Serums can generally be used at any time of day, but there are some significant exceptions to that rule. Certain products are safer for and more helpful to your skin at night.
Serums can generally be used at any time of day, but there are some significant exceptions to that rule. Certain products should only be used in the evening without exception. A little confused? No worries: we’ll unpack this for you.
Serums You Should Use in the Evening
The big daddy of anti-ageing ingredients, retinol is a skincare powerhouse. Originally researched as an anti-acne treatment, this vitamin-A derivative increases cell turnover to bring fresh cells to the surface, eradicating wrinkles and hyperpigmentation as well as blemishes.
As incredible as it is, retinol shouldn't be used while the sun is shining. Ironically, this potent damage-reversing ingredient dramatically increases sensitivity to sun damage. Don't apply retinol during the day unless specifically noted on the product you’re using, or present in very low concentrations.
A great example of a retinol serum that should absolutely be worn at night is La Roche–Posay Redermic [R] Intensive Anti-Ageing Treatment. This product contains not only retinol but also a retinol booster, so it has quite a bit of power behind it. It’s a super product, but only for bedtime.
Serums You Should Use During the Day
Day serums can contain any actives other than retinol, from antioxidants to humectants to acids, as long as you also wear adequate sun protection (SPF 30 or higher). Acids can make the skin more susceptible to sun damage.
Serums that benefit your skin specifically during the day are antioxidant serums, such as ASAP Super C Serum, which counteract the free radical damage caused by UV light. However, other serums benefit skin during the day as well. Depending on your climate, a mattifying or hydrating serum could enhance the wear of your makeup.
Check the Usage Instructions
Although these guidelines are helpful for most products, the guidelines aren't universal. Every serum is different, so before use, please check the usage instructions on the package. A serum might seem fine for day wear but be formulated for night use only.
You get the best value out of your products by using them as directed, especially in the case of a potent treatment product like a serum. The one rule that doesn’t change, however, is SPF 30 or higher, always, always, always. Don't invest in a high-tech serum and then ruin all the work it’s doing by exposing your skin to more damage.