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What to Know About the "Serum Cocktailing" Skin-Care Trend

"Serum Cocktailing" Is a Huge Trend in 2021, but Here's What You Should Know Before You Try It

Top view of bottles of moisturizing cosmetic products arranged in line on pink background. Beauty product of the yearImage Source: Getty / Anna Efetova

The bar isn't the only place where you can be a mixologist. A new skin-care trend has people combining two or more serums to form their own unique concoction and load up on the benefits. It's called "serum cocktailing," and it's taking the beauty industry by storm.

Anyone who has a multiple-step skin-care routine using products outside of a pre-made regimen acts as a mixologist in a way, but the serum cocktailing trend takes it up a notch. Instead of using multiple products by layering, it involves mixing formulations together into a new product entirely. It sounds like fun — and a good way to maximize your routine without taking up too much time — but there are a few things you should know before you just go slapping three different products together.

"Of course, every good skincare routine consists of multiple steps and therefore multiple products," celebrity aesthetician Renée Rouleau told POPSUGAR. "However, 'cocktailing' ingredients doesn't guarantee the best results." Serums contain powerful ingredients meant to help you achieve a variety of different skin-care goals. They're specially formulated by cosmetic chemists who understand the way ingredients react when put together, as well as the best way to deliver certain ingredients to the skin.

When you build your own skin-care mixture you run the risk of combining ingredients that don't play well together, like vitamin C and retinol. This can lead to irritation and even damaging your moisture barrier. "Additionally, if you're mixing water-based products with oil or emollient-based products this strategy isn't efficient either since ultimately oil and water don't mix together easily," said Rouleau.

The other reason Rouleau advises against serum cocktailing in this way is that you may end up diluting the formula without meaning to. "Not all serums are created equally," said Rouleau. "Chemically speaking, one formula may be designed to provide delivery in a certain mechanism and another product may not have the same penetration enhancers, so if you are mixing them together you might be losing efficacy."

There is a right way to serum cocktail, and it involves rotating products rather than mixing. Rouleau likes to use different serums on different days to maximize their benefits and address different concerns. "Think of it as working out," she said. "You want a variety of different exercises on different days that all work together to give you the best end result — the same goes for your skin." This will ensure you don't irritate or stress out your skin by using too many harsh or active ingredients at once.

Having background knowledge on skin-care ingredients always helps when determining what products to use in your routine and when, but it's also a good idea to consult with a professional like an aesthetician or a dermatologist. "The serums you use will depend on your skin type and its specific needs," said Rouleau. "Generally, I find that focusing on one serum a night and letting it do its job is the best strategy."

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