Building a skincare routine takes time and requires patience and extra care. Every facial product has a specific purpose, and this can sometimes be confusing especially if you’re starting out.
In today’s article, we’ll be exploring the difference between face oils and serums. Both are great for your skin, but knowing their individual benefits can help you learn how they work on your skin type and how either of the two or ( even both) can feature in your skincare routine.
Face Oil Vs. Face Serum
What is a Face Oil?
Facial oils have been part of skincare routines since the ancient periods of Cleopatra. Ancient Egyptians used various plant-based oils on their skin to reduce fine lines and wrinkles to preserve their youth.
Facial oils can be considered essential to any skincare routine. They are packed with vials of goodness which provide your skin with the much-needed dose of nutrients. These skincare products are extracted from plant extracts like fruits, seeds, and nuts and packed with essential nutrients, fatty acids, and antioxidant-rich vitamins.
Facial oils are beneficial in protecting the skin from changes in weather temperatures while also retaining moisture and repairing the skin barrier, thus improving its overall resilience. They are also quite effective as they mimic the skin’s natural sebum production.
Face oils provide intense hydration hence resulting in a glowing complexion from within. They tend to have thicker textures; hence while moisturizing, it’s best to massage in oils to help ensure it absorbs into the skin. When used as the final step in your skincare routine, they can protect the serum from evaporating from your skin.
Incorporating facial oils into your routine will depend on your skin type, as certain oils can clog pores. If you have breakout-prone skin, then a lightweight facial oil would be ideal. Our editors recommend Sdara Skincare Organic Marula Face Oil, as it works for all skin types and contains antioxidants like Vitamin E and C and Omega 6 and 9 fatty acids, which are great for nourishing and protecting your skin from free radicals. The best part is that it contains Marula oil which sinks into your skin quickly, provides hydration and is extremely lightweight.
For dry skin: If you’ve got dry or dehydrated skin, you’re likely to reap many benefits from facial oils. Dry skin is often a result of the loss or disruption of its barrier function, which technically, when intact, effectively traps water. This can be due to the skin’s inability to produce oil naturally, overwashing or over-exfoliating. Hence, facial oil acts as an occlusive agent in helping the skin not lose water.
For oily or acne-prone skin: Choosing a facial oil when you’ve got either oily or acne-prone skin can be quite the challenge. For the most part, it’s advised not to use face oils, especially if you have oily skin. However, certain oils can be part of your routine.
For instance, if you have acne, tea tree oil can help reduce acne and inflammation. It’s advisable to seek advice from a dermatologist before incorporating certain products into your routine or making them part of your skin treatments. However, their products, such as salicylic acid, are considered more effective in treating acne.
For sensitive skin: If you’ve got sensitive skin, you’ll need to be keen on the ingredients used as certain ingredients can irritate. One way to try this out is to perform a patch test on your inner arm before using any face oils. If you feel safe using the product, you can go ahead and select face oils depending on your other specific skin concerns.
What is a Face Serum?
This is a lightweight moisturizer that contains a higher concentration of active skincare ingredients such as vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and glycolic acid. It is designed to target specific skin concerns. Face serums have a lightweight texture and consistency and smaller molecular weight than face oils. This allows them to penetrate the skin much deeper than heavier lotions and creams.
Face serums can be harnessed from any active ingredients hence making them ideal for combating various skin issues. They can help repair or protect your skin from concerns such as hyperpigmentation, dark spots, sun damage, acne, dehydration, dullness, and wrinkles. Our top pick is the Sdara Skincare Vitamin C Serum for Face with Hyaluronic Acid. The serum comes packed with a mega-dose of antioxidants geared towards helping you visibly reduce wrinkles, boosting collagen production whilst helping your skin retain moisture.
When applying a face serum, you want it to penetrate as much as possible into the skin’s deeper layers due to the active ingredients. That’s why serums are best applied after cleansing and toning and before your moisturizer and sunscreen.
A lightweight facial serum tends to absorb into your skin quickly; hence you can include it in your skincare routine both morning and nighttime.
Serums come in various formulas, including oil-based serums, gels, and water-based ones. These differences in viscosity and formula can make certain serums more appropriate for a particular skin type or concern.
If you experience extreme dryness or have dry skin, it’s important to note that a facial serum tends to be more drying than face oils. This is because a serum absorbs into the skin. Some face serums have peel-like preservatives like alpha-hydroxy that can dry the skin; hence they may not necessarily be ideal for this skin type.
Can You Use Both A Face Oil And An Oil Serum?
Whether you can use both oils and serums will depend on your skin type. If you have a particular skin concern, then using both products would be advisable. It ensures that the specific problem is being addressed while also receiving all of the benefits of face oil.
Some serums also contain moisturizing ingredients such as Hyaluronic Acid, which may mean you don’t require a face oil. However, those with dryer skins may benefit from sealing the hyaluronic acid into their skin cells with a face oil to not easily evaporate.
There’s also the factor of age in that naturally, as we get older, the skin’s oil production decreases. This could result in you purchasing a facial oil. You can also choose to use a serum to target any skin concerns you may have, such as reducing fine lines.
How To Apply Face Serum
- Cleanse and Exfoliate Your Skin. Exfoliation of your skin should be done once or twice, depending on the product.
- Apply a few drops/thin layer of serum on your palms and start by warming it between your palms
- Use your hands’ natural weight to massage and evenly distribute the serum over your face and neck.
How To Apply Face Oil
- Cleanse and Moisturize
- Apply about four to five drops of oil to your fingertips
- Gently massage the oil from your nose to your ears. Then across to your eyebrows, hairline, in an upward motion. Like you’re going against gravity
- Finish by smoothing it from your neck to your jawline till it fully absorbed
What’s The Fundamental Difference?
The key difference between the two comes down to the composition of their formulas and different-sized molecules.
Face serums tend to be mostly water-based, meaning their molecule size is much smaller than that of oil. This allows them to be absorbed quicker and deeper into your skin. This makes them particularly effective at delivering ingredients and beneficial to most skin types.
Face oil’s molecular structure is larger than that of serum’s, meaning it only reaches the skin’s epidermis. However, the oil molecules mimic the body’s natural sebum production, making them ideal for protecting the skin’s barrier.
What’s great about the two is that they work so well together and can address various skin issues/concerns when layered. If using both, a good rule of thumb is to layer from the thinnest to thickest consistency. So if you’ve got a lightweight oil, use it first, followed by the serum.