How Acne Serums Work

How Acne Serums Work

There are many different ways to try to treat acne. Some of them are more effective than others. What all of the experts agree on is that short of prescription medication, the absolute best option is using a serum.

Acne Serums Are Better Than Gels Creams or Lotions

According to, which is a website that exists to serve as a resource for acne sufferers, "a serum is a liquid that is lighter on your face than a cream, gel, or lotion, but thick enough to stay on your skin." WebMd refines this a bit, clarifying that: HowAcneSerumsWork-Serum
The biggest difference between a serum and a cream or lotion is what the formulation doesn't include. Serums leave out occlusive, or airtight, moisturizing ingredients such as petrolatum or mineral oil that keep water from evaporating. They also contain fewer lubricating and thickening agents, like nut or seed oils. Most serums are water-based, eliminating oils altogether.

Serums tend to be more expensive than their gel, cream, or lotion counterparts. This is largely because they only contain active ingredients. However, a pea-sized amount will typically treat the entire face which makes most bottles of serum last for months.

How Serums Work on Your Face

The lightness of a serum keeps it from clogging the pores. Many contain glycerin, which is a food additive, that is used to help the serum stick to the skin and absorb moisture from the air that it holds onto. Over the course of several hours the glycerin releases the ingredients that have been dissolved in it, but it does not force them into the pores. Rather, those active ingredients slowly absorb into the skin. Serums are made of very small molecules that have an easy time moving into the cells that are being targeted, with the glycerin only acting as an agent to help deliver them. It is an ingredient that is safe for all skin types. Some people will find that they need more than just a serum, however, especially those who have very dry skin or mature skin. In these cases, it's likely that they need the addition of a moisturizer in order to keep their skin healthy. However, it will need to be a moisturizer that does not exacerbate their acne, like Calysta Labs Revitalizing Moisturizer. In the case of people with chronic skin conditions like eczema and rosacea, serums may cause irritation because those conditions actually weaken the skin barrier which speeds up the delivery of the active ingredients. If you fall into one of these categories it is best to seek the input of your dermatologist in advance of trying a serum to control your acne. HowAcneSerumsWork-ProductsInConjuction If you use a serum, it does not need to be mutually exclusive to other products that you use. A moisturizer, or anti-aging serum, or both, can be used in conjunction. However, if you do apply a moisturizer use the serum first, so that the heavier ingredients do not block the serum from your skin. Acne serums in particular are very specialized. The most effective ones contain high quality, potent, and effective blends of botanicals and the best of what science has to offer. They do not include dyes, preservatives, or fragrances which are likely to cause contact dermatitis to those with sensitive skin. They are designed to target bacterial growth, oil production and inflammation.

Glycolic Acid in Acne Serums

HowAcneSerumsWork-CalystaLabsCalmingAcneSerum In the case of Calaysta Labs Calming Acne Serum, the ingredients include antioxidants and acids as well as healing ingredients such as aloe and rose water that soothe and replenish the skin. In addition, organic coconut oil is included which softens and moisturizes. As an added benefit it includes retinoids, which boost collagen to also help reduce signs of sun damage and aging. One of those ingredients, glycolic acid, is well recognized as one of the most important anti-acne compounds available over the counter. Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy (a group of plant and animal derived acids). Glycolic acid itself comes from fruits like sugarcane and pineapple. Used in beauty and skincare products, primarily due to its exfoliation powers, it is well recognized by dermatologists and beauty experts alike for its effectiveness. It is impressive enough that even Women's Health dedicated an entire article to why it is gamechanger for skin care: "Glycolic is the gold standard of chemical exfoliants and the best one for removing unwanted dead skin cells," says New York City dermatologist Neal Schultz, M.D., host of and creator of BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz. By removing clogged cells from both the pores and surface of skin, glycolic acid helps prevent acne blemishes and ensures faster healing of existing lesions, including blackheads and whiteheads. By the same process, it reduces the appearance of enlarged pores that can plague areas like the nose. When formulated well, glycolic acid typically causes less irritation than other acne-fighters... It's also the key to brighter skin, since it removes dulling, discolored dead cells. "Smooth skin reflects light, and that's why glycolic is so successful at improving the appearance of skin," says Schultz.