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5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Serums

When used properly, a good serum can be the holy grail of any skincare regimen. Its liquid-like consistency allows high concentrations of active ingredients, such as antioxidants and retinol, to penetrate deeply into the pores. This makes a serum’s job quite a powerful one and is one of the reasons facialists and dermatologists alike recommend them for targeting a specific skin concern, such as acne and aging.

As lavish as the term sounds, serums aren’t as complicated as they seem. Yet, there’s a good chance most of us are probably applying it incorrectly. Below are 5 tips for getting the most out of your serums.

Apply to Damp, Almost Dry Skin

Best practice is to apply serums when your skin is almost dry, but still a bit damp (such as after cleansing or swiping on toner). That’s when your skin is more permeable and better able to absorb the active ingredients inside. If you need a refresh, try spritzing on a mist before applying.

Only Use a Drop or Two

Serums are often the priciest step in your regimen (although they don’t have to be!). That being said, you get a lot of bang for your buck considering only 1-3 drops should be applied at once. If you’re using more than that, your skin won’t be able to absorb the excess and you may even see an increase in acne or irritation.

Let the Ingredients Sink In

Your skin is a pro at absorbing products, so it’s not necessary to wait for every product to settle before moving on to the next step in your routine. But because serums contain active ingredients, like Vitamin C, it's best to let it fully absorb and dry (taking approximately 2 minutes) before moving on to your other products.

 

Know When to Apply 

Skin layering 101 calls for applying products from thinnest to thickest. That means serums should go after your cleanser and toner but before your moisturizer and other treatments. There is an exception to that rule, however. While most traditional serums are water-based, if you are using one that’s oil-based, apply after your moisturizer, similarly to how you’d use a facial oil. 

Feel Free to Mix and Match

If you have multiple skin concerns, there’s no reason that you can’t create your own cocktail of serums to target them. Just do your research first—here’s a handy guide on which ingredients play nicely with each other and which do not.

Shop some of our favorite serums below.