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A guide to Serums

13th January 2017

There’s lots of talk about serums but don’t worry if you are still confused about what they are and why you should use one, you’re definitely not alone. Serums can seem puzzling, they are moisturising but you still layer a moisturiser on top of them, they can help to tone skin but they are not a toner, they can be oily but aren’t a face oil. Skincare shouldn’t be a complicated area of your life (there’s enough of those already!) so we’re going back to basics to break down all you need to know about serums.

What is a serum?

The job of a serum is to deliver powerful ingredients deep into the skin to ensure that their potent formulas get to work quickly and effectively to treat specific skin concerns.

Benefits of a serum

Serums have a lightweight formula that is made up of smaller molecules than moisturisers meaning they can penetrate deeper into skin and deliver a boost of high quality, key active ingredients down to the cells where they are needed most. They can deliver actives (such as vitamins, antioxidants, acids and peptides) in a more concentrated form than moisturisers so they are a powerful bespoke treatment. This makes them particularly effective at treating specific skin concerns whether you suffer from dry skin, blemishes, redness, dull skin or wrinkles.

How do they differ from other products?

Serums vs Moisturisers

Serums can have moisturising properties but they are not classed as a moisturiser because moisturisers have a thicker consistency and create a barrier on top of skin which helps to retain moisture, keep in all the goodness you just applied and protect the skin against environmental elements.

Moisturisers main purpose is to moisturise skin, this can help also with ageing skin as hydrated skin appears smoother and plump. Serums on the other hand are directly targeting different skin concerns not just dry or dehydrated skin. Your serum and moisturiser are designed to work in conjunction with each other; the serum treats your skin concerns and then the moisturiser acts as a protective coat sealing in all the good stuff.

Serums vs Face Oils

Typically serums are water-based and contain vitamins, antioxidants, peptides and alpha or beta hydroxyl acids whereas oils are oil-based. Both contain smaller molecules than moisturisers and can therefore penetrate deeper into the skin but serums have the smallest molecules making them a highly effective targeted treatment.

Finding the Right Serum of Your Skin

Serums are designed to be bespoke treatments so the right serum for you depends on your skin concerns. To find the right serum first consider your skin type and what you are trying to treat and then the below guide will help you to identify the specific ingredients to look for depending on your skin concern.

Daytime Antioxidant

Most serums can be applied morning and evening but it is especially beneficial to use a serum with antioxidants in the morning as antioxidants help to protect skin against environmental and sun damage. These antioxidants help to keep skin looking youthful through protecting the skin against ageing free radicals. Antioxidants include Vitamin A (retinol), Vitamin B3, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, green tea, genistein, lycopene, ferulic acid and liquorice.

Be Clear - Genistein
Be Firm - Vitamin B3, Lycopene, Vitamin E
Be Strong - Liquorice, Vitamin A, Vitamin E


For those with dry skin look for serums with moisturising capabilities via ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin. Hyaluronic acid is incredibly moisturising as it can hold close to 1000 times its weight in water. It is a great anti-ageing ingredient because as we age skin loses its ability to maintain plumping moisture which leads to a loss of firmness and suppleness.

Be Clear - Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic acid), Glycerin
Be Firm - Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic acid), Glycerin, Jojoba Oil, Shea Butter
Be Strong - Glycerin, Apricot Oil, Sunflower Oil


Those with a dull complexion should look for serums that can brighten and boost radiance. This ability comes from ingredients such as Vitamin C, liquorice, arbutin and exfoliating acids including lactic acid and kojic.

Be Clear - Kombuchka, Delentigo, Achromaxyl
Be Firm - Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide)
Be Strong - Vitamin C, Liquorice

Uneven skin tone & Blemishes

If you are looking to correct an uneven skin tone, whether acne or ageing is affecting your skin texture, you should look for Vitamin C, Retinol (Vitamin A) and exfoliating Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) which will encourage skin repair and renewal and help to unclog pores and treat blemishes.

Be Clear - Delentigo, Achromaxyl, Witch Hazel
Be Strong - Liquorice, Vitamin C, Vitamin A

Wrinkles and Firming

If a key skin concern for you is wrinkles, fine lines and sagging skin then you should look for serums containing peptides which stimulate the production of elastin and collagen and keep skin looking smooth, plump and firm.

Be Firm - Vitamin PP (Niacinamide/Vitamin B3), Essenskin, Ameliox (peptide complex), Lycoskin Defence, Sodium Hyaluronate
Be Strong - Vitamin A (retinol), Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Tocopheryl acetate)


Your goal with your nighttime routine should be to help skin repair damage from pollution, sun and stress.  Your skin loses water as you sleep so it is also important to keep skin hydrated overnight. Retinol (Vitamin A) is a good ingredient to incorporate into your nighttime routine as it moisturises and hydrates, speeds up cell turnover, encourages the production of collagen and helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Be Strong - Vitamin A

As you can tell by their names each Temple Spa serum has been specifically designed to address different skin concerns. However, we understand that most people don’t just have one skin concern so they have been formulated with multitasking ingredients, helping to address a variety of skin needs and all three serums work to tackle signs of ageing.

How To Use


You can use a serum both morning and evening. During the day your skin is focused on protecting itself from damaging environmental factors and at night your skin is able to regenerate and repair itself. This allows the potent ingredients that you apply at night to penetrate deeper into the skin and perform their functions more effectively.


It is important to cleanse thoroughly before applying a serum otherwise it will stick to any debris or dead skin. Applying a toning mist after your cleanser will leave skin with a damp surface on which to apply your serum. This is beneficial because moist skin is more permeable which helps the active ingredients in serums to penetrate the skin.

As serums are very concentrated you only need a small amount. Then, using upward movements, press the serum into skin with your fingertips to release the active ingredients. Leave for a couple of minutes to allow your serum to sink in before applying your moisturiser. The moisturiser will act as a barrier sealing in the benefits of the rich and nutritious serum.

If your moisturiser doesn’t contain SPF then this should be the final layer for your daytime routine. Sunscreens are designed to protect your skin and create a barrier against harmful environmental elements. As a result this should be your final layer otherwise it will prevent active ingredients in any other products from penetrating your skin.

Some ingredients within serums, such as Vitamin A, can make skin more sensitive to the sun so it is important to use SPF when using these serums.

Final Word

Hopefully this has provided clarity around the subject of serums about why, how and when to use a serum. You should have a skincare routine that works as hard as you do and serums truly are the workhorse of any skincare regime. We all have skin concerns that we would love to tackle and the right serum can help you do just that.

Let us know what your favourite serum and how it helps solve your skin concern.

  1. BE FIRM

    30 ml

    Our Best Anti-Ageing & Lifting Face Serum

    Need a lift?


    30 ml

    Our Best Strengthening Serum for All Skin Types

    Nutrition booster!


    30 ml

    Our Best Serum For Open Pores & Uneven Skin - All Skin Types

    Be flawless!

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