You may think that facial serums and oils are interchangeable, but the reality is that each serves a very different, often very specific, purpose. What’s more, the order in which you apply these two products makes a critical difference in how well they actually work. Here are the key differences to know between facial oil and facial serum.
Lightweight and potent, facial serums are generally meant to be applied directly after cleansing and toning, layered underneath your moisturizer. Because they are lightweight and often water-based, they are also better able to penetrate the skin on a deeper level—which is why serums also often contain a hefty concentration of active ingredients.
These active ingredients are also typically targeted, meaning that you can use facial serums to address specific skin concerns, such as fine lines and wrinkles, skin tone, pore size, and more. When it comes to facial serums, you also aren’t only limited to one—depending on your skin type and concerns, you can layer on as many different facial serums as you like.
Unlike facial serum, facial oil sits on top of the skin—it does not penetrate. Instead, facial oil is meant to lock in moisture and all of the other beneficial ingredients in your serums and moisturizer, which is also why oil should always, be the final step in your skin care routine. Most facial oils typically contain a singular or blend of botanical oils that are rich in antioxidants, nutrients and fatty acids, which help to both nourish and protect the skin.
There’s one exception to the facial oils should always go last rule, and it’s if your facial oil contains a concentrated, targeted ingredient, such as a retinoid blend. In this case you can layer your facial oil underneath a heavier moisturizer.
HOW TO USE FACIAL SERUM AND FACIAL OIL IN A SKIN CARE ROUTINE
Given all of the many different types of beneficial skin care products on the market, the order in which to actually use them can often feel confusing. Here is the correct way to layer both facial serum and facial oil as part of your daily routine:
STEP 1: Cleanser
STEP 2: Toner (this step is optional)
STEP 3: Facial Serum (Layer on one that is targeted to address your individual skin concerns, whatever they may be that day).
STEP 4: Moisturizer
STEP 5: Facial Oil
FACIAL SERUMS WE RECOMMEND
Niacinamide Serum 12% Plus Zinc 2%: This concentrated serum blends potent niacinamide with zinc to minimize enlarged pores, even out skin texture and tone, balance oil production and smooth fine lines.
Vitamin C Serum 22%: The powerful antioxidant effects of vitamin C are well-documented. This facial serum is comprised of highly stabilized l-ascorbic acid to brighten skin, fend off environmental aggressors and boost collagen production.
FACIAL OILS WE RECOMMEND
Virgin Marula Face Oil 100%: Formulated with 100% unrefined, virgin marula oil, this concentrated facial oil hydrates, nourishes and smooths skin for a radiant complexion.
Retinoid Face Oil: This non-irritating retinoid facial oil boosts hydration while simultaneously fighting off fine lines and wrinkles for a more youthful, radiant complexion.