The best way to use your serums? Turn ’em into a skin-care cocktail


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Photo: Getty/electravk

I have borrowed many, many things from Korean skin care over the years: My 10-step routine, for one, my love of snail mucin and essences, for another. But recently, I was introduced to a K-beauty technique that has completely changed the way I apply my products: serum cocktailing.

The idea is that, instead of putting your serums on one at a time and letting them dry in between, you can mix them together or layer them immediately on top of one another to boost their effects. According to the Glow Recipe founders Sarah Lee and Christina Chang, who recently launched a new, drugstore-priced skin-care line called Sweet Chef, you should think of it like bundling up in the winter. “The reason why K-beauty is all about layering is that each layer is very thin and lightweight, therefore when you apply another layer on top of it, it actually helps the other layer penetrate and absorb more easily.”

To help others get on board with this layer-friendly way of life, Sweet Chef is chock-full of these sorts of mix-and-match serums. The line offers three vitamin-packed “skin-care shots” that can be used on their own or combined with other products to treat a variety of skin-care woes. “The textures are really lightweight but at the same time, you can actually layer them to get multiple benefits at the same time,” says Chang. There’s a ginger and vitamin C shot for brightening, a kale and vitamin B shot for hydration, and a beet and vitamin A shot for smoothing and pore refining. Because I love a good drugstore deal, I also feel that it’s worth pointing out that each bottle retails for only $20 and will be available at Target and Glowrecipe.com starting next month.

k-beauty serums
Photo: Sweet Chef

“Everyone has multiple complicated skin concerns, so this really is about opening up that dialogue with the skin,” says Lee. “On Monday, if you’re feeling a little dull, maybe you use just one product, but if you need a little pick-me-up, maybe you mix two—it’s that empowerment to customize your skin care to your needs.” Each bottle comes with its own recipe book to teach users how to mix and match the ingredients for things like glass skin, maximum hydration, and a little bit of extra bounciness.

The principles of serum cocktailing can be applied to pretty much anything in your beauty cabinet (though having used the ones from The Sweet Chef myself, I can confirm that they are g-o-o-d) and won’t leave you with the type of hangover your other favorite fancy cocktails always seem to.

Want more K-beauty in your life (and in your skin-care cabinet)? Here’s how to fight acne the K-beauty way, and everything you need to know about those 10 mysterious steps everyone’s always raving about. 

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