How to apply face serum

face serum make up How to apply face serumYou may live by the skin care mantra of cleanse, tone and mositurize but do you know where the face serum fits in?

Serums are relative newcomers to the anti aging skin care market and a lot of people (me included when I first starting using it) are unclear about exactly when and how to apply a skin serum to get the most benefit.  It’s an additional step in the daily skin care regimen and we’re not sure just when to use it. Under or over your moisturizer – last thing before your makeup – sometimes skin care manufacturers don’t make it clear.

You might assume that if you don’t get guidance from the makers – it doesn’t matter how you apply it.

But it does – applying your serum properly has a real impact on how well the active anti aging ingredients penetrate below the skin’s surface. Ultimately it can make a difference as to whether you get the positive results you want.


Take time with face serum

Corrrect application of all skin care products is important  – especially if they contain active ingredients that need to penetrate to the dermis to be effective.  Not applying products in the right way can mean the active ingredients just sit on the surface and fail to have any effect at all.

The purpose of a face serum is to deliver active ingredients to your skin – if you don’t put it on right the money you’ve spent could be wasted.

It’s definitely worth taking a little bit of time now to learn the best way of applying face serum to get the most from the active ingredients.

Stick to one brand

Speaking from experience  I  don’t always buy the products I use from only one brand.  I use them at different rates and sometimes I find that the cream from one brand suits me whilst the cleanser from the same line just doesn’t.  Or I buy from different brands at different times because I run out of things or get tempted by new skin care products.

Like most women – I have ended up with a bit of an odd assortment of bottles and jars on my bathroom shelf.  But does it matter that your skin serum is not the same brand as your hydrating cream?

My view is that where products are designed to work together you will tend to get better results.

Take the wonderful Skin Medica TNS Regeneration System Kit – the moisturizer and the anti aging serum are sold as a kit and they work perfectly together as they are designed to do.  Worth getting because results are much better together than alone.

There are many other brands out there – Murad Skin Care for example – where skin care is sold in a package or kit usually including a serum.  Obviously they sell more products this way but customers benefit too.

Different brands may clash

Serums and moisturizers can be layered on the skin without problems if they are designed to go together. Not always the case if you mix and match brands though.  I see quite a lot of reports in beauty forums and customer reviews that even the best skin serum doesn’t work very well with the customer’s normal moisturizer.

The result – difficulty in applying make up or peeling and ‘pilling’ of foundation on the skin. Definitely not this season’s best look!

The cause of the problem is likely to be the conflict between the serum formulation – usually a gel type base – and the face moisturizer which is often a lotion or a cream.

Don’t apply too much face serum

If you get problems with serums splitting or not sinking in – it may be nothing to do with the product.  It may simply be you are applying too much in the hope of instant younger looking skin.  It’s a common problem according to dermatologists.

Putting on too much cream or serum is a recipe for problems.  Skin can only absorb so much and the residue will remain on the surface and can block pores causing breakouts or coagulate and ruin your makeup.

Start off by reading the instructions on the packaging and use only the amount of product recommended.  Don’t overload your skin.

Active ingredients have to work together

The other issue with using competing brands of skin care is that the ingredients may cause conflicts and confusion.  An active ingredient in your serum may cause irritation when combined with a different active in your face cream or they may just cancel one another out.

Quality brands have been formulated to deliver outcomes – skin clarity, reduction in fine lines – based on a set of ingredients that work together.  

Using products from the same line will reinforce the results – using a randomly chosen alternative may undermine them.

How to apply face serum – top tips

Whether your face serum give you the results you want will depend at least in part on how well you apply it – so here’s some great tips to follow to make sure you get the results you want:

  1. Active ingredients penetrate better when skin is clean, warmed and slightly moist so cleanse thoroughly in your normal manner and then apply toner if you use one.
  2. Apply a warm moist towel to your face to gently open pores and leave skin slightly moist
  3. Apply tiny dots of serum all over your face and then blend lightly and quickly all over with your middle finger
  4. Use short light but firm strokes to apply your face serum.   Do not stretch, pull or rub the skin.
  5. Whilst 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.
  6. 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

Only when your serum is fully dry – touch dry on your face – should you apply your moisturizer in a similar manner.  Let that sink in fully before you apply your foundation and normal makeup.

Of course – understanding how to apply face serum is the first step – what really makes a difference is doing it!

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About Eileen

I am the publisher of Simply Anti Aging and a web author researching and writing on all aspects of anti aging. I'd love you to connect with me on
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