Serums are considered to be some of the most effective skincare products you can use in your routine. Their lightweight formula penetrates deeply into the skin, delivering a concentrated boost of ingredients.
Once you start using serums, it’s hard to imagine your skincare routine without them. As your skin begins to reap the benefits of serums, you might wonder, “Can you use more than one serum?”
The answer to this question isn’t a simple yes or no. Serums can be layered, but there are several factors to take into account when doing so. Some of these include ingredient compatibility, time of day, and the order in which the products are applied.
Keep reading to learn all about serums—what they do, how they should be used, specific product recommendations and more.
Serums are lightweight, fast-absorbing liquids that are applied to the skin. They’re made up of small molecules that penetrate deeply into the skin and provide a high concentration of active ingredients.
Some of the most popular ingredients found in serums include:
Because of the way they’re formulated, serums are ideal for targeting specific skin concerns, such as dullness, acne, uneven texture, and signs of aging (goodbye, wrinkles and fine lines!).
In order to reap the full benefits of serums, it’s important to apply them in the correct way.
Typically, when it comes to skincare, it’s best to apply products from the lightest formulation to the heaviest. This will help to ensure you’re getting the most out of each individual product. Here’s an example of a step-by-step routine:
While your skincare routine may vary, keep in mind that serums are designed to be applied after cleansing and toning, and before moisturizer and oils.
Using multiple serums is a great way to customize your skincare routine to your specific needs. For example, if you find your skin is looking dull and dry, you can use a hyaluronic acid serum to hydrate the skin, and a vitamin C serum to brighten the skin (or a serum that contains both ingredients).
However, it is possible to use too much of a good thing. Not all skincare ingredients are compatible with one another, which can either cancel out the effects of the ingredients or cause damage to the skin. Combining ingredients can be very effective, but it’s important to do your research first.
The maximum number of serums that can be used at once largely depends on the ingredients in the products.
Serums are only effective when they’re applied close to the skin, as this allows the ingredients to penetrate the epidermis. Once you go beyond two or three serums, the product you’re applying is less likely to be able to actually sink into your skin—therefore, it’s less effective. The last thing you want to do is apply a pricey serum that simply sits on the surface of your skin!
Rather than applying five different serums at once, consider alternating between them on different days. For example, you might find that using a hyaluronic acid serum followed up by a vitamin C serum works in the morning, and a niacinamide and retinol serum is most effective at night. The following day, you can swap out your vitamin C serum for a peptide serum, and so on.
Combining serums like this will give your skin a chance to absorb each ingredient and is also less likely to cause irritation.
Here are a few important things to consider when mixing and layering serums:
As mentioned, serums are only effective when applied close to the skin. So, when applying multiple serums, you’ll want to apply the one you want to be most effective first. This will give these ingredients the best chance to penetrate the skin. For example, if your main concern is hydration, apply your hyaluronic acid serum first.
When layering any type of skincare product, you’ll want to give each product a few minutes to fully sink in before moving on to the next. This will also help to prevent pilling, which occurs when multiple products ball up and rub off the skin.
Some skin types are more sensitive to layering than others. As you begin layering products, slowly introduce new ingredients into your routine. This will help you to monitor the effects each individual ingredient has on your skin. The last thing you want is to apply several new products to your skin, have a negative reaction, and not know which ingredient caused it.
Certain skincare ingredients that are commonly found in serums can increase the skin’s sensitivity to UV rays. For this reason, ingredients like hydroquinone and retinol are best when applied at night.
To make the most out of your serums, give your face a gentle massage when applying. This can help to improve circulation in the skin and give it a boost of oxygen!
One of the most important things to consider when it comes to mixing serums, or any skincare product for that matter, is whether or not the ingredients will be compatible with each other.
Certain ingredients cancel out the effects of others, like retinol and benzoyl peroxide. On the other hand, some ingredient combinations can actually irritate the skin, like retinol and alpha hydroxy acid. So, before you start mixing serums, do a little bit of research to ensure the combo won’t harm your skin.
As you start shopping for serums, you’ll most likely come across facial oils. While these products are often packaged in similar ways and claim to offer some of the same benefits, there are important differences to note when comparing serum vs. oil.
Serums are very lightweight in texture and are designed to target specific skin concerns. Oils, on the other hand, have a thicker consistency and are designed to hydrate the skin. Serums work best when applied after cleansing and toning and before moisturizing, while oils are meant to be applied on top of your moisturizer to lock in skin’s hydration.
Oils and serums can be used together in a skincare routine (and offer incredible benefits!), but it’s important to always apply your serum first. If you apply a facial oil before your serum, this will create a thick barrier that the serum can’t penetrate through.
There are thousands of different serums on the market today, which can make it challenging to choose just one to try. If you’re not sure where to start, consider one of these revitalizing face serums.
At the end of the day, layering serums can be an amazing way to customize your routine to suit your skin’s needs. Have fun experimenting with different products as you find what combinations work best for you!