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By Fiona Embleton23 October 2023
With serums ever-present in our skincare routines, it was only a matter of time before they took on a new innovative format. Serum sticks are that game-changer and are making a solid case for portable beauty that’s as quick and easy to swipe on as lip balm.
As the name implies, serum sticks are serums in solid format. Besides their obvious convenience, the pros of serum sticks are myriad. “Serum sticks are a great way to introduce moisture into the skin in a quick, easily and accessible way,” says consultant dermatologist Dr Angela Tewari. “They also offer a hands-free way of applying actives to the skin.”
Unlike traditional liquid formulas, serum sticks are generally oil-based, says cosmetic chemist Ginger King (although there are some water-based formulas laced with glacial water, aloe vera or hyaluronic acid). “This makes them ideal delivery systems for oil-based actives such vitamin C esters.” Plus, you get the added benefit of skin-nourishing oils and butters, making them somewhat of a magic wand for tackling dehydration, fine lines and pigmentation.
Less water also means that serum sticks require fewer preservatives to keep them fresh, which is more than a small mercy for sensitive skin. “There is virtually no water in stick serum formulas,” says Ginger. “Bacteria needs water to grow so the employment of preservatives can be less or none at all.”
But are solid serum sticks as effective as their liquid counterparts? “Serum sticks are a relatively new concept and only certain actives are deliverable at present,” Dr Tewari notes. “As popularity increases, I predict that we will see serum sticks being offered as a very convenient way of adding a variety of actives to your skin.”
Another issue that may make serum sticks divisive is skin type. If your skin skews oily, you may prefer to stick to traditional serums, Ginger notes: “Serum sticks have waxes to build up the structure. Some feel more like a lip balm so they can be a bit too heavy for those with oily skin.”
However, those with dry skin may actually prefer to use a serum stick over its liquid counterparts. “Serum sticks contain a more concentrated barrier cream with actives such as niacinamide and vitamin C,” says Dr Tewari, adding that you can double-down on the application, too, if skin is particularly thirsty throughout the day.
For more from Fiona Embleton, GLAMOUR’s Acting Associate Beauty Director, follow her on @fiembleton.