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52 DAYSPA | AUGUST 2016 acid-rich serums can also decrease the occurrence of acne breakouts. "If a client is struggling with uneven skin texture , apply a serum that blends skin-brightening peptides and antioxidants such as vitamin C," offers Kitchen. Charlene DeHaven, MD, clinical director of Innova- tive Skincare, concurs with the notion that modern se- rums are dehydration game-changers. "Dehydrated skin lacks water, not oil, and water-soluble ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid , are the easiest to formulate into a serum." When it comes to treating dry skin, As- quith also relies on hyaluronic acids of both high and low molecular weights, explaining, "They work at dif- ferent levels within the skin." DeHaven further explains that some dehydrated skin is considered "alipidic" (i.e., without lipid or fat). "Serums can deliver lipids, fats and oils by incorporat- ing micelles—small, suspended spherules in which lip- id-rich ingredients can dissolve," she expands. "Aged skin is usually defi cient in both water and lipids." To serve clients with oily complexions , Vida Karamooz, PhD, founder and CEO of Blue Beautifl y, seeks out all-natural ingredients, including neem, bur- dock, rose hip and sage . To strengthen skin regen- eration and boost hydration , she uses mulberry, bearberry, bilberry, amalaki and amla , reasoning that "Botanical ingredients not only target various skin issues, but nurture the entire body." CONCENTRATE ON THE FUTURE The outlook for serums is nothing if not bright. Chemists continue to research new ingredients and improved delivery systems, including time-release mecha- nisms to enhance the effi cacy of existing formulations. The more we learn about serum ingredients and formulation possibilities, the more we re- alize the sky's the limit when it comes to their uses and benefi ts. To this end, Lee at Pevonia points to new, natural delivery and encapsulation systems. "Freeze-drying technology, for instance, is helping us create micro-sized serum agents," she says. Timing of the Essence Before incorporating serums into esthetic protocols, it's important to check with your product manufacturer to fi nd out how long a given serum takes to transmit through the skin's barrier. "Depending on absorption speed," explains dermatologist Laurel Morton, MD, "they should be incorporated during or at the end of treatment." For his part, Neal Kitchen, PhD, vice president of strategy and development at HydroPeptide, recommends applying a serum as the fi nishing touch. "You want to ensure that you've completed all treatments that are being rinsed or removed from the skin," he says. "Then, massage the serum all over the client's face and neck." Valérie Simonin, senior chief of product development for Cinq Mondes, agrees that serums' aqueous or oily texture affords a pleasant massage: "You relax the client while optimally penetrating the serum's actives." Actives are more easily absorbed after excess layers of the stratum corneum have been purged, notes Charlene DeHaven, MD, clinical director of Innovative Skincare. She recommends applying a serum immediately after a resurfacing treatment, and points out that clients may use resurfacing serums for several weeks prior to treatment, to prep the skin. Serum application should follow exfoliation and extraction but precede masks, says Karen Asquith, national director of education for G.M. Collin. "Massage them into the skin, or use a device to further penetrate the serum." Kim Lee, corporate sales educator for Pevonia, recommends using a galvanic current or ultrasound device to better drive serums into the skin. "But only do so with products formulated specifi cally for that application," she cautions. During any treatment, Morton reminds spa pros to take individual clients' skin sensitivity into consideration, "especially when using potentially irritating agents such as retinols, salicylic acids or even some antioxidants." DeHaven adds that sunscreen should always be a facial's last step, explaining that in addition to the obvious protective benefi ts, it'll help to further seal in the serum's actives. © GETTY IMAGES "Serums ideally shouldn't contain synthetics or ingredients of petrochemical origin; formulas containing pure, natural plant extracts typically won't cause skin sensitivity, allergic reactions or imbalances." —Vida Karamooz, PhD, founder and CEO, Blue Beautifl y TH E STATE OF S E R U M S "Serums are often more expensive, ounce for ounce, than other skincare products—but a little goes a long way." —Kristin Hudacek, MD, San Francisco-based dermatologist