Face Serum Or Moisturiser? What’s The Difference?

Face serums are the latest rage in the face care space, with the skin care brands and individual skincare experts flashing them as one-stop-solution for all your skincare concerns. And if you, like most of us are still wondering if it is any different from the plain moisturiser, I did some research – for which you may thank me later – and this is what I found.

Is serum just the new-age moisturiser?

Absolutely not. A serum is a stand-alone product, i.e. it is entirely different from other skin care products in terms of its potent formulations, customised options and instant impact on our skin.

How do serums work?

Serums are light-textured, non-greasy skin care essentials that work to repair and replenish the skin cells from deep within. They have highly potent formulations with hard working active ingredients that go a long way in addressing a variety of skincare issues. For example, there are serums for skin brightening, anti-ageing and acne prevention.

Serums are considered “elixirs of beauty” as they work more effectively on your skin for two reasons. Firstly, because they have smaller particles that penetrate the skin on a deeper cellular level. Secondly, because serums don’t contain the thick airtight ‘sealing’ particles present in moisturizers.

The highly concentrated active ingredients present in the serum penetrate your skin and work infinitely more effectively in treating particular skincare concerns like wrinkles, pigmentation, fine lines & scarring.

How do moisturisers work?

Moisturisers are skin hydrating emollients that are cream based and of thicker consistency. Moisturisers and creams have larger molecules than serums, so they don’t penetrate into the surface layer of the skin. Since they do not penetrate the epidermis (top layer of the skin), they do not bring any significant replenishing & repairing properties with them.

Moisturisers –  heavier than serum in its formulation – work on hydrating the epidermis, and preventing loss of skin moisture. They sit on the top layer of the skin, acting as a physical barrier to keep hydration in and environmental irritants out.  

So what I am saying is ..

While moisturisers recondition the top layers of the skin, serums on the other hand deliver antioxidants, nutrients and vitamins to the deepest layers of the skin to address or reverse the many causes of skin damage.

The level of active ingredients is a whopping seventy percent or higher in serums as compared to most face creams which could have around only ten percent of active ingredients!

Another big difference between serums and moisturizers is – serums don’t contain thick oils and waxes and have fewer fillers and lubricating agents as opposed to moisturisers. This is one of the major reasons why serums cannot be used in place of moisturisers. 

So, while serums focus entirely on skin replenishment, they seldom hydrate or moisturise the skin as efficiently as a moisturiser would. However, they work in unison with moisturizer to amplify its hydrating effects. 

Do I need both serum and moisturizer?

The answer is yes, in most cases you do.

Now if you’re wondering what should you use first, when to apply the face serum and how to use it with a moisturiser – keep watching this space to learn how to incorporate serum in your skincare routine.


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