How to (Correctly) Apply Skin Serum

Serums are, actually, the unsung heroes of skincare. Sensitivities, breakouts, dryness, and excess oil are no match for a high-quality serum.

Many immediately think "anti-aging" at the mention of a serum, but serums can tackle much more than just lines and wrinkles.

Serum is a concentrate of active ingredients, which targets specific skincare concerns, and the ingredients are powerful and made up of smaller molecules. The level of active ingredients is higher than in a usual face cream since the heavier oils and ingredients have been done away with. So, while the latter could have around ten percent of active ingredients, the former has a whopping seventy percent or more!

Serums offer many different benefits depending on the formula and what your skin needs, but they truly can change your complexion for the better in regards to clearing clogged pores, fading brown spots, and softening lines and wrinkles, so you really want to pay attention to how you are applying them. Keep reading to learn more about the serums and the correct way of using them.

What exactly is a serum?

Products containing active ingredients come in many forms, however, you’ll see these most commonly as serums. We all know how expensive a good serum can cost, but it’s for a great reason.

Serums contain active ingredients that work overtime to target your specific skin concerns. For example, vitamin C serums are commonly used to target dark spots and discoloration.

You may wonder if serums are the same as moisturizers, but the answer is no. While they may share ingredients and properties, serums are more easily absorbed by the skin, and work below the epidermis, while moisturizers work on the top layer and hold in all the moisture. Also, serums are water-based, while moisturizers and facial oils are oil or cream-based.

Because they contain a higher concentration of active ingredients, serums increase product performance, as well as maximize the benefits of the other products we are using. Serums are no doubt nourishing and weed out many skin problems at the root.

Apply your serum properly

You can curate the perfect skincare shelf, stocking your bathroom with all of the most popular skincare products, but it doesn’t mean much if you don’t apply them the right way—and that certainly holds true for face serums. So, without further ado, here’s how to apply a serum on your face as part of your daily routine!

Follow these 5 easy steps to get the most out of your serum.

  1. Cleanse well. The active ingredients in skin serums will stick to dirt and dead skin, so for maximum absorption be sure to wash your face properly before applying. Use tepid water—hot water could make your skin perspire which inhibits absorption and cold water will close pores, blocking the serums’ goodness.
  2. Apply to damp skin. Serums work best when applied to damp skin. Some say that moist skin is 10 times more permeable than dry skin. When it's applied to damp skin, the active ingredients in the serum will penetrate on a deeper level. So, apply serum to damp skin after cleansing or mist skin with an alcohol-free toner for quick, deep absorption. Press serum into skin with an open palm instead of fingertips to release active ingredients.
  3. Less is more. Serums are highly concentrated and active; this means that they need to be applied first, to clean skin. This way all the active ingredients can penetrate your skin. These active ingredients are the reason why serums are more expensive than regular moisturizers. The high concentrations in the raw materials push the price up. Concentrated serums might offer double or triple the active ingredients of your anti-aging creams and dousing skin may lead to irritation. A pea-sized drop is all you need! Any more is a hasty waste. Apply tiny dots of serum all over your face and then blend lightly and quickly all over.
  4. Tap gently. Use short light but firm strokes to apply your face serum. Do not stretch, pull or rub the skin. While the serum is still wet, after applying, gently tap the surface of your face with your fingers for half a minute. You can use all your fingers both hands on either side of your face very lightly. The tapping action encourages the serum to sink fully into the deeper layers of the skin as far as it is able to go. If you feel any tingling sensations when you apply the serum – don’t worry. Tingling can be a sign the active ingredients in the serum are getting to the dermis – where they need to be if they are going to work. Types of serum ingredients where you may see this result include vitamin C and retinoids.
  5. Wait, then moisturize. Serums are not moisturizers. They need moisturizing mates like a day or night cream. To allow serums to fully absorb, apply and wait 5 minutes before moisturizing.

Only when your serum is fully dry – touch dry on your face – should you apply your oils, eye cream and moisturizer in a similar manner. Let that sink in fully before you apply your foundation and normal makeup.
Take note: Well-formulated serums absorb quickly and disappear into your skin. If they leave an oily or sticky residue, they are not doing their job well.

Serums are packed with turbo-charged ingredients designed to penetrate skin in ways everyday moisturizers simply can’t—and their price tag often reflects this fact.
When browsing products, don’t look for pretty colors or pleasant scents—some of the best serums are drab and dull-smelling. An effective serum is loaded with active ingredients to target repair and rejuvenation. No only do colors and fragrances add nothing beneficial, they may even hamper absorption.

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