What is More Important: Serums or Moisturizers?

You may have asked yourself on a tired night when you just want to crawl into bed and skip your skin routine altogether, which is more important: serums or moisturizers?  Do we really need to make sure we incorporate both every night? Couldn’t we all just make our routines shorter and use one and not the other? 

Functions of a Serum

There has always been a big debate as to which product is more important: serums or moisturizers.  The truth is that serums and moisturizers have different functions within your skin regimen.  Serums are lightweight products filled with active ingredients that are designed to target a specific skin concern.  For example, some serums are loaded with Vitamin C to help brighten your skin, while others may be comprised of Vitamin A to help build collagen. Serums usually contain the nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants that your skin needs for skin cell repair.  Serums are made up of smaller molecules that penetrate the skin deeper than moisturizers. The ingredients should seep into the epidermis creating real results after a period of time. Serums should be used on a freshly cleansed and toned face. 

Functions of a Moisturizer

Most moisturizers are the hydration element of your routine. They are a heavier lotion or crème and act as a skin barrier to help your skin stay hydrated.  Moisturizers have larger molecules, so they do not penetrate into the epidermis of the skin.  Their main function is to seal in the moisture and ensure the products used throughout your skincare regimen work their magic.  Yes, some moisturizers perform double duty and provide other roles for your skin, but the main benefit is sealing in that hydration and locking in the nutrients from your serums. Moisturizers should come at the end of your routine. Any serums that are added after moisturizing will not likely make it past the outer layer of crème.

Are Serums or Moisturizers More Important in Your Routine?

While I would usually say serums are more important due to the active ingredients our skin needs, those actives won’t necessarily stay locked in without the moisturizer.  They need each other in order to reach an optimal level of efficacy. So, which did we determine is more important: serums or moisturizers?  The answer is they both work best when used together.  If you are using a hyaluronic acid serum for hydration and don’t follow with a moisturizer, the actives from the serum are at risk for losing effectiveness by the moisture evaporating.  A moisturizer will seal in the hydration and allow your skin to reap full benefits.  Just as an interior designer would encourage you to layer fabrics and patterns, I encourage you to layer your products in correct order to reach your true skin potential.

Reasons to Include a Serum In Your Skincare Routine

  • Hydration: A HA serum will add immediate hydration to your skin.
  • Sensitive skin conditions such as rosacea or eczema: Serums will calm the redness and irritability.
  • Pigmentation: Serums will help fade pigment and brighten the skin.
  • Skin texture: Serums will smooth the skin and exfoliate dead skin cells.
  • Blemishes: Serums will clear acne and blemishes, as well as reduce visibility of scarring.
  • Fine lines and wrinkles: Serums will smooth fine lines and help diminish the appearance of wrinkles.

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“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” - Coco Chanel

- Coco Chanel