How to Apply Serum to Face: The Best AM and PM Skincare Routine Guide

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Radiant and flawless skin depends on more than buying top-rated products. How you apply products like a face serum determines whether you will get the best of the ingredients.

Face serum is one skincare product with a lot of questions around it, but I think we should talk about how to apply it. It is different with its peculiar consistency. Therefore, its mode of application needs to be learned and followed as detailed.

I believe you are reading this article because you are set to get your AM and PM skincare routine right. Ahead, this article details how to get the best of your face serum through the right application.

How to Apply Serum to Face

Face serums have very peculiar formulations. Some contain vitamin C, retinol, hyaluronic acid, arbutin, and niacinamide.

Each of these compounds may react differently with different skin types. For this reason, before you apply serum to your face, run a patch test to see how it interacts with your skin.

Apply about two drops of serum on your inner wrist and observe it for some hours. If you notice skin irritations like redness or any inflammation, rinse it off immediately and see a dermatologist.

However, if it copes well with your skin, then, it is for you. Follow these steps to apply serum to your face.

1. Clean Your Face

Skincare routine is more effective on a clean canvas. Whether it’s during your morning or evening routine; oil, makeup, grime, and dead skin cell buildup will interfere with product application. Hence, the need to cleanse and exfoliate (optional).

Every skincare routine comes post-bath. So, all you need to do now is use a mild facial foaming cleanser to clean off oil and any other residue. Also, facial cleansers help to neutralize the effect of the chemicals in your bath soap.

After cleansing, use a chemical exfoliator to clean your pores and get rid of excess sebum and dead skin cells. However, you should not exfoliate more than three times a week and according to the demand of your skin type.

After all of these, do not dry your face completely. Face serums work better with damp skin. Dry your face with a clean towel that will not leave lint.

2. Apply Face Serum

Now, here’s the main deal in your skincare routine. It is the main deal because of the many ingredients and skin balance serums provide your skin.

Before you apply the serum, turn off the fan or air conditioner. This is because they can dry out the serum before it is absorbed into your skin.

Use the dropper applicator to pump out the serum and apply a few drops onto one palm. Afterward, use your fingertips to apply the serum to your face (cheeks, chin, forehead, nose, and undereye).

When you have applied the serum to your face, do not massage or rub it in. Instead, gently tap it in until it is evenly distributed. On the other hand, body creams and oils have a consistency that requires that you massage them into your skin to aid absorption.

Leave it to absorb into your skin and provide nourishment. Allow it to absorb on its own for about a minute or two before you go on to the next step of your skincare.

3. Layer Face Serum With Moisturizer

The rule of thumb in skincare says you go from the thinnest to the thickest. So, you can move on to the thick creams after applying serum to your face.

Use an appropriate face moisturizer. Take an adequate dollop, maybe a pea size, and rub it between both palms. Gently rub it over your face and allow it to nourish your skin with hydration and moisture.

Moisturizers act as a seal over your skin that keeps the ingredients of the face serum trapped in, hence, more effective. It also adds a natural glow to your skin.

After your moisturizer, you can go on to apply other skincare products like your eye cream, sunscreen, and makeup.

However, if you are on a topical spot treatment prescription, you may apply the cream over the spots before using moisturizer all over your face. Be careful to not spread the spot treatment all over your face because these creams can dry out your skin.

What Face Serum Is Best for AM Routine?

Certain serums are sensitive to sunlight and others are not. This is because of the major ingredient that makes up their formula.

As a result, do not use serums that do not contain sunlight-sensitive ingredients in your morning routine. Such serums contain vitamin C, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and arbutin.

Furthermore, such a face serum will rather protect your skin from the damage caused by frequent exposure to sunlight. Also, they brighten your skin and fade acne and hyperpigmentation discolorations.

This sums to say, you can use any of these serums as part of your AM skincare routine to avoid complications and skin flares. However, vitamin C face serum is quite sensitive to different skin. If you have sensitive skin, opt for another formula instead.

What Face Serum Is Best for PM Routine?

The different face serum formula does not suggest that one is superior to the other in quality. It rather suggests that you can pick a formula based on the sensitivity of your skin and its interaction with the environment.

For instance, retinol-based face serums can make your skin photosensitive and as such, it is better you use these serums in your night skincare routine. This is because, when you exfoliate, you reveal a more sensitive layer of your skin that is easily burnt by UV rays.

The sun’s rays break down the retinol molecules and render your serum ineffective. Moreover, hyaluronic acid face serum is a hydrating serum that is more active at night. It is a humectant that keeps your skin hydrated while you sleep.

Benefits of Applying Serum to Face

The active ingredients that constitute face serums are the hold these skincare products have on the beauty world. Here is a list of the benefits you stand to gain from using a face serum:

Optimum hydration

Hyaluronic acid face serum, for example, is a humectant that attracts water to your skin and traps moisture in your skin. It furnishes your skin with hydration which is the diet of every skin type. This way, your skin, and pores can enjoy all the ingredients it has to offer.

Easy absorption

Face serums have a lightweight, clear formula that quickly absorbs into your skin without leaving residues.

Unlike creams and oils, serums do not create a barrier that makes it difficult for your skin to get moisture from the environment. Rather than that, they open up your pores to receive other skincare products down your routine.

There is a face serum for every skin type

There is indeed a face serum for every skin type. You’ll find at least one formula that works to soothe your skin concerns and give you gratifying results. However, to enjoy what face serums have to offer, pick the right formula and use it correctly.

Face serum protects your skin

Environmental aggressors are not what you foretell. So, you should not be taken unawares. The best protection you can give your skin is to apply serum to your face. These aggressors affect the look and feel of your skin.

Sometimes they result in acne and premature aging. But if you secure your skin with a face serum beforehand, you’ll not have to deal with any of these.

Face serum brightens skin

Face serums that contain vitamin C, ferulic, glycolic, and lactic acids help to brighten your skin. Moreover, they hydrate your skin and correct uneven skin tone that must have been a result of hyperpigmentation or acne scars. And they brighten your glow.

Acne treatment

Acne is the dread of almost every woman. Face serums have anti-inflammatory properties that can prevent acne breakouts. The antioxidants and exfoliating acids present can clean your pores and make them shrink in size.

This prevents future blackheads and acne breakouts. Additionally, they can treat existing acne and fade the scars.

Face serum revives your skin

Use face serum to reverse the signs of premature aging. Vitamin C serums foster the production of collagen which is necessary for plump, smooth, elastic, and youthful skin. Furthermore, it reduces the prominence of fine lines and wrinkles.

Side Effects of Face Serum

Like every skincare product, applying serum to your face has its bad and it is useful that you know them. This way, you are very sure of what you’re getting into.

Skin irritations

People with sensitive skin are those who will majorly experience skin irritations. Before your skin acclimatizes with a face serum, it may cause skin reactions like redness or a burning sensation.

In addition, if you are using the wrong formula and the wrong way too, skin irritations are bound to happen.

The effect of face serum is not quickly seen

You may have to use a face serum consistently for up to 6 weeks before you can see commendable results. With some people, it may take 1-2 weeks less or more to see any difference. This waiting time can be exhausting.


Can you apply serum to your face every day?

Yes, you can. You give more chances for face serum to work when you use it every day as part of your beauty routine. Use the serum twice a day, in the morning and evening post-bath and facial cleansing.

Should you sleep with serum on your face?

Yes, you should. Face serums should not be rinsed after application. It is okay to go to bed with serum on your face. After application, allow it to absorb into your skin before you layer moisturizer, spot treatment (if necessary), and face oils. 

Can you use face serum without moisturizer?

Whether you layer a moisturizer over serum depends on the demands of your skin. Oily skin may not require moisturizer as serum can be hydrating and moisturizing enough. Dry sin, on the other hand, requires that extra moisture be gotten from moisturizer.

However, skin experts advise that you always use a moisturizer after your face serum.

When is the best time to apply serum to your face?

When you apply face serum depends on the type of serum you’re using and its formula. For instance, anti-aging serums contain retinol which is a sunlight-sensitive molecule. It is best to use retinol at night.

Vitamin C serum has antioxidants that are necessary to fight free radicals. Hence, it is best used in the mornings.


How to apply serum to your face may not always sound as important as it is, but it is as important as buying the product. Products of your best brands or beauty line are best maximized when you use them appropriately. 

Everyone with their special skin type has a routine they follow. The general rule of thumb says you should apply your skincare products from the thinnest to the thickest. So, face serums come between cleansing and creams and oils.

Before you apply serum to your face, be sure it is compatible with your skin. Do a patch test first. If you get any skin irritation that doesn’t look good, rinse it off and see a doctor. However, you should take your skin into account before picking a formula.

Thanks for reading.

Read relevant serum articles on Serum 101 to learn more about these beauty products.