Caroline with her favorite facial serum

How to Choose the Right Facial Serum for Your Skin Type & Why You Want One








Caroline with her favorite facial serum

Facial serums <— I have to admit, I used to eye roll whenever I heard that phrase. Serums sound so fancy, but what do they actually do? That’s why you have to learn how to choose the right facial serum for your skin type!

The short list: Serums are hero products—they get all the glory without being the daily worker bee! Serums are highly concentrated and provide targeted support for your specific skin concerns and needs.

A few drops is all you need and trust me you’ll notice an instant difference in your skin’s glow, clarity, and texture!

Graphic saying "What you put on your body is just as important as what you put in your body"

What is a facial serum?

Facial serums are filled with highly concentrated ingredients specifically designed to deliver powerful ingredients directly to the skin for specific needs and purposes (anti-aging, collagen production, oily skin, acne, discoloration, dehydrated skin, look of fine lines, etc). Because of the smaller molecule size of the ingredients, serums can penetrate deep into the skin and provide a high concentration of active ingredients designed to give your skin the targeted support it needs to improve the skin’s overall appearance. They are zero fluff, not diluted, jam packed superhero products!

…and trust me, after you incorporate effective face serums into your skin care routine, you’ll see a pretty *instant* difference in your skin’s look and texture!

Caroline testing her favorite facial serum

Moisturizer vs serum: do you need both?

Moisturizers do just that—they provide moisture and hydration to your skin and have filler ingredients to keep the skin hydrated and provide a barrier between your skin and outside elements.

Serums are highly concentrated with powerful active ingredients and will only minimally moisturize. They are often combined with the moisturizing step to get best results on a deeper level.

Serums are just the cherry on top that your skin craves…and with the *right* serum, sparks will fly…leaving you with beautiful skin, glowing, never greasy! Depending on your skin type and the weather, and once you find a good fit, you may be able to get away with just using a serum, otherwise, cleanse your face, apply a few drops of serum (5-10), and then moisturize.

Why are serums so expensive?

Ultimately, just like real food, good skincare nourishes our bodies – and that’s how it works when you learn how to choose the right facial serum for your skin type. This is a true investment in our skin, health, hormones, and future generations! Yes, the products we use raise our body’s chemical burden, disrupt our hormones + impact our DNA aka future generations too!

Serums offer *targeted* support with no fluff ingredients, so they are highly concentrated on at least one specific key ingredient meant to have a big impact! You only need a few drops, not an entire spoonful, so a little goes a LONG way. These small bottles will last you a year or even more, and your skin in a few decades will thank you!

…aka superheroes!

Caroline showing how to use her favorite cleanser and facial serum

Morning Cleansing + Serum Routine

Step 1: In the mornings I typically just rinse my face with warm water. If it’s summer and humid or I did a morning workout, I’ll use —> Clear Pore Cleanser or Clarifying Bar. Both cleanse deep without stripping your skin’s needed moisture.

Step 2: Tone with Instant Matte Toner —> This is a game-changer for helping your makeup set and your face not become oily throughout the day.

Step 3: Choose your Serum —> All Bright Vitamin C Serum is my daily go-to!

Step 4: Moisturize —> Antioxidant Soft Face Cream is my morning staple as it hydrates perfectly and wears beautifully under makeup.

Cleansers and facial serums displayed on a table.

Evening Cleansing + Serum Routine

Step 1Remove your makeup, always, never skip this step. This allows your products to work more efficiently for you, yielding better results and saving your money and product!

Step 2: Cleanse with Cleansing Oil.

Step 3: Tone with Mineral Boost Hydrating Essence —> This is a key step many people forget. Toners help prepare your skin for the incoming moisture and will lock in your skin’s moisture, aka let your serums and moisturizer (typically the most expensive product) actually do the work!

Step 4: Choose your Serum —> a few drops is all your need!

Step 5: Moisturize —> Antioxidant Soft Cream or Blue Tansy Soothing Cream.

Graphic to help you choose the right facial serum for your skin type.

How do I find the right face serums for my skin type?

Serums are *highly* concentrated to provide targeted support. They aren’t a one size fits all product and I recommend getting specific with your needs and choosing a serum that fits your profile. I now incorporate 2-3 weekly but I would recommend starting with 1 that fits the most important skin issue you are trying to resolve!

Due to the concentrated nature of serums and companies wanting to deliver big results to their clients, most conventional and even serums made with “natural ingredients” still contain some of the worst offenders when it comes to skincare ingredients. Check out my post on Greenwashing in the Beauty Industry. The ones I personally use and recommend use only the best ingredients and are tested for safety! 

A close up of a bottle of facial serum by Activist

All Skin Types, Gracefully Aging, Blemish-Prone, Scaring

Manuka Green Botanical Serum

This dreamy facial serum gives your skin the most refreshing, youthful glow! Perfect for ALL skin types and helps treat a range of skin concerns, it will help cleanse impurities, calm blemishes, heal scars and irritation, rejuvenate gracefully aging skin, and leave you with a luxurious glow!

It’s a dreamy one-size-fits-all-skin types serum!

Manuka Oil truly sets this apart from other serums—high in antibacterial properties and a potent skin regeneration ingredient, this will cleanse and rejuvenate. Great for blemishes, environmental damage, and daily stressors. Squalane locks in moisture and protects our skin barrier and visibly boosts elasticity. Kiwifruit Seed Oil is rich in antioxidants and Vitamin C to protect the skin’s surface against environmental stressors, inevitable aging, delay the appearance of fine lines, and harmful sun damage.

A close up photo of the Clarifying Serum by Primally Pure

Blemish-prone, oily, and acne-prone skin

Clarifying Serum

*use code FLOURISH for 10% off your first order.

This is the serum I use almost daily and I am totally in love! It was one of the first I learned how to use when I learned to choose the right facial serum for your skin type. I struggle with clogged pores, excess oil, blemishes, and pesky hormonal breakouts and have noticed a big difference since using this—in fact, sometimes within an hour or two I see my skin start to clear! It is one of my favorite lightweight formulas. Your skin NEEDS oils, even oily, combination skin and acne-prone skin, in fact, often acne is caused by stripping the skin of its natural, healing oils leading to overproduction of oil and clogged pores aka acne. With the *right* oils, your skin will balance out its natural oil production and clear up!

Turmeric Oil, Marula Oil and Green Tea balance oil production, purify pores, diminish discoloration from scarring + sun damage, and even skin tone to create clear, glowing skin…and you have my word it does just that!

Caroline using a facial serum by Beautycounter

Any skin types, dull skin, gracefully aging, discoloration

All Bright Vitamin C Serum

*use code CLEANFORALL30 for 30% off first order.

If you could only get one serum I would invest in this powerhouse!! It’s gentle, effective, and perfect for all skin types, including mature skin. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects and heals our skin from the effects of stress. It’s also good for your age, and environmental stress or toxins. Turmeric, another powerful anti-inflammatory, gives this serum its natural bright yellow hue and boosts your complexion.

It wears beautifully under makeup and with consistent use, you will notice your skin refreshed and glowing!! It is the best serum I know! Or at least it is in the top 5 skin care products I own.

Beautycounter's Overnight Resurfacing Peel

Dull skin, blemish prone, uneven skin tone

Overnight Resurfacing Peel

*use code CLEANFORALL30 for 30% off first order.

Okaaay, this technically isn’t a serum, it’s more a ‘treatment’. But I feel like it can fit in this category, especially since I LOVE it! This peel changed the game for my irritated postpartum skin! I use it consistently every 2-3 days and notice blemishes clear up much more quickly. And my skin texture is very even!

This peel won’t actually ‘peel’ your skin as many chemically derived peels will. Rather it uses botanically-derived acids to gently resurface the top layer of your skin. It increases skin cell turnover, and leaves your skin soft, smooth, and clear!

Beautycounter's Tripeptide Radiance Serum

Gracefully aging skin

Countertime Tripeptide Radiance Serum

use code CLEANFORALL30 for 30% off first order.

Ok, I also fell instantly in love with this anti-aging Tripeptide Radiance Serum after first use. My skin was ‘plum’ in the best way and glowing, yes there’s a reason it’s called the radiance serum! Already learning how to choose the right facial serum for your skin type?

Beautycounter’s plant-derived Retinatural Complex, featuring bakuchiol and Swiss Alpine rose, delivers retinol-like results without retinol’s safety concerns. This is HUGE. Retinol is a 9 on the EWG score and not safe for pregnancy or breastfeeding. So, in my mind, it is not safe at all! The new Countertime line features Retinatural to help your skin age gracefully! Remember, our skin actually starts aging for us females at about 25, so I would recommend this product for everyone!

Primally Pure's Soothing Serum - one of the best serums I recommend at the blog "How to Choose the Right Facial Serum for Your Skin Type & Why You Want One"

Irritated, inflamed, sensitive skin types

Soothing Serum with CBD

*use code CBDCAROLINE for 10% off your first order.

Typically stress is the biggest trigger for irritated, red, or inflamed skin. And I have certainly seen that to be true during stressful seasons in my life! I love this soothing serum because it is packed with anti-inflammatory and nourishing oils. Some of them are squalane oil, evening primrose oil (my favorite oil for balancing hormones), tamanu oil, and ashwagandha. This last one’s my favorite adaptogen that is so calming to both the body and skin!

This serum does smell a bit earthy, but I LOVE incorporating it when I am a bit more stressed. It also makes me see my skin pretty quickly calm down! If you have sensitive skin, this would be your best starting point for a calming facial serum.

There you have it! I have been giddy with excitement waiting to publish this blog post for you all because I know serums are so powerful and incredible! There’s truly no one size fits all skincare routine, so if you have questions, reach out…let’s chat!

Leave me a comment below with your favorite facial serum 👇🏼

Graphic saying "What you put on your body is just as important as what you put in your body" on the blog "How to Choose the Right Facial Serum for Your Skin Type & Why You Want One"

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