Face Serums – Why do you need them?


Most people will readily add a moisturiser, a face wash, or even a facial oil in their skincare shopping bag, and are hardly aware of products called “Face Serum.”

The functions of face serums are not well understood besides the fact that they moisturise. Serums can have different viscosity, some are watery, others gel-like. Some facial serums can feel oily, but are not necessarily categorised as face oils. 

This article will help you gain a better understanding and knowledge of face serums and their importance in the world of skincare.


What is a face serum?

A serum is applied to the skin directly after cleansing and toning, in order to nourish the skin tissues with essential ingredients and nutrients. Most serums constitute small molecules that can penetrate the skin surface and reach the deeper levels of the dermis to deliver active ingredients to the cells. 

Modern fast-paced living, poor environmental conditions, and dietary habits create stressful conditions for the skin. Premature skin aging, wrinkles, and other conditions are a common occurrence. Face serums target these skincare concerns by providing a high concentration of active ingredients and taking care of these deficiencies. 

A usual skincare routine starts with facial cleansers, followed by toners, serums, ending with moisturisers. 


The difference between face serums and moisturisers

There is a certain amount of confusion in the skincare world when it comes to serums and moisturisers. Serums do contain moisturising ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides which help keep the skin supple and maintain its moisture content. However, it also contains higher levels of actives targeted to address specific skin concerns such as wrinkles, pigmentation, acne, etc. It also has a lighter, finer texture than a moisturizer and is usually comes in the form of a light-weight, low viscosity water or cream gel. A moisturizer, on the other hand, tend to have a denser viscosity and usually comes in a cream or lotion form. And as its name implies, a moisturizer’s principle function is to create a moisture lock, or a barrier on top of the skin with less penetrative function.


The difference between face serums and face oils

Brands often label face oils as serums but not all serums are oil-based.

Water-based serums feels more light weight and absorbs better and faster than face oils. It usually contains actives that are water-soluble. Face oils are made purely from either synthetic or plant oils and would take a longer time to be absorbed by the skin. They could only contain oil-based actives that are oil-soluble.


How to apply face serums?

Our recommended procedure to apply face serums for best results.

Follow these steps:

  1. Use a cleanser to wash the skin thoroughly before applying the face serums. You may also choose to exfoliate your skin while cleansing. Massage the cleanser carefully all over the face and wash away for clean skin with open pores.
  2. After cleansing, pat your face dry gently with a clean towel.
  3. Apply toner.
  4. Serums are used in very small amounts since the concentrations of active ingredients are usually high. Apply one drop of face serum on your finger and rub on the target area (cheeks, nose, chin, forehead), slowly covering the entire face. Gently massage the serum onto the skin using circular motions.
  5. After you’ve applied the face serum all over the skin, pat the skin gently to give the ingredients time to penetrate and go deep into the skin.
  6. Wait for a few minutes and then apply a layer of moisturiser all over the face. The moisturiser will help seal the nourishing ingredients of the face serum within the skin, thereby, giving it a lasting effect. 

It is recommended to avoid using too much of a face serum. A small drop or two is usually enough to cover a target area. Remember that excess serum application is not just a waste (since it does not get absorbed in the skin) but might also cause rashes and irritation. 



As a rule of thumb for all skincare products, it is essential to choose a face serum that treats your skin issues and is generally suited to your skin type. Going with a reputed brand that offers quality products (preferably based out of natural ingredients) is recommended. 

Certain face serums are designed to target restoration at a cellular level and help reverse damage to the skin’s DNA. 

Further, face serums are sometimes also classified based on their time of application. Day time serums are targeted for day-time care of the skin and maybe lighter in consistency. Night time serums, on the other hand, are designed with ingredients that are best left on the skin overnight to support your skin’s night-time renewal functions.

With love,

Coreenna Ong

Coreenna Ong

Co-founder and Head of Research

Ms Ong has more than 25 years of extensive experiences in research and development, conceptualization, formulation, and production process development. She is currently the Head of Research and Development at aspurely skincare.

She has authored 2 best-selling Beauty and Wellness books with Marshall Cavendish, Nature’s Spa: DIY Beauty Treatments and Nature’s Treats: Recipes for Wellness, which are currently available in the Singapore National Library collection.

Ms Ong was also a Beauty columnist for Lianhe Zaobao, Singapore's largest Chinese-language newspaper publication, with huge regional presence. As its weekly expert contributor, she shared the latest research and technologies from the Beauty industry, and addressed many readers’ skincare issues and concerns, offered beauty tips, quick fixes and insider knowledge.


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