Should You Use a Serum or a Moisturizer?

With hundreds of different skincare products available, it’s not always easy to know which kinds you should incorporate into your skincare routine. For example, should you use a serum or moisturizer – or both? Let’s explore.

Serums vs. Moisturizers

Serums usually contain water, oil, actives, and peptides. Moisturizers are typically water-based formulas with added oils, waxes, and actives. One of the main differences between serums and moisturizers is that serums leave out ingredients such as petrolatum and mineral oils, which are often added to moisturizers to keep water from evaporating from the skin. Serums also typically contain fewer pore-clogging fillers, thickeners, and lubricating agents than moisturizers.

Serums are more efficient and effective in penetrating the skin due to their smaller particles and a lack of airtight particles often present in moisturizers. In addition, serums usually have a high concentration of active ingredients, which allows them to deliver more nutrients to the deeper layers of the skin.

How Serums Work

Serums are lightweight and specifically formulated to penetrate the skin. They also have active ingredients that help combat skin pigmentation, aging, acne, and scarring by pushing nutrients and vitamins like antioxidants, peptides, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin C into the skin cells. These ingredients are known to brighten, exfoliate, and hydrate the skin.

How Moisturizers Work

Moisturizers are lotions or creams containing hydrating elements that lock in moisture and nutrients. They are better for aging skin and those who have lost the elastin in their skin. They are also better for anyone who suffers from severely dry skin. Due to their larger molecules, moisturizers are able to form a physical barrier on the skin. But sometimes, heavier moisturizers can attract dirt and bacteria to the skin, exacerbating acne.

Should You Use a Serum or a Moisturizer?

So, should you be using a serum or a moisturizer? Well, it depends on your skin’s needs. For example, if you have oily skin, you may want to stick to a non-oil-based serum; if you have extremely dry skin, you can use moisturizer more often. As always, we recommend speaking with your dermatologist, who can help you find a skincare regime that works best for your skin type.


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