Intelligent Beauty

The Ultimate Guide To Serums

Close up of dark-skinned model with afro textured hair applying serum on her face with a pipette on the side of her cheek.

Face serums: most of us have them, some of us apply them – but do we really know the benefits of them?  

Forgoing those one-size-fits-all claims, face serums are your one-way ticket to a personalised skin care routine. But with a long list of formulas available, and with various end results, it’s getting harder to understand which one is right for your specific type or what you want to gain from them.  

With that in mind, here at Cult Beauty we’ve done the hard work for you and uncovered everything you need to know about the best face serums and how to use them.  


Serums are topical products that deliver a high concentration of active ingredients to our complexion. Generally more potent than most of your products, face serums are renowned for tackling your targeted skin concerns faster than other formulas. But the best part? They’re extremely customisable – meaning you can mix them up according to your specific skin woes. Think of them like a personalised recipe just for you!  


Your skin is individual to you, which is why it’s key to find a serum that compliments your complexion type while confronting your specific concerns. Plus, they serve up a series of benefits for a happier and healthier looking dermis. Keep scrolling to uncover the top five benefits of face serums below…  

They’re completely customisable: what sets your serums apart from the rest of your skin care line up? Their power to personalise. Whether you’re looking to raise moisture levels or minimise the appearance of visible pores, these lightweight liquids are adaptable to your routine and needs.  

Soothe sensitive skin: combating your complexion’s reactive nature, serums penetrate deeper into your dermis to relieve redness, dryness and uneven skin tones. For comforting results, it’s best to look for formulas that include aloe vera, ceramides, niacinamide or chamomile.   

Reduce the appearance of fine lines: face serums that feature vitamin C, vitamin E and astaxanthin aid in the prevention of oxidative damage from UV rays and pollution – consequently keeping fine lines at bay.  

Retain moisture: formulated with hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, face serums have the ability to lock in your skin’s moisture while protecting its barrier for dew-drenching results.    

Boost brightness: face serums work in various ways to enhance radiant results. While some directly target pigmentation and dull skin, others reduce the appearance of puffiness through effective exfoliation. The result? Luminosity and a more even skin tone.  


When it comes to incorporating face serums into your daily routine, it’s all about how and when to apply them. For the best results, simply follow the tips and tricks below. 

  1. Generally speaking, your face serums should be applied after cleansing and before you moisturise. For some this will be the second step in their regime, or for those who use toners or exfoliators the third or fourth.  
  2. Use a pea-sized amount over your clean, dry complexion, then wait 30 to 60 seconds for the formula to absorb before layering on your remaining products (we’re talking face oils, day creams, SPF and more). 
  3. Serums are designed to work with your other skin care products, not as a substitute. For optimum results, you’ll need to pair them with your daily cleansers, moisturisers, sunscreen and everything in between.  
  4. As for the time of day which you should be applying serums, that’s down to the ingredients included within them – for example, if they feature retinol, you should be easing yourself into application by applying them a few days a week during your evening routine. Or if they include vitamin C, integrating it into your morning schedule will boost bountiful benefits such as shielding you from free radicals.     
  5. Finally, don’t be afraid to layer them up! If you’re utilising more than one serum, always apply the most fluid first.  


Packing a serious hydration punch, Shani Darden Skin Care’s Moisture Boost Plumping Serum is flooded with not one, but 17 thirst quenching ingredients – include humectants like snow mushroom and gylcerin that pull and lock water into your skin. Plus topped with the brand’s antioxidant fruit complex, the featherweight formula shields your complexion against environmental stressors too (wind, pollution and UV rays, we’re looking at you).

Best face serum for: hydration 


Delivering a daily dose of sunshine all year around, Dr. Dennis Gross’ Vitamin C + Lactic 15% Vitamin C Firm & Bright Serumboosts a glow no matter the weather outside. Blended with a cocktail of ingredients that treat a range of skin concerns, this featherweight formula fuses niacinamide, licorice and mulberry extracts to reveals radiance while brightening dark spots and pigmentation.  

Best face serum for: brightness  


With not one, but four, strengths to suit your skin’s needs, Medik8s Crystal Retinal Serum looks to bolster your complexion’s resilience and density. Harnessing encapsulated retinaldehyde, this potent potion smooths the looks of fine lines while diminishing dark spots and enhancing a firmer finish. What’s more, with its signature crystal structure, it mitigates irritation – making it ideal for those with sensitive skin too.  

Best face serum for: reducing the appearance of fine lines  


Bringing balance back to your moisture levels, BIOEFFECT’s EGF Day Serum is here to quench your skin’s thirst. Housed in an airless container to keep its potency, this hydrating gel is supercharged with EGF (that’s protein that plays a key part in the production of collagen, FYI), hyaluronic acid and nutrient-rich Icelandic water to delivery long-lasting dewy effects.  

Best face serum for: hydration   


Slipping seamlessly into your morning and evening routine, CeraVe’s Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum is designed to treat even the most sensitive of complexions. Fusing the brand’s signature three ceramides blend with its unique ‘MVE Technology’, this gel-cream formula enhances long-lasting nourishment while soothing and balancing your skin. 

Best face serum for: protecting your moisture barrier   


Suffering from sensitive skin? We have just the thing… Cue: The Ordinary’s Soothing & Barrier Support Serum. A multi-active solution that soothes and smooths, this replenishing recipe is designed to alleviate discomfort while reducing the look of redness and irritation. Infused with vitamin B12, gallic acid derivatives and bisabolol, it not only targets tightness, but also shields against external aggressors – UV, pollution and all types of weather, we’re looking at you).  

Best face serum for: sensitive skin  


Now you have everything you need to know about face serums, it’s time to wave goodbye to complicated regimes and bid farewell to all your personal skin concerns!  


Trifonia Asmar

Trifonia Asmar

Senior SEO Copywriter

Cult Beauty’s Senior SEO Copywriter, Trifonia started out in the industry when bold brows were just becoming a ‘thing’, and shares a passion for all things fashion and beauty. Currently embracing her curly girl journey (after endless years of straightening her strands), she is finally reverting to her natural ways! When Triffy isn’t busy testing out the latest curl-saving solutions, you’ll find her binging the latest reality TV show or on a long walk listening to her ever-evolving country music playlist.