Skin Care

Serum or Moisturiser?

Which should you be using? Are they even different? Which is better? Don’t worry, all your questions will be answered today. We’ll take a deep dive into the functions of moisturisers and serums, and how they can support your skin health. Ready for the glow-up?

December 4, 2023


Moisturiser Refresh

Okay, first things first; let’s get the basics down. What is a moisturiser?

Moisturisers are smooth, thick creams and lotions designed to soften skin, lock in hydration and support the skin barrier. A moisturiser is a key part of any skincare routine and is recommended to be applied daily.

Moisturisers can be made up of humectants, emollients, and occlusives, each having their own mechanism of action.

Occlusives consist of large molecules, which create a barrier over the skin. This barrier locks in hydration, prevents water loss and protects your skin from environmental damage. They fortify the surface layer of your skin, keeping it plump, hydrated, and soft.

That being said, there are different types of moisturisers out there, and it’s important to find your fit. Using the wrong moisturiser for your skin can lead to adverse effects like oiliness, irritation, and breakouts - oh my!

Here’s a quick breakdown of the most popular types of moisturisers on the market:

  1. Light moisturisers; are often water-based, lightweight, quick-absorbing, and recommended for oily/combination skin. Sits nicely under makeup and great for summer.
  2. Thick moisturisers; are great for dry skin and commonly night creams. With a high lipid content, they’re richer, thicker and designed to be left overnight to soak in and provide deep hydration.

How do serums differ from moisturisers?

Serums have a watery or gently gel-like consistency. They’re potent, targeted treatments designed to cater to specific skin concerns. You’ve probably noticed that serums usually come in smaller packaging sizes. This is because a little goes a long way. They’re formulated without the thickening and fluid filling agents, so they’re concentrated to provide maximum efficacy. With active ingredients in higher concentrations, serums penetrate deeper into the skin, delivering powerful results. Whether you're tackling fine lines, hyperpigmentation, or dehydration, there's a serum out there tailored to address your particular concern.

Is one better than the other?

Truth be told, it's not a straightforward comparison.

Their purposes are unique yet equally crucial. A moisturiser diligently hydrates and safeguards your skin barrier, whereas serums target specific skin concerns with their high potency. A well-rounded skincare regimen often welcomes both, addressing distinct aspects of your skin's well-being. It all boils down to acknowledging your skin type, understanding its needs, and recognising the different ways these products enrich your skin's overall health and glow.

In essence, imagine your moisturiser as the reliable guardian of your skin, and your serum as the expert problem solver.

Where do they fit in my skincare routine?

The general rule of thumb in a skincare routine is to apply products from thinnest to thickest. Cosmopolitan says you should start with cleansers and toners, then apply your serum. Follow this with an eye cream if applicable, then go for your moisturiser. You can follow this with face oils and SPF if you like, but note that many daytime moisturisers include SPF.