Does Skin Serum Really Work? Here’s What You Need to Know

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With all the fuss about skin serums, there is a need to be sure they are everything they are touted to be. So, if the question on your mind is does skin serum really work? You are sure going to get your answers from this article.

With so many skincare products here and there, claiming to improve your skin texture and complexion, you need to be careful. Skin serums, however, have proven beyond all doubt to be products everyone needs in their skincare routine.

These lightweight products are potent treatments for skin concerns like acne, hyperpigmentation, aging, dehydration, and dull complexion. Continue reading to see answers to your questions about serums and what they can do for your skin.

Does Skin Serum Work?

Yes, it does work. Serums are majorly described as vehicles that deliver active ingredients to the layers of your skin. Consequently, they can help to address different skin issues based on the ingredients in the serum.

Their efficacy is better enhanced by their lightweight formulation that helps to carry the liquid quickly into your skin without leaving residues.

The active ingredients in serum may be hyaluronic acid, retinol, salicylic acid, niacinamide, glycolic acid, or vitamin C.

Each of these ingredients can help improve the health and appearance of your skin. Moreover, serums are naturally hydrating due to their water-based formula.

Generally, serums work for every skin type according to different formulas addressing different needs.

How Does Skin Serum Work?

Skin serum works by penetrating pre-cleansed skin and delivering active ingredients to the deep layers of your skin. Serums work from the inside out to hydrate skin cells and plump your skin on the outside.

For instance, a serum that contains hyaluronic acid as its root active ingredient will absorb water molecules from the atmosphere and draw them to the outer layer of your skin. This moisture your skin and keeps it hydrated.

As a result, your skin barrier is strengthened and prevents moisture loss and dehydration. This also helps to address dehydration and dull complexion. Retinol is another superactive ingredient that is great for treating aging and fading scars.

Every active ingredient carries out a special function on the skin and communicates skin cell repair and rejuvenation. Serums contain small molecules of actives that use the water-based medium to quickly absorb into your skin and do wonders.

A serum can help delay the signs of aging and improve the appearance of already present fine lines and wrinkles. Overall, skin serum improves the health, texture, and tone of your skin.

Can Serum Dry Your Skin?

On the contrary, serums are very hydrating. These products are liquid-based and a good vehicle for ultra-hydration. Actives like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and glycolic acid make hydrating serums.

However, there are conditions when serum may dry out your skin. When you wrongly apply serum to your skin, it will not do its work of hydrating your skin.

For instance, you should not apply a hyaluronic acid-based serum to dry skin in a dry climate. Hyaluronic acid is a natural humectant and works best on hydrated skin.

If applied to dry skin, it’ll draw moisture from the deep layers of your skin and consequently strip your skin of moisture which leads to dehydration.

Additionally, when you apply serum to your skin during harsh weather conditions, you should layer on a moisturizer to seal in moisture. Otherwise, the actives will turn against your skin, strip it of moisture, and cause your skin to dry out.

Always use a moisturizer after applying a serum that contains exfoliating acids like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or retinol. These ingredients naturally dry out the skin. Therefore, you need a moisturizer to counter this effect.

Does Serum Brighten Skin?

A skin brightening serum helps to brighten the skin, get rid of dark spots, dull complexion, and signs of aging. Such serums contain ingredients like vitamin C, exfoliating acids, and other botanical extracts that help to even out the skin tone.

Skin brightening serums work by sloughing off layers of dead skin cells that give your skin a dull complexion. The exfoliating acids in the serum loosen the bonds between the dead skin cells and your skin and give your skin a reflective glow.

In addition, vitamin C is a vitamin that can inhibit the production of melanin and brighten up dark spots. Also, it increases skin radiance and restores youthfulness. 

Other ingredients like vitamin E, a natural SPF, protect your skin from the harmful UV rays that cause hyperpigmentation.

Does Serum Darken Skin?

No, serums do not exactly darken your skin. Any form of skin darkening caused by using skin serum is rather called skin staining. This happens when an active ingredient, like vitamin C, has been denatured.

Vitamins go bad when exposed to sunlight. They become denatured and lose their skin-brightening or hydrating potency. The serum begins to tan your skin because it has been oxidized by light and air.

When you apply the serum to your skin, it stains your skin and makes it appear tan. In addition, the compound to which vitamin C is oxidized is called erythrulose and it is the main ingredient contained in many self-tanners.

To prevent your serum from going bad and staining your skin, you should keep it away from sunlight. Store your serum in a cool, dry place like in a refrigerator to preserve its quality.

Does Serum Damage Skin?

A serum is not likely to damage your skin if you use it correctly and apply the right formula to your skin. However, if you have skin conditions like eczema which is characterized by a damaged skin barrier, serums may be too much for your skin.

The active ingredients in serum can cause extra irritation for skin affected by eczema. As a liquid-based product, it will penetrate too quickly and since skin tolerance is low, your skin may not be able to withstand the actives.  

More so, a serum that contains active ingredients like retinol, salicylic acid, and glycolic acid may make your skin peel during acclimatization. This does not imply skin damage of any kind unless it extends beyond 2-3 weeks.

Does Serum Penetrate Skin?

Yes, it does. Serums are made of small molecules of active ingredients that use a water-based medium to get to skin cells. The lightweight formula makes it penetrate your skin and keep it hydrated.

Furthermore, past the outer layer of your skin, the skin cells contain more water. And serums work well in a hydrated environment.

The deep layers of your skin are the parts where the actives in serums are needed more and that is where skin repair usually begins.

Serums have a high affinity for moisture, and this is why they can penetrate deep into the layers of your skin to hydrate it and treat various skin concerns.

Does Serum Tighten Skin?

The function of some skin serums is to firm already sagging skin, which may be a sign of aging. Alongside the actives you may find in your serum, you’ll also find peptides in the formula. The peptides in serum work to tighten your skin and restore youthfulness.

Additionally, other ingredients like retinol and vitamin C communicate skin cell repair and stimulate the synthesis of collagen and elastin. These proteins enhance skin elasticity and help to restore saggy skin to firmness.

Generally, serums contain antioxidants that protect your skin from environmental factors like UV exposure and other irritants that cause free radical damage and trigger aging.

Also, some serums contain natural SPF that can prevent your skin from losing its elasticity.

Can Serum Whiten Skin?

Serums do not whiten your skin, but they can help to fade dark spots, lighten your complexion, and even your skin tone. A serum that contains vitamin C or retinol can help to improve the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation on your skin.

In addition, skin brightening serums can also help to even out your skin tone while taking off dead skin cells and getting rid of a dull complexion.

Such serums do not bleach your skin or pose any form of damage to the layers of your skin. Hydrating serums can also promote healthy skin and quicken the disappearance of scars. Overall, they give your skin subtle radiance and a dewy glow.

How Do You Know Skin Serum Is Working?

You know your serum is working when you begin to see improvements in your skin. Skin concerns like acne, hyperpigmentation, aging, and dehydration become better and your skin begins to look healthier.

When you see these signs, you know getting a serum was worth it after all. However, these improvements may take weeks before they are visible, but you should not be deterred.

Serums penetrate the deep layers of your skin and work from the inside out. The first sign you feel and see is that your skin becomes hydrated upon application. Also, within a few days of use, you’ll notice a reflective skin glow.

Sometimes, what you see is a skin purge but, it seems as though the serum is not working. The skin purge may be a form of skin redness, a rash, or peeling. This happens when your skin is acclimatizing with active (like retinol) in the serum.


Can you use serum every day?

Yes, you can use serums every day. Serums should come after cleansing your skin and just before you moisturize your skin. The efficacy of serum comes with consistency in use. Use a serum as part of your morning and evening routine.

But if your skin doesn’t seem to tolerate the serum, you should introduce it slowly. Apply serum to your skin once a day or three times a week until your skin can tolerate the serum.

Will serum peel your skin?

Serums prevent your skin from peeling and help to calm redness. But if you’re using a retinol serum, you may experience peeling and redness during retinization, when your skin is acclimatizing with retinol.

Moreover, if your serum contains an exfoliating acid, you should moisturize it after applying serum. Otherwise, you may experience skin dryness, redness, and maybe peeling.

Can serum go bad?

Serum may lose its potency and the efficacy of the vitamins it contains when it comes in contact with the air, heat, or sunlight. When this happens, the serum begins to change color, develops a funny smell, and may form clogs or become watery.

If you notice any of these with your serum, it is time to dispose of and replace the serum with a fresh product.


Does skin serum work? A big YES! Those little bottles may look small and not capable of much, but they are the powerful secret to healthy and glowing skin. Serums are highly concentrated with active ingredients that target different skin conditions.

According to different formulas, a serum may help to brighten your skin, hydrate your skin, fade scars, address aging, or firm your skin. Whichever formula you use, every serum is packed with antioxidants that protect your skin from further damage.

In conclusion, skin serums work. However, for your serum to be effective, you need to use the right formula and the right actives to address your skin concerns.

Thanks for reading.

If you need to read the best serum guides, Serum101 is the best place to look.