Young Asian woman looking at her face in a small mirror.

Every skincare brand seems to have a face serum in their product line – and everyone with a good routine is all over it. If you’ve yet to jump on the love train, you may be wondering: how does it work? Here’s a simplified guide for how to apply face serum with helpful tips for different skin concerns.

Face Serums for Different Skin Concerns

A face serum is a highly concentrated dose of active ingredients designed to target specific skin concerns on a deeper level. Whether you’re dealing with fine lines, dryness, acne, or any combination of issues, you can rest assured that there’s a serum to treat it.

Wondering how to apply face serum? To maximize benefits, layer it with a moisturizer on top to seal in all of its hydrating goodness. also suggests that using the two together increases the efficacy of both, especially for dry skin.

Skin Concern #1:Acne

Exfoliating serums for acne-prone skin are essential to keeping skin soft, smooth, and blemish-free. These often contain acids like alpha-hydroxy (AHAs), beta-hydroxy (BHAs), or poly-hydroxy (PHAs). 

is an AHA that removes dead skin cells from the skin’s surface. Meanwhile, salicylic acid is a type of BHA that goes deeper into pores to purge them of blackheads, whiteheads, and other pimple-causing impurities.

Ease yourself into using acids with the Eskinol Pimple Relief Serum, which contains salicylic acid alongside plant extracts like Korea-sourced cica and green tea to soothe the skin as it exfoliates.

Tip: Apply serums with exfoliating acids at night.

These ingredients make skin more sensitive and vulnerable to harmful UV rays. Therefore, use them when you know you won't expose yourself to direct sunlight.

Skin Concern #2: Dull, Uneven Tone

For and dark spots, go for a brightening serum infused with vitamin C. The powerhouse antioxidant restores lackluster complexions and defends against skin-dulling free radicals. The downside? Pure vitamin C isn’t stable, so it has a shorter shelf life vs. other active ingredients.

But thanks to the innovations of modern skincare, you can now find serums with stabilized vitamin C compounds that can maintain their efficacy for longer. have also shown that this type of vitamin C is easier for the skin to absorb than pure vitamin C, so you don’t lose out by not going for “pure.”

Niacinamide is another buzz-worthy brightener that helps fade dark spots and ultimately evens out skin tone. The POND'S Bright Triple Glow Serum contains three superstar ingredients: glutathione to fade dark spots, niacinamide to refine and smooth skin, and hyaluronic acid to draw moisture into your skin, keeping it supple and hydrated.

Tip: Apply vitamin C serums in the morning.

Vitamin C serums are perfect for daytime use since they help protect your skin from pollutants, free radicals, and other environmental stressors. Use sunscreen with at least SPF30 over your serum to prevent further photodamage, like dark spots and fine lines.

Skin Concern #3: Dryness

If your skin is dehydrated, choose a hydrating serum – like something with a large percentage of . The ingredient is known to hold water up to 1000x its weight, which makes it an effective remedy for thirsty skin.

Hyaluronic acid draws moisture from water in the air, so it would be best to apply it in a humid area when the skin is damp. Think: in the bathroom right after you shower or cleanse and tone your face.

Tip: Top your hyaluronic acid serum with a moisturizer.

You can use HA morning and night as long as you pair it with moisturizer. Without that step, your skin might end up drier than ever since the HA will draw moisture out of the skin instead of from the air. You can also dab HA on dry areas throughout the day, even on top of your makeup. Apply it on the high points of your face for a soft, dewy glow.

Skin Concern #4: Signs of Aging

When you hit 30, cellular turnover and collagen production will begin to slow down. Serums with age-defying ingredients, like or , can help stimulate skin regeneration. According to , niacinamide “may have the ability to increase dermal collagen and protein production.

Anti-aging serums target fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging. Besides your face, you can apply them on your neck and décolletage, where signs of skin aging also show.

Tip: Remember to apply sunscreen when using retinol during the day.

When using retinol for the first time, ease it into your routine by using it exclusively at night before experimenting with daytime wear. Retinol makes the skin sensitive to UV rays, so sunscreen is a must.

How to Apply Face Serum With Caution

Some ingredients make great . For instance, retinol works well with moisturizers like hyaluronic acid and ceramides but not with vitamin C or AHA/BHA acids. Although niacinamide and vitamin C are both antioxidants, they’re not compatible.

In cases where active ingredients might interact, try waiting at least 10 minutes between each serum. Better yet, schedule different serums for alternating days of the week to be extra safe. Not sure your skin can handle multiple highly potent formulas together? Talk to a licensed dermatologist to understand the potential benefits and downsides.

Ready to grab your first bottle of serum? Before adding it to your routine, familiarize yourself with how to apply face serum to suit your skin’s needs. Remember, consistency is key! A serum with the right ingredients for you might be your skin’s new holy grail.