Main content
How and When To Start Using a Face Serum


When Should I Start Using a Face Serum?

Serum is a skincare staple—as for when to start using serum, it varies. Here at Kiehl’s, learn how to find the best serum for your skin and when to use it.

At Kiehl’s, we consider facial serums to be an indispensable part of a healthy skincare routine. And we offer a range of different serums with potent ingredients designed to help address various skin concerns, from hydrating serums to anti-aging serums and more. How and when to start using serum depends largely on which formula you’re using—and what you’re hoping to achieve with it.

Here, we’ll provide an answer to the oft-asked question, “when should I start using serum?” and offer recommendations on the best Kiehl’s serums for your skin type and concerns. Ahead, find your guide to adding a face serum to your skincare routine.

At What Age Should You Start Using Face Serum?

There’s no magic age at which you need to start using a serum. Determining when to start using a serum is less about age and more about identifying what skin concerns you’re looking to address at any given time and choosing a serum that suits those needs. When you’re younger, a vitamin C serum or a hydrating serum may help keep your skin in good shape. As you begin to start showing the visible signs of aging, you may want to consider adding an anti-aging serum into your routine. Ultimately, it’s a matter of listening to your skin and giving it what it needs to look and feel its best.

In some cases, face serums may be formulated with specific age ranges in mind. For example, one that helps address blemishes might be targeted toward breakout-prone teens. A formula for wrinkles, on the other hand, could be designed for people in their 40s and beyond.

Keep in mind, while your skin’s needs may change as you age, the concerns you experience and when they make an appearance can vary. You might begin to notice fine lines in your 20s, and a friend might spot her first line in her 30s. This is why not everyone will benefit from using the same type of serum at the same time.

The bottom line is, if you’re wondering if now is the time to add serum to your routine, we recommend incorporating one into every skincare routine from your teens up.

What Face Serum Should You Use?

Another question we frequently hear from customers is, “what face serum should I use?” The answer to this question varies depending on your skin type and concerns. Those with dry skin may benefit most from a hydrating serum, while those with dull skin may opt for a brightening formula. Here, we’ll point you in the direction of the best Kiehl’s serum for your skin concerns.

Your Concern:

Dull Skin

Dullness is a skin concern characterized by a marked lack of radiance. It can be caused by dead skin buildup, an uneven skin texture, or as a result of aging. In the short term, exfoliating can help diminish dullness—but to help keep your skin looking bright and even for longer, we recommend reaching for a vitamin C serum, such as Powerful-Strength Vitamin C Serum. Formulated with hyaluronic acid and 12.5% vitamin C, this concentrated face serum instantly boosts radiance. With continued use over time, it helps diminish the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and enlarged pores, leaving the skin smoother-looking and firmer. The dermatologist-tested formula is suitable for all skin types and can be used morning and night as part of your regular skincare routine.

Your Concern:


Micro-Dose Anti-Aging Retinol Serum with Ceramides and Peptide

Age-related skin concerns can vary immensely, but fine lines, unevenness, and a loss of elasticity are all par for the course as you get older. To help address these concerns, try adding Micro-Dose Anti-Aging Retinol Serum with Ceramides and Peptide to your skincare routine. This creamy serum contains a precise, daily-strength micro-dose of pure retinol, along with ceramides, peptide, and glycerin. It helps encourage gentle skin surface turnover, delivering visible anti-aging results with minimal dryness, redness, or peeling. And because it’s so gentle, this retinol serum is suitable for all skin types—including first-time retinol users. We recommend massaging a pump of the fast-absorbing serum over your face once daily before smoothing on your moisturizer to reveal firmer, more even-looking skin over time. After using retinol at night, make sure to apply sunscreen in the morning.

Your Concern:

Stressed Skin

Many of the things that you encounter on a daily basis—sunlight, air pollution, even just harsh weather—can affect your skin. While your skin has its own defense against these aggressors, it’s not foolproof, and over time, exposure to these environmental factors can result in stressed, tired skin. To help keep your skin strong and resilient, try adding Vital Skin-Strengthening Hyaluronic Acid Super Serum to your skincare routine. It’s formulated with hyaluronic acid and a blend of adaptogenic herbs, including red ginseng and schiscandra berry. The fast-absorbing, lightweight facial serum is clinically-demonstrated to double skin’s strength and helps improve skin texture.* It also works to reduce the appearance of fine lines and other early signs of aging for more youthful, healthy-looking skin.

*Based on a 4-week clinical study on 58 subjects tested in urban and polluted environments. Based on Strength Index = Composite, average score of clinically graded parameters after using the product for 4 weeks vs one week of use.

Your Concern:


There’s nothing wrong with having wrinkles—as far as we’re concerned, laugh lines and crow’s feet are a sign of a life well lived—but it’s also perfectly fine to want to make them less noticeable. Enter: Retinol Fast Release Wrinkle-Reducing Night Serum. Made with our highest concentration of pure retinol (0.3%), this potent and fast-acting serum helps visibly smooth fine lines in 5 days & reduce the appearance of wrinkles in as little as 2 weeks.*

*Based on expert grading in 10-week clinical studies

Your Concern:

Dehydrated Skin

Hydro-Plumping Hydrating Serum

Your skin needs water to look (and feel) its best—without enough moisture, it can become dehydrated, leaving it vulnerable to damaging environmental stressors. To help keep your skin sufficiently hydrated, reach for Hydro-Plumping Hydrating Serum. This gentle, deeply hydrating facial serum visibly improves the appearance of dehydrated skin. It’s suitable for all skin types, even sensitive skin, and can be used twice daily for plumper, smoother, and visibly more hydrated skin.

Your Concern:

Dark Spots and Discolorations

If you’re dealing with dark spots or discolorations (such as age spots or post-blemish marks), Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Corrector is your serum match. This effective facial serum with activated vitamin C and peony root extract helps visibly diminish the appearance of a wide range of skin discolorations, including those caused by ultraviolet exposure. It’s suitable for all skin types, can be used morning and night, and can be used to help address dark spots on the chest and neck as well as your face. Use it all over or as a targeted spot treatment to help reveal more even, radiant-looking skin with consistent use.

Orientation message
For the best experience, please turn your device