How to Apply Face Serum: A Complete Guide | MadamStylo

Are you also one of those clueless gems who have no idea what serums are or what they even do? Even though you know every brand and type of serum available in the market, it’s still not particularly clear as to what they are used for. Right? Well, lucky for you you’re not the only one. Millions of skincare enthusiasts search “How to Apply Face Serum” God knows how many times in a day. Not just this, the serum conundrum is full of contradictory questions: Is it a moisturizer? Then why do I need a separate moisturizer? Is it a face oil or an essence?
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When it comes to skincare routines, everything little things can make a huge difference in the long run. This means from your face cleanser to your moisturizer, everything holds a value that must not be sidelined. If I were to speak the dictionary definition, ‘Serums’ is a skincare product that you can apply after cleansing and before moisturizing to deliver powerful ingredients directly into your skin. Today, we are going to dive into detail and answer every question about this magic product.

What do Serums do?

Let’s start with what do serums do. To simply answer this, serums are made up of small molecules of active ingredients that penetrate your skin to target specific skincare issues, such as wrinkles, acne, dark spots, etc. In short, it enhances the natural ability of your skin to fight off specific issues.
For example, a moisturizing serum will contain hydrating ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, or ceramides, that help your skin retain moisture. A moisturizing lotion, on the other hand, will create an additional barrier on your skin keeping the good stuff in. So, in a traditional sense, a serum may have moisturizing properties, but it’s not technically a moisturizer.

do Serums do

Which is the right Serum for my Skin?

To understand if a serum is right for your skin, it’s important to look for ingredients that target your specific skincare concerns. For example, if you have:


Looks for serums with ingredients, such as Vitamin C, Zinc, Retinol, or salicylic acid. Vitamin C will aid in collagen formation, enhance the skin’s repair process, and reduces inflammation. In addition to this, zinc regulates oil production and soothes irritation. Lastly, retinol acts as an antioxidant while Salicyclic Acid helps to unclog pores.


Dry Skin:

Ingredients such as Vitamin E, Niacinamide, Glycolic acid, and Hyaluronic acid can help deal with dry skin. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects your skin against oxidative damage while hyaluronic acid helps to retain moisture. Niacinamides increase the level of ceramides in the skin and Glycolic acid is a gentle exfoliator that lightens discolorization.

Dry Skin


To address skin dullness, look for antioxidants, such as green tea extracts, ferulic acid, or resveratrol. These will combat free radicals, promote cellular repair by night, and increase the effectiveness of sunscreen by day.


How to apply face serum?

Follow this step-by-step guide to properly apply face serum and get the most out of it:

1.     Cleanse:

Before you apply face serum, it’s important to wash your face with a gentle cleanser. Use an exfoliator if necessary. This will prepare your skin and remove any debris or environmental impurities that may hinder the absorption of your serum.

Cleanse - apply face serum

2.     Toner, Mist, Water

After washing your face, it’s time to apply toner. Dermatologists give special importance to the correct layering of skincare products. A general thumb-rule is to start with the thinnest product and make your way towards the thickest.
Now take a small amount of your alcohol-free facial toner and gently massage it into your skin. In case you’re not a fan of toners, you can simply dampen your skin with a splash of lukewarm water. This will make your skin more permeable towards the dense nutrients in your face serum.
Toner, Mist, Water

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3.     Apply Face Serum

Once your face is washed and your skin is damp, it’s time to apply your serum. When it comes to serums, remember the general rule; Less is More. This means you don’t need to apply heaps of face serum on your skin.

In fact, a few pea-sized drops will do the job perfectly. Just make your serum lightly cover your face rather than entirely coat it. Due to the presence of a high concentration of active ingredients, slathering huge amounts might cause sensitivity or irritation.
Apply the serum on your palms and slightly rub them together. This will warm and thus, activate the serum. Now, lightly press your palms onto your skin until it is fully applied to your face and skin.

Apply Face Serum - apply face serum

4.     Wait 5 Minutes

Now, wait roughly 5 minutes before applying any other product. This will allow your skin to fully absorb the serum and let it do its magic. If you see any oily or sticky residue, it means your serum is not doing its job right.

5.     Moisturize

For those asking whether serum should be applied before or after a moisturizer, the answer is after. You need to apply your serum before moisturizer and after cleansing.
After you have waited five minutes, take out your moisturizer and massage that gently onto your face. This will give you’re an extra layer of protection while giving you a smooth and silky finish.

Moisturize - apply face serum

Final Intake

Serums are one of the most popular yet highly misunderstood skin care products in the market. With thousands of choices and hundreds of brands offering the same yet different solutions, it’s quite easy for one to feel a little confused. However, once you truly understand the ultimate power of this magic elixir, you’ll definitely want to make it a permanent addition to your daily skincare routine.
[Also READ: The Best Skin Care Routine for Your Skin]


How many serums can you use at once?

When it comes to serums, you need to remember a simple rule; Less is More. This means instead of heaping loads of serums onto your face, try going for an all-rounder or a mild one. Using more than necessary serums will ultimately irritate and increase skin sensitivity.

When to apply face serum?

There is no hard-fast rule for this, however, dermatologist suggests applying face serum once in the morning and once in the evening.

What if I mix my serum and moisturizer?

Loads of self-made beauty experts try to mix their serum with moisturizer in an attempt to save time. This actually lessens the ability of the serum to absorb properly into your skin. The ideal technique is to apply your serum, wait five minutes, and then use your moisturizer.

What does a serum do for your face?

Serums contain a high concentration of active ingredients that helps to address specific skincare concerns, such as dark spots, wrinkles, dullness, etc.

What is the correct order of application for skincare products? Is it better to use a serum before or after moisturizer?

Dermatologists give special importance to the order of application for skincare products. The general thumb-rule is to start from the thinnest and work your way towards the thickest one. Here is the correct order of application for skincare products:

  1. Cleanser
  2. Exfoliator
  3. Toner
  4. Serum
  5. Eye Cream
  6. Moisturizer
  7. Facial Oil
  8. Sunscreen
  9. Lip Balm
  10. Makeup


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