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Skin Care Creams vs Serums

Stacey Solah

There are so many options when choosing skin care that it can be overwhelming and confusing as to what is actually necessary. I am going to provide a brief rundown on the differences between facial creams and serums, so you can understand what is best for you. Namely, the differences in physicality, the purpose of each of them and their ingredients.

The most apparent difference is the look and feel of the product. A cream is thick and more full of body than the typical light serum. When applied to the face, a cream will feel thick and rich and slightly dryer than a serum. The serum, being more light and fluid, will spread more easily around the face, allowing you to apply less pressure (which is important around the eyes; the thinnest part of skin on our entire body), as well as enabling you to use a lot less of the serum, as opposed to a cream.

A face cream is generally designed to be a moisturiser, providing hydration and often protecting the skin from losing its own natural moisture. Serums are generally designed to address a specialised need, such as wrinkles or acne, and are sometimes good for use as a moisturiser as well. Shop here for anti aging serums. Whilst both creams and serums can overlap into each others purpose, a serum will always be higher concentrated in terms of its active ingredients.

This following reason is why I personally prefer to use a good quality serum as a moisturiser as opposed to a cream. To formulate a cream or lotion, a lot of ingredients are needed that are not present to nourish the skin, but rather, to make a stable, aesthetically pleasing cream. A cream contains both water based ingredients and oil based ingredients, and to get them to mix nicely into one formula takes a lot of work. The formula will contain emulsifiers (to mix oil and water), thickeners, stabilisers, and at least two different preservatives (and quite often, more than two), ones that protect water and different ones that protect oil. If a serum is either purely oil based or purely water based, than it is naturally able to be higher concentrated in active ingredients, as it does not need all the extra ingredients needed to make a stable emulsion.

Creams will contain anywhere between 60% to 75% water. How much do you spend on your face creams?

facial moisturising cream in jar

The face creams of Solah Skin and Spirit Care do not contain any water, but instead use Rose otto hydrosol, the by-product of the steam distillation of roses for the purpose of producing essential oil. Natural hydrosols have a myriad of skin care benefits and are an excellent base for skin care creams as opposed to plain water. Shop here for hydrosol based moisturising creams.

Serums come in a variety of formulations, either oil based, water based or an emulsion of both. Oil based serums do not make your skin oily, on the contrary, they help manage your skin from over producing oil. Oil based serums are my preference as it is oil based ingredients that can penetrate the deepest layers of our skin, effecting the highest benefits of active ingredients.

 oil based facial serum dropper bottle

The serums of Solah Skin and Spirit Care contain only 100% concentrated active ingredients, with no preservatives, nor thickeners, stabilisers etc. I only use oil based serums with an extremely low to non- comedogenic rating; serums that will not clog pores nor cause pimples. In fact using the right oils can be great for treating and preventing acne, much more so than harsh, synthetic treatments; more on that subject for another article! Shop here for acne treating serums.

Water based serums do not penetrate the skin as deep as oil, although there are still some terrific water based ingredients for specialty treatments such as peptides and retinol. Water based serums feel very different to oil based serums, and they feel, if I may say, less luxurious. A serum designed with quality oils feels very nice to massage in the skin, like draping yourself in velvet. However, if too much is applied, and the skin cannot absorb it all at once, one may feel it to be greasy. Water based serums on the other hand, simply feel wet or gel like and can sometimes feel sticky if the formula contains a lot of glycerine.

mini serum bottle

With all this information about water and oil ingredients, how do you even know which product is which? Simply get in the habit of reading the ingredients list! It is crucial to read the full ingredients list, firstly to know if what you are buying is suitable for your needs, but also if it is safe (contains no toxic ingredients), and if it is simply good value. Ingredients are listed in order of what is most used to what is least used. If the first ingredient listed is Water or Aqua, then the product is mostly water, with water soluble ingredients.

If you are seeking a treatment for reversing the signs of aging, then choose a quality serum to apply on key areas before applying a moisturising cream. If you want an all in one anti aging and hydrating solution, then the Ethereal Vitamin C Serum is the one for you; this is my daily essential! If you are seeking a treatment for preventing and calming acne, then less is best, whether it is an all natural cream or a non- comedogenic serum. Shop here for anti acne serums. Happy pampering!


1 comment

  • Hi, sorry for taken so long to get back to you. I just want to let you know that I loved the products and would like to make few more orders with you. Keep up the good work.

    Deborah Miers

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