Facial Serums
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Facial Serums: Every Thing You Need To Know

Facial Serums Blueprint

Think serums and there’s a serum for almost any skin concern. But which one is right for you? We decode this growing section of the beauty aisle to help you make the best choice.

When the first facial serum arrived on the scene in 1982, it was more than just a new type of product — it was a completely different approach to skincare that harnessed the latest scientific innovations to deliver superior results.

Created by Estée Lauder, the serum’s lightweight and silky texture was in stark contrast to the heavy creams and moisturizers of the time, and it relied on its thin consistency to deliver potent ingredients to the skin. Fast-forward 40-plus years and this groundbreaking product has set the blueprint for facial serums everywhere.

Even better, it’s a blueprint that gets results. As dermatologists say, everybody can benefit from a serum – everyone.

If you’re unsure about what serums do, or how to choose one that will work with your skin, here’s all you need to know about this skincare essential.



A serum is a lightweight product that’s applied to the skin immediately after cleansing. lt generally has a watery or gel-like texture but don’t be fooled by the feel — these are treatment products that use ingredients like vitamin C or hyaluronic acid to pack a serious punch.

A serum contains a higher concentration of the active ingredient. lt works by enhancing the hydrating properties of a moisturizer and it also allows for better skin penetration because it’s a lighter product.



As serums are so potent, a small amount can go a long way. It’s not like a moisturizer, you don’t want to use half a bottle within a week, instead, dermatologists recommend using a pea-sized amount — usually one or two pumps or, if the bottle has a dropper, it’s one full pipette. Dot the product on your forehead, nose chin, and each cheek, then press it into the skin with your fingertips.



Depending on the active ingredient a serum can be used up to twice a day. For example, if your serum is primarily designed to hydrate or soothe skin, it will likely contain hyaluronic acid or niacinamide, gentle ingredients that are unlikely to cause a reaction. These hydrating serums can be used morning and night, according to skin experts.

However, a serum containing resurfacing retinol or exfoliating AHAs (alpha—hydroxy acids) should only be used at night, as they can cause irritation and make skin, more sensitive to the sun (avoid retinol products completely if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding).

Start by using it in the evening, two or three times a week, to see how your skin reacts to it, you can always bump it up to every night if your skin is tolerating it nicely, or drop it down to once a week if your skin needs time to get used to it.



All skincare regimens should be about layering. Cleanse and tone your face, then use the serum, followed by a moisturizer. The moisturizer will then lock in the benefits of the serum. In the morning, follow with a facial sunscreen.

It’s also possible to layer multiple serums if you really want to step up the benefits. experts suggest applying a niacinamide (vitamin B) serum first, in both the morning and evening, followed by a vitamin C serum in the morning and a retinol option in the evening. But don’t go overboard, layering too many different products can leave your skin feeling sticky and the product may pill.



The experts agree that while serum is important, it’s only one step in a good skincare routine and it shouldn’t be a replacement for your moisturiser. Moisturizers are still the number-one product recommended for moisturizing the skin because they contain ingredients like shea butter, glycerin, and others that make them soothing.

For people with oily or acne-prone skin, using a hyaluronic acid serum can be an excellent way to boost hydration without leaving a greasy residue. Then, follow it up with a lightweight moisturizing lotion.



Not at all! Serum can be used on almost any patch of skin. skin experts recommend extending your serum application down your neck and across the decolletage, where the skin is thin and susceptible to sun damage. These are areas that we often neglect and then it shows in the signs of aging.

Tip – You can even use your serum on the back of your hands in the evening.



While serums are typically potent, the benefits can take a little while to be revealed. Skin regenerates roughly every 40 days, so you would hope to see some good effects from your serum after six weeks of use. But you really have to hang in there for three months to see the benefits.



While layering some serums is a great way to boost the benefits, other combinations can backfire. For example, retinol and AHAs both work to resurface the skin and can cause irritation if they‘re used too closely together. If you’re keen to use both, try applying them on alternate evenings.

Note that vitamin C can lose some of its effectiveness if it’s layered with too many other active ingredients, so it can often work better when used in isolation. Also is a good idea to introduce one new serum to your regimen at a time. So if your skin doesn’t like it and becomes irritated, you’ll know which one is causing it.



The right serum is one that suits your skin, is formulated with ingredients that address your complexion concerns, and has a nice texture and feel so you enjoy using it. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Price has nothing to do with the efficacy, that comes from the active ingredient.

Here’s a guide to some of the top options:

*Active Ingredient: Niacinamide (Vitamin B)

Who should use it?
Everyone – Niacinamide is a great all-rounder.

What are the benefits?
With its anti-inflammatory properties, it soothes and strengthens the skin barrier.

How often should I apply it?
Twice a day, in the morning and evening.


*Active Ingredient: Vitamin C

Who should use it?
If your skin needs a glow-up, vitamin C is the go-to for radiance.

What are the benefits?
This brightens and evens out the skin tone, and visibly diminishes dark spots.

How often should I apply it?
In the morning – the antioxidant benefits help ward off environmental stressors.


*Active Ingredient: Retinol

Who should use it?
Retinol addresses visible signs of aging and can be used from the age of 20 to promote even, healthy-looking skin. It should be avoided if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

What are the benefits?
Resurfaces and evens out the complexion. Over time, it also promotes the formation of collagen and elastin.

How often should I apply it?
Only in the evening – retinol can make skin more sun sensitive.


*Active Ingredient: Hyaluronic Acid

Who should use it?
Any skin types that need extra hydration, including oily and acne-prone complexions.

What are the benefits?
Adds intense hydration in a lightweight formula that doesn’t feel greasy

How often should I apply it?
Twice daily on freshly cleansed and slightly damp skin


Top 10 Best Serums


COSRX Snail Mucin 96% Power Repairing Essence 3.38 fl. oz 100ml, Hydrating Serum for Face with Snail Secretion Filtrate for Dull Skin & Fine Lines, Korean Skincare



TruSkin Vitamin C Serum for Face – Anti Aging Face & Eye Serum with Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin E – Brightening Serum for Dark Spots, Even Skin Tone, Eye Area, Fine Lines & Wrinkles, 1 Fl Oz



GOODAL Green Tangerine Vitamin C Serum 1.01 fl oz.



CeraVe Retinol Serum for Post-Acne Marks and Skin Texture – Pore Refining, Resurfacing, Brightening Facial Serum with Retinol and Niacinamide – Fragrance-Free, Paraben Free & Non-Comedogenic – 1 Oz



La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum for Face, with Vitamin B5, Anti-Aging Serum for Fine Lines and Wrinkles, Hydrating Serum to Plump and Repair Dry Skin, Safe on Sensitive Skin



COSRX Niacinamide 15% Face Serum, Minimize Enlarged Pores, Redness Relief, Discoloration Correcting Treatment, 0.67 fl. oz/20 ml, Not Tested on Animals, Korean Skincare



CeraVe Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid – Skin Brightening Serum for Face with 10% Pure Vitamin C – Fragrance-Free – 1 Fl. Oz



SeoulCeuticals Korean Skin Care 20% Vitamin C Hyaluronic Acid Serum + CE Ferulic Acid – Potent Anti Aging, Anti Wrinkle Korean Beauty 1oz



Beauty of Joseon Serum Line Glow Serum Propolis + Niacinamide
Visit the Beauty of Joseon Store



Neutrogena Invisible Daily Defense Face Sunscreen + Hydrating Serum with Broad Spectrum SPF 60+ & Antioxidants to Help Skin Glow, Oil-Free, Fragrance-Free, 1.7 fl. oz




Questions and Answers


Do you use a serum before or after moisturizer?

In a skincare routine, it makes sense to apply serum before moisturizer. This is because serum is usually more lightweight, whereas moisturizer tends to be thicker. Applying serum first can also give the skin more opportunities to absorb the active ingredients. In many skin care routines, moisturizer is the last step.


Should I use both serum and moisturizer?

For most people, the answer is yes. You should use both face serum and moisturizer as part of your total skincare routine, especially to get the most effective results if you’re working to improve your complexion.


What are the disadvantages of face serums?

Some of the most common side effects include:

Itching, redness, skin irritation, and tingling sensation upon application.


How long should I wait to apply moisturizer after serum?

Generally speaking, you don’t need to wait for your serums to “soak in” before applying moisturizer. However, if you do want to wait, don’t let your serum sit for more than a minute before applying moisturizer, as it could result in dryer skin.


Can I apply moisturizer after the serum?

If you decide to use both serum and moisturizer, you should always apply the serum first (lighter products go before heavier ones). After applying, wait a minute or two to allow the product to absorb into your skin. Then, apply moisturizer.


How long should I leave the serum on my face?

After you’ve applied your face serum, wait five minutes for it to fully absorb. Well-formulated serums absorb fast and will disappear into your skin.

Note: Face serums may contain moisturizing agents, but they aren’t intended to replace your daily moisturizer.


How many drops of serum should I use?

Here is the routine:

Step 1: Take a pea-sized amount (about 3-4 drops) of a face serum from the dropper onto your palms.

Step 2: Spread it between your palms without rubbing the product too much.

Step 3: Dab the serum all over your face and neck using small and gentle tapping motions.


Which moisturizer is best after serum?

The moisturizer to pair with your favorite hyaluronic acid serum is one with ceramides or niacinamide. Ceramides hydrate the skin, and both ceramides and niacinamide help strengthen the skin barrier, which allows the skin to hold on to moisture and stay more hydrated.


Do I really need a face serum?

Not really if you don’t have any big skin gripes that are bugging you. But if you’re bothered by skin concerns, like a relentless dark spot or little lines creeping up around your eyes, then adding a serum to your regimen is a good idea.


Who should not use a face serum?

Serums aren’t for everyone. The liquid or gel-like texture of a serum can be a poor match for people with chronic skin conditions like eczema or rosacea, which weaken the skin barrier. For these people, serums may penetrate too quickly, causing irritation.


Is a retinol cream or serum better?

Serums are lighter, less congesting, and easier to absorb, so they are typically best for those with oily or acne-prone skin. On the other hand, dry skin types can benefit more from using retinol creams for extra hydration and slower delivery of the active ingredients.


Do you use serum in the morning or night?

Serums that contain antioxidants like vitamin C, green tea, and resveratrol should be applied in the morning so they can help protect your skin throughout the day.


Do you put eye cream or moisturizer first?

You should apply products based on thickness or texture. If your eye cream is richer and heavier than your moisturizer, it should go on after your moisturizer. If it’s lighter, then it’s fine to apply it before moisturizing.


What happens if we don’t apply moisturizer after serum?

Ultimately, face serum and moisturizer are both necessary for a holistic skincare routine and to ensure that your skin doesn’t dry out during the day. Face serum can’t replace moisturizer, and moisturizer doesn’t give your skin the extra vitamins and nutrients it needs to succeed and look great for years to come.


Is it OK to leave serum overnight?

Leaving a serum on overnight is ideal. Serums need time to absorb and your skin is most receptive when you’re asleep so having a serum on before you go to bed is a great way to have your skin get the most out of the serum.


Can serum be used around the eyes?

Yes, serums, creams, and other products can be used around the eyes, but it’s important to ensure that whatever you use is safe for that area. Some items have ingredients that may be too harsh to use around the eyes, especially for those with sensitive skin or certain conditions.


What is the best age to start using face serum?

Ideally, you should start using face serum at the age of 20 years.  You may begin to notice some sort of skin damage in your mid-twenties. So, 20-25 years is the right age to start using face serums.


Which serums are necessary?

Serums that will help with collagen rejuvenation. Using a vitamin C serum (typically in the form of L-ascorbic acid) in the morning for DNA repair, to avoid the effects of excess sun exposure. Then at night, opt for retinol to support skin cell turnover.


What’s better face oil or serum?

While facial oils are ideal for promoting long-term skin barrier health and resilience, serums are the go-to choice for addressing immediate skin issues. Since they each have a different consistency and composite, they penetrate the skin differently, allowing each one to target skin concerns in their own way.


How long do you leave the toner on before the serum?

This will vary from product to product. A toner may take mere seconds to dry, while a serum or thick nighttime eye cream could take a minute, or even a few minutes to dry and be properly absorbed. A good rule to follow is to wait at least one minute between applying each skincare product.


Should I use both serum and moisturizer?

For most people, the answer is yes. You should use both face serum and moisturizer as part of your total skincare routine, especially to get the most effective results if you’re working to improve your complexion.


Is hyaluronic acid serum better than retinol?

If you’re looking for an ingredient that can help to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone, retinol may be the better option. However, if you’re looking for something that will keep your skin hydrated and plump, hyaluronic acid may be a better choice.


Should I get retinol or vitamin C serum?

Vitamin C is the stronger antioxidant, while retinol is the more powerful skin renewer. Retinol’s benefits can take a lot longer to show up, but the eventual results are more notable, especially when it comes to fine lines and skin texture.


Which is better retinol or vitamin C?

Retinol may not be ideal if you have sensitive or dry skin, rosacea, eczema, or skin allergies. However, early use of retinol can slow down aging, especially for those in their early thirties when the cell turnover rate slows. Meanwhile, vitamin C is perfect for those who have dry skin.


Should serums be applied to wet or dry skin?

Apply to damp skin. The reason is that damp skin is more receptive to the active ingredients housed in that pricey bottle of serum or cream than dry skin. Damp skin is more permeable than dry skin.


Do you put the serum on before or after makeup?

Skincare routine order: Cleanser, toner, masks, serum, moisturizer, eye treatment, primer plus makeup.


Is serum or moisturizer better for anti-aging?

Face or anti-aging serums are lighter formulations designed to tackle specific skin concerns like wrinkles and pigmentation. They contain a higher concentration of active ingredients and are made up of tiny molecules, which means that they can penetrate faster and deeper than regular face creams or moisturizers.


How do I choose a face serum?

Depends on your skin type. If you have acne-prone and oily skin, pick a face serum that has salicylic acid and retinol. For dry skin, try something with Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. And if you have sensitive skin, try a serum that has natural ingredients as natural ingredients always show the best result.


Should I use hyaluronic acid serum or oil?

For oily or breakout-prone skin, try Hyaluronic Acid Serums. For other skin types, it really comes down to personal preference, some can’t live without the indulgent, dewy feel of a face oil, while others prefer the lighter feel of a serum.


Is vitamin C serum or oil better?

Serums are something that anyone can really benefit from. They come in a wide range of different formulations and consistencies. They can help repair and protect the skin, and they can dive deep into the layers of the skin. Vitamin C oils, on the other hand, aren’t going to penetrate too deeply.


Should you use vitamin C serum at night or day?

Generally speaking, the best time to apply vitamin C serum is in the morning, after cleansing and toning your complexion, and before moisturizer and SPF. If you want to maximize the benefits and don’t have overly sensitive skin, you can apply it in the morning and evening.


How long do you leave the serum on your face?

There should be enough to lightly cover (not coat) your entire face and neck, but resist the urge to slather on your serum as it’s super-potent. Wait a few minutes. After you’ve applied your face serum, wait a few minutes for it to fully absorb.


When should I stop using face serum?

Do not overuse. If you overuse serum, your skin may not absorb the beneficial ingredients of the product and instead, it will be left sitting on the surface of your face. This could lead to extra oily skin, breakouts, and even irritation.


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