How Long Should You Wait To Let The Serum Sink In?

By this point, you might have a routine you’re infatuated with. You can’t imagine changing it up or spending a minute longer, as you have worked your routine into your daily schedule. It might do your skin wonders to allow yourself a few more minutes in the morning and night, as timing and order of products can sometimes be a determining factor for how effective your regimen is. We’re here to settle the debates and myths and determine if applying your serums and moisturizers back-to-back is, in fact, detrimental to a user’s skincare routine.


Though no magic number currently exists that we can tell you to strictly follow, 30 seconds to a minute is generally considered long enough in between serum applications. You might want to wait a bit longer before applying moisturizer after your skincare products, but if you prefer to get your routine done sooner, the same allotted time should be sufficient.

The penetration and absorption of skincare products into the skin depend on a variety of different factors, such as the type of formula, the product type, and the quality of the formula and its ingredients. No studies have currently proven that a certain amount of time has been more effective than applying products back-to-back. If you are a fan of applying products right after the other, massage the face gently with desired products to allow for the best absorption.

You are going to want to give yourself at least 30 seconds or so to allow the product to absorb. Not leaving enough time in between serums or products can result in skin pilling, where flaky balls or spots form on the face. This is due to the formulas not mixing and absorbing properly, making it visible on the face and defeating the purpose of skincare products.

More specialized skincare regimens, such as acne treatments, require further patience on the user’s part. These types of prescriptions or topical treatments need to be fully absorbed before serums and moisturizers. These formulas are more potent and need to be blended into the skin properly for the best results.


One of the most important things you can do when it comes to skincare is to use your products in the proper order. Though it may seem trivial, the order of your products is crucial so that you get the most out of their efficacy.

You should always start any skincare routine with a cleansed face. Active serum ingredients tend to stick to leftover dirt or dead skin cells on the face, so applying your products on a clean surface allows for better absorption. Rinsing with lukewarm water is recommended over cold water. While cold water closes the pores and blocks the absorption of serum formulas, the hot water allows the skin to perspire.

Moist, damp skin is considered more effective to begin a skincare routine. It’s more penetrable than dry skin, which allows for better absorption. Once you have thoroughly cleansed your skin or applied a mist spray or alcohol-free toner, you’re ready to start applying your desired products!

Pressing the serum into your skin with an open palm is considered more effective than using the fingertips to apply products. Always apply your products from thinnest to thickest concentration, allowing for full absorption of each product.

Hydrating serums, such as those containing hyaluronic acid, should be applied immediately after cleansing. These formulas benefit greater from damp skin and can better absorb moisture into the skin. Give the serum a few seconds to absorb into the skin before moving on to your next product.

Our recommendation: Cica H.A. Calm & Repair Serum


Acid products should follow suit, always following the instructions on the bottle in regards to timing in between these products. If the bottle doesn’t have clear instructions, 30 seconds to a minute is typically considered enough time for those who don’t want to wait too long between products. If you have time to spare, you may wait 15-20 minutes for maximum absorption before moving on in your routine.

Our recommendation: Matrixyl® 3000 Collagen Serum


Vitamin C products may then be incorporated, as this can be an unstable ingredient and is a potent antioxidant. This may be more commonly used as the next step in your AM routine, and you can swap out Vitamin C for retinoids at night. If you are weary of adverse reactions to retinoids, you may apply a moisturizer before and following the application of the formula to help limit irritation or skin sensitivity.

If performing your AM routine, sunscreen should always be applied after moisturizers. The general rule is to apply SPF around 15-20 minutes before leaving the house to ensure you have a proper barrier of protection over the skin. You may then apply makeup after sunscreen if you choose. You don’t want to apply sunscreen before makeup, as the sunscreen may remove or blend in with the product.

Our recommendation: Anti-Aging Retinol Night Cream


It’s essential to allow each product time to absorb before applying the next one. Waiting a few minutes between each step can help ensure optimal absorption and effectiveness. However, if you're using products from the same brand or designed to be used together, they may have specific instructions for layering.

It's worth noting that everyone's skincare routine may vary depending on individual preferences and specific product instructions. If you have any doubts or are unsure about the order of application for your specific products, consulting with a dermatologist or skincare professional can provide you with the best-personalized advice.