August 20, 2022 5 min read


The rule of thumb is to apply a serum before moisturizer. The serum is more lightweight, whereas moisturizer tends to be heavier. Applying serum first can give the skin more opportunity to absorb the active ingredients, and in most skin care routines, moisturizer is the last step. Serums and moisturizers help the skin in different ways.

 A serum alone will be enough for some, particularly those who don't have dry skin; others with dehydrated skin, might need both a serum and a moisturizer. So, there's an order of operations for your skincare routine to achieve effective results and get value for your investment in skincare products. This article covers everything you want to know about choosing a serum and moisturizer.

What Is CBD Serum?

CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in the cannabis sativa plant. It's among over a hundred chemical compounds known as cannabinoids of the cannabis plant. CBD is known for its non-psychoactive properties and therapeutic effects. So, CBD products won't make you feel high. Although CBD is quite new but trendy due to its numerous benefits, Baswan et al. (2020) suggested that CBD is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient useful in treating various skin conditions such as acne and eczema. Peyravian et al. (2022)  showed that the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabidiol were useful in treating acne. Jin & Lee (2018) showed that CBD might also be beneficial for treating acne due to its effects on sebocytes, the cells that create sebum. Sebum helps protect our skin, but excessive sebum can also result in acne. These properties of CBD have seen it as a major ingredient in skincare products such as serums to enhance their efficacy.

What Is A Serum?

According to West et al.  (2021), face serums are skincare products infused with a high concentration of active ingredients that deeply penetrate the skin, leaving it healthy, regenerative from harm, and increasing the cellular renewal rate. The cellular renewal rate refers to the rate at which the cells on your skin’s surface are reinstated with newer, healthier-looking cells. A faster rate makes your skin feel softer and looks younger and more radiant. Serums are made up of small molecules that can penetrate the deeper layers of the skin to deliver active ingredients to replenish and nourish your skin. Face serums aren’t moisturizing products although they have ingredients that can assist your skin remain well hydrated, like hyaluronic acid.

What Is A Moisturizer?

Moisturizers are specific skin care products that execute the role of sealing in moisture that your skin already has and make it difficult for moisture to evaporate all day. Often they share some common ingredients with face serums, such as vitamins, minerals, and moisturizing elements like hyaluronic acid.

Moisturizers are specifically useful for people who live in dry climates or with dry skin. Also, they're specifically important for people who have to handle harsh winters. Almost everyone associates with drier skin during with winter months.


Order of Application for Skincare Products

It can be challenging to decide when to apply different skincare products for optimum effectiveness. Fortunately, the correct order tends to be similar, despite a person's skin type or the products they use. It's also critical to note that order is very important for skincare. The rule of thumb is to cleanse, moisturize, and sunscreen. A typical routine for the night might include cleanser or make-up removal, followed by face oil or moisturizer. Some people use facial oils as an alternative to moisturizers as they also lock in moisture. Since they can leave a shiny and greasy feeling, facial oils may be better suited for use before bed.

Since serums contain active ingredients that penetrate as deeply as possible into the skin, individuals should always apply the serum directly to their skin after cleansing or toning and before the moisturizer and sunscreen. It would help if one didn't put their serum after their moisturizer. The thicker, heavier ingredients in creams and lotions are designed to create a barrier on your skin. However, they can also lock active ingredients out. One can use a serum (s) both morning and night.

Face oils should not replace moisturizers but can boost the hydrating effects of the moisturizer. Moisturizers have the main job of skin hydration and keeping it there. Some have added anti-aging ingredients so that they can double duty for the skin. The rule is to cleanse, tone, apply serum, moisturize, and sunscreen. Every skincare product executes a certain role, and jointly they provide all the conditions for a comprehensive skincare routine.

Some dermatologists, however, recommend that there's an exception to the serum before the moisturizer rule. Consumers can skip moisturizing altogether if they’re using an oil-based serum. However, one should ensure that their oil-based serum has some time to absorb before applying anything else like sunscreen. But if the serum is water-based, it's important to moisturize to seal in the moisture.

Some serums and moisturizers have ingredients better suited to morning or evening use only. For example, vitamin C is used mostly for brightening, so it's desirable to use in the evening. Retinoids increase the skin's sensitivity to the sun and cause some irritation. Thus, it's better to use a retinoid before bed. Also, using a soothing moisturizer afterward may prevent or ease any side effects.


Overall, it's best to apply a serum before moisturizer. It allows the active ingredients in the serum the chance to penetrate deeper into the skin to deliver actives and give you the effective results one desires. Ultimately, a face serum and moisturizer are both essential for a holistic skincare routine and protect your moisture from drying out. Face serum can't replace moisturizer, and moisturizer doesn't give your skin the extra vitamins and nutrients it needs to remain youthful and glowing. Also, the best order and time of day for a skincare routine depends on the product's ingredients and a person's goals. A dermatologist can best describe the best approach based on a person's needs and concerns. Moreover, contact a dermatologist about persistent skin issues such as dryness, scarring, acne, or hyperpigmentation. So, use both products in conjunction and in the right order for optimum effects. 


Baswan, S. M., Klosner, A. E., Glynn, K., Rajgopal, A., Malik, K., Yim, S., & Stern, N. (2020). Therapeutic potential of cannabidiol (CBD) for skin health and disorders. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology13, 927.


Jin, S., & Lee, M. Y. (2018). The ameliorative effect of hemp seed hexane extracts on the Propionibacterium acnes-induced inflammation and lipogenesis in sebocytes. PLoS One13(8), e0202933.

Peyravian, N., Deo, S., Daunert, S., & Jimenez, J. J. (2022). The Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Cannabidiol (CBD) on Acne. Journal of Inflammation Research, 15, 2795.

West, B. J., Alabi, I., & Deng, S. (2021). A Face Serum Containing Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Bakuchiol and a Polyherbal and Vitamin Blend Improves Skin Quality. Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications11(3), 237-252.