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In skin care, a serum is used to deliver high concentrations of active ingredients into the skin, targeting a specific concern such as pigmentation or fine lines. It’s applied after cleansing and before moisturizing and is typically made of up smaller molecules that penetrate skin better than your usual moisturizer. They’re incredibly popular, making up a US$135.8-million category in the cosmetics industry, up 13 per cent in the 12 months ending in February, according to the NPD Group. This demand has led to new serums formulated for hair, bodies and now lips, a category that grew by 55 per cent over the same time period.

Unlike a lip balm, which is used to soothe and protect lips using an ingredient such as petrolatum, beeswax or shea butter, lip serums exist primarily to deliver active ingredients to the lips with the goal of giving lips a firmer, plumper appearance. Clé de Peau’s new version contains something called golden silk essence to combat loss of suppleness, while the lip serum in Hudson’s Bay’s Les Essentiels beauty line contains gold to boost micro-circulation for a plumping effect. Meant to be worn under lipstick, which can be notoriously drying, Bite Beauty’s new lip serum contains vitamins A and C and omega fatty acids to nourish lips. If you’re accustomed to getting professional lip-filler injections, plumping serums may be a helpful stop gap until medi spas reopen.

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Bite Beauty Agave+ Pre-Makeup Lip Serum, $29 through bitebeauty.com.

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