What's the difference between a serum and a moisturiser?

Do you know the difference between a serum and a moisturiser?

Most people don't realise the vital importance of incorporating serums into their skin care routines. In fact, a lot of people think that serums are just a marketing effort by skin care companies to get customers to spend more money. 

I was in a health shop and one retail assistant commented to her work-mate that she had never seen her skin look so good in all the years they had worked together. When asked why, the woman said she had been using a serum in her skin care routine for the very first time. One said she was using Hot Toddy. 

So let me tell you why serums are not a waste of time or money.

Because a moisturiser is generally made up of oil and water bound together by an emulsifier, it has a large molecule size which means it is unable to penetrate deep into the skin. A moisturiser sits on top of the epidermis. The epidermis is the outer layer of the skin, also known as the horny layer - think rhinoceros.

This is not to say that moisturisers can't do amazing things for the skin however - because some of them can. The inclusion of water-binding agents (such as hyaluronic acid), antioxidants and vitamins can temporarily make skin look smoother, improve texture, help it function better and protect from sun damage.

On the other hand, serums are generally oil-based and a smaller molecular size that's able to penetrate deep past the rhinoceros hide of your epidermis and into the lower dermal layers where it can do it's best work. Serums can do more than a temporary job of improving the skin; they can reverse sun damage, repair and treat different skin conditions and slow down the inevitable ageing process!

There are different types of serums for different jobs - anti-ageing, skin brightening or acne control are just a few. So think about what concerns you the most and pick the serum which contains the ingredients that addresses your skin condition. You can get very mild ones or extremely potent ones, again depending on what you want to achieve. 

How do you apply serums?

Apply a few drops of serums after cleansing and toning, then layer your moisturiser with sun protection over the top. Do not apply a serum and then go outside unprotected - this rule applies all year round. That's unless you want your face to end up looking like a walnut shell. 

You shouldn't feel oily with a serum. If you do, you are using an inferior one or using too much. Just a few drops should be sufficient to cover face, neck and décolletage. 

You can apply your serum morning, night or both! For people in their late 30's to early 40's, twice a day is best. For younger people or those with breakouts, just once a day is best - generally at night when the skin works extra hard to do a magnificent job of repairing all the damage you've done during the day by getting too much sun exposure, consuming sugar, drinking alcohol, squeezing zits and wearing synthetic makeup that blocks pores. 

So, hopefully, you now see that there is a difference between a serum and a moisturiser and that a serum is an essential product to incorporate into your skin care routine!

This blog was written by Stephanie Evans, founder of Oasis Beauty and lover of serums.

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