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How to Properly Apply Face Serum

routine tips

Choosing the Right Face Serum for Your Skin Type is Only the First Step. Knowing the Right Way to Apply it is Just as Important. Find Out How with BOOST LAB.

How to Properly Apply Face Serum

Choosing the right face serum for your skin type is only the first step. To truly elevate your skincare routine, you need to know the right way to apply it. So, can you apply serum without moisturiser? What about applying it when your face is wet? We answer all these questions and more below.

5-step application for face serum

What’s the best way to properly apply a serum to your face? It’s as easy as five simple steps:

  1. Cleanse: Before you apply a face serum, your skin need to be properly prepped. Start by cleansing your skin with your favourite face wash and then gently exfoliate. This will remove any build-up or debris that could hinder the absorption of your face serum.
  2. Apply toner, mist or water: Correctly layering your products is essential (see our proper skincare routine at the end of this blog). The general rule to layering is to start with the thinnest product and finish with the thickest. Simply apply a small amount of liquid facial toner onto a cotton ball and gently spread it across your whole face. Alternatively, spritz your face with a delicate mist that contains nourishing ingredients (e.g. rose water), or gently pat a damp washcloth onto your face. 
  3. Apply your face serum: After cleansing and dampening your face, apply your superstar face serum! A good rule of thumb with serums is that less is more – the amount will vary, but the standard is around 3–4 drops or pea-sized amounts. There should be enough to lightly cover (not coat) your entire face and neck, but resist the urge to slather on your serum as it’s super-potent.
  4. Wait five minutes: After you’ve applied your face serum, wait five minutes for it to fully absorb. Well-formulated serums absorb fast and will disappear into your skin.
  5. Moisturise: Face serums may contain moisturising agents, but they aren’t intended to replace your daily moisturiser. After five minutes, apply your moisturiser to seal in the serum and lock in its nutrients. This also provides an extra layer of moisture to protect and hydrate your skin throughout the day.

FAQ about applying face serum

Here are some common questions we hear about how to apply face serums.

Q: Should I apply my serum to a wet face?

A: Absolutely! Dampening your face with a toner, mist or water is crucial because damp skin is up to 10 times more absorbent than dry skin. This means it will be more accepting of your nutrient-dense face serum. 

Q: Can I apply serum directly to my face?

A: Yes! The best way to apply serum is with your fingertips or your palms. Drop the serum onto your fingertips, gently apply it to your face and neck, then lightly tap, pat and smooth out the serum. You can also apply drops to your palms and gently rub them together to activate the serum. Then lightly press your palms onto your skin and pat the serum in outward, upward motions.

Q: Can I use serum without a moisturiser?

A. That will depend on your skin type. For normal or oily skin, your skin’s protective barrier is likely perfectly intact. It can retain water and keep out germs without help. But do you still need a moisturiser? Generally, yes.

If your skin feels tight or dry, you will need to moisturise – especially at night. If your skin feels great with serum alone, you can sometimes skip the moisturiser, but only a lucky few with normal and very oily skin can get away with this.

Your skincare routine: Which product goes where?

No matter how long you’ve had a skincare routine, it can sometimes get confusing knowing which product to use before or after another. To make your mornings (or your nights) easier, here’s the proper skincare order:

  1. Cleanser
  2. Exfoliator
  3. Toner, mist or facial essence 
  4. Face serum
  5. Eye cream
  6. Moisturiser
  7. Facial oil
  8. SPF
  9. Lip balm with SPF
  10. Makeup (e.g. primer, foundation, concealer, powder, etc.)

Note: If you don’t use a certain product, just skip over to the next one on the list.

You can explore all of our BOOST LAB products to find the right one for your needs, and get plenty of inspo from our blog to improve your skincare routine and enjoy a better complexion.

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