How to Apply Face Serum: Step-by-Step Instructions and FAQs

Updated Date: by Reet Patel

Do you know the consequences of dehydrated, unnourished, and unprotected skin?

It’s painful acne, dull skin tone, fine lines, wrinkles, and discoloration.  All of them can lower your confidence and can even become a nightmare.

A face serum is what you must immediately add to your skincare regimen.  And if you have already added, then you are just one step closer to achieving hassle-free skin.

This article on how to apply face serum lets you know how to deal with skin problems, and the right face serum for it.  Besides, we have even elaborated on the measures you must keep in mind post-applying face serum for effective results.

So stay tuned and pick the right facial serum for yourself.

Choose Face Serum Matching Your Skin Type & Concerns

how to use face serum

Face Serum for Acne-prone Skin

If you’re looking for a serum to clear up your acne, look for one that contains salicylic acid, retinol, vitamin C, or benzoyl peroxide. All the ingredients play a crucial role in treating acne-prone skin.  For instance:

  • Salicylic Acid: Heals existing acne without causing pain
  • Retinol & Benzoyl Peroxide: Prevents future breakouts
  • Vitamin C (Niacinamide): Hydrates acne-prone skin

Best Time for Application: Nightime

Face Serum for Dry Skin

Serums are the best for normal to dry skin. The high concentration formula is designed to give your skin a boost, locking in moisturizing properties and rejuvenating the appearance of dullness. A good serum contains hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, or glycerin that helps maintain healthy hydration. Look for face serums containing ceramides to strengthen the lipid barrier, preventing moisture loss.

Other ingredients include sea buckthorn, camellia, rosehip oil, chia seeds, and vitamin E.  These ingredients hydrate skin while keeping your skin pores clean.

Best Time for Application: Morning & Night

Face Serum to Reduce Wrinkles

In your 30s, you may start to see the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. To help keep these signs of aging at bay, add a face serum designed to reduce wrinkles into your skincare routine.  You can consider the following ingredients:

  • Retinol: Boosts collagen production to reduce the appearance of the wrinkles
  • Peptides: Mount up collagen and reduce inflammation
  • Vitamin C & Green Tea Extract: Fights of signs of aging

Best Time for Application Nightime

Face Serum to Brighten Your Skin Complexion

Skin complexion is compromised due to several avoidable and unavoidable factors like sun exposure, smoking, genetics, and poor sleep.  To protect your skin from such hassles, look for a face serum packed with ferulic acid and vitamin C, which are potent antioxidants capable of fighting off the free radicals.  These free radicals are the reasons why you notice dullness or uneven skin complexion.

Best Time for Application Morning

Face Serum for Enhancing Skin Tone

If you are facing an uneven skin tone issue, then it’s because your skin is exposed too much to pollution and the sun.  Since both the reasons are unavoidable, what you can do is try protecting your skin as much as you can with the help of authentic skin care products.  Face serum packed with the following ingredients are the best way to manage uneven skin tone:

  • Licorice Root: Removes excess melanin to avoid unevenness
  • Kojic Acid: Prevents sun damage and heals acne scars
  • Vitamin C: Brightens your skin
  • Arbutin: Fades skin discoloration
  • L-Ascorbic Acid: Rejuvenates and revitalizes your skin tone

Best Time for Application: Morning & Night

Face Serum for Banishing Dark Circles

As mentioned above, licorice extract and arbutin are two of the ingredients you should look for in face serum.  Both the ingredients effectively banish dark spots and bring back the list shine under your eyes.

Best Time for Application: Morning & Night

Get to Know How to Care Your Face?

For detailed information about expert’s guide, reviews, and products for men’s face care click to learn more!

Click to Learn More!

Face Serum for All Purpose

If you are blessed with normal skin or want to upkeep your skincare, you require a face serum infused with aloe vera and glycolic acid.  The face serum promises to keep your skin flawless and healthy.  Another ingredient to look for and could bring benefits to the table is rosehip oil.  So what benefits can you expect:

  • Reduce redness and increase skin hydration
  • Removes dead skin cells and keep skin pores clean
  • Prevents scars and sun damage

Best Time for Application: Morning & Night

Face Serum for Sensitive Skin

Serums are a great choice for those with sensitive skin, as they typically have fewer ingredients than moisturizers or other skincare products. When selecting a serum, be sure to choose one that is fragrance-free and made for delicate skin.  Besides, look for the ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and squalene.

Best Time for Application: Morning

Face Serum for Oily Skin

Since oily skin produces more natural oils than required, any skincare product that contributes to making skin greasy or sticky should be kept far away.  In simple words, you must stay away from oil-based or botanical-seed oils to prevent an oily look.  Alpha hydroxy acids are the best ingredients for oily skin types.

Best Time for Application: Morning

Day & Night Time Serum

If you remain most of the time outdoors, choose daytime facial serum to protect your skin from environmental pollutants.  Since the facial serum is made to use during the daytime, it is comparatively less concentrated than the nighttime serum.  On the other hand, nighttime serums are highly concentrated and do the nourishment task when you are sleeping.

Face Cream with Anti-aging Properties

Your skin starts showing aging signs as you age, but what if it starts showing prematurely?  It could be embarrassing and even the app filters cannot reverse it.  To prevent forming fine lines and wrinkles, you need to pump up collagen production.  And this can only be done with the help of peptides.  So choose a men’s facial serum packed with peptides as it can boost skin hydration, promote elastic synthesis, and reduce the burning sensation.

Best Time for Application: Morning

Now that you know which serum matches your skin type, skin concerns, and when to apply face serums, let’s know how to use face serum.

How to Apply Face Serum?

face serum before and after

Step 1: Consider Cleansing

According to a study by a cosmetic dermatologist, clean skin is essential for the nutrients to penetrate your skin.  You must use a face wash to remove all the pollutants from your face.  Next, you must also use a face scrub to get rid of clogged pores.  You must daily cleanse your face and use a face scrub twice or thrice a week.

Note: Don’t manually exfoliate and use a chemical exfoliator together or on the same day.

Step 2: Apply Facial Toner

Facial toners are often neglected but play an important role when it comes to preparing skin for serum application.  The only thing you need to take care of is to not buy alcohol-based ones.  Just make sure that you buy face toner infused with natural and hydrating ingredients.  It prepares your skin to effectively absorb all the essential vitamins and minerals.

Step 3: Apply Serum on Every Part of Your Face

Serums are often lightweight, but there are a few that have a thicker consistency, which will discuss in the next step.  Coming back to the lightweight serum, you will need only a single drop or pea-sized amount for each part of your face.  For instance, use a dropper to dispense a single drop for one side cheek and then repeat the process for the other side, forehead, chin, and nose.  While you apply serum, you must gently rub and pat in upward motions.  Don’t start rubbing vigorously.

Step 4: Spread Thick Serum onto Your Hands

As discussed above, there can be thick serums and you require a few drops as compared to the thinner ones.  Such thick serums require emulsifying.  You are supposed to dispense a few drops of serums onto your hands and lightly press your palms together.  This way, the product will be evenly distributed, and it would be easier to apply the serum to the face.

Step 5: Gently Tap on Your Face

Once you evenly spread the serum, gently tap on your face so that it gets absorbed.  Use circular motions to tap and make sure you do it until the product is absorbed.

Step 6: Apply Eye Cream

Eye cream is the next product to be applied before applying a face moisturizer due to its thinner consistency.  However, it is not essential for all men.  If you are regularly moisturizing your face and coating it with sunscreen, you are providing sufficient care. 

Step 7: Moisturize Your Face

Once you realize that the product is entirely absorbed, slather a layer of moisturizer.  A pea-sized amount is sufficient enough to moisturize your entire face.  The application of moisturizer seals off the serum’s vitamins and minerals.  It enhances your skin complexion and makes it glow throughout the day.

So this way, you will be able to get rid of specific skin concerns, brighten skin, and use a face serum in your daily skincare routine.  Now that you know how much serum to use, let us share with you some tips that no other articles would tell you.

Tips to Gain Maximum Benefit out of Face Serums

how long should i leave serum on my face

Don’t Wash off Your Serum

Many men come up with a question like do you wash off serum?  Since the serum quickly absorbs, we still decided to research and find whether or not to wash the face post applying serum.  One of the threads we came across on Reddit says, you are not required to wash off your serum.  Furthermore, it explains if the serum feels heavier on the face, apply it at nighttime.

Say No to Too Much Serum

Since serums are packed with potent ingredients, it is advisable to apply less serum as compared to other skincare products.  Excess serum application can cause irritation and redness.  Also, it might clog pores, which eventually welcomes painful acne.

Wash Your Face with Warm Water

Whether it is hydrating, retinoid, or vitamin C serum, it is infused with active ingredients that are for a purpose.  Applying serum on the skin with dead skin cells, dirt, and grime will prevent the nutrients of the ingredients from entering the skin.  Your investment would go in vain.  That’s the reason it is advisable to wash your face with face wash and lukewarm water. The reason why lukewarm water is advisable is that hot water makes you sweat while cold water closes skin pores.

Always Apply Your Serum on Damp Skin

Slightly damp skin is preferable when applying serum on dry skin so that it deeply hydrates and moisture makes its way to absorb into the skin.  On the other hand, if you have sensitive skin, gently pat dry with a towel and then apply.

Say No to Fragrances

The serums are already packed with vital ingredients, and it would be a bad decision to choose the ones with fragrances.  The ingredients that offer fragrances can negatively impact the absorption process.

Always follow Thinnest to Thickest Skincare Regime

The best way to get the desired results is by applying skin care products in the correct order.  Moisturizers and night creams are usually thicker than serums.  The general rule is to apply thinner consistency products first since they easily and quickly absorb into the skin.  On the other hand, thicker consistency products should be applied so that they can seal off vitamins and minerals.  For instance, hydrating serums should be applied first and then moisturizers.

So this is the secret recipe behind achieving youthful skin.  If you still have questions, you can continue reading the next section.  It’s all about questions that are frequently asked by users across the globe.


1. Should You Apply Face Serum Before And After Moisturizer?

A serum and moisturizer can be used in tandem to enhance their combined benefits: for example, the former penetrates deeper into the skin’s layers while the latter locks everything in place. However, how you apply your serums depends on how much time you have before heading out so that they absorb properly without leaving a greasy layer of residue behind.

2. When Should You Use Face Oil?

Some people like to use face oil in the morning before they apply their sunscreen. Others prefer to apply oil at night after they’ve cleansed and moisturized their skin. There isn’t one right answer – experiment until you find what works best for you.

3. When Should You Start Using Face Serums?

Most experts recommend starting with a serum in your 20s. In your early twenties, serums can help fade acne scars and hyperpigmentation while leaving skin soft and glowing. As you get older, face serums become increasingly important because they’re often concentrated with more powerful ingredients that target specific concerns like wrinkles, dark circles under the eyes, and dry skin.

4. How Long Should I Leave The Serum On My Face?

No matter if it is hyaluronic acid or retinol-based serum, apply a thin layer in an upward motion and wait for at least 5-minutes. Apply evenly on cheeks, forehead, nose, chin, and neck. It won’t cause irritation or dryness. If you are trying it for the first and have delicate skin, make sure you do a patch test.

5. What Is The Difference Between Face Oils And Serums?

While both face oils and serums boast concentrated formulas, the key difference is that serums contain more active ingredients. Oils are typically packed with antioxidants and hydrating properties, while serums usually contain a range of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial ingredients to target specific skin concerns.


Serums are a powerhouse in your skincare routine and should be applied correctly to see the best results.  Add this magic elixir to your skincare routine and expect results like a reduction in large pores, redness, dark spots,  wrinkles, and dryness.


Published Date: Feb 3, 2022

Sign up for weekly updates from Tomfw.