I’m not going to act like I’ve discovered the secret to glowing skin by layering serums, but at the same time, I wouldn’t be too far off from the truth. Face serums, as the lightest and the easiest to layer, have been my favorite types of skincare products. They’re targeted, potent skin care products we all love to use to minimize a certain skin issue. But serum layering is a whole other way to maximize the results you get from using them. Because what started as an attempt to address my multiple skin concerns at the same time resulted in me catching a glimpse of that radiant, glowing skin I only see on social media.
And if you know me, you know that I don’t keep these skincare secrets to myself. Ahead, you’ll find how to layer different face serums starting with what it is exactly and the potential benefits.
Serum layering is applying multiple face serums on your skin in a certain order in the same skincare routine. Although it sounds easy enough, the secret lies in the details. How you apply your serums, the order you apply them, and the time between the applications all make a huge difference, which you’ll learn below.
Skin Benefits of Layering Different Serums
You Can Target Multiple Skin Concerns
The most important benefit of layering multiple face serums is being able to address different skin concerns in the same routine. Most of us tend to isolate certain serums for certain days of the week or certain times of the day. For example, using a vitamin C serum in the morning and leaving hydration for the evening routine is a common, popular practice. But by using these different serums in the same routine, you can maximize your results and take advantage of the synergistic effects of different active ingredients.
You Can Layer Without Pilling
Pilling is when you layer skincare products and end up with them rubbing off your face. This is more common when you try to layer creams and moisturizers. Because of their thicker texture, creams don’t allow for much layering. But serums are the easiest products to layer. By nature, they’re more penetrating, so they absorb and sink into the skin. Unlike creams, they don’t sit on top of your skin. This makes it much easier to apply multiple face serums without experiencing any pilling.
You Can Achieve Glowing Skin
I don’t know how to describe this and I think you can only see it if you layer serums yourself. But what I’ve observed by using multiple face serums in the same routine is that even if the serums don’t have a dewy or radiant finish, combining them literally makes my skin glow! I guess it’s because of that hydration boost, which all face serums provide, that even if I layer the most boring face serums, my skin looks so much better and healthier. There’s a visible difference in my skin when I do a basic skincare routine and when I layer serums. My cheeks are rosier, my skin feels plumper, and even my wrinkles are smoother!
Best Types of Serums For Layering
The best types of face serums to layer are hydrating serums, restorative serums, plumping serums, gentle antioxidant serums, brightening and smoothing serums with non-irritating formulations, and calming serums. Ingredient-wise, this translates to serums that contain hyaluronic acid, and other humectants, plant-based antioxidants like green tea, resveratrol, gentle vitamin C derivatives, and so many others. As long as it’s not irritating, it will work just fine.
Certain ingredients such as retinol, chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid, and acne treatments are known for being irritating to the skin. These types of serums are not the best if you’re thinking about layering them with others. In fact, that’s something you should avoid.
And needless to say, these are pretty heavy skin treatments that don’t necessarily have the best after-effect on the skin. They’re meant to primarily treat your skin and not necessarily make it look instantly more radiant or plump. Either leave them out of your serum layering routine or make sure they go well with other serums in your routine.
I talked about ingredients that mix well together before. But for serum layering, I’d suggest trying easy-breezy serums like I mentioned above, which are already gentle on their own.
How To Layer Serums
1. Layer on Clean Skin
As a general rule of thumb, serums are supposed to be applied on clean, dry skin. This is for maximum absorption and maximum benefits. So before anything else, make sure you’ve cleansed properly, and removed all your makeup.
If you exfoliate, do it before you start layering, and make sure your upcoming serums don’t contain exfoliants. If you use a face toner, you can use it before starting to layer serums. Just make sure the toner is absorbed fully and your skin is dry.
2. Start From The Lightest
To properly layer serums, start with the one that has the thinnest consistency. Rather than focusing on the purpose of the serum, such as brightening or calming, focus on the texture. But this is where it gets tricky. While doing your skincare routine, you can easily differentiate thin from thick between serums and creams. But know that serums come in different consistencies too.
There are water-like, clear serums but there are also lotion-like, thicker serums. Just by looking at the color, it’s safe to assume that clear ones are usually water-based and the thinnest whereas goopy ones are thicker and go on top of water-like serums. And lastly, lotion-like, white-colored serums are thicker and tend to be more emollient and creamy.
Take a look at the image below. These are all face serums in different consistencies. The right order here would be starting with the one on the far left and finishing with the one on the far right.
Of course, there’s always an exception to any rule. So the best way to know is to feel the products yourself on the back of your hands to compare consistencies.
3. Allow Each Serum to Dry
After your first serum and between each face serum, make sure you let your skin fully absorb the product. This usually takes a couple of minutes. Personally, I like to use a little hand ventilator to speed up the process.
Additionally, thicker serums or serums that feel a bit creamy require more time to dry down. While applying these types of serums, you can also try massaging your face. This increases circulation, and absorption, and enhances your results. I believe massaging serums into my face is why my wrinkles look smoother even if I don’t use a wrinkle serum.
4. Use No More Than 3-4 Different Serums
How many different serums can you use at once? There is no right answer to this. However, using our common sense, we can infer that there’s a sweet spot where your skin absorbs all the serums you apply before they start to pile up and become completely useless.
This will depend largely on the exact serums you use. I think the most I tried was 5 different serums. Though I loved my results, there’s no way for me to know if the last 2 or 3 absorbed or just stayed on my skin. So to avoid potentially wasting your products, stick with 3 or 4 serums. Needless to say, more serums require more time to apply.
5. Apply Little Amounts
Again, using our common sense, there’s no point in applying a generous amount of each serum when you’re about to layer like there’s no tomorrow. There’s a correct amount of each product to use to cover your whole face. And for face serums, it’s a pea-sized amount. And while layering serums, you can use a tiny bit less than that.
6. Be Consistent
I guarantee that you’ll be consistent with serum layering after your first try. Because the results are amazing! But still, just to remind you, don’t make this a one-time thing. Your results improve even more when you’re consistent. The first time I tried this, I did it every evening for 7 days in a row.
7. Finish With a Moisturizer
To complete your layering, finish your routine with a moisturizer. Now that your skin is replenished, hydrated, and glowing, your moisturizer will blanket it and seal everything in.
So this is how to properly layer your serums for your glowiest skin ever. If you’ve tried different serums individually and aren’t satisfied with your results, try layering to maximize the effects.