Health and Beauty

Serum vs. Moisturizer: What Do You Need to Know?

serum vs moisturizer

Gone are the days when people are only tied to a few skincare products from known brands. But as years have passed, it also brought about new ideas and changes in the skincare industry — hence the massive variety of products we can choose from today. Rookie skin care ‘peeps’ often find themselves being stuck somewhere between wanting to start their own skincare routine and feeling a bit confused about what kinds of products they should use. 

Take for example, serums and moisturizers. People who have built their own routine will mostly have either a serum or moisturizer or maybe both in their line of products. We know that these products are important and can make a positive difference on our skin. However, the reality is: not everyone is aware of their differences, let alone their functions. 

To shed light on these two particular skincare products, we’ll walk you through what you need to know about them:

What is a Serum?


A serum is a skincare product that’s lightweight, and at the same time, has a highly concentrated formula that’s easily absorbed by the skin. It’s created to target specific skin concerns such as dark circles, blemishes, and acne marks. Serums usually come in small bottles with a dropper that you can use to apply either directly on your face or through your palms first then onto the face.

What is a Moisturizer?


A moisturizer has a thick consistency, typically in the form of cream, lotion, gel, balm, or ointment. Emollients are the most common type of moisturizer that works to nourish and create a barrier between your skin and the climate, helping to soothe the skin and let it stay hydrated. Moisturizers also function as the last step in skincare routines because they lock in moisture and nutrients that your skin needs to keep it safe from possible external irritants. 

Related: 7 Must-Know Benefits of Moisturizing your Skin

What are the Differences Between a Serum and Moisturizer?

Serums are thinner, and more lightweight compared to moisturizers, and have a wide array of functions for the skin. Moisturizers, on the other hand, are designed to moisturize and hydrate the skin to avoid drying and water loss, keeping the skin plump and healthy. Serums also have smaller molecules with highly concentrated ingredients that easily get absorbed by the skin, helping to add extra nourishment to the skin — while moisturizers are thicker, have larger molecules, and act as the last step of the routine because it locks in moisture and hydration that protects the skin from external factors that can damage it. 

Which is More Effective?

You can’t really say that one of them is better than the other because they have different functions, to begin with. So to put it simply, serum and moisturizer, when used separately, are effective in their own way and purpose. Nevertheless, it would still be better to use both of them to see better results for your skin. 

Which One Should Go First?

Should serum go first before moisturizer or is it the other way around? This may be a common question or dilemma for people, especially newbies to skin care, who have various products to layer into one skincare routine. This often causes confusion mainly because many still don’t know their difference and purpose. 

So what should the order be? In essence, if you have both a serum and a moisturizer, it’s advisable to apply the serum before the moisturizer. Why? When it comes to consistency, serums are much more lightweight compared to moisturizers — which means they are also easily absorbed by the skin. When you apply the serum first, you provide your skin with the opportunity to absorb the active ingredients, helping to prepare the skin for the last step — moisturizing. 

Do You Need to Use Both?

In the end, a serum can’t replace a moisturizer, and neither can a moisturizer replace a serum. They were created for different purposes as well because serums can’t completely moisturize your skin since it was not designed for that, and a moisturizer can’t supply the kind of nourishment that a serum gives to your skin  

To be clear, you are not required to use both of these products to complete your skincare routine. Both of them, however, are essential to achieving a glowing complexion, so layering or using these two products together can reap more benefits than using them separately. You should also check whether combining a serum and moisturizer would be ideal for your skin type. 

Skin care isn’t really all that complicated (once you get the hang of it), particularly when you know what type of products to use and ingredients to avoid for your skin type. You’ll eventually find yourself enjoying it. Serums and moisturizers may often be confused with or used interchangeably, but it’s important to know that they are two different skincare products having different purposes, yet being created to enhance the skin’s appearance and condition. 

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