What’s The Difference Between Face Serum And Moisturizer?

facial serum vs moisturizerWe’ve noticed many people tend to use the terms “moisturizer” and “serum” almost interchangeably. In this article we will discuss: Are face serums and moisturizers similar? Why do we need them? Should we use them in combination or separately? and Which one you should use first?

In the first place a serum and a moisturizer are not same. Though you can find a serum that can technically take the place of a moisturizer as some serum types contain ingredients that are designed to promote moisture retention, but strictly speaking moisturizers and serums are not interchangeable.

What Is Face Serum?

A face serum is the most distilled and concentrated skin care product that is chockfull of nutrients for your skin. It is typically water based formula with the smallest molecules. So it can penetrate more deeply and therefore has a greater effect on skin than a moisturizer. It’s a concentrated infusion of skin nourishing  ingredients to address some specific skin conditions such as fine lines, wrinkles, or dark spots. Since facial serums are fully loaded with nutrients, even a little bit goes a long way.

What Is Moisturizer?

As water travels upward through the skin pores, skin’s moisture tends to lose naturally. Depending on your age and skin type, this normal daily moisture loss can vary from minimal to severe. A moisturizer is a cosmetic product to restore moisture to your skin. It works by trapping moisture in your skin.

When To Apply Face Serum And When To Apply A Moisturizer?

As you can see, a moisturizer provides effective ways to help retain skin’s moisture. So why would you need a serum?

Well whereas a serum is similar to a moisturizer in regards to helping moisture retention, it provides enormously much more benefits than a moisturizer alone.

Serums typically contain robust ingredients designed to nourish, replenish and rejuvenate your skin with powerful ingredients like Vitamins C & E, antioxidants, botanicals, anti-aging or skin-firming ingredients.

A serum has small molecules, so is thinner, lighter and able to penetrate more deeply than a moisturizer. Moreover, it’s combined with active and highly concentrated ingredients that you would like to penetrate as deeply as possible into your skin. This explains why you should always apply a serum directly to your skin after cleansing or toning and before your moisturizer and sunscreen.

Serums are often used to tackle a wide range of skin care issues. There are available anti-aging serums, skin brightening serums, and acne prevention serums. Although they are generally more expensive than other skin care products, but being that they’re jam-packed with powerful skin nourishing and rejuvenating ingredients – they are worth every penny.

Contrary to the serums, moisturizers are typically thicker and creamier than serums. They have larger molecules as compared to what serums have. This means that a moisturizer will not penetrate the skin as deeply as a serum will.

A moisturizer purpose is to hydrate the skin and avert water loss. Some moisturizers have added anti-aging ingredients, and so they can serve dual purpose for your skin.

Whether you include a serum or moisturizer in your skin care regime is up to you. Sometimes a serum alone can be enough for what your skin needs, and other times you will find that you need both a serum and a moisturizer. The key difference in these two products lies in their ability to penetrate your skin deeply in order to deliver valuable ingredients such as to heal, restore and renew the skin.

Is It Necessary To Use Face Serum With Moisturizer?

If you’re using a face serum with moisturizing properties, the serum may double up as a moisturizer.  However if your skin is very dry and requires more hydration, then you will need to use a moisturizer for richer moisture, on top of the face serum.

How To Use Face Serum With Moisturizer?

You should apply face serum after cleansing, but before using a moisturizer or any other makeup base. Always allow time for your serum to be well absorbed into your skin, so that the face serum is able to penetrate deep into the three layers of your skin to strengthen the cells as well as deliver active ingredients to your skin. However, face serum is absorbed quickly and leaves no traces, so there’s nothing to worry about.

Natural Beauty Tip: Use a daily moisturizer to lock in or attract moisture, and add a serum chockfull of powerful ingredients to amp up your skin care routine.

Our Recommended Serums

TruSkin Naturals 20% Vitamin C Serum is specifically formulated to revitalize aging skin, imparting key nutrients needed to restore skin to its beautiful, youthful appearance.

Check here for Origins Plantscription Anti-Aging Power Serum . It helps fade the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and makes your skin look firmer and more lifted to reveal a more youthful appearance. It’s on the pricier side, but worth every penny, because the small bottle lasts a long time and will keep your skin well hydrated, along with providing anti-aging benefits.

For those who are searching for a skin brightening serum, we recommend checking out this Aveda Enbrightenment Brightening Correcting Serum – A highly targeted brightening treatment serum that helps to eliminate appearance of discoloration & dark spots and reveal calmer, clearer & evenly-toned skin in a youthful glow.

There are also available a number of acne preventative serums. Check out the Mario Badescu Anti-Acne Serum. This salicylic acid based serum-gel averts acne flare-ups before they begin to appear. Only a thin layer applied over the acne prone skin areas every evening will keep the skin smooth and clear and acne & pimples at bay. It will not irritate even sensitive skin.


  1. I have dry skin on my face. So for home made serum I was able to get jojoba oil, frankincense oil & Vitamin E. Can I mix these 3 oils and use as a serum after using toner ( rose water only).


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.