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When to Apply Serum in Your Skincare Routine

Updated on June 21, 2019
Rose Rossi profile image

Rose is a licensed esthetician in the state of Florida, and has been licensed for over eight years.

In today’s market, there’s an overwhelming amount of choice when it comes to skincare. So much so, that establishing any kind of consistent routine can seem daunting rather than enjoyable. It is important to remember the basics, and recognize that your skin is first and foremost an intelligent organ. It only needs your help in certain areas at a time, be they hydration, exfoliation, or sebum (oil) control. Serums are a fantastic, concentrated treatment for many skin concerns, and come in many textures and consistencies. Deciding when to incorporate them in your routine can be tricky, so here is a break-down of when to apply serum in your skincare routine.

A few of my faves (c. Rose Rossi)
A few of my faves (c. Rose Rossi)

1. Double Cleanse First

Double-cleansing is a technique that I could not recommend to you more emphatically. Double-cleansing is the process of using an oil-based cleanser first, to thoroughly remove makeup, surface debris and impurities. Massage the oil on your face, neck, and décolletage for several minutes, then add water and continue to massage. The oil will turn a milky hue, and will feel ‘lighter’ as you move the product around. You will see any makeup really break up at this point. Proceed to rinse thoroughly until all product is removed.

2. Hydrate

Hydrating products are generally thinner and more ‘watery’ than serums, and serve to add back hydration lost throughout the day. Hydration should not be confused with moisturization: even if you have an oily skin type, hydration is key for healthy skin. Hydrating toners, for example, generally contain no oil, so you shouldn’t be concerned that they will cause congestion in the pore. These products can come in a convenient spray formula, or they may come in a bottle in which you turn over and apply the product onto a cotton pad or into your palms to apply directly to the face. Either way, this is an essential second-step to your routine.

3. Serum

This is where we get to one of my favorite steps of skincare, and the special star of this article: serum. Generally speaking, serums tend to be thicker in consistency and so they go right after the lighter hydration products and right before the final steps of oil and/or moisturizer. These products tend to be much more concentrated than a moisturizer or even a toner, and add targeted benefits to your skin. Need extra hydration? There are serums for that? Is your skin irritated or blotchy? There are serums for that. Do you want your skin to have more a natural glow? There are (many) serums for that. Massaging the product for a few seconds into your hands and gently patting the product onto your skin is an ideal way to ensure full absorption and an even application to the skin. I like to finish off the routine with a little tapotement massage, which is lightly but quickly tapping your fingertips as if playing the piano over the large surface areas of the face (this aids in product absorption as well, plus it feels amazing).

4. Oil/Moisturizer

And finally, to seal off the routine, adding an oil and/or moisturizer will lock in all of the skin-loving benefits of your skincare. (Tip: I like to add a drop or two of oil into my moisturizer, combining the steps and still getting the best of the both worlds).

5. Sunscreen

If you’re doing a daytime routine, sunscreen is a step that you cannot skip. The sun is not only damaging to elasticity (our skin’s source of youthfulness) but can cause scarring hyperpigmentation (dark spots) and cancer, be it basal cell carcinoma or melanoma. It’s dangerous, unhealthy, and unpleasant, so I always recommend a good sunscreen for daytime wear. (Tip: the best sunscreen is one that you will actually use, so I always recommend testing out the MANY different consistencies and see which formulation feels best for you and your skin type).

How does this measure up to your daily routine? Is there anything you do or have done differently? What are your favorite serums at the moment? Let me know, and let’s chat in the comments below!


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