Facial Serum vs Facial Moisturizer - What's the Difference?

You have probably seen racks full of facial moisturizers and serums at the super markets. While they have different textures, both serums and moisturizers claim to hydrate and moisturize -- But do you really need both of them?

The short answer is yes. 

For the long answer, you need to understand the main purpose of the two products.

What is a Facial Serum?

The goal of a serum is to fight the specific skin conditions of the user which may be pigmentation of the skin, damage due to free radicals, signs of ageing, or acne.  Some of the benefits of facial serum are:

  • Skin hydration on a deep level
  • Improved skin texture
  • Reducing sun damage
  • Clearing of spots and blemishes
  • Reducing signs of ageing such as spots and wrinkles
  • Reduction in pigmentation

Serums contain a high concentration of active ingredients which include vitamins, minerals, peptides, hyaluronic acid and antioxidants. These have proven benefits on skin health, and serum ensures that the deep layers of our skin receive these nutrients.

Facial serums have much smaller particle size compared to facial moisturizer. This allows for serums to penetrate deep into the layers of the skin, and be absorbed very quickly.

What is Facial Moisturizer?

A facial moisturizer is a soothing cream or lotion that helps hydrate the skin by forming a barrier over the top layer of the skin.  The size of the molecules of facial moisturizers is relatively bigger than that of serums. Hence facial moisturizers do not penetrate the layers of the skin, but effectively create a hydration barrier on top, locking in moisture and nutrients.

Facial moisturizers contain ingredients like mineral oils, petrolatum, and other lubricating agents which add to its efficacy. As compared to serums, facial moisturizers have a much lower concentration of nutrients or active ingredients.

Can one replace the other?

When the products themselves are misunderstood, it is not surprising that the use of facial moisturizer and facial serum are also misunderstood. The biggest myth is that if you use one of these products you do not need the other, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. 

Facial moisturizer and facial serum have very different purposes, as explained above. 

Facial serums can give an excellent  moisture boost to the skin, but they can't lock in the moisture. All the nutrients from the serum can be lost via water loss from the skin over the day. Locking in the moisture is what facial moisturizers specialise in.

Hence, facial moisturizers are crucial to lock in the deep level hydration and nutrients, and thereby make the most of a facial serum.

Final words

Using facial serum is a non-negotiable step for healthy skin, and  following up with a facial moisturizer is what completes the hydration ritual that your skin needs.

Following the steps in the right order ensures that your skin is healthy and looks glowy and radiant, which translates to confidence on your face.

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