What Serum Should You Use at Night? See the Best Serums for Nighttime Use

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What serum should you use at night?

Serums are lightweight, fast-absorbing products that are packed with ingredients to treat specific skin concerns such as acne, dryness, and aging.

They are a great way to give your skin a little extra TLC. But not all serums are made equal. Depending on the ingredients, some serums work better at night rather than during the day.

To help you sort through it all, this article breaks down what serums are best for nighttime use. Read on for the full list.

What Are Serums, Exactly?

Serums are incredibly concentrated formulas loaded with active ingredients like vitamins, antioxidants, and hydration. They’re usually a liquid or gel-like texture and lighter in consistency than moisturizers.

Since there’s less filler to dilute the product, it’s able to penetrate deeper into the skin for more effective results.

Regardless of your skin type, serums can benefit everyone — whether your goal is anti-aging or just simple hydration. The key is finding one that works well with your skin type.

What Serum Should You Use at Night?

Nighttime is when your skin has time to repair and rejuvenate itself. So, it’s important that you use the right serums.

From retinol to vitamin C, here are some serums you should use at night:

1. Retinol Serum

Nighttime is a good time to apply retinol, which is a derivative of vitamin A that can help minimize fine lines and dark spots caused by aging and sun exposure. However, retinol should be applied in moderation to reduce irritation.

2. Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Hyaluronic acid is another ingredient that’s great to use at night because it draws moisture into the skin without making it feel greasy. This makes it an ideal option for people with oily skin who don’t want their faces to feel greasy before bed.

3. AHA Serum

Nighttime is also a good time to incorporate alpha-hydroxy acids serums. They nourish and exfoliate the skin while you sleep, making them great for those who are looking to restore their skin’s natural glow.

4. Ceramide Serum

Ceramides are naturally present in the outer layer of the skin and they help retain moisture and keep the skin barrier intact. They work overnight to reduce signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles, so you can wake up looking refreshed and youthful.

5. Peptide Serum

If you find yourself waking up with dull skin, peptide serum is the way to go.

Peptides are small fragments of proteins that help cells communicate with each other to maintain collagen and elastin production. As we age, collagen and elastin become less abundant, causing our skin to lose its structure and firmness.

6. Vitamin C Serum

Using a vitamin C serum at night gives your skin time to repair itself while you get your beauty rest. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that fights free radicals, which cause wrinkles and age spots.

It also helps even out your skin tone and brightens dull skin, so you’ll look well-rested even if you didn’t get much sleep.

Benefits of Using Serum on Your Skin

Nourishes your skin and keeps it healthy

Serums are filled with antioxidants that protect the skin from free radicals and harmful UV rays. These ingredients neutralize the effects of free radicals and help reduce fine lines and wrinkles, sagging skin, and dark circles.

Delivers intense moisture to your skin

Most serums contain humectant ingredients like hyaluronic acid that attract and retain moisture in the skin. This helps keep your skin hydrated for longer periods and prevents it from drying out or becoming flaky.

Helps you achieve a flawless complexion

Due to their small molecular size, serums can penetrate deep into your skin, delivering nutrients directly to where your skin needs them most.

This helps improve the appearance of large pores, acne scars, and other blemishes on your face, leaving you with a smooth, flawless complexion.

Boosts collagen production

Collagen is a protein that is found naturally in our bodies, but over time, its production slows down due to aging or exposure to environmental stressors such as pollution or sunlight.

Using a serum will help boost collagen production so that your skin stays looking fresh and youthful.

Target-specific skin concerns

Serums have a lightweight formula, which means they can penetrate deeper into the skin than creams and lotions. They also have higher concentrations of active ingredients, so they’re great for targeting specific skin concerns, like wrinkles or dark spots.

Can You Use Serum in the Morning?

Yes, you can. However, it’s important to note that not all serums are created equal; some serums contain ingredients that make them more suitable for nighttime use only.

For example, serums containing retinoids or alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are photosensitive — meaning they make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.

If you want to use these kinds of serums during the day, make sure that you follow up with a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated SPF 30 or greater.

Another thing to keep in mind is that serums are a bit more lightweight than creams or lotions. So if you’re in a cold climate or have very dry skin, you may need additional hydration during the day.

In this case, you can always layer your serum under a rich moisturizer for extra protection from harsh environmental elements.

Can You Use Serum in the Morning and at Night?

Yes, you can. It’s safe to apply the serum in the morning and night, but some formulas are better for the day while some are better for night use.

For example, if you’re using an AHA serum, experts recommend using it only at night, as this ingredient can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.

The same goes for retinol or any retinoid-based serum you may be using. You want to avoid irritation, so it’s best to use these serums only at night.

How to Apply Serum at Night

Cleanse your face

Cleansing is an important step before applying serum because dirt and oils will prevent your serum from penetrating your skin.

Apply toner (optional)

Toner isn’t necessary, but if you have one you like, go ahead and use it.

Apply your serum

After cleansing and toning, squeeze 2-3 drops of serum on your fingers then apply it all over your face and neck.

If you’re using more than one serum, apply them one after another in order of thinnest consistency to thickest. Allow each serum to fully absorb before applying the next product.


Moisturizing is essential when applying serum because it helps hydrate and protects your skin from drying out while you sleep. It also helps create a protective barrier between your skin and your bed sheets and pillows.

How Can You Make Your Own Serum?

Making your own serum is a great way to save money. Use these steps to create an effective serum that costs less than store-bought versions:

Step 1: Select your ingredients

It is important to select the right ingredients that suit your skin type. If you have oily skin, look for ingredients like green tea, niacinamide, witch hazel, and other antioxidants.

For those with dry skin, choose ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, ceramides, and plant oils. Similarly, if you have combination skin or acne-prone skin, look for specific ingredients that help in treating your skin concern.

Step 2: Wash your hands

Wash your hands before working on your serum so you don’t transfer bacteria from your hands to the product.

Step 3: Combine your ingredients

Now that you have chosen all of your ingredients, add them individually to your mixing cup. Start with anything water-based, or a liquid. So ingredients like glycerin, hydrosols, and aloe vera juice go first as they are mostly water.

The next ingredients should be anything oil-based like essential oils, carrier oils, and ceramides, as they do not get dissolved in water and need to be applied separately on top of the water-based solution.

After mixing the two layers properly, you can now add any water-soluble ingredient like vitamin C, niacinamide, or ferulic acid.

Step 4: Bottle and store

Use a small funnel and pour the serum into a dark glass bottle with a dropper lid. Cap the bottle tightly, label it and store it in a cool, dry place (like a cabinet) to increase its shelf life.


How long does serum last?

A serum can last for up to 1 year depending on its ingredients, concentration, and pH balance. To maximize the shelf life of your serum, do not store it at temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

How long does serum take to work?

4-8 weeks. Many people will see results within 4-8 weeks of using a skincare serum. When used on the regular, these products can help transform the look and feel of your complexion without the need for invasive procedures or treatments.

Is it okay to use an expired serum?

No, it is not. An expired serum is harmful to your skin because all the nutrients in it are expired and can do more harm than good.


The best time to apply serums is at night because the skin goes through a natural cell renewal process. This means that it is more receptive to active ingredients, and will work on the job you’ve given it while you sleep.

You might even find that if you combine two or more of these serums, they’ll work even better than one on its own.

Thanks for reading.

Visit Serum101 to learn more about serums.