From layering to mixing ingredients: 7 of your biggest serum questions, answered.

Holy moly. Serums, hey? 

When I pitched this article, I didn’t realise exactly what I was getting myself into. I thought I’d write a snappy little piece, maybe ask the You Beauty community if there was anything in particular they wanted to know. So I did… and oh boy. 200 answers later - this was starting to look like one hell of an article.

Skincare is already confusing. Serums are next level. With queries ranging from “Do I even really need them?” to “Tell me everything about peptides!” I had my work cut out for me.

Watch: Here are seven ways to improve your skin while sleeping. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

Also, probably goes without saying, but tackling all 200 questions would be more of a book deal than a beauty piece. So, for brevity I’ve condensed them into ‘most frequently asked’, with layering being a red-hot topic! 

Make yourself comfy, babes. We begin.

When layering your serums, does it matter in which order they’re applied?

So it seems that the rules here are the same as general skincare application, which is: Thinnest to thickest, or water-based to oil-based. 

This means that serums containing hyaluronic acid, for example, would go first, and serums containing vitamin E, or other oils, last.

Listen: What are the best all-in-one serums? Find out on this episode of You Beauty. Post continues below.

When using multiple serums, can you just mix them all together and apply in one go to save time?

Yeah, nah. Probably not. 

As above, different ingredients have different rates of absorption so you’re not going to get the most out of them if you mix them all together like you’re making a bloody Long Island Iced Tea.

Always apply separately, and allow one to soak in before getting all gung-ho with the next.

What ingredients can’t be mixed?

Ugh - brain ache.

When layering your serums, or mastering the A’s, B’s and C’s, look at the letters as they appear in the alphabet: A and B, they’re next to each other. They’re mates, so you can definitely invite them to the same party, no drama. 


Same goes with B and C. Neighbours. Good friends. Love to catch up over a beer. 

But A and C? I think something went down with someone's wife. There was drama and now they keep their distance. So... try to make it stay that way, yeah?

What makes this confusing, still, is all the variables. For example, there are natural forms and synthetic versions of vitamin A. The natural form can be mixed with C, the synthetic version can’t. 

Also, some B serums (The Ordinary Niacinamide, off the top of my head) contain zinc - and zinc and C can be d**ks to each other. So, while other B serums are fine to mix, that particular one isn’t. 

Dermatologists also recommend using copper peptides and C serums separately. Though again, this is completely formula dependent.

I’m probably still simplifying this way too much, but we can’t all have a chemistry degree, can we? 

To make things easy for myself, I just save A’s and peptides for the night, C for the morning and I let B come over whenever, provided he doesn’t bring zinc.

I also wear sunscreen. Every damn day. 

Even in winter. Even if it’s RAINING.

Are we rubbing, or pressing / patting serums into our skin?

Ok, mind BLOWN. 

I’m a ‘patter’. And when I say ‘pat’ I mean more of a light ‘slap’. I like to use my fingertips to really smack that serum into my skin - probably because I’ve watched way too many videos of facialists getting rather heavy handed and honestly - Google it. Face slapping is a thing. 

But, as it turns out, most experts would suggest rubbing / massaging serum into your skin for the simple reason that it just absorbs better that way! 

So, by all means give yourself a good spank but make sure you’re properly working your skincare in, too.

How much serum should we be using?

With my hand raised, I am a whole-pipette-r. Yes... I know it says two to three drops, but I’m just not that stingy with it unless it’s really expensive. I also like to take my skincare to the tits - your face stops at your boobs. 

And while most experts will maintain that it really is just two to three drops for your face, you also add another two to three for the neck, and another two to three more for the ‘dec. 

So all up… a pipette is probably about right! 

Is it better to use 1-2 multitasking serums or 3-5 serums with less ingredients but more potency?

Ok, ultimately this comes down to your lifestyle and preferences. 


Not everyone has the time, money or inclination to do an elaborate multi-step skincare routine - in which case using serums that cover multiple areas is efficient, realistic, and better than nothing. 

Buuuut, you are probably going to get better results treating specific concerns with a more targeted approach. 

Me personally - I have less time in the AM. I’m a quick cleanse, tone, serum (ONE serum), sunscreen and go kinda girl. 

In the evenings it’s a product orgy though. Just do what works for you.

And my favourite, final question - 

Serums. Do we even need them?

Honestly? No. You don’t need serums in your life any more than you need bras, shoes, diets and men. Anything that doesn’t serve you or bring you joy - put it straight into the bin.

But if you’re serious about skincare, serums are your heavy lifters. You are not going to get as high a percentage of active ingredients in a cleanser, are you? 

If you want ‘results’ that go far beyond simply having a clean, moisturised face you probably wanna invest in a few of these guys. 

Any questions, or if you just wanna say hi and shoot some s**t, you can find me on my Instagram.  

Do you have any other burning questions to do with serums? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Feature image: @carlysophia

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