What’s the Difference Between Face Serums and Moisturizers

While both serums and moisturizers help promote healthy skin, they are not the same. One is more lightweight and concentrated, while the other has a thicker consistency and protects the surface layer of the skin. Both can be added to your routine, especially if you’re looking to achieve glowing and younger-looking skin. 

But do you actually need both? Can one product replace the other? What’s the difference between a face serum and a moisturizer? Continue reading as we provide a rundown of each skincare product. 

What are moisturizers? 

The main role of moisturizers is to hydrate the skin and lock in moisture. They also have larger molecules, which means that they won’t penetrate the skin as deeply as serums. This is also the reason why they are applied after serums, sealing everything in and locking in nutrients.    

Compared to serums, moisturizers have a heavier/thicker consistency because they contain combinations of oil, water, nutrients, and other ingredients. They can also be water-based and oil-free (or gel-based), which are ideal for those with oily, combination, and acne-prone skin. 

Check out our previous post to learn the difference between gel-based and cream-based moisturizers

Many moisturizers today also contain other ingredients that can help uneven skin tone and signs of aging. If you, however, are looking to address certain skin problems (like dark spots or fine lines), it is better to combine your moisturizer with a quality serum formulated to improve that skin concern.  

If you’re in the market for a new moisturizer, we recommend Dr. Sylvia’s Deep Hydrating Moisturizer. It strengthens and rehydrates the skin without the use of oil-based ingredients. This makes it suitable for oily, acne-prone, and sensitive skin. It can restore moisture without clogging your pores or triggering breakouts.

What are serums?

Serums contain a higher concentration of active ingredients that can target specific skin concerns. They are also made up of tiny molecules, which means that they penetrate faster and deeper than typical face creams and moisturizers. Face serums are applied after cleanser or toner and before moisturizer. 

As serums are lighter formulations, they absorb quickly into the skin and feel lightweight; not leaving a sticky or greasy feeling after application. They are also more concentrated, which means that they tend to provide more visible results. Also, there are different types of face serums, including:

  • Anti-Aging
  • Hydrating
  • Brightening 
  • Firming  
  • Reparative

Many serums in the market also contain hydrating/moisturizing ingredients (like hyaluronic acid), but they shouldn’t replace your moisturizer. Keep in mind that moisturizers’ main purpose is to hydrate the skin and prevent water loss. Serums, meanwhile, penetrate deeply into the skin to deliver active ingredients and address specific skin concerns. 

Our clinic’s skincare line has a range of treatment serums that can give you glowing and more youthful skin. 

  • Age Defying Serum with Skin Tightening Helix – contains a blend of ingredients that can lift and smooth the skin’s appearance. It also features a unique snail secretion with natural protective and restorative properties. 
  • Multi Peptide Essence – contains clinically proven ingredients that can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It can also firm and smooth the skin’s texture, improve hydration, and lock in moisture in the skin. 
  • Vitamin C 20% with Ferulic Acid – a comprehensive antioxidant serum that helps fight oxidative stress. It also provides additional hydration and skin lightening benefits. 

Moisturizers vs serums

Have a thicker consistency and protects the surface layer of the skin  Lightweight and can penetrate deeper into the skin
Hydrate the skin (increase hydration) and lock in moisture and nutrients  Can tackle and treat specific skin concerns (dark spots, fine lines, wrinkles, enlarged pores)
May have larger molecules and can contain combinations of oil, water, nutrients, and other ingredients Made up of tiny molecules with a high concentration of active ingredients 

Should you use both?

If you have specific skin concerns you want to address, it is a good idea to incorporate a serum into your routine. A brightening serum, for instance, can help even your skin tone by tackling hyperpigmentation and discoloration issues. If you, on the other hand, are concerned about fine lines and wrinkles, an anti-aging serum can improve your skin appearance. 

A moisturizer should be applied after serums to create a seal and make the product more effective. Just be sure to choose a formula that is right for your skin type. If you have oily skin, choose lighter and water-based moisturizers. For dry skin, choose cream-based formulas or those with thicker consistencies. 

Read our previous post and learn the 5 ways to get the most out of your moisturizer

For more skincare tips and product recommendations, browse through our website or blog. You can also get in touch with Cutis Medical Laser Clinics today and schedule a consultation with our aesthetic doctor in Singapore to learn which treatments can keep your skin looking young and healthy.