How to use face serum with moisturizer?

kim sun ah

In my article on tips to optimize your facial moisturizer, I mentioned the importance of leaving your toner damp before applying your moisturizer as the cream will help seal the hydrating benefits from the toner deep into the skin.   However, if you’re using a face serum, when should you apply your serum and when should you apply your moisturizer? 

If you’re using a face serum, you should also be applying on toner damp skin (unless it’s a prescription topical.)  After which, you should wait at least 5 minutes until the serum is fully absorbed by the skin before applying your moisturizer in order to seal and magnify the benefits of the serum.

This is because a good serum  provides intensive care to treat problem or fragile areas and it aims to penetrate deep into the three layers of the skin to strengthen the cells as well as deliver active ingredients to your skin.  Although a moisturizer only helps with the superficial layers of the skin by retaining moisture on the surface of the skin and preventing it from evaporating, a good face serum will actually help your moisturizer to penetrate deeper and provide effective hydration.  So, always allow time for your serum to be well absorbed into your skin.

Additionally, you may like to know that it isn’t always necessary to use a face serum with a moisturizer. If you’re using a moisturizing face serum with emollient properties, your serum may double up as a moisturizer.  But if your skin is very dry and needs more hydration, then you will need to use a face cream for richer moisture, on top of the face serum. 


  1. dcrmom says:

    Thanks, this is helpful. I guess I’ve been applying moisturizer too soon after serum.

    I just got a sample of Prevage by Elizabeth Arden. This is a treatment, and I was told it is instead of serum or moisturizer, that it is all I need after toner. My skin tends to be dry, but it doesn’t feel tight after I apply Prevage. Is it enough on its own?


    dcrmom: I read that you need to use a moisturizer after this. Did you verify with the SA or someone?

  2. Alienman says:

    Being a newcomer to your blog, I didn’t even know about applying moisturizer on toner-damp skin. Thank you for this tip!

    Alienman: You’re welcome!

  3. valerie says:

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  4. LINDA says:

    i have chicken pox scar on my i use scar face serum to blow it away. it’s kinda oily type of serum,so how can i apply it the correct way?…it’s oily,should i use moisturizer?

  5. sesame says:

    Is this for spot treatment? If you’re just applying to that scar, then you still need moisturizer for your face.

  6. Michelle says:

    Good article. I love my serum because it also has tightening properties and cell-rejuvenation but my lotion gives me the spf protection. Thanks!

  7. Antoinette Patterson says:

    That is so true..I found out the benefits between facial serums and moisturizers today.

    Check out my post below:


    Antoinette Patterson last post is: The Beauty Battle: Facial Moisturizing Serum VS Moisturizing Cream

  8. Ramya says:

    As a new comer to this blog, could you also suggest some products which has serum. My face is too dull and tanning

  9. Sesame says:

    There are many products with serum but I think what you need is to exfoliate your skin first.

  10. srilakshmi says:

    can serum applied directly after bath

  11. Alice Teh says:

    Hi Sesame, thanks for this post! I’d like to know how long should I wait before applying the moisturizer after serum?

  12. Sesame says:

    No need to wait too long. Once the serum has settled and is absorbed, you can apply your moisturizer. There are some serums that contain a certain active ingredient that you need to wait but in that case, the instructions will usually state so. Otherwise, no down time.

  13. Inedu sleek matthew says:

    I do advice my friends to use a very good concentrated Serum,well so far so good am using Citroclear oil and i do mix it with Caro white cream,initialy i do mix my citroclear oil with Citrolight but i came to find out that my body became to much light so i stop it for some time because i dont won’t my skin to be too much light ,and i started using Caro white which i do mix it with Citroclear oil,but right now am using the two for now, i mean the Citrolight and Caro white Cream with Citroclear oil, i love using the two because there are all made from Dream Cosmetics.but the Citroclear is a product of N.P. GANDOUR. Note: if you don’t want your skin to be hyper light, i mean over light thn don’t over add the Citroclear oil to the cream you want to be using,eg Caro white,Citrolight or lemon fresh.etc.thank you.for more information you can search me on facebook with this user name = Inedu Sleek Matthew

  14. Sohanna says:

    Hey Sesame, what a great and concise explanation. We all know that Moisturizer is key to any layering routine because it seals serums on your skin. We should use serum with Moisturizer SPF 15 for normal and oily skin even for dry skin.

  15. mib says:

    Hellow Sesame, love the article. Had some confusion with moisturizer and serum. Thanks for clarifying.

  16. BuyMeBrand says:

    Thanks for sharing the information on how to use serum and moisturizer. Loved it.

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