We all want to streamline our lives in order to more efficiently use our time and resources and your skincare routine shouldn’t be any different. As it’s January you might be spending (or at least intending to spend) time getting your body in shape and we think it’s worth doing the same with your skin. Just like your body, when your skin is looking good it gives you confidence and to achieve this you need to ensure that each product in your skincare routine is working to improve the condition of your skin and address your specific skin concerns.
In case you missed it you can read our guide to serums and discover why they are the workhorse of your skincare regime. This may lead you to question whether you should replace your existing moisturiser with a serum. Despite everyone’s desire for efficiency and ease, the art of layering products remains a focus in skincare as a way to improve the performance of each product, the key is to ensure that each product you are using works for you. By incorporating the right serum into your routine you can intensify the effectiveness of your regime in order to more comprehensively treat a wide range of skin concerns.
How do serums and moisturisers differ?
Serums are highly concentrated, lightweight, water-based products that are designed to address a variety of skincare issues such as fine lines, wrinkles, dull skin, dehydration or blemishes. Moisturisers are lotions, gels or creams that are primarily designed to hydrate skin.
Serums are thinner and lighter than moisturisers and are made up of smaller molecules meaning that they can penetrate deeper into the skin delivering potent active ingredients to layers of the skin that moisturisers cannot reach. They contain antioxidants, vitamins, peptides and acids which target specific skin concerns and they deliver these ingredients to where they are needed the most. Serums can therefore be seen as treatments rather than moisturisers although they may treat dryness and dehydration.
Moisturisers have a thicker consistency and are made up of larger molecules. They work mostly to hydrate the surface of the skin and prevent water loss. While they may contain some anti-ageing ingredients, their primary job is to hydrate and protect the skin. Serums work deep within the skin to deliver nutrients, while moisturisers are formulated to deliver moisture and hydration to the top layers of your skin. Moisturisers usually contain occlusives that form a protective seal over the skin which helps the skin to retain its hydration and creates a barrier between your skin and harmful environmental factors.
Can you skip a moisturiser if you use a serum?
If you are looking to address a specific skin concern then you should include a serum in your skin routine as they are multitasking products which can brighten, reduce wrinkles, treat blemishes as well as hydrate skin however they are not designed to replace moisturisers.In fact they can aid the absorption of your moisturiser. Serums can help to boost the hydrating effects of your moisturiser and in turn moisturisers can seal in the nutrients delivered by serums as well as offer protection against environmental elements.
How to find the right serum/moisturiser
The right serum for you will be determined by your specific skin concerns as this will dictate the ingredients that you should look for. Here is a comprehensive guide to finding the right serum for you.
A good starting point for finding a moisturiser is determining your skin type (normal, dry, oily, sensitive). It is important to note that skin types can change throughout the year depending on your lifestyle, age or the season so make sure that you keep monitoring your skin throughout the year. The texture of the right moisturiser for you will be related to your skin type. Dry skin (or skin in the wintertime) may need a heavier and creamier formula while oily skin (or skin in the summertime) might need a light lotion moisturiser that won’t block pores.
Those with oily skin or skin that is prone to breakouts should opt for a lightweight non-greasy moisturiser with a lotion or gel texture as creams can clog pores. The formula should condition skin while helping to balance hydration and oil levels. Look for ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, Vitamin C, lemongrass and willow bark extract.
Those suffering from parched skin should look for moisturising and plumping ingredients such as glycerin, hyaluronic acid, shea butter, grapeseed oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, antioxidants (Green tea extract, grape extract, Vitamin C, Vitamin E)
The challenge for combination skin is to treat the differing needs of different areas of your face. Those with combination skin want to moisturise without clogging pores and to provide the skin with balance. One option is to use different moisturisers on different areas, alternatively you should look for a lightweight but hydrating moisturiser that can help to regulate oil production.
Those blessed with normal skin have more options when it comes to moisturisers although normal skin can always benefit from a moisturiser that helps to maintain balance and hydration whilst providing skin with a boost of energy. It may also be a good idea to switch from a lightweight moisturiser in summer to a thicker cream in the winter. Those with normal skin should look for a water-based moisturiser which contains humectants (ingredients that hydrate by attracting moisture from the environment and lower layers of your skin) such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid as well occlusives such as shea butter and lanolin which will create a protective seal to keep in all the moisture. For a more youthful appearance look for Vitamins A, C and E which are powerful antioxidants that help to protect skin against damage from ageing free radicals whilst increasing cell regeneration and promoting the production of collagen. Vitamin E helps to soften skin and maintain its oil balance without leaving an oily residue.
How should I apply?
Serums should be applied before a moisturiser as they have a lighter texture and penetrate deeper into the skin. After cleansing and toning apply your serum while skin is still moist as this will help the serum to be absorbed. Using upward movements, press the serum into skin with your fingertips to release the active ingredients.
Follow with your moisturiser, using upward and outward circular movements massage into face and neck. This technique will help to stimulate circulation and allows the moisturiser to be better absorbed which enables it to bring nutrients to dull or dry skin. Apply moisturiser to the driest parts of your face first such as cheeks and leave the middle of your face until last as this tends to be oilier and so will typically need less hydration. Don’t forget to moisturise dry areas such as your neck and decolletage.
Finally apply SPF and tinted moisturiser or any other make-up base.
So as you can see serums and moisturisers are two very closely related but very distinct products that can work in tandem to improve the condition of your skin. A serum addresses your specific skin concerns and the moisturiser hydrates the surface of the skin, seals in the active ingredients from the serum and creates a protective barrier for skin against water loss and damaging environmental factors.
They can mutually benefit each other and therefore your skin. Serums can increase the hydrating effects of your moisturiser and moisturisers act as a protective coat sealing in all the good stuff. Together serums and moisturisers can help improve the condition and appearance of your skin which is what we’re all seeking right? It is just a case of finding the right serum and the right moisturiser for your skin type and your skin concerns.
What are your favourite serum and moisturiser combinations?