Serums vs Moisturizers – What’s the Difference?

Serums and Moisturizers Explained

Serums are typically thinner and lighter than moisturizers and have a wide variety of functions. They usually don’t contain oils.  Typically, serums have active ingredients in them that penetrate deeply into your skin.

Moisturizers are thicker and creamier than serums. Serums are usually liquid or semi-liquid products, whereas moisturizers are usually in either a lotion or cream form.  These are emulsions (a mix of water and oils).

Serums can be water-based and can also be oil-based. Water-based serums should be applied directly to clean, slightly moist skin for the most effective delivery penetration of active ingredients and hydrating ingredients.

Bee Naturals Ultra AA Serum is a product that delivers water-soluble Vitamin C and other antioxidants deep within the skin. It also hydrates. Think of hydrating products as those that ‘give your skin a drink of water’.

Queen Bee Facial Serum is an oil-based serum that also delivers oil-soluble antioxidants to the skin but is oil-based and very moisturizing and lubricating.  This type of serum should be used after water-based serums are applied.

If water-based serums are applied after an oil-based serum or moisturizer, the water hydrating compounds and active ingredients can’t penetrate through the oil layer on the skin, because it creates a ‘barrier’ that water can’t penetrate.

How do I know which is which?

Look at the label!

If the product contains water in the list of ingredients, it is a water-soluble product and should be used before any oil containing products.

If it primarily contains oils, it is an oil-based product and should be applied after water-based serums.

So, in general, a hydrating water-based serum delivers moisture and active ingredients to your skin. Moisturizers, though they may be hydrating provide a lubricating, protective layer that prevents the evaporation of water (moisture) from your skin.

So then, now that we know some skin care basics, how do we best optimize the effects of our skincare products?

How to Best Use Skincare Products

  1. Make sure your skin is well cleansed – clean, but not stripped of all healthy oils.  This is accomplished in two ways:
  2. Use a gentle low foaming cleanser to thoroughly remove makeup and debris, but not so much as to ‘strip’ the skin to the point of squeaky clean. Gentle, gentle! Bee Naturals Queen Bee Cleansing Milk or Rose Geranium Foaming Facial Cleanser are good choices, or for very dry or nutrient-deprived skin, consider Rejuvenating Creme Cleanser.
  3. Ensure that your skin is adequately exfoliated, meaning that surface dead skin cells are removed.  Typically, use products that contain gentle acids such as those with glycolic acid, or lactic acid or gentle enzymes to remove surface dullness. Bee Naturals Enzyme Exfoliating Creme or AHA Rejuvenate 15 Creme used several times weekly to help with cell turn-over and allow vital ingredients to better penetrate the skin, where they’re needed. We recommend using a soft terry face cloth. Unless the skin is very soiled, we advise against the use of mechanical exfoliants (scrubs) If you are plagued with numerous blackheads, try using Bee Naturals Facial Polish periodically to help soften and remove excess debris.  It’s customizable and less likely to cause abrasions than some ‘scrubs’.
  4. Hydrate after cleansing with either Bee Naturals Hydrating Facial Freshener  or Calming Tonic prior to applying moisturizer, especially if you live in an arid or dry climate.
  5. If your skin is oily and/or acne-prone, the use of a hydrating, serum-weight moisturizer may be perfect for you. For example, Bee Naturals Oil-Free Moisturizer (a serum) may be all you need, or you can add our Oil Free Day Creme or Oil Free Night Repair Creme.
  6. If your skin is normal/combination, use a slightly heavier moisturizer, such as Queen Bee Facial Nectar or Rose Geranium Moisture Veil.  Both deliver nutrients, moisture, and lubrication to your skin.
  7. If your skin is dry, you may consider using Bee Naturals Creme Luxe Intense Moisture Creme or Queen Bee Facial Serum.

Special Concerns about excessively oily skin / acne:

Often those with excessively oily skin and/or acne believe that super-scrubbed skin is the only way to deal with these issues. While it is an understandable conclusion, it is also absolutely the incorrect approach. We often see clients that have oily skin and/or acne, but the surface of their skin is dehydrated and dry looking in appearance. If overly aggressive treatment is given to this skin type, the skin becomes so dry on the surface that the natural, necessary lubricating oils can’t make it to the surface where they are needed. Because of the surface dryness, this treatment further aggravates acne and oiliness and often contributes to whiteheads, blackheads, and additional acne. Often the skin will actually get oilier in response to this aggressive approach making matters worse for this skin situation. Moist Skin does not equate to Oily Skin.

With these basic skin care steps in mind, consider incorporating one of our many specialty cremes to your regimen if you have particular skin issues.

CC Serum for those with redness or rosacea.

Vitamin C Creme for mature, sun-damaged skin that is aged and dry or may be showing signs of sun damage.

Anti-Aging Blemish Cream for those that still suffer from occasional acne, but are also concerned with signs of aging.

Glycolic Renewal is a gentle, but effective exfoliating creme that helps brighten the complexion and helps your products absorb better.

Fruit Acid AHA/BHA Exfoliating Creme for those who need a bit more powerful exfoliating and brightening power or have occasional acne. Gentle salicylic acid helps here in addition to mixed AHA fruit acids.

Hyaluronic Serum for those who need extra hydration, prior to applying moisturizer.

Pore Refining Serum for those who have enlarged pores due to aging and loss of collagen… It’s hydrating, too!

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