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What are face serums meant to do anyways?

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The question

If I'm using a day lotion in the morning and night cream before bed, is it necessary to use a serum as well? If so, when is the ideal time to apply it?

The answer

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Serums are meant to enhance your skin-care routine by delivering more concentrated amounts of minerals, vitamins and other ingredients to your skin than your regular moisturizer can. Choosing one depends on your skin's needs. To prevent the signs of aging, look for a serum with antioxidant qualities; if you simply want to hydrate, choose one with hyaluronic acid. With serum, a little usually goes a long way, so use it sparingly.

A dime- or nickel-sized amount is all you'll need, which may also explain why serums typically come in much smaller containers than your moisturizer does. It is best to apply serum to damp skin immediately after your toner and three minutes before your day or night cream. It will penetrate the skin better that way. One thing to avoid when choosing a serum is alcohol. If it is high on the ingredient list, the only thing it will do to your skin is dehydrate it.

Bahar Niramwalla is a celebrity makeup artist and beauty specialist who has appeared on The Marilyn Denis Show on CTV. Follow her on Twitter: @baharniramwalla. Have a beauty question? E-mail style@globeandmail.com.

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