How to Choose the Best Facial Serum for your Skin

What is a Facial Serum?

A facial serum is typically a water-based, hyper-concentrated skin care solution that provides key nutrients to skin based on a specific skin care goal.

Because they’re designed for maximal absorption and can deliver beneficial ingredients into deeper layers of skin, more and more beauty enthusiasts are turning to these wonder products to enhance skin care results.

Serums can be targeted for anti-aging, reducing fine lines & wrinkles; to hydrate overly dry skin; or to tackle dark spots and hyper-pigmentation -not to mention a wealth of other common skin concerns. We are even beginning to see tailor-made serums offered, now being blended to order.

Although they can be pricier then other products due to the concentrated formulations, a good facial serum is definitely worth the splurge as it can make all the difference in your overall skin health and quickly boost anti-aging results.

Keep in mind that once you’ve taken the plunge, you’ll want to commit to using your serum for at least one month as it can take this long for your skin cells to fully turnover, revealing the new and healthier cells beneath. 

How to properly use a Facial Serum 

  • The best time to apply a facial serum is immediately after cleansing as this will allow the serum to maximally penetrate skin, when pores are open and your skin is free of other barriers such as topical moisturizers.
  • Because serums are generally formulated with a higher concentration of active ingredients, a few drops should be sufficient to cover the entire face. A little goes a long way here!
  • A Serum’s texture is usually lighter than a moisturizer and may be sufficiently hydrating to be used as a stand-alone product for someone with oilier skin. Alternately, a serum can be applied before a regular moisturizer for those with normal to dry skin.
  • In any case, it is recommended that you allow the serum to fully absorb into skin before applying another product on top.
  • For people who wish to incorporate more than one facial serum into their beauty regimen, it is best to apply these at different times. For example, apply one serum in the a.m. and the other at night.

How to ensure you are getting a quality facial serum

Most facial serums share three basic ingredients in common.

These are a hydrator, an antioxidant and a humectant.

1) The Hydrator is used as the product base, acting as the vehicle that delivers key nutrients, while providing water or hydration to the skin. It can be good old fashioned H2O or an alternative such as Aloe Vera Juice. In any case, it needs to be something that will not compromise or denature the active ingredients in the serum itself. For example, an alcohol based product would be much too harsh, not to mention drying on skin. The Hydrator is typically the first ingredient on the list.

2) Antioxidants protect skin by limiting the oxidative reaction caused by free radicals that deteriorate cells and are created whenever the body is exposed to environmental stressors, pollutants and radiation. Antioxidants counteract these negative effects and keep free radicals in check. Common examples are Vitamins B, C, E, Green Tea and Grape Seed.

3) A Humectant is a substance with the ability to attract and hold water to itself from the surrounding environment. These are especially beneficial for dry skin types and Hyaluronic acid is a prime example of an all-natural humectant now gaining popularity in skin care as is it can attract and hold 1000 times its weight in moisture.

Other common examples used in conventional skin care products are glycerin, propylene glycol (a by-product of petroleum refining), Aloe and Honey. Although you certainly wouldn’t want honey left on your skin all day!

How to determine which facial Serum is best for you

Next, you should get to know your ingredient list and discover what nutrients are designed to address which skin care concern so you can find which one is best for you.

In the broad spectrum of facial serums commercially available, you will generally find positives–things that are beneficial for your precise needs and goals while in others you’ll find minuses – things you should steer clear of altogether.

Click HERE for some common examples of don’t go there ingredients.

Below, we’ve broken down the ingredients of our popular serums to provide you with some useful insight into which facial serum might work best for you.

Rise ‘N Shine 30% Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid 


This is an antioxidant-rich serum designed to reverse the signs of aging and environmentally induced photo-damage from sun exposure resulting in dark spots or hyper-pigmentation. With several “skin brightening” ingredients, it improves overall skin tone and accelerates cellular renewal to promote a healthy glow. It is Ideal for application under a moisturizer with Sunscreen.

If your skin looks and feels lackluster, you’ll definitely want to load on the vitamin C using this serum!

Ingredients for Skin Brightening

VITAMIN C: A well-known skin brightening agent known to reduce the appearance of hyper pigmentation while minimizing damage from the sun's UV rays. Repeat application is shown to leave skin looking glow-y and with a more radiant tone.

Since there are various forms of Vitamin C being used in skin care today, this is something to be mindful of when selecting a Vitamin C serum as some forms are not very stable in solution resulting in overall efficacy being compromised as well as a poor shelf life for your serum.

An added benefit of Rise ‘N Shine’s Vitamin C serum is that it delivers multiple forms of Vitamin C for a well-rounded product that is able to deliver results.  These are: 

    • “L Ascorbic acid” –The most potent form of Vitamin C but it tends to break down in heat, light, with oxygen exposure, and in certain pH levels. This does not discount its value altogether but more caution must be taken with product storage. 
    • Asortyl glucoside” -A more stable, water-soluble derivative of vitamin C, Asortyl Glucoside is broken down further once absorbed into the body. This yields more usable Ascorbic acid, bypassing the potential liability of concentrate deterioration while in solution.

Remember that when choosing a serum it’s best to use a great ingredient combination rather than to focus on just one or two heavy-hitters.

ARBUTIN: A natural substance with skin lightening properties that is derived from the leaves of various fruit plants such as bearberry, mulberry, pear and cranberry.

It works in the body by inhibiting the production of melanin (the compound that gives the dark pigmentation to hair and skin).  Add to this its anti-microbial properties and this gentle alternative to the more potent and potentially irritating hydroquinone (of which it is a derivative), can also help clear skin! This is a clear ingredient to look for if you wish to brighten an uneven skin tone.

Ingredients for Dry Skin

SODIUM HYALURONATE: The salt of Hyaluronic Acid, has a smaller molecular size allowing it to penetrate deeper into skin. It shares many of the same beneficial attributes of Hyaluronic acid, turning the dermis of skin into a super-sponge absorbing and retaining moisture to give skin a fuller, tighter look and feel.

Ingredients for Anti-aging

PORTULACA OLERACEA: Otherwise known as “Purslane”, refers to a plant of the succulent variety (just like aloe), which contains the powerful antioxidants Vitamins C, E and A (known in the beauty world as Retinol –another powerhouse anti-aging ingredient), as well as co-enzyme Q10 and Omega 3 fatty acids. This makes it highly effective in the field of anti-aging with strong regenerative properties operating at the cellular level, Purslane not only accelerates cell repair but also protects cellular DNA. All this adds up to remarkable ability to brighten your complexion, even skin tone and fight signs of aging while reducing UV damage to skin.

Purslane has long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for the treatment of infection, to reduce skin irritation or inflammation and for the general promotion of younger looking skin.

Omega 3 fatty acids are a key building block in the skin’s outer layers as well as in the creation of skin’s moisture barrier which helps keep needed moisture in while keeping environmental toxins and pollutants out. This in turn works to create a smoother and more even complexion.

Ingredients for Oily or Acne Prone Skin

OMEGA 3: An added benefit to Purslane’s high Omega 3 content is its ability to aid in the regulation of sebum production.

If you haven’t heard the term before,Sebum” is the oily substance secreted by skin. It is often associated with acne as too much sebum has been found to clog pores and can exacerbate the condition. It is also the cause of oily skin. But increased Omega 3 intake, both topically and through diet, can alleviate these concerns.

When skin’s moisture barrier is compromised (such as from omega 3 deficiency), it becomes more prone to environmental stressors. As a result, the water content of cells can be lost causing an initial dehydration. In an effort to protect itself, glands in the skin increase the secretion of sebum as a defense-mechanism to compensate for the lack of healthy cell membranes and resiliency of skin.

This is why sometimes your skin can feel oily and have that tight/dry feeling at the same time. This is likely an instance where you have too much sebum at the surface of skin while deeper tissues are in fact totally dehydrated!

In this case, restoring skin’s optimal moisture barrier could very well be the answer.

Rise ‘N Shine Hyaluronic Acid Serum with Vitamin C, Jojoba Oil, Aloe Vera 

For dry complexions, look for formulas that incorporate hydrating proteins such as Hyaluronic Acid to attract and hold moisture to the skin.

Our Hyaluronic Acid serum will not block pores, is suitable for all skin types and will not leave skin feeling greasy. In fact, it can even replace a moisturizer altogether for those with more oily skin.

Designed to include several anti-aging properties, this serum is targeted to boost collagen, elasticity and firmness of skin while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Choose this serum for a more supple, hydrated and firmer complexion.

Ingredients for Dry Skin

HYALURONIC ACID: A lubricating agent that actively works to absorb moisture and plump up skin. It’s naturally found in the body, making up a large part of the extracellular matrix, cartilage and connective tissues.

H.A. plays many roles in the body and has been found to stimulate collagen production, maintain skin elasticity, improve hydration, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and also has antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. With its ability to hold up to 1000x its weight in moisture, the Hyaluronic Acid content of cells is the first line of defense against moisture-loss in the body.  

ALOE VERA: A commonly used plant extract dating back to at least 16th century Egypt, where it was first referred to as the “plant of immortality” and prized for its healing properties.

Commonly used as a hydrator, Aloe contains up to 99% water yet has the ability to penetrate skin 4X faster than water alone.  It can moisturize without making skin greasy -making it an ideal choice for those with oily skin.

Added to this is an impressive array of beneficial nutrients like Vitamins A, B, C, D and E, Vitamin B12, copper, magnesium, potassium, zinc, loads of amino acids and proteolytic enzymes, all of which works together to give aloe it’s characteristic skin-soothing  and antioxidant properties.

Aloe speeds up cellular reproduction resulting in faster healing of wounds and scars, protects skin from bacteria while diminishing pore size and decreasing redness.

The result for skin is an anti-ageing, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial elixir that can help take years off your face. 

Ingredients for Anti-aging

MSM: Also known as "Methylsulfonylmethane”, MSM is essentially a form of sulfur which is the third most abundant mineral in the body. It is a natural antioxidant heavily involved in the body’s detoxification processes. As such, MSM has powerful anti-inflammatory benefits, strengthening the skin's support matrix while reducing the signs of skin irritation including rosacea, eczema, acne and psoriasis. 

Also known as The Beauty Mineral, MSM feeds the skin from the inside-out. It aids in the production of collagen and keratin to fight signs of premature ageing leading to a more healthy and youthful looking complexion.

JOJOBA OIL: Jojoba is non-comedogenic, meaning it doesn’t clog pores, and is a natural emollient with the ability to soften skin.

Rich in antioxidant Vitamins B & E (which helps strengthen capillary walls in your skin -no more blotchy, burst capillaries under skin’s surface, YAY!), Jojoba improves skin’s moisture and elasticity by supplying more of the natural anti-aging nutrients already in your body.

In this way, it works as a natural skin protectant and healer, found to accelerate wound closure and to stimulate collagen production.

Antioxidants in Jojoba further help fight off free radicals and prevent cell damage, while anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties reduce acne-causing bacteria and soothe skin irritation leading to an uneven complexion.

GOTU KOLA: Refers to a green leafy herb which grows in parts of Southeast Asia and is from the same family as Parsley.

Although it’s been used in traditional herbal remedies for some time, it can be harder to find in skin care applications. This is unfortunate as Gotu Kola is provides a number of skincare benefits from accelerating skin’s natural healing process to tightening and firming the appearance of skin.

It is a phenomenal ingredient, able to restore a more youthful and resilient quality to skin. In fact, because of its ability to tighten skin, Gotu Kola has even been used topically to target cellulite in more difficult areas of the body like thighs and hips!

It’s anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties make Gotu Kola ideal for the treatment of burns, abrasions, psoriasis, dermatitis or other skin wounds and irritation. Combined with its ability to increase blood flow, all of this works primarily to protect and strengthen skin.

Ingredients for Clear skin

GREEN TEA: Used topically, green tea provides a multitude of skin and beauty benefits ranging from anti-aging to acne prevention.

In addition to its high antioxidant content which works to prevent and repair the signs of aging such as sun damage and fine lines; Green tea also delivers amino acids, natural enzymes, B Vitamins (essential for skin health), folate, manganese, potassium, magnesium and caffeine.

This power-packed combo improves skin’s overall complexion. Inflammation is reduced; toxins and impurities are expelled reducing pore size; antibacterial properties fight infection and skin irritation; while cell turnover and healing rate is accelerated. As a result, skin appears more youthful looking with greater elasticity and a healthy glow. It is also used to reduce redness associated with rosacea.

The Vitamin K in Green Tea also works to lighten dark circles around the eyes and reduce puffiness.

Essentially, Green Tea wakes up a dull and tired-looking face!

WITCH HAZELA naturally healing astringent extracted from the leaves and bark of the North American Witch Hazel plant. It is commonly used as an acne treatment due to its ability to kill bacteria deep within pores but is also effective in easing other types of inflammation including sun burns , rashes, abrasions and even those unsightly dark under-eye circles or “bags”.

Witch Hazel is chock-full of antioxidants that work to not only stop but also to repair cellular damage. It is a powerful skin healer.

Though you might not expect, witch hazel can also be used on dry skin as it locks in moisture after cleansing, reinforcing skin’s natural moisture barrier and preventing excessive loss of hydration from environmental stress.

Use of this ingredient leaves skin looking more hydrated, firmer and clearer.


Facial Serums are a great opportunity to truly customize your skin care routine for your exact needs to achieve a specific result but remember, not all Serums –or skin care products for that matter- are created equally.

You want to look for quality, natural ingredients that have beneficial properties and won’t compromise other aspects of health or well-being later down the line (unlike the toxic, synthetic, chemical gunk that conventionally made products might offer).

We find a well-rounded facial serum is definitely worth the splurge as it is more productive of results than a moisturizer, toner or “night treatment” alone.

We hope you have the opportunity to find one that works for you!

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