Facial Oils vs Serums: What’s the difference?

Facial Oils vs Serums:   What’s the difference?
Facial oils and serums, we all know and love them, and we definitely can’t live without them, but do we actually know the differences between them. Both facial oils and serums are concentrated, goal-orientated products, falling slightly outside of the traditional core skincare products i.e., cleansers, exfoliators, moisturisers, and SPF, to directly target more specific skin concerns. So, let’s clear one thing up – your skin – and deep dive into the differences between these two skincare supernovas.
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What is a serum?

Think of serums as basically daily supplements for your skin. They are usually humectants, which mean that they help to hydrate by drawing moisture into the skin cells. Serums come in concentrated formulas designed to help correct specific skin concerns like an uneven skin tone, dullness, redness and fine lines and wrinkles. They have a lightweight, watery, or gel-like texture and a small molecular structure, so they are able to penetrate deep into the epidermis and deposit their powerful active ingredients for more targeted results.

Are serums moisturisers?

Tricky. The answer is both yes and no. Serums can be packed full of moisturising ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides to help the skin retain moisture and help strengthen its barrier, but that that doesn't necessarily make them moisturisers in the traditional sense. Moisturisers and creams are much richer in texture and create a physical barrier on top of the skin’s surface layer to actively lock in hydration and the benefits that products such as serums deliver. This is why it’s so important to use an oil or a moisturiser after a serum.

How and when should you use a serum?

This really all depends on the type of serum and your skin goals. If you’re looking to help target dull and uneven skin, then try Glow And Protect Serum. Packed with brightening bioactives and protective antioxidants, it’s clinically proven to brighten and even skin tone and smooth skin texture in 14 days. If fine lines and wrinkles are your concern and you want all the results of a retinol, with none of the sting, then look no further than Bio Retinoid™ Youth Serum. Powered by our plant-derived alternative to retinol, Bidens Pilosa, it delivers retinol-mirroring results made suitable for sensitive skin. And if it’s redness you’re looking to reduce, then calming White Mushroom-powered Evercalm™ Redness Relief Serum is the one for you.

Serums can be used up to twice a day (morning and evening), depending on the formulation. For the most effective results, apply a couple of pumps of serum on freshly cleansed, toned, and dried skin to optimise absorption. Gently press the serum into your skin and wait until it’s fully absorbed to before following with your favourite facial oil and moisturiser.

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What is a facial oil?

Facial oils have taken over the skincare spotlight recently, providing a nourishing boost of nutrition and hydration to the skin that can help replenish, repair, and strengthen the skin barrier. While many are still hesitant to use a facial oil, believing them to be heavy, sticky, or unsuitable for their skin type, this myth means that you may be missing out on a plethora of benefits that facial oils bring.

Facial oils are occlusives, which means they help skin to retain water by forming a physical barrier that prevents it from evaporating (this process is called transepidermal water loss, or TEWL). They are formulated to provide both hydration and protection against water loss, with a rich emollient texture (generally speaking, heavier than serums) and a larger molecular structure that penetrate the outermost layers of the skin. Facial oils are typically a blend of plant oils and feed the skin with essential fatty acids to help bolster its barrier. Because they help to strengthen the skin barrier, facial oils can help reduce signs of sensitivity, help smooth and plump the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and help rebalance surface oil levels – concerns all caused from dehydration as a result of compromised barrier function.

How and when should you use a facial oil?

To ensure you get all the benefits of facial oils, it’s important to select the most appropriate one for your skin type and concern. For example, Meadowfoam Seed Oil, used in our new Evercalm™ Barrier Support Elixir , would benefit most skin types including blemish-prone and oily because it has hydrating properties that help rebalance surface oil levels, yet a fast absorbing and lightweight composition, while someone with extremely dry skin would benefit from choosing a richer, more nourishing oil like Sea Buckthorn Oil, used in Bio Retinoid™ Youth Concentrate.

Because facial oils have a thicker texture and heavy molecular weight, they should be applied as one of the last steps in your skincare routine, after a serum but before a moisturiser. Warm 2-5 drops facial oil in the palm of your hand, pat into your skin and wait until it’s fully absorbed.

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Why do you need to use both in your routine?

When it comes to skincare, you’ll want to look for products that both hydrate and moisturise your skin to help reduce transepidermal water loss. To achieve this, it’s best to combine complementary products that deliver both humectant (serums) and occlusive (facial oils) skincare ingredients best suited to targeting your skin concern. Occlusives and humectants are a dynamic duo, and one without the other won’t give you the game-changing results you’re after.

So, if you have sensitive or dehydrated skin and feel that your barrier needs some serious extra support, then layering Evercalm™ Redness Relief Serum, clinically proven to visibly reduce redness after just 30 minutes, with Evercalm™ Barrier Support Elixir clinically proven to repair and strengthen the skin barrier within 7 days, is a surefire step towards helping to keep your complexion calm and comfortable.

Less is always more

It's easy for facial oils and serums to blur together and leave us confused about which products to use and how and when to apply them. A good rule of thumb is less is more. Whether using a face serum or oil, both should be applied in small quantities in the correct order to lock in all the goodness for a glowing and healthier-looking skin.