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How To Apply Face Serum

6 mins

Akhila Jerripothula

Learn how to use face serum and find out what does serum do for your face.

If you’re new to the skincare game, the sheer amount of products to buy can be confusing. Creams, cleansers, toners, serums, oils, lotions, and more can seem unnecessary -- however, they are all important in their own right. One underrated but incredibly powerful skincare product is facial serums. Facial serums can effectively tackle skincare concerns ranging from acne to aging, to dark spots, scars, and everything in between. If you struggle with any of these issues, find out how to use face serum in your skincare routine! 

Why Use Face Serum?

When your skin is acting up, or if you’re suffering from maskne breakouts, there’s a serum out there to deal with your concerns. The highly concentrated formula of vitamins, nutrients, hydration boosters, and antioxidants work wonders for your skin issues. Serums are small but mighty -- it only takes a few drops to get the full effect! Oftentimes, people can be hesitant to purchase serums because of high price tags, but when you only use a few drops at a time, one seemingly small bottle can last you a long time. Instead, think of it as a long-term investment into your skin! After all, the skin we have now is the only skin we will get!

Best Face Serums to Use

There are several different types of serums out there. You will need to choose which ones to use based on your skincare concerns and goals! Here are some of the best face serums to consider using to achieve your dream skin:

  • Anti-Aging Serums: Aging gracefully is easier with magical potions like serums. Use this treatment to target signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines, and more caused by the loss of collagen and elastin. Look out for ingredients like retinol, peptides, vitamin C, evening primrose oil, and grape seed extract.   
  • Anti-Acne Serums: You may associate acne products with the drying gels and creams to treat existing breakouts. Using acne-fighting serums are a great way to heal current blemishes while preventing new ones from forming. Since serums can penetrate deep into the skin, they help to unclog pores, absorb excess sebum, soothe inflammation, and balance your skin. Look for acne-fighting ingredients like zinc, niacinamide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and tea tree extracts
  • Exfoliating Serums: If you’ve been using physical exfoliators to scrub your face raw, back away and put them down ASAP! There are actually two different types of exfoliation: chemical and physical. You’re probably familiar with physical exfoliation that uses rough particles to scrub the skin free of dead skin cells. However, this method can be pretty abrasive and creates more harm with micro-tears. Chemical exfoliators can be found in face serums like AHAs and BHAs to dissolve dead skin cells clogging your pores, without abrasive scrubbing. Look for exfoliating serums with ingredients like vitamin c, glycolic acid, lactic acid, and enzymes from plants or fruit. 
  • Hydrating Serums: When moisturizer alone isn’t cutting it for your super dry and cracked skin, give it a drink of hydration with a super-powered serum! Since they are able to penetrate deeper into the skin, your face is left feeling soft, smooth, and soothed. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, glycerin, rosehip oil, rosewater, jojoba oil, and vitamin E to nourish and seal in moisture. 
  • Brightening Serums: While exfoliating and SPF can help hyperpigmentation, it’s best to treat the problem at the source. Try a brightening serum to exfoliate pores to reveal the brighter skin underneath, even out skin tone, and soothe redness associated with sun damage. Look for brightening serums with ingredients like peptides, green tea extract, vitamin E, and vitamin C. 
  • Repairing Serums: Similar to anti-aging serums, repairing serums do more than just repair signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles. They can also help to address spots and the subsequent scars that occur from acne. Perhaps the number one benefit of a repairing serum is its ability to heal sun damage, a huge cause of skin aging. Unfortunately, many people didn’t protect their skin properly from the sun when they were younger and are dealing with the consequences now. While there’s no way to 100% get rid of that damage, repairing serums will help prevent future damage from damaging free radicals and environmental pollutants. 

Which face serum is best? Here are some of the top active facial serum ingredients to look for:

Vitamin C

This popular vitamin is known to benefit your health and immune system, but did you know that it can benefit your skin as well? It’s true -- applying a vitamin C facial serum can boost your skin goals:

  • Vitamin C helps encourage skin cell turnover, which can help diminish the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin. 
  • Since vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, it can protect your skin from free radical damage from UV rays and environmental pollution that can wreak short-term and long-term havoc on your skin.
  • Vitamin C can help brighten the appearance of dark spots, age spots and acne scars. 
  • Since vitamin C is a natural soother to help reduce redness and irritation caused by skin conditions like acne, dermatitis, and psoriasis. 

Hyaluronic Acid

One of our favorite hydrators to quench dry, dehydrated skin is hyaluronic acid. But do you actually know what it is? What does hyaluronic serum do for your face? Hyaluronic acid is naturally-occurring in your body but you can easily supplement it through serums. It is known as a miracle anti-aging component because it provides a ton of moisture to your skin to help fill in fine lines and wrinkles, and replenish dehydrated skin. 

So if you’re looking for an anti-aging booster to reverse time, nourishing your skin with a facial serum that contains hyaluronic acid is definitely the way to go. 


Another great facial serum ingredient for anti-aging is retinol, which is a derivative of vitamin A. Research really backs this claim, as retinol helps to accelerate skin renewal and enhance collagen production to reduce signs of aging -- whether it be wrinkles or age spots. 

Retinol can also act as a chemical exfoliant on the skin and helps get rid of the dead and dull outermost layer to reveal bright, smooth, and healthy new skin. Meaning that it works to speed the process of acne healing and brightening dark spots. If all of this sounds appealing, you should also know that retinol is so powerful that it can potentially irritate your skin if you use too much of it too often. So start off with using a low concentration of retinol in your facial serum once a week and work your way up to higher concentrations more frequently if your skin reacts positively. Especially making sure to follow up with SPF to protect your now sensitive skin, or just using it at night. 

Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs, consist of plant and animal-derived acids like glycolic acid, lactic acid, citric acid, and others. Using a serum with AHAs is a great way to exfoliate your skin chemically rather than physically, which can create microtears in your skin. This can be really rough on your skin since you’re literally scrubbing off the top layer with jagged particles, potentially irritating active acne. 

Chemical exfoliation, on the other hand, uses natural chemical processes to gently remove the top layer of dead skin cells. As a result, AHAs are a great way to brighten your skin, promote collagen production, and prevent or reduce signs of aging. 

However, if you are also interested in retinol, make sure to not use them together. If you do, it can cause a great deal of redness and irritation on your skin. So make sure to tailor a skincare routine that incorporates both of these amazing ingredients at different times of the week. 

Rose Hip Oil

Rose hip oil is a naturally-derived oil that can provide a ton of moisture to your skin, thanks to high levels of fatty acids. Rose hip oil is a great ingredient if you have acne-prone skin because it’s really healing and gentle enough to use without causing irritation. Not only that, it can also be used to combat acne and blemishes thanks to its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, while also helping acne scars and dark spots to heal and lighten over time. 

Do I Need Both Serum and Moisturizer? How to Properly Use a Face Serum

Do these great ingredients justice by properly using them in your facial serum! If you’re just beginning to incorporate face serums into your skincare routine, it might be a little bit confusing at first. However, here are some simple steps to follow to flawlessly incorporate the best face serums into your daily routine so that you can achieve the skin of your dreams:

  1. When trying out any new product for your skin, you should always do a patch test first. Everyone’s skin is different, so you need to make sure that your skin isn’t going to elicit an allergic reaction from the product. You can either use the inside of your wrist or the inside of your elbow. Just cleanse the area, apply a small amount of the product, and then wait 24 hours to see how your skin reacts. Be on the lookout for any redness, itching, or pain near the site. If you experience any of these, you should wash the area right away and avoid using the product on other areas of skin. 
  2. Cleanse your skin. Before applying any serum, always make sure to cleanse your skin with an effective cleanser, like WOW Skin Science’s Apple Cider Vinegar Face Wash! Pat your skin dry with a soft towel.
  3. Tone impurities, while balancing your skin and helping to prepare your skin for better absorption of skincare products -- like a serum! Simply swipe a cotton pad soaked with toner all across your face, in an upwards direction to prevent skin sagging. 
  4. Apply serum! Dispense a small amount of serum either from a pump or a dropper onto your finger or hand. Massage a light layer of the serum into your face in upwards motions, or dab directly onto problem areas you want to target. Key tip: If your serum comes with a dropper, do not let the dropper directly touch your face. It may look Instagram worthy, but you are getting bacteria onto the dropper itself and essentially contaminating your serum for future use. Once you have applied a nice layer, you will need to wait about five minutes for the formula to absorb into your skin before you can move on to the next steps in your routine. 
  5. Seal in your skin’s moisture. A lot of people assume that they don’t need actual moisturizer since they are using serums -- but you absolutely should. Using a product with a larger molecule size, like a conditioning oil, will plug your pores and promote your skin barrier to protect from the elements. 


Using a face serum is an incredible way to boost your skincare routine, and make it work for your problem areas. It may just seem like an extra step in your skincare routine, but the results will really speak for themselves. Good luck!


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