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You’re already doing the basics right: you cleanse, tone, and moisturise conscientiously. Now, you’re ready to upgrade your skincare routine with another important step: serum.

If you find yourself asking what a serum is, and wondering which step of your routine you should be inserting it in, here’s the deal:

Think of serums as a potent shot of ingredients targeted directly into your skin.

Hydration Toning

Serums fit in right before moisturising, and unlike a moisturiser, serums have a lipid-soluble base which allows the active ingredients to penetrate deep into the epidermis instead of just the surface.

These highly-concentrated doses can address a variety of needs such as wrinkles, brightness, acne or hydration.

Hydration Serum Liquid

Hydrating serums, in particular, are packed with a high concentration of active ingredients to boost your skin’s moisture levels – something most of us who are spending so much time in air-conditioned room are going to need!

If you’re about to run out and search for the best hydrating serum across skincare brands, hold your horses. Read our list of 23 best hydrating serums first to make it easy to pick one!