritate my skin? Again. What do they do? 

Serums have become the ‘it’ vehicle in skin care. Not only because of the fancy amber bottles with droppers. But because they are highly concentrated with a targeted corrective ingredient, designed to be absorbed by the skin more readily than a cream, lotion, or other typical vehicle.

Word of caution: Don’t let that fancy dropper touch your skin! That's a recipe for bacterial yuck. 

Because of their ability to deliver larger amounts of active ingredients more effectively, they are great for the correction step of your skin care routine: anti-aging, brightening and refining. These high levels of active ingredients lead to great results, but can also cause irritation and therefore should only be one component of your skin care routine.(These ingredients are also more sensitive- bottles should opaque or tinted and the products should be used in a timely manner. Also, they may smell bad.) 

To answer the above questions: 

While we will delve more deeply into how these specific active ingredients play a role in your skin care routine, a quick round up of our team's favorite serums: 


TNS Essential Serum 

The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalene 

CeraVe Retinol Serum 



TNS Essential Serum (not an accident that it’s in both categories)

CE Ferulic

Patricia O'Connor, MD

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