Oils, Serums and Moisturizers … What’s the Difference

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October 16, 2015

Now that the humidity is drying and the weather is cooling, your skin is probably starting to feel the lack of moisture. Or maybe you just notice a change in your skin as you age and want to switch up your skin care routine. The shelves and magazine ads are full of the latest, greatest skin care but where do you start? How do you know if you need to add an oil or a serum? What exactly do they do anyway? Here’s a brief and simple explanation of each but remember that, like cold weather clothing, skin care often works best in layers.


As we age, skin loses some of the natural oils it used to produce in abundance. Adding an oil before moisturizing not only helps replenish that oil, it can add some of the “glow” back to your skin. Oils sold as facial oils are perfect choices, as are argan oil, borage seed oil and even coconut oil. People used to fear adding an oil to their skin, thinking it would clog pores. That’s far from the truth. Pure oils, without synthetic chemicals, have many skin rejuvenating properties. Oils can also help moisturizers absorb into your skin better. The fatty acids in oils will help skin feel soft, supple and look luminous. Some oils have essential oils in them, like neroli or rose, and offer aromatherapy benefits as well.


Lightweight and concentrated, serums can add a powerful punch to skin care routines. Serums help to firm skin, increase moisture levels and make skin smoother. Serums can penetrate deeper than regular moisturizers but they work best in conjunction with moisturizers. Some women layer a serum, followed by an oil. Add a deep moisturizer over the serum and oil, especially at night. By day try a lighter day cream with SPF.


Moisturizing, nourishing, hydrating, age defying … you will find these words and many more on labels. Skincare has to be customized to your unique skin though, so don’t just grab the newest thing on the market. If your skin is dry, look for deeper moisturizers aimed for your type of skin. Oily skin can use lighter lotions.

Moisturizers have ingredients in them ranging from fruit stem cells, to oils, peptides and more. They give complexions a more dewy, hydrated appearance and can even fight free radicals and environmental concerns. Humectants help hold water so your skin feels and looks more hydrated and plump. Many moisturizer also have ingredients that can improve skin tone and texture with continued use.

The key to better skin in the cooler months is to try a few new things- like oils and serums- until you see a difference which can take a week or even a month or so. As the winter air becomes drier, you may find yourself needing a different brand, a deeper moisturizer or more layering of those oils and serums to maintain a glowing, youthful complexion.

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