Skincare layering is the cornerstone of any good Korean beauty routine — we know that applying products together is infinitely better than limiting yourself to just one lotion. The newest K-Beauty trend takes layering to a whole new level with a method called the double serum.
Whereas layering is about applying a multi-step routine with a variety of products, double serum means cocktailing two treatment products together in order to get maximum results. The name itself is a misnomer, as women in Korea do it with all manner of treatment products including serums, ampoules, and essences.
The thinking behind it is that by using similarly textured products that address different skin concerns, you’ll get double (or more!) the benefits. What’s really exciting about this trend is how it allows you to address your skin’s individual needs, which can vary from day to day — everything from what you eat to the weather outside can cause changes to your skin’s natural equilibrium.
Glow Recipe’s new sister line Sweet Chef makes doubling up on your serum more-or-less foolproof. All three serums in the range (Ginger + Vitamin C, Beet + Vitamin A, and Kale + Vitamin B) are designed to be used in tandem and cost only $20 each. They feature a precise amount of active ingredients that were specifically formulated to work together.
“Say one day your skin feels really dehydrated but then some parts look extra dull as well,” says Glow Recipe co-founder Sarah Lee. That’s when you want to use the Ginger + Vitamin C serum for brightening and the Kale + Vitamin B serum for that extra hydration. Or, if you want to achieve that glass skin status but you’re also concerned with hyperpigmentation, you could use Ginger + Vitamin C serum as your first layer and then top it with the Beet Root + Vitamin A serum for both a brightening and resurfacing effect.”
It’s all about listening to your skin, she adds. “It’s just like when you’re craving certain types of food because your body wants those ingredients. It’s the same thing for skin.” Adds Glow Recipe co-founder Christine Chang, “Double serum ultimately empowers the user to cocktail custom recipes depending on her skin needs, which for many people is different from day to day.”
One of the hallmarks of Korean Beauty has always been serums that are lightweight in texture, as opposed to many of the heavier, stickier treatments of Western beauty. Sarah and Christine attribute the rise in the double-serum technique to an increase in serums with those easily layered textures. It’s what, makes all the difference in being able to use multiple products at once (because they absorb more quickly). Plus, a lower price point ensures that people can afford to have an entire serum wardrobe at their disposal to cocktail to their hearts’ content. A return to cleaner, more natural ingredients in skincare products has also made it easier to mix and match serums because there’s less concern about accidentally combining ingredients that might cause skin irritation.
There are multiple ways to go about incorporating double serum into your routine. You can mix (read: cocktail) serums together in your hands and then apply it to skin. Sarah prefers to apply her serums in a more traditional manner. “I love the experience of layering each product [from lightest texture to thicker texture] and to feel like each layer is being fully absorbed into the skin before I move onto the next one,” she says. “That’s really satisfying for me.”
There’s no wrong way to double serum — it just comes down to personal preference and how you like applying your products. If you cocktail, make sure you are fully blending the two together to ensure you get the max benefits of both treatments. If you’re going to layer, apply the serum that’s targeting your main skin concern first, then be sure to let it fully absorb before applying the second.
See below for more of our favorite ways to double serum, and let us know which ones you’re stoked to try!