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GOOD SKIN Blog

How and When to Apply 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 premature 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. Here's how and when to apply your serums to get the most out of them.

WHEN TO APPLY FACIAL SERUMS

Serums can typically be applied daily during your AM and/or PM routine. Remember: Formulas made retinol, such as the Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum, are best applied once the sun goes down. 


Skincare 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. If you're layering serums together, apply lighter, water-based serums before creamier ones like Auto-Save Advanced Restoring Serum, which acts as a daytime version of retinol to firm skin and brighten dark spots.
In special cases, a serum may be oil-based. If so, apply it after moisturizer as you would a facial oil. Our Antioxidant Oil-Serum hybrid is part oil, part serum; whether you apply before, after, or instead of moisturizer is up to you.

HOW TO USE SERUMS

APPLY WHILE SKIN IS DAMP

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 facial mist or splashing skin with water before applying. If your skin tends to feel parched after cleaning, sweep on our Hydrating Milk Toner before following up with a few drops of the Hyaluronic Acid Serum Booster.


 

ONLY USE A FEW DROPS

Serums are often the priciest step in your regimen (although they don’t have to be expensive to work). 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 irritationIf you are prone to breakouts, inflammation, and redness, incorporate a few drops of the Just Breathe Clarifying Serum into your daily routine.

GIVE SERUMS 1-2 MINUTES TO 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 the vitamin C in our Stroke of Brilliance Brightening Serum, it's best to let it fully absorb and dry (taking approximately 2 minutes) before moving on to your other products.


LAYER SERUMS TOGETHER

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 targeted serums below.