Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating Can you offer a definition of serum?

  • Can you offer a definition of serum?

    Posted by Anonymous on June 6, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    Hi All,
    I know this question may sound trivial, but I can’t seem to find a good description of what a serum is in terms of formulating. I’ve read plenty in regard to how it should perform and how it’s packed full of helpful ingredients. However, when I look at the formulas I see everything from typical lotions high in water content that are white and opaque to clear anhydrous oils. From my point of view a serum is nothing more than a label that has been added to the high price of the product.

    Can you describe a serum from a formulating point of view and perhaps suggest some links to learn more about this topic. I’m an experienced organic chemist, but I consider myself to be relatively new to the cosmetic industry. I currently manufacture soaps, lotions, and other related products for retail and wholesale in the U.S.


    OldPerry replied 9 years ago 2 Members · 2 Replies
  • 2 Replies
  • MarkBroussard

    June 6, 2015 at 4:38 pm


    There is really a dearth of information online regarding serums.  IMHO, it really is a marketing term, but generally serum implies a formulation with a minimal number of ingredients, but with a high concentration of actives.

    Yes, you are correct, you will find everything from anhydrous systems to lotions labelled as “serums”

  • OldPerry

    June 8, 2015 at 11:42 pm

    Serum is a marketing term usually referring to a clear, slightly thickened liquid formula. But there is no scientific definition of serums.

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