Morning 6-Step Routine (Step 2: Serum(s))

By Minji

  • Step 2 (serum(s)): apply 2-3 drops of serum onto each cheek and lightly pat/tap for absorption
  • Focus on the ingredients list and pick the right serum for your unique needs
  • Consider making this Step 2+ by using multiple serums for different issues

Step 2+: Serum(s).  By “serum” I mean any product that’s formulated to target specific problems.  Think of serums as lighter texture moisturizers with more potent, concentrated ingredients for specific skincare benefits. 

When choosing your serum, take some time and focus on the ingredients list.  I know this can be overwhelming, but try to understand what’s in it.  Understand the functionality of the active ingredients and see if it’s right for your needs.  Also check out the other ingredients to see if there’s anything unnecessary that doesn’t align with your skincare values and philosophies.

At the end of the day, every one of us has unique skin and different needs so it makes sense for you to do the work instead of blindly following recommendations.  Once you try out a few yourself, you’ll see what feels good on your skin, what seems to be effective and fits you overall. 

For me, living in sunny LA, I need to watch out for sun spots so one with brightening effects is a must in the mornings.  For night time, I switch it up and use something more targeted towards plumping up the skin.  This usually means I use a serum with vitamin C (antioxidant/brightening) in the morning and one with retinol (helps with fine lines) at night, and hydraulic acid (moisturizing/plumping) is good any time of day. 

The reason that this is not just Step 2 but Step 2+ is because depending on your specific skin issues, you could use multiple serums at this stage.  Some serums are like liquid and others more like a light milky lotion so you can even experiment with layering texture.  You could use a liquid one first, then move onto the heavier milky version.  I used to do this, but these days, seeing the beauty of minimalism even in skincare, I'm more mindful about picking the right serum and stick to one in the morning and a different one at night.

Apply 2-3 drops of serum onto each cheek.  Then upward, circular gentle strokes or light pats from neck to top.  For serum, light taps or pats on your face work really well to help the ingredients absorb into your skin and can result in less friction on the skin.  Carefully look at your reflection in the mirror as you apply all skincare products and soften and adjust as necessary if you see that you’re creating wrinkles or pulling on your skin.  Make sure your face looks peaceful and rested – no tensing and stressing out so early in the morning! 

Ideally, wait a few minutes for the serum to fully absorb before moving onto Step 3.  I know it’s hard to wait but worth it.  It will help ensure that all ingredients are absorbed nicely and can also enhance the experience of the multi-step process.  Dr. Yoon says the absorption time of cosmetics has not been well studied yet, but according to a topical dermatological study, dermatological ointments generally penetrate into the skin after about five minutes.  So it's a good idea to give your products a few minutes in between to ensure proper absorption.  Additionally, depending on the formulation and consistency of products, waiting a few minutes can ensure even application - like when you put on multiple coats of paint, you want to wait between coats to make sure the texture is right.  

During the waiting time (even 1-2 minutes is good), gargle, clip your nails, pluck hairs, etc. – you get the picture.  Read on for Steps 3&4!  Make sure you join our newsletter so you never miss a skincare tip and other exclusive content - be in the know and spark a glow!