How To Use Face Serums The Right Way


How To Use Face Serums The Right Way

By Anupriya Jamuar


So you've mastered your cleansing-toning-moisturising skincare routine, and you want to up your game. Face serums will be your best allies. These miracle workers are packed with a higher concentration of active ingredients that hydrate, brighten, smoothen, and even out your skin tone. There’s one for every concern: Oily skin? Try a lightweight serum that won't clog your pores. Dry skin? Look for a serum that's hydrating and nourishing. Dark spots or hyperpigmentation? Bet on vitamin C or niacinamide serums. With so many serums out there it’s pretty tempting to experiment with several formulations together. How to choose and use face serums needs a little guidance, and we’ve got your back.


The benefits of using a serum 

The diverse serum formulations also give a diverse range of benefits. Here are some of the most popular ones you should know about.

  • Better absorption: These bad boys are formulated with tiny molecules that can penetrate deep into your skin and give you a big dose of hydration. Think of it as a giant gulp of water for your skin.
  • Smoothens skin texture: Face serums often contain antioxidants and peptides, add to that their exceptional penetration power and they go a long way in reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of ageing.
  • Boosts glow: Watch out for serums with vitamin C, vitamin E, alpha-arbutin, snail mucin, and hyaluronic acid, they are your skin’s biggest cheerleaders and will brighten up your skin tone.
  • Kiss acne goodbye: If you're dealing with pimples, face serums with salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or benzoyl peroxide will be your new best friends. They help unclog pores and reduce the appearance of acne.
  • Easily customisable: With so many different formulas out there, you can find a face serum that targets your specific skin concerns. It's like a customized beauty treatment, made just for you.

Read more: Your guide to the best face serums

How to use face serums: Skin prep is important 

Before you slather on your favourite serums, make sure that your skin is prepped and ready to soak up all the goodness. 

  • Cleanse: Wash your face with a gentle cleanser to remove any dirt, oil or makeup residue. Double cleanser to remove stubborn makeup, if necessary.
  • Polish: Exfoliating helps remove dead skin cells and makes way for better absorption of the serum. A gentle scrub or chemical exfoliant can do the trick. But make sure you’re not exfoliating more than twice a week.
  • Tone: A toner will balance the skin’s pH levels and prep it to absorb the serum better. Plus, it feels really refreshing.
  • Pause and dab: Make sure your skin is slightly damp before applying the serum. This will ensure that its getting absorbed properly. You can layer your moisturiser and sunscreen over the serum.

You can follow this step-by-step routine to get the most out of your face serum and have your skin looking radiant and balanced.


How to use face serums: The different application methods 

Unlike moisturisers you should not massage your serums into your face, neither should you apply it with a dropper directly on your face to maintain hygiene. Here are two different techniques to try out:


1. The one-drop method:

Using the one-drop face serum application technique can help you to use it more efficiently and avoid wasting any precious drops. 


  • Take one drop of serum onto your fingertips. Most serums come with a dropper or a pump that allows you to dispense just the right amount.
  • Apply the serum to your face with your fingertips—start in the centre and working your way outwards.
  • Gently press the serum into your skin and avoid any rubbing or massaging.  This helps to ensure that the product is fully absorbed and doesn't just sit on top of your skin.

2. The tap and press method: 

Alternatively, instead of using just one drop of serum, use a pea-sized amount for each application. This way you can ensure that every inch of your face is covered in serum goodness. 


  • Apply the serum using your fingertips. Then, it's time to get tapping!
  • Use the palm of your hand to gently tap and press the serum into your skin. Think of it as giving your skin a little love tap to wake it up and get the blood flowing.
  • Then give it a few minutes to fully absorb before applying any other products.

Read more: Serums that give you glazed skin

How to use face serums: Finding the right formula 

Serums are designed to be lightweight, fast-absorbing formulas to deliver powerful active ingredients deep into the skin to target specific concerns and provide a variety of benefits. But since there are so many different kinds, here is our cheat code to pick a formula based on your skin type and concerns.


1. Hydrating serums: Perfect for dry and dehydrated skin, they often contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and glycerin, which help to lock in moisture.

2. Brightening serums: These contain ingredients like vitamin C, niacinamide, alpha-arbutin and kojic acid, which can help to even out skin tone, reduce the appearance of dark spots, and give your complexion a radiant glow.

3. Anti-ageing serums: These serums target fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of ageing. They often contain ingredients like retinol, peptides, and vitamin E, which can help to improve skin texture and tone.

4. Acne-fighting serums: These serums contain ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, niacinamide and tea tree oil, which can help unclog pores, reduce inflammation, and prevent breakouts.

5. Calming serums: Formulated to soothe irritated, sensitive skin, you’ll often find these serums contain aloe vera, snail mucin, chamomile, centella asiatica and green tea, which can help to reduce redness and inflammation.

How to use face serums 101: Getting started 

When applying face serums, there are a few things to keep in mind: 

  • Always cleanse your skin before application.
  • Use a pea-sized amount of serum or three to four drops to cover your whole face.
  • Take it down to your neck as well.
  • Use your fingertips to press it into your skin.
  • Allow the serum to fully absorb before applying moisturiser.
  • Always use SPF during the day to protect your skin from UV damage.
  • Follow the instructions on the product label for best results.
  • Be consistent with your serum application to see the full benefits.

When to use face serums?

You can include face serums in both your AM and PM routine. Apply it right after cleansing and toning your skin and follow it up with a moisturiser to seal everything in.


An easy way to remember this is to split your serums based on their usage. Use skin-protecting and glow-boosting serums in your AM routine like vitamin C, niacinamide and include skin correcting and repairing serums in your PM routine like retinol and ceramides.


How to use face serums 101: Choose according to your skin type

It’s imperative to pick a serum based on your skin type. Here is how you can choose the right one for your specific needs:

  • Dry skin: If your skin feels dehydrated and tight then look for a serum that contains hyaluronic acid, ceramides, snail mucin and glycerin, as these ingredients will help to hydrate and plump up your skin.
  • Oily skin: For oily skin, a serum with salicylic acid or niacinamide can help to regulate oil production and minimise the appearance of pores.
  • Combination skin: Look for a serum that contains both hydrating and oil-regulating ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid and salicylic acid.
  • Sensitive skin: If you have sensitive skin, serums that contain soothing ingredients, such as aloe vera, sail mucin, ceramides or chamomile would be best. Also, avoid serums that contain fragrance or alcohol as they can be sensitising.
  • Mature skin: For ageing skin, look for a serum with retinol or peptides, as these ingredients can help to improve skin texture and minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Up Next: How do layer serums?

Overall, there are a wide variety of face serums to choose from, each designed to address specific concerns and provide unique benefits. By incorporating a serum into your skincare routine, you can give your skin the extra boost it needs to look and feel its best.




Q. How often should I use a face serum? 
- You can use your face serums one to two times a day, depending on the product and your skin's needs. Include them in your AM/PM routine.


Q. Should I apply a face serum before or after moisturiser? 
- Apply your face serum after cleansing and toning your skin and before applying moisturizer. This allows the serum to fully absorb into your skin and enhance the effectiveness of your moisturizer by sealing everything into your skin.


Q. Can I use multiple face serums in my skincare routine? 
- Yes, you can. However, it is important to layer them properly, starting with the thinnest consistency and working your way up to the thickest. Be careful not to overload your skin with too many active ingredients, as this can cause irritation.