Truths About Beauty Serums - 405 Magazine

Truths About Beauty Serums

A skincare expert explains why a few quality serums can be superior to a drawer filled with lotions.


Kristy Murrow makes a salient point: “How many tubes and bottles of half-used products that didn’t work do you have in a drawer? For the amount of money you wasted doing that, you could have bought one or two really good products, recommended by a skincare professional, that actually create results.”

Murrow is the public face and managing partner of Mariposa Aesthetics and Laser Center in Oklahoma City, and she loves nothing more than answering questions such as these: What’s the difference between a serum and a cream? What’s the proper sequence for the arsenal of beauty products you’ve probably amassed in the bathroom drawer? Can you pare this down at all?

“Serums are a really vital tool, but people often have questions about exactly what they are and what they do,” she says. Serums first slid onto the skincare scene about 20 years ago, and those early incarnations were designed to deliver doses of vitamin C deeper into the dermis. “Vitamin C was the first antioxidant the industry really focused on. Certain ingredients need to penetrate the skin to a certain depth before they are effective; most serums are formulated to penetrate deeper into the skin.”

The problem with over-the-counter drugstore or department store products is that they often fail because the ingredients are right but the formulations are wrong, and the educational component is missing. “There is some truth to the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ with skincare,” Murrow says. “Products you buy in a physician’s office and what you buy [over the counter] may have the exact same wording on the package, but maybe the percentage of active ingredient is too small to be effective.”

According to Murrow, two or three quality products are all you really need. “Spend money on a few great products instead of the eight or nine you’ve got in your graveyard. Save money on things that it makes sense to pay less for, like cleanser or lip balm. You don’t need to spend a lot on a cleanser; just don’t use soap.”

She says most of us over 35 just need growth factors, antioxidants, retinol, sunscreen and an eye product. “You can definitely bundle them into just a couple of products as long as you are careful. Formulation is important. It’s your face, so why not work with a skincare professional to make sure you’re doing the right thing?”  

The serum she loves is the TNS Essential Serum. At $278, it’s pricey, but not if you’re not wasting money on nine $30 grocery store products. “The serum has a dual chamber, so you’re getting two products, each with active ingredients formulated for optimal results. One side has the TNS Recovery Complex, which is a growth factor. The other side is a moisturizing base with antioxidants and peptides. One pump two times a day and you will see results,” she says.

Murrow anticipates bold new technologies in the serum industry. “I think we will be seeing more with stem cells. Their use has developed rapidly through injectables, with things like platelet-rich plasma, and I think scientists are working on ways for them to be used topically. But I’m waiting for the studies to come out, because anyone can just put a droplet of something somewhere and make a claim.”