In this article:
Face creams have been around for ages. From your mother to hers, everyone has a face cream in their skin care drawer.
What may sound new and more innovative is face serums. This recently made but already very famous skin care product is now easily and abundantly available in a ton of different varieties.
Face serums are lightweight products that penetrate the different layers of skin to protect it from issues such as wrinkles and fine lines. They may also even out your skin tone and brighten your skin. (1)
Creams, on the other hand, moisturize the skin and are much heavier in comparison to serums. They make your skin smooth, soft, and supple. (2)
Should you be using a serum before or after moisturizer? What’s the difference between the two? How do you incorporate them into your routine? Read on to know the answers.
Difference Between Face Serums and Face Creams
Face creams and face serums are different from each other in the following ways.
According to Corey L. Hartman, a board-certified dermatologist, face serums are lightweight formulations that are thin and absorbent and leave little to nothing on the surface of the skin after application. (3)
Face creams are moisturizers that typically have a thicker formula and act as a physical barrier that locks in hydration, preventing the skin from drying out. (4)
Face creams are mainly for skin hydration. They improve the functioning of the skin layers to help enclose moisture. (2)
3. Active ingredients
You may have observed that a face serum is more expensive than many other skin care products. This is because they’re packed with active components in concentrated amounts. A small amount of serum can go a long way. (5)
Moisturizers aren’t as rich in active ingredients as serums. Some moisturizers do have added ingredients such as antiaging or sun protection. It is advised to combine your moisturizer with a good serum.
Note: Other than the active ingredients that produce beneficial actions, excipients that ensure the stability of the formulation are also added to skin care products. These include:
Recent studies have shown that active ingredients improve skin health and have clinical outcomes, but other unnecessary excipients may compromise the skin. For example, emulsifiers may weaken the skin barrier. (2)
Know Your Face Serums
A skin serum is not a moisturizer, such as a lotion or cream. Rather, it is a highly concentrated formulation designed to sink into the skin quickly and deliver an intensive dose of ingredients that can address common skin complaints. (5)
Serums very easily penetrate the skin surface and are therefore soaked up quickly. It is a good method to lay on a moisturizer or cream on the serum to lock it in to reap the highest benefit. (6)
Benefits of using face serums
Here are some of the benefits of adding a face serum to your skin care routine: (7)
- It is the first step to building up your skin care. (1)
- It is not heavy on the face.
- It can provide intense hydration.
- It prevents fine lines and wrinkles and is a good base for makeup. (3)
- It comes with ingredients that can slow signs of aging. (7)
- When it is rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, or green tea, it can slow down the cellular damage caused by free radicals. (1)
Know Your Face Creams
Creams moisturize your skin and thus help in improving skin conditions by maintaining the integrity of the stratum corneum, which is the outermost layer of the skin’s epidermis.
They are important for acting as a barrier to water loss. They also reduce fine lines and wrinkles, making the skin smooth and soft.
The ingredients present in your moisturizer play a major role in deciding the benefits it offers. If your cream claims to rejuvenate the skin, then it may contain glycerin, petrolatum, or dimethicone. (8)
Benefits of using face creams
Here are some benefits of using a face cream:
- It prevents wrinkles because it acts as a barrier when the original skin barrier is compromised. It also curbs inflammation or collagen breakdown, which otherwise would lead to skin problems.
- It keeps the skin soft.
- It hydrates the skin.
- It brightens the face.
- It provides a healthy glow.
- It helps fight acne and prevent breakouts.
- It makes a good base for your makeup.
Does Your Skin Need Both Face Serum and Face Cream?
Yes, your skin can benefit from the use of both face serum and cream. This is because they have different purposes and can’t replace each other. Your skin needs both to look and feel its best. However, you must carefully choose your skin care products according to your skin type and goals.
According to research studies, using serums provide many benefits such as treating photodamaged skin and treating wrinkles while also providing intense hydration, which may not be possible with only using face creams. (1)
In another research study that included 32 women aged 25–55 years, a facial hydrating serum clubbed with a moisturizer was well tolerated and effective in improving facial skin parameters. (3)
So, using them both will give you healthy-looking skin.
How to Use a Face Serum and Cream Together
Although serums come with their own set of benefits, they can’t replace your moisturizing agents and creams. They will only act as supplementary agents to the creams.
The correct way to use both of them is to first apply your serums, wait for a few minutes, and then apply your moisturizer.
Serums Have Many Benefits, So Why Can’t They Be Used Alone?
Serums and moisturizing agents have their unique benefits, if you use serums alone, you may not get the moisturization you need. Serums contain active ingredients with different skin benefits and creams lock the serum and moisture in the skin.
What Are the Side Effects of Serums?
Serums are generally safe for all skin types, but those who have hypersensitive skin may experience side effects such as:
Most-Asked Questions About Face Serums and Creams
What are the different kinds of serums available?
Generally, face serums fall into the following categories:
- Antiaging serums
- Skin-brightening serums
- Hydrating serums
- Anti-acne serums
- Texture-improving serums
How do I use a serum?
It is very easy to use face serums. You can think of them as a base layer under other skin care products that you use such as your moisturizer, sunscreen, and even makeup.
It is very important to first clean your skin before you apply a serum. You can do it with a gentle cleanser or your daily face wash. After which, take a few drops of serum and apply it evenly to your entire face. It is good practice to use your serum once or twice a day.
After the application of serum, put on your sunscreen or moisturizer and then your makeup.
When do I apply a serum?
This depends upon your goals and the type of serum you are using.
For instance, antiaging serums are usually best to be used at night, whereas antioxidant serums or antipigmentation serums should be used in the morning as they protect your skin from UV and other sun damage.
Hydrating serums can be applied both at night and in the morning because they keep the skin healthy and moisturized.
Is it compulsory to apply a moisturizer after a niacinamide serum?
Yes. Some users report that they feel quite heavy after applying moisturizer after niacinamide. But you can use a little bit of moisturizer just to seal its effect.
Can I mix cream and serum?
It is best to apply your skin care products to a clean face. First, apply serum to your face and then layer on the moisturizer. It’s also fine to mix serums and creams, but it may reduce the potency of your serum.
Skin care products have a huge market nowadays. There are so many products that it can get a little overwhelming to decide which one is the one for you.
All of these products come with their own benefits and roles in your skin care regimen. Depending on your skin goals, must be careful in choosing what products to include in your skin care regimen.
Serums come with tons of different active ingredients, each with its own therapeutic activity, whereas creams mainly function as moisturizers. Using both simultaneously is also common practice – you can fight skin issues with serums and hydrate your skin with creams.