Serums. They popped up en-masse for skincare routines proooobably 5-ish years ago, but even though they’re now absolutely saturating the beauty market, there are plenty of folks who have NFI how to use them.

I learnt this an interesting way. See, I’ve worked as a beauty editor or some form of that role for the last 8 years. I thought serums were old news in terms of how/why to use them. Apparently, I was wrong.

A quick poll of the PEDESTRIAN.TV office proved that around 70% of our team barely even knew what a serum was, let alone how to use one on their face.

Because I’m a serum whore and will pimp serums out to anyone within 5 feet of me, I figured I’ll tell all of you exactly how and when to use these babies. Obviously, I enlisted some help – from Dr. Joseph Hkeik of luxe skin clinic, All Saints.

WHAT’S A SERUM?

This Is Exactly How / When To Use A Face Serum So You Don’t Fuck It Up
Drunk Elephant @ Mecca C-Firma Day Serum, $116

A serum is essentially a concentrated set of ingredients designed to correct varying skin issues. Some will help with multiple issues, some are specific. The reason they can deliver a higher concentration is because their consistency is thinner than, say, moisturiser – meaning the active ingredients penetrate deeper into the skin.

The high level of concentrated actives is also why you’ll find most serums run kinda pricey.

WHEN DO YOU USE ONE?

This Is Exactly How / When To Use A Face Serum So You Don’t Fuck It Up
Hylamide @ Priceline Low-Molecular HA, $29.99

Serums need to be applied after cleansing, and before moisturising. The general rule is cleanse, tone (if you tone), then serum, then face oil if you use those, then moisturiser. In short, you go in order of consistency. Some serums can be mixed in with a moisturiser, especially “booster” ones. Also, don’t rush through the application process.

“It’s best to allow each product to absorb in to the skin – I would suggest 30 seconds to 2 minutes roughly between application,” says Dr. Hkeik.

HOW DO I USE ONE?

This Is Exactly How / When To Use A Face Serum So You Don’t Fuck It Up
Chantecaille @ Mecca Vital Essence, $167

You can just apply serums with your fingers, ideally working upward so you’re not dragging your skin down. There’s varying theories on whether you can pop serums under your eyes – generally anything with exfoliating acids is a no-go, but hyaluronic and vitamin C are okay to apply under-eye.

There are some rules when it comes to when you can use what types.

“Some products are not suited for day time use or as effective during the day. For example, vitamin A must only be used in the evening as it is very sensitive to light and it makes the skin burn easily when worn whilst the skin is exposed to the sun,” explains Dr Hkaik.

Also, Vitamin C serums are amazing to apply in the daytime, as they help to fight sun damage as it’s occurring.

ANY RECS?

This Is Exactly How / When To Use A Face Serum So You Don’t Fuck It Up
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair, $150

For daytime, vitamin C and antioxidants are your friends. Like I said, they’ll help to fight UV damage as it’s occurring, and UV damage is the primo cause of premature ageing and pigmentation. I’m personally a fan of Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum. For night, anything goes. If you want to curb fine lines and signs of ageing, Vitamin A is great. If your skin can hack it, that is – some people find it irritating, me included.

I use Dr. Dennis Gross Clinical Hydration Booster, and my holy fkn grail – Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair. Cannot. Recommend. Enough. It’s such a good do-all for people confused about serums, and I’m yet to find someone who doesn’t think it’s the shit. Also, The Ordinary do a great “do everything” serum called Buffet, which runs on the cheaper end.

Image: Instagram / @carmengracehamilton