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Photo Courtesy of Brienna Conomos

Choosing the Serum That Works for Your Skin Type

Whether you’re tackling dry, sensitive, oily, or skin that’s a mercurial combination of all three, serums are an essential step in any regimen. “All skin types can use them,” says Margo Marrone, the founder of The Organic Pharmacy and a London-based homeopathic pharmacist. “Serums can be your best friend.”

Concentrated active ingredients combined with a light, silky texture make serums suited to target a variety of issues. “If you’re concerned about texture, dullness, or dark spots, I advise starting with serums,” says Tata Harper, the founder of Tata Harper skin care in Vermont. “Applying a serum twice a day is helpful for most skin types.”

A serum works best when applied to skin before face cream or oil. “Serums aren’t lipid-based like moisturizing creams, so they don’t tend to exacerbate oily skin,” says Dr. Barbara Sturm, an aesthetics doctor and the founder of Dr. Barbara Sturm Molecular Cosmetics and the Dr. Barbara Sturm Clinic in Düsseldorf, Germany. “And because they moisturize, they’re good for dry skin and often work for sensitive skin, too.”

No matter what serum you choose, smooth it on after washing your face; just-washed, slightly damp skin is more absorbent. A small dab goes a long way in most cases, and your skin should drink serum right up. If you need more hydration, moisturize next (oily skin may not need it). Serums work beautifully morning, evening or both; if you’re applying one for day, don’t forget clean, mineral sunscreen for a truly supercharged routine.

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    For Brightening:

    “This serum is something totally new and brilliant for your skin. You really see the results—next-level glow, softness, smoothness—and it stays potent till you finish it, which is rare with vitamin C. And it works for every skin type.” —GP

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    For Smoothing:

    “This one’s my desert island product, with star ingredients, like hibiscus peptides, Atlas cedar bark, Spanish lavender, and fatty acids. It helps smooth the skin’s surface and restore moisture. It’s the most scientifically advanced serum in our collection.” —Tata Harper, founder of Tata Harper skin care

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    For Moisturizing:

    “We designed this formula with antioxidants, nutrients, and replenishing compounds, like hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring body fluid that binds 1,000 times its weight in water.” —Dr. Barbara Sturm, aesthetics doctor and founder of Dr. Barbara Sturm Molecular Cosmetics and the Dr. Barbara Sturm Clinic in Düsseldorf, Germany