How to Use Face Serum with Moisturizer

Published Categorized as Beauty Tips

Is your beauty counter, bathroom sink, or vanity getting stocked with more and more skincare and beauty products? If some of these products include face serums and moisturizers, you might have some questions about how to most effectively use these two skincare products together. Learning how to use face serum with moisturizer will help you get the biggest benefits from each of these related, but very distinct skincare superstars. Continue reading, and we’ll outline what you want to know about face serums and moisturizers.

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Table of Contents

Olay Regenerist Serum, 1.7 Fl Oz

Serum or Moisturizer First?

One of the biggest questions individuals have about using serums and moisturizers together is “do you put on face serum before or after moisturizer?”  To most effectively answer whether you should use serum before or after moisturizer, let’s take just a moment to review what serums and moisturizers are and how they are different from one another.

Face serums are highly concentrated with various active ingredients designed to deliver specific benefits to the skin.  These benefits can vary based on the exact formulation of the serum, but can include reducing wrinkles, providing hydration, exfoliating skin, even skin tone and textures, and more.

Serums are more ‘pure’ than moisturizers, since they don’t need the mineral oils, petrolatum, or other sealing ingredients that keep the water from evaporating with a moisturizer.  Without these added ingredients, and with their high concentrations of the particular active ingredients, serums are able to penetrate more deeply into the skin.  This deep penetration allows them to be particularly effective and beneficial.

The Ordinary Face Serum Set! Caffeine Solution 5%+EGCG! Hyaluronic Acid 2%+B5! Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%! Help Fight Visible Blemishes And Improve The Look Of Skin Texture&Radiance

Moisturizers serve their own important job.  They create a barrier to seal the skin to help maintain its nutrients and moisture levels.

You may now be wondering what the lotion vs moisturizer difference  is, but lotions are just one type of moisturizer with a thinner consistency.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer, Oil-Free Face Cream with Niacinamide

So, back to our initial question:  Does serum go on before or after moisturizer?

If you’re applying face serum and moisturizer, you always want to apply the serum first.  This will allow it to penetrate deep into the skin and deliver maximum benefits.  Once the serum has been fully absorbed (which only takes a few minutes), apply your moisturizer.  The barrier the moisturizer creates will help seal in the hydration and other benefits delivered by the serum.

Learning the answer to the question “do you put serum on before or after moisturizer” is essential for getting the biggest benefit from each of these skincare products!

How to Use Face Serum with Moisturizer

OK, now we know that the answer to “do you use serum before moisturizer” is yes. Serum should go on before moisturizer. So let’s learn how to use face serum with moisturizer.

Use this routine to help you apply these two beneficial skincare products properly:

  1. Cleanse your face with a cleanser that won’t strip your face of too much oil, like this Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Cleanser. You always want to start by cleaning your face to make sure it is ready to receive the greatest benefits from the serum.  If needed, you should also exfoliate your face now too.
  2. Next, apply an alcohol-free toner, like the popular Thayers Witch Hazel toner, or mist your face with facial spray, like the Mario Badescu Face Spray.
  3. Grab your favorite serum, such as TruSkin Vitamin C Serum (for brightening and hyperpigmentation), Tree of Life Retinol Serum (for anti aging), or CeraVe Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum (for hydration).  Dispense about two pumps (or whatever the packaging recommends); you only need enough for a thin layer on your face.
  4. Apply the serum to your face and neck using your fingertips and smooth it out over all of the skin.  As an alternative, you may choose to apply the serum onto the palms of your hands, rub your palms together, and then press your palms on your face and neck using upward and outward motions. Don’t rub your face too hard!
  5. Give the serum about five minutes to be fully absorbed.
  6. Apply a moisturizer, such as CeraVe Moisturizing Cream or La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer to your face.  This will create a barrier to seal in all the benefits the serum offers.  It will also ensure your face stays protected and hydrated.

How Long After Serum to Apply Moisturizer

After you’ve applied your face serum, you won’t need to wait long to apply moisturizer.  Face serums are very concentrated and are designed to be absorbed quickly by the skin.  In most cases, you should be ready to apply moisturizer after just about five minutes.

Can I Use Serum and Moisturizer at the Same Time?

Yes, you can mix serum and moisturizer together.  However, in many cases you may find that it is more effective to apply the serum first. Allow it to fully penetrate your skin, and then apply the moisturizer to seal the skin and lock in the serum.

Do I Need a Moisturizer if I Use a Serum?

Serums are not designed to take the place of a moisturizer.  While both product types can hydrate the skin, they work differently.  You’ll want to continue using a moisturizer even if you add a serum to your routine.  The moisturizer will help maximize the effectiveness of the serum by sealing in the hydration and greatly improving your skin.

What Is the Difference Between Serum and Moisturizer?

As we highlighted above, serums are able to penetrate the skin more deeply than moisturizers.  This allows them to work at the cellular level and improve skin issues. These include fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage, skin pigmentation, skin texture, redness and sensitivity, dryness, and more.  Moisturizers work on the surface of the skin.  They create a seal, or barrier, to lock in moisture.  When used together, the barrier formed by the moisturizer can help lock in the benefits from the serum for maximum results.

InstaNatural Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid & Vit E - Natural & Organic Anti Wrinkle Reducer Formula for Face - Dark Circle, Fine Line & Sun Damage Corrector - Restore & Boost Collagen - 1 oz

Using Face Serums and Moisturizers

Stepping up your skincare routine and applying a face serum before moisturizing can improve the tone and texture of your skin. Doing this also increase its hydration, decrease signs of aging, and much more.  Now that you’ve read our article, hopefully you’re ready to put that powerhouse pair of a face serum and moisturizer to work!

Check out these related posts on our blog to learn more about using face serums and moisturizers:


Serum or Moisturizer First?

Serum goes first and then moisturizer, to reap the benefits of both.

How Long After Serum to Apply Moisturizer?

In most cases, you should be ready to apply moisturizer after just about five minutes.

Can I use serum and moisturizer at the same time?

Yes, you can mix serum and moisturizer together, but not always.

Do I need a moisturizer if I use a serum?

Yes, serums are not designed to take the place of moisturizers.

What is the difference between serum and moisturizer?

Serums are able to penetrate the skin more deeply than moisturizers. Moisturizers work more on the surface of the skin to create a barrier.

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  1. This is such an informative post! I don’t really wear makeup or do much skincare so I learnt a lot here. I never knew serum went on first! Thanks for sharing x

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