Simplifying Serums

by Sarah Villafranco, MD /

Are you totally overwhelmed by the number of serums on the market these days? I am, and I'm a green beauty expert! I can only imagine how confusing it would be to sort through it all as a consumer, even an educated one. So, let's simplify things. First, I'll explain some basics about serums. Then, I'll break down our three serums by function and skin type. And at the very end, I hope to make you smile by telling you that all our serums will now be offered at the same price.

1) What is a serum?

The actual definition of serum is this: "the watery part of blood that contains antibodies and fights disease". A secondary definition is "any watery animal or plant fluid". Are you grossed out yet? Sorry! But, I want you to understand the real definition so we can see how it segues into the world of skincare.

There is no set of rules by which skin care companies define their serums: you'll find water-based, gel-based, and oil-based serums, making it hard to know exactly how to incorporate a serum into your routine. A water or gel-based serum will bring added hydration and water-soluble vitamins to the skin, while an oil-based serum might bring antioxidants or anti-inflammatory nutrients, deliver oil-soluble vitamins, and help the skin retain water. (Note: did you know that oils are not hydrating? Any word with "hydra" needs to be about water. Oils have no water. They're basically the opposite of water. They soften. They deliver nutrients. They help skin retain water. But they do not HYDRATE. Only water does that. That's why you must use oils on wet or damp skin. Okay, I'm done now.

The best way to think about a beauty serum is to consider the medical definition: it's a liquid, either oil or water, with concentrated ingredients designed to target specific conditions, just like antibodies in our serum target certain disease processes. Regarding how to use a serum, I usually recommend water-based products before oil-based products, but your skin will let you know if you're doing it right. If a serum sits on top of your skin and does not absorb, or feels tight or flaky after applying, you may need to change the order of things. Our three facial serums are oil-based, so I recommend cleansing the skin and applying the serum to the skin while it's still damp from washing or from your toner.

2) What do Osmia's three serums do??

Facial Calibration Serum

Skin Types for This Serum: 

Normal, oily, combination, acne-prone, inflamed, and t-zone challenged skin. Also excellent for chest and upper back acne, according to our customers.

Why I Formulated This Serum:

To treat skin that is confused about how much sebum to produce on its own, and help down-regulate the skin's activity level in general. It penetrates all layers of the skin, soothing the inflammation and overproduction that lead to acne, clogged pores, and excessive oiliness. 

Star Ingredients That Make it Different: 

  • Black cumin seed oil, which has very high levels of vitamins A, B, and C, as well as a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound called thymoquinone 
  • Schisandra and acai fruits are soothing to inflamed skin and extremely high in antioxidants
  • Olive squalane, kukui, and macadamia nut oils to penetrate quickly and leave skin soft but not oily
  • Essential oil blend chosen to balance the skin's sebum production, including lavender, geranium, green myrtle, and sandalwood

What people love most about it (in their words):

  • The scent (herbal, spicy, unisex, fresh)
  • Evens skin tone
  • Decreases oil production
  • Diminishes shine
  • Fewer breakouts
  • Absorbs quickly with no greasy residue

Real, live people who use and love it:



Facial Restoration Serum

Skin Types for This Serum: 

Dry, mature, or damaged skin. Use for sun-damaged skin or post-procedure healing. 

Why I Formulated This Serum:

To treat skin that has been damaged and dehydrated by sun over time and help restore elasticity. Also, to heal skin that has been acutely inflamed by dermatologic procedures or retinoid use (may be used in conjunction with retinoids).

Star Ingredients That Make it Different: 

  • Lavender-infused olive oil, organic shea oil, and rosehip seed oil penetrate deeply and speed skin healing
  • Pomegranate, amaranth, calendula, and sea buckthorn bring incredible levels of antioxidant activity and strengthen skin's collagen structure, restoring elasticity
  • Borage and evening primrose oils provide concentrated essential fatty acids to nourish and restore skin health
  • High levels of lavender, helichrysum, and carrot seed essential oils work to repair damaged or peeling skin 

What people love most about it (in their words):

  • Evens complexion
  • Preserves and protects the skin
  • Absorbs quickly with a great smell to it
  • Non-irritating, even to sensitive skin
  • Helps heal scars and scabs
  • "The only thing I could use after a peel - healed my skin so quickly!"

Real, live people who use and love it:



Luz Facial Brightening Serum

Skin Types for This Serum: 

Dry, dull skin, or discolored that needs a brightening boost.

Why I Formulated This Serum:

To smooth the texture of the skin and increase cell turnover, resulting in a brighter, fresher layer of skin cells at the surface. The texture was tailored for application under makeup, or alone for a glowing, dewy look.

Star Ingredients That Make it Different: 

  • Prickly pear, pumpkin seed, and broccoli seed oils give a silky smooth texture and load the skin with vitamins E, K, and A, and zinc
  • Camellia, cranberry, and green tea provide antioxidants to protect skin against oxidative damage
  • Spirulina and wheatgrass detoxify the skin
  • Rice, quinoa, and amaranth proteins nourish and strengthen skin cells
  • Pumpkin, mushroom, and papaya enzymes provide a gentle exfoliation and increase cell turnover for a radiant complexion

What people love most about it (in their words):

  • Lightens dark spots
  • Wake with clear, glowing skin
  • Light and non-greasy
  • Soothing
  • A little bit goes a long way
  • Amazing under makeup!

Real, live people who use and love it:



3) New Pricing for Osmia serums!

Normally, when we come to you with news about pricing, we are explaining that we have to increase prices because our raw materials have become more expensive as the green beauty industry explodes. It happens, and it will happen again! 


today we have different news for you. All of our serums will now be available for the same price. We are doing this to make things simpler for you, and to reflect a decrease in the cost of a few of our raw materials. You heard it here. A skincare company decreasing prices because they realized they had the opportunity to do so! 

All serums are 1/2 ounce, and are now $50. Samples are available for $13, and are usually enough for 2-3 weeks of use. And, if you want to be extra smart, check out our skin care sets, which have a discount built into the price.


With love and beautiful skin from us to you, 

Sarah + The Osmia Crew

Leave a Comment

Thanks for such a great post here !!!

Women Face Cream Online UK @ BeSafe & AUVA UK on July 09, 2016

Thank you, Dr. Sarah for responding to my April post in your blog & your recommendations for my PD, Rosacea, SD & Eczema. You & your products are amazing! I did make all the changes such as discontinuing fluoride, SLS/sulfates/parabens in hand & body soap, hair products. I wanted to wait until my PD & SD had settled down a lot before I tried the 2 drops of the Nectar Vital Rose to help with my extreme dryness., and they have. Have just been using the Black Soap & Simple Face Cream & maybe the Toner samples under occasional Alima Pure ‘s Satin Finish Mineral Powder Foundation b/c I’m so dry. I also added Dr. Cynthia Baileys Zinc Bar Soap for the SD, alternating with your Black Soap. Moderate improvement in all symptoms. I decided to take a vacation from the Doxycycline for the Perioral D a month ago to see if the yeast in my gut from antibiotics & inflammation in my facial rash would improve…and yes it did!!!! The stinging, itching, PD bumps & tiny whiteheads were already almost gone before I stopped the antibiotic, & now the inflammation is gone! Before I started using your Black Soap, miss a few days of the Doxy & my lid margins would be red, swollen , matted & burning/ itching. Not at all now! I think b/c of your soap! I’ve been lathering up my eyes with the yellow baby shampoo, first, then lathering my face with the soap. Just a second or two before I rinse, I mix them on my lids. Just a diluted & quick dose of your soap. I’m thrilled! Now, praying that the 2 drops of Vital Nectar Rose in the Simple Cream will help the dryness & lines. Maybe one day I can use the serum to repair the hyperpigmentation, scars & sun damage. Hope this possibly helps helps someone else!

Mary St.Pierre on July 04, 2016

Just a note to let you know my skin is very happy since I started using your products. At first the gel toner burned a little then itched but that no longer happens. My face has calmed down and I feel I can leave the house!! In addition to using your products I’ve done the following: bought a new down pillow, changed to a laundry detergent for sensitive skin. I washed all my towels and sheets to remove any old residual soap, changed my dish soap to an earth friendly product, and discarded many older hair brushes cleaning those I kept. The PD is not gone but it is under control. Thanks for your wonderful products and the help you provide through this blog. Terri E

Terri E on April 12, 2016

Thank you for the price drop on the serums!
Please bring out the serums in the Nectar Vital Rose container! It’s so easy to control the amount dispensed and works very well.

Lydia on April 04, 2016

Thanks for simplifying serums and for the great information! I fell under the category of the serums sitting on my skin and not absorbing while feeling really tight and dry. Thanks to the advice of the wonderful Osmia team, I made some tweaks like mixing 1/2 pump of serum or nectar with a moisturizer and then applying to wet skin. That has helped a lot. Any other suggestions I could try? I have combination/sensitive/oily skin prone to hormonal breakouts. Is it too much for my skin type to use a serum w/moisturizer AM and nectar w/moisturizer PM? The products all work so wonderfully that it’s hard to choose which is best for my skin without over doing it (as I tend to!) I’ve tried all the serums and love them all for different reasons, especially as I’m learning how to help them best absorb in my skin.
Thanks for the advice and amazing products!

Lydia on April 04, 2016

@Nat – I LOVE this comment, because it totally stumps me! I completely agree that it makes no sense for nigella sativa oil to be a source of Vitamin C, or Vitamin B for that matter, as it is a pure, cold-pressed oil. I have researched this question doggedly, and can’t find a satisfactory answer, but both of those vitamins are consistently listed as components of the oil. The only thing I can think is that when the seeds are crushed, small amounts of other, “non-oil” parts of the seeds get crushed and incorporated into the final product? I’m going to continue obsessing until I find an answer (may involve a trip to a chemistry lab or a black seed oil factory), and props to you for being such an educated consumer! XXOO – Sarah.

Sarah Villafranco, MD on April 04, 2016

@Aileen – So happy to hear that the PD symptoms have settled a bit, and that you’re doing such an excellent job of being proactive and taking care of yourself. I would still proceed with caution, as PD likes to come back and visit lots if things are not just right. So, in your case, I would suggest using our Purely Simple Face Cream, and possibly ordering a sample of our Nectar Vital Rose Drops, which can be added to the cream for extra nourishment. Start with 2-3 drops a day, and see how it goes. We will email you, as well. Thanks for touching base – Sarah.

@Noreen – We are so lucky to have you as a customer, and love seeing your beautiful face as a walking advertisement for the Facial Restoration Serum. Thanks for sharing the love!!

@Mary – I hope the products are starting to settle your skin a little bit – it sounds like you’ve been through the ringer! Be sure you’ve made all the suggested lifestyle changes as well – no fluoride or SLS in hair/skin/dental products, or in laundry detergent. I think the Facial Restoration Serum might not be the best if you do have PD. You could consider the Nectar Vital Rose Drops, as we recommended for Aileen below, but I’d wait until your symptoms are really starting to calm down before introducing anything new. Then, you can order a sample and start by adding 2 drops a day to the Purely Simple Cream. Hope that helps! All the best – Sarah.

Sarah Villafranco, MD on April 04, 2016

Re Aileen Evans question on April 1st, 2016: We must have similar skin!!! I wish I knew the answer! I am also on Minocycline by mouth for Occular Rosacea. I wanted to ask the very same question! I’m 63, also have Eczema, Seborrheic Dermatitis, & Perioral Dermatitis?!! The SD & PD probably d/t Common Variable Immune Deficiency, Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth & autoimmune diseases (including Sjogren’s) requiring oral Prednisone (cannot take oral antiinflammatories d/t blood thinners). My skin has aged 20 yrs in the last 6 mos & is very dry, scaly, red & inflamed. Anything with oils to soften skin inflames & breaks out the patches of numerous tiny whiteheads under the skin flakes under the corners of my mouth to my chin & around the borders of my nose, also under my eyes near my nose. I have read & am following your site’s awesome recommendations, using the Black Clay Soap & Purely Simple Face Cream from the Soothing sample set. I have seen minimal improvement & my face doesn’t sting as much. Just wondering if I need the Facial Restoration Serum to help my skin heal so I can moisturize it without breaking it out, so I won’t look 100 yrs old! Thanks for any advice!

Mary St.Pierre on April 04, 2016

So incredibly thoughtful! This is why I come back again and again for more of my Osmia! ?

Dana on April 01, 2016

Hi Sara and team!!! What a cool surprise to see me representing Restoration Serum!! Its formula has definitely ‘restored’ my skin and continues to provide what I need to survive our extreme mountain dryness, as well as supporting the natural aging process. The opportunity to be reminded of all the the ingredients, and what natural benefits each of them provide makes it all the more precious! Every couple weeks, I also love to treat myself to Osmia’s Protein Exfoliating Mask. Another amazing product from Osmia! Treat yourself ladies! Keep the info coming!!! XXXOOO Nor

Noreen on April 01, 2016

Im curious about which serum would be best for my skin. I just went thru my first bout of perioral dermatitis. I used 2 of your sample sets to help rid myself of this ugly rash. Now that my skin is looking better (plus being on doxycycline), I’m looking for a hydrating product that will help to heal the epidermis and restore hydration. My skin is still sensitive and feels a little rough, which tells me the barrier is still compromised (normally my skin is somewhat oily which is great for my age). Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Aileen Evans on April 01, 2016

I loved your mini rant regarding how only water-based serums hydrate the skin, not oil-based serums which are used to moisturize and deliver fat-soluble vitamins/antioxidants to the skin. That said, please know that I’ve come across many skin care companies who claim that their oil serums contain naturally occurring vitamin C (see your statement about black cumin seed oil above). How can this be the case when vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin? It would stand to reason that only fat-soluble vitamins would be found in oils, unless you added a chemically derived fat-soluble form of vitamin C such as ascorbyl palmitate or tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate to the serum. Or, you could add ascorbic acid if there is water in the mix. It’s just my two cents and my mini rant, but I don’t believe that there are significant traces of vitamin C (or any other water-soluble vitamins for that matter) naturally occurring in carrier oils since they are comprised of fatty acids and are by nature anhydrous or without water. At any rate, way to go on the price drop and congrats for making some really awesome and effective oil serums.

Nat on April 01, 2016