Serums seem to be the new thing in skincare lately, so when Marie Nadeau of Marie Veronique reached out to let us know about the three serum set she created with skincare specialist Kristina Holey, we just had to ask, “what is a serum?!” Today Marie shares the inside scoop.

Marie, you’ve given us advice on winter skin in the past. Tell us about your partnership with Kristina Holey.
Kristina is in the field, treating all kinds of people who have serious skin conditions; adult acne, eczema and other types of atopic dermatitis, that have not responded favorably to conventional approaches.  We were both fascinated by the challenges these “difficult cases” represented.  Kristina felt that her lifestyle suggestions; how to change your diet, sleep patterns, outside stressors and hormonal fluctuations etc, would be greatly aided by being able to offer skin care recommendations and topical solutions that really worked—and she was having trouble finding just what she wanted.   We started working together on devising really effective topicals, and it was seeing how well they worked on her clients that really marked the beginning of our collaboration. We continue to develop products which follow simple guidelines: effective, safe, microbiome-friendly, biomimetic (ie, they give the skin what it needs to help itself heal), and tackle the challenges other companies steer clear from—atopic dermatitis, acne, other difficult to treat conditions

What is a serum and how is it different than a face oil?
A face oil contains a blend of oils that help replace the lipid portion of the the skin’s outermost layer, the stratum corneum. Most oil blends contain a mix of triglycerides containing essential fatty acids of types Omega-3 and 6.  These triglycerides are among the lipid varieties (which includes glycolipids, cholesterol, fatty acids and phopholipids) that form layers around and in between skin cells to create a moisture-retention barrier.

A serum contains, in addition to lipids, many more components crucial to skin health. It usually contains ingredients studies have shown us really work when it comes to addressing areas of concern for users.  For example, an anti-aging serum will contain anti-oxidants to mitigate free radical damage, and ideally will contain some type of vitamin A derivative, which works at the dermal level to stimulate collagen and elastin production, among many other important tasks.  A serum rich in anti-oxidant vitamins like C and E and anti-inflammatorieslike licorice root will maintain skin health, alleviate inflammatory-related conditions and prevent premature aging.

The difference between the two is that face oils replace barrier lipids that are lost through wear and tear and should be replaced daily.  Serums are strategically formulated to maintain and improve overall skin health by providing the micronutrients the skin needs to perform all of its daily maintenance and repair functions.  Think of face oils as like taking your daily dose of fish oil, while serums are like taking all the rest of your daily nutritional requirements.

Your system has three serums- how do they work together?
You can think of them as boosters which you can add to your regular routine.  They can be combined with serums you are already using, or used as stand-alone products.

Barrier Restore works by replacing the components of the stratum corneum that maintain excellent barrier function.  Since everyone has impaired barrier function everyone needs this serum as part of her daily routine.  It can be a stand alone—but it also pairs well with retinoid serums as it can minimize problems with facial retinization. Soothing B3 serum contains 10% niacinamide to soothe skin where inflammation is a problem.  Its high hyaluronic acid content makes it a wonderful humectant. It can be a stand alone—but it also pairs well Barrier Restore, especially if you are using a retinoid serum and having problems with facial retinization. Intensive Repair is an AHA/BHA serum that works to combat breakouts, decongest pores and refine skin.  It pairs very nicely with a retinoid serum, then finishing up with Barrier Restore.

What is the number one skincare myth you’d like to end?
That natural means safe and synthetic means dangerous.