What is Serum?

What is serum? Discover what facial serums are for and the skin-saving benefits of serum in this skincare guide.

Darlings, face serum is a superpowered step in your skincare routine that delivers targeted, supercharged skincare ingredients to your complexion, helping to hydrate, revive and lift the look of your skin.

In this guide, I’m answering your face serum questions including what is serum and what are the benefits of face serum? Learn how and when to use face serum and be introduced to the expertly-blended serum you need in your skincare routine - Charlotte’s Magic Serum Crystal Elixir.

Lily James serum model shot

What is a Face Serum?

A face serum is a potent skincare product that can target specific skin concerns like dryness, wrinkles, redness or uneven skin tone. They are often rich with powerful skincare ingredients to deliver specialised benefits to the skin. Serum formulas are generally thinner and silkier than a moisturiser and contain a more concentrated blend of ingredients.

What is Serum Used For?

Within your skincare routine, facial serums are used to deliver a burst of supercharged skincare ingredients that promote overall skin health. Face serums are concentrated formulas that help target specific concerns; by choosing a facial serum that works for your skin type, you can improve the look and feel of your complexion and reduce the appearance of any skin concerns you want to target, such as redness, enlarged pores, dryness, dullness, or signs of ageing.

What is Face Serum close up

4 Key Benefits of Face Serum

Adding a face serum to your skincare routine comes with a roster of skincare benefits. You can choose specialised serums to address your primary skin concern, such as a hyaluronic acid serum for boosted hydration or a vitamin C serum to help brighten the look of skin, or you can reach for a multi-magic formula like Charlotte’s Magic Serum Crystal Elixir that tackles several skin concerns with one supercharged formula.

Discover 4 common benefits of face serum, below:

1. Youth-boosting

Face serums can be used to reduce the signs of ageing by flooding the skin with youth-boosting ingredients. Massaging serums with ingredients that help hydrate, plump and smooth the look of your skin can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while helping the complexion to look more youthful and lit from within. Charlotte’s Magic Serum Crystal Elixir is formulated with REPLEXIUM™, a potent, research-powered peptide compound that targets the appearance of wrinkles and helps skin to appear younger over time.

Learn more about REPLEXIUM™

2. Brightening

You can illuminate the look of your complexion by using a brightening face serum. If your skin looks tired and dull, using a brightening face serum can boost your natural radiance and light up the look of your face. Vitamin C is a common ingredient that’s used in serums for its brightening properties; I formulated Charlotte’s Magic Serum Crystal Elixir with Golden Vitamin C to give the skin gorgeous luminosity while helping to even the look of the complexion.

Dermatologist insight: "Charlotte’s Magic Serum Crystal Elixir contains a newly-developed form of Vitamin C which binds the ingredient to micro-particles of gold. The vitamin is stabilised and the supplier has shown that it absorbs into the skin with 100% efficiency and zero-waste, vs traditional vitamin C at 30% efficiency. Also supplemented with glutathione, an antioxidant which prevents the Vitamin C from degrading, the ingredient is preserved & potent in the formula whether it is on your skin or in the bottle."*

  • Dr. Anjali Mahto, medically-trained Dermatologist and author of critically-acclaimed skin guide, The Skincare Bible

Discover more about Vitamin C in skincare

3. Hydrating

To douse your skin with healthy hydration, use a face serum that’s enriched with humectants like hyaluronic acid or polyglutamic acid. These powerhouse ingredients carry and retain moisture, hydrating the skin and helping it to stay magically moisturised for longer. I chose to formulate Charlotte’s Magic Serum Crystal Elixir with polyglutamic acid, as it is 4x as hydrating as hyaluronic acid; it’s perfect for flooding the complexion with moisture and leaving it feeling intensely hydrated.

Expert insight: “Charlotte’s Magic Serum Crystal Elixir contains Polyglutamic Acid which acts like a pure water drip being constantly fed into the skin. After using Charlotte’s Magic Serum Crystal Elixir my clients will touch their skin after 5-6 hours and still find it feeling plump, hydrated and soft to the touch. I personally have been amazed to find my skin still feels hydrated and dewy in the morning after using Magic Serum at night!”

  • Georgia Louise Vassanelli, globally-Renowned Aesthetician and Founder of the GEORGIA LOUISE Brand of Skincare and Skincare Technology

Discover more about polyglutamic acid

4. Pore-refining

If you have an oily skin type or experience enlarged pores, you can use face serums with pore-refining active ingredients like niacinamide to help reduce the appearance of pores. By targeting pores with a high-performance face serum, you can minimise their appearance for poreless, clearer-looking skin. 

Did you know? With Charlotte’s Magic Serum Crystal Elixir, 91%* of those taking part in clinical trials agreed pores appear tighter and more refined.

Discover how to minimise pores

What is Serum? More Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Need Serum and Moisturiser?

Serum and moisturiser play different roles in your skincare routine; your serum is intended to target skin concerns whereas your moisturiser is designed for overall daily hydration. You’ll see the best results when using both a high-performance serum like Charlotte’s Magic Serum Crystal Elixir and a skin-reviving moisturiser like my award-winning, globally loved Charlotte’s Magic Cream.

Do You Apply Serum Before or After Moisturiser?

In your skincare routine, always apply your face serum before your moisturiser. The reason for this is that the general rule is to order your skincare products from thinnest to thickest formulas, and serums always have lighter, more fluid formulas than moisturisers, which tend to be thicker and richer. 

Apply a few drops of serum onto the skin then leave it to absorb for a few moments before massaging your moisturiser into the face. I recommend using Charlotte’s Magic Serum Crystal Elixir to drench the skin with a magical blend of skincare ingredients with diverse benefits, then applying Charlotte’s Magic Cream to immediately revive the look of skin and create a hydrated, glowing canvas.

When Should I Start Using Face Serum?

There is no correct age to start using a face serum, darlings. As you enter your 30s, you may notice your skin beginning to change which may prompt you to reach for a face serum, however, you can also use face serum in your teens and 20s to help your skin look and feel its best. It’s also never too late to begin using a face serum, darlings! Whether you’re entering your 40s, 50s, 60s or beyond, you can reap the benefits of adding a supercharged serum to your skincare routine for magic skin at every age!

Should I Use Face Serum Every Day?

Yes - It is recommended that you use a face serum every day to maintain your hydrated, silky-smooth complexion. Add a face serum to your daily skincare routine to give your skin a helping of supercharged skincare ingredients before you apply your moisturiser and sunscreen in the morning, and before your night cream and face oil in the evening.

How Often Should I Use Face Serum?

Face serum should be applied each day and night for best results. Apply your serum twice daily to flood your skin with powerful skincare ingredients that help your skin look healthy and revitalised. Like with any skincare product, consistency is the secret to seeing the best skin results from your face serum.

Did you know? In 8 weeks of clinical trials for Charlotte’s Magic Serum Crystal Elixir, skin appeared 119%** more elastic, appeared firmer by 46%, wrinkles appeared reduced by 36% and pores appeared reduced by 40%**. Use your face serum consistently, darlings, and your skin will never look better!

*Charlotte’s Magic Serum Crystal Elixir tested on 209 people aged 18-80 over 4 weeks

** Observed in clinical tests on 31 people ages 18-80 over 8 weeks

REPLEXIUM™ is a trademark of BASF Beauty Care Solutions France SAS.

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Author Details

Charlotte Tilbury

Founder, President, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of Charlotte Tilbury Beauty

With over 30 years experience, Charlotte Tilbury MBE is the world's number 1 makeup artist and British beauty entrepreneur. Charlotte established Charlotte Tilbury Beauty in 2013, which is now a record-breaking beauty brand that has won over 400 awards.