How To Apply Face Serum

An image showing how to apply a face serum on a womans face

Are you using your face serum the right way? Face serums are expensive, potent, and need to be used correctly in your skin care routine. I am a dermatologist and these are the tips I give my patients on how to apply face serum correctly.

How To Use Face Serums Correctly?

These are the most common questions I get from my patients about how to use face serums:

Can I use a different serum day and night?

Yes you can.  Face serums usually go in step 3 of the AM and PM skin care routine.  However, if you need a serum and which serum is best depends upon your Baumann Skin Type.

Can I use two serums together?

 It depends upon what ingredients are in the serum because ingredients can cancel each other out.  Always use serums one after another. Never mix them together before applying.

How many face serums should I use?

The number of serums you should use in your skin care routine depends upon how many barriers to skin health you have.

Barriers to skin health

Make sure that you are using the right serum for your Baumann Skin Type, otherwise it is a waste of time and money and may actually increase your skin’s barriers to skin health- making your Baumann Skin Type worse. Our skin type quiz will tell you which brands of face serum are right for you and will guide you on which step to use face serum in your skin care routine.

When you shop by your Baumann Skin Type - we will give you an exact customized skin care routine with steps that will answer these questions.  You will be able to choose products from many brands that are right for YOUR skin type.

 We will tell you IF you need any serums in your routine.  It is possible that:

  • You will not need a serum
  • You need the same serum for morning and night
  • You need one serum in the morning and a different serum at night. 
  • You need two serums

How to wash your face before using a serum?

How you wash your face, which facial cleanser you wash your face with, and what type of water you use will affect how well your serum works.

What cleanser is best to use before a serum?

Cleanser choice dramatically affects how well your serums work.  There are several reasons for this:

  1. Cleansers have a huge effect on your skin’s pH
  2. Cleansers either deposit fatty acids on the skin or strip fatty acids off the skin
  3. Cleansers and the way you cleanse will affect the stratum corneum layer of the skin and how much the ingredients in the serum can penetrate into the skin


This is why every single skin care product in your skin care routine should be chosen carefully to make sure they are increasing the efficacy of each other and not decreasing the effectiveness of each other.  There is a lot of evidence- based research about this. The bottom line is- cleansers should be chosen by Baumann Skin Type and what skin care products come after the cleanser in the regimen.  The goal is to choose the right cleanser to make your expensive treatment serums work better.  

Do I apply serum to wet or dry skin?

Serums will penetrate into the skin better when skin is damp. If you use warm water to wash your face, your skin will be slightly warm and damp.  This is the prefect environment to apply a serum.  After cleansing and rinsing off the cleanser, pat gently to remove any excess water on the face.  Your face should not be dripping- it should just be damp.  Apply the serum on damp skin. 


How to apply serums on face correctly

Can I mix two serums together in my hand?

Never mix two serums in your hand and apply them both at the same time.  You will be causing a chemical reaction between the serums that will actually change the serums into something different that could be dangerous or irritating to your skin.

when you put two different serums it mixes to create a different chemical ingredient

How to apply face serum with a dropper?

              Wash face gently with the appropriate cleanser for your Baumann Skin Type. After cleansing face, pat skin gently with towel once or twice so skin remains damp. Dispense or drip 1/8th of a teaspoon of serum (3-5 drops or 1- 2 pumps) onto your fingertips. Most people use their pointer finger and middle finger to apply serum.

finger application for serum

Apply serum to the face immediately using a small circular tapping motion with your fingertips. Cover your entire cheeks, forehead, under eye area, nose and chin. 

Be careful using serums near the eyes because if they have alcohol they can sting your eyes when they evaporate.

How to apply face serum from a pump?

You apply serum from a pump in the same was as from a dropper.  Measure out how much comes out with one pump.  We suggest 1/8th of a teaspoon total which can be 1-3 pumps depending on the packaging.


How much serum should I apply?

use only 2-3 drops of serum

How much face serum you should use?

Most instructions tell you to apply 2 pumps or a pea size amount. Not all serum pumps dispense the same amount. If you want to measure it- you should apply 1/8 teaspoon of serum to your entire face.  If your serum comes in a medicine dropper, this is probably 3-4 drops of serum.


How long to wait after using my serum?

How long after serum should you wait to apply moisturizer? Many blogs on how to apply a face serum give instructions that tell you to wait 5 minutes because they do not want the serum to be affected by the products that follow it.  However, if you skin care routine is designed properly so that your moisturizer helps your serum work, there is not a need to wait.  In fact, applying your moisturizer right away will help prevent evaporation of some of the serum’s ingredients. Our regimens are designed to apply the moisturizer immediately after applying the serum.

Dr. B discover skin type


How to apply face serum with a moisturizer?

What comes first- serum or moisturizer? Click here to learn about this.


When Should I Use a Face Serum?

Click here to read more about when in your skin care routine to use a face serum. 

What Water do I Use to Wash my Face Before Using a Serum?

Learn about how water affects your serum's effectiveness here.

To learn more skin care tips from dermatologists, follow us on social media

level up your skincare knowledge

© 2006 - 2022 Skin Type Solutions