The Truth About Serums and Why They're Better Than Face Creams

They're smaller and pricier than most moisturizers—and more effective: A few drops of these facial elixirs will do more for your skin than tubes of face cream.

If a facial moisturizer is a cocktail, then a serum is a shot of tequila: It's more intense, faster-working, and ultimately more effective. Used to remedy virtually every skin problem, serums are concentrated blends of antioxidants, retinols, and other skin-saving ingredients. "Serums have a smaller molecular structure than moisturizers, so they penetrate deeper into the skin," says New York City dermatologist Ariel Ostad. And contrary to popular impression, serums are ideal for oily skin, since they're water- (and not oil-) based. Use this new crop of fixers either alone or with a moisturizer chaser.

1. Revive Dull Skin
Perricone MD Blue Plasma, $95
This nonacidic peel (which doesn't need to be rinsed off afterward) uses salmon-egg enzymes to lift away dead skin cells and unclog pores for a bright and even complexion.

2. Smooth Out Wrinkles
Boots No7 Men Protect & Perfect Intense Serum, $25
Men finally have their own formulation of this antiager, a cult favorite among women. The winning combo of pro-retinol and skin-firming peptides treats deep lines and prevents skin from sagging.

3. Quench Dryness
Ahava Dead Sea Osmoter Concentrate, $60
A supercharged concentration of Dead Sea minerals works at the skin's cellular level to boost water retention for supple, younger-looking skin.

4. Reduce Shine
Amorepacific ABC Serum, $200
Ingredients that activate your body's circadian clock allow this serum, which also has antiaging Asian botanicals like white-birch sap and ginseng, to control oil production all day.

5. Erase Tired Eyes
Dior Homme Anti-Fatigue Firming Eye Serum, $45
A few quick pats of this fast-absorbing gel diminish the appearance of dark circles, puffiness, and fine lines.

6. Calm Irritations
SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel, $60
Anti-inflammatory ingredients like thyme and cucumber keep skin cool post-shave by soothing redness and sensitivity.

• • •

Pro Tip: Refrigerate your facial products

Yes, you should store your serums and moisturizers next to the milk and eggs: They work best chilled. Not only does cold storage extend shelf life (heat and humidity cause oxidation, which makes formulas break down and become less effective), but applying chilled products can wake up groggy skin and tighten pores.

Also on
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8 New Ways to Care for Your Face
The Real Deal Behind 4 New Gadgets for Better Skin, Whiter Teeth, and Fuller Hair

Photo courtesy of Brad Bridgers. Styling by Richie Owings at Halley Resources.
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