How to use serums together
Known for their concentrated formulas and potent actives, face serums play an important role in any skin care regimen. “Skin care companies are always innovating when it comes to serums, which makes it an exciting category to keep up with,” says board-certified dermatologist and LovelySkin CEO Dr. Joel Schlessinger. If you’re starting to add them to your daily skin care routine, you might be wondering how to layer serums, or whether you can mix face serums together. With the help of Dr. Schlessinger, we’ll navigate all of your serum-related questions, including:
If you’re pressed for time, you might be wondering if you can speed up your skin care routine by mixing one or more serums together and applying them at once. You might have seen the practice of “serum cocktailing”—which involves mixing drops of multiple serums together in the palm of your hand—on social media and are wondering whether it’s a good idea.
“Mixing serums might seem like a time-saver, but I’m not necessarily a huge proponent of it, mostly for practical reasons,” Dr. Schlessinger says. “Skin care manufacturers take great care to formulate their products in a specific manner and mixing serums together has the potential to affect how each serum works. Even if two serums are OK to mix, having multiple dropper bottles uncapped on your counter at the same time is risky. It can expose the delicate formulas to air for longer than necessary, which can degrade some active ingredients. There’s also a greater chance of breaking a glass dropper or spilling, which is unfortunate because serums aren’t inexpensive, and no one wants to see their favorite serum go down the drain.”
Yes, absolutely! If you want to use more than one facial serum in your skin care routine, you can layer one after the other. When it comes to how to layer serums, a good rule of thumb is to start with the thinnest formula first. After waiting a few minutes for the first serum to absorb, you can move onto the next.
However, not all serums play well together when it comes to layering. “I wouldn’t suggest layering two serums with strong exfoliating ingredients, such as glycolic acid and retinol, because you may overdo it on the exfoliation and end up irritating your skin,” Dr. Schlessinger says. “Instead, you might try using those serums on alternating days.”
When it comes to how to layer serums, we have a few favorite match-ups to consider from SkinCeuticals, Vichy and La Roche-Posay. If you’re looking to double up on benefits in your routine and wondering which serums can be used together, these pairs are safe and beneficial to layer one after another during a single skin care session.