Moisturizing Your Skin On All Of Its Layers Will Keep Your Skin More Youthful, Glowing And Healthy
Your serum is formulated to hydrate and feed the deeper layers of your skin, while your moisturizer provides a protective barrier to keep everything intact and slow down water loss throughout the day. Together, these two products keep your skin protected and thoroughly hydrated.
Now, let's dig a little bit deeper.
For a long time, a solid skincare routine consisted of three core steps: facial cleansing, toning, and moisturizing (though let’s not forget the absolutely essential—SPF). While those steps will get you by, if you want to keep your skin in its optimal health, you need both a facial serum and a facial moisturizer.
Currently, there is a lot of confusion about the difference between serums and moisturizers, and a skewed consensus that you can replace one with the other. Due to their different properties, it is not possible to use them interchangeably. Let’s dive into what a serum is, what a moisturizer is, their different roles in your skincare routine, and how they work together to protect your skin.
To further understand how to keep your skin healthy, let's look at its anatomy. Your skin is made up of three major layers: the hypodermis, the dermis, and the epidermis.
- The hypodermis, otherwise known as the subcutaneous layer, is a connective tissue lying just above the deep fascia that functions to insulate the body and store fat. The hypodermis connects your skin to your bones and muscles. This creates a protective cushion to help protect the body from trauma, though as we age this layer naturally decreases in size.
- The dermis, the middle layer of your skin, is another connective tissue that serves many important functions, one of which is collagen production. Collagen synthesis occurs in the cells of fibroblasts, the active cells of connective tissue, which are found in the dermis. The dermis also helps you feel sensations, produces sweat, and supports the epidermis.
- The epidermis is the most superficial layer of your skin that acts as a protective outer layer, preventing threats from entering your skin. The epidermis has five layers: stratum basale, stratum spinosum, stratum granulosum, stratum lucidum, and the stratum corneum. The stratum corneum is the outermost part of the epidermis and the part that our skincare reaches. The stratum corneum has anywhere from 15-30 layers in itself, consisting of dead keratinocytes acting as a first line of defense against threats.
Serums have a small molecule size and are able to penetrate past the stratum corneum. This means that the product is penetrating past the “glue wall” of dead cells and delivering your skin much-needed hydration and nutrients. This is where exfoliation becomes crucial, because it prevents a build-up of layers of dead skin and enables your products to absorb exactly as they are meant to, as deeply as they are meant to.
The main difference between serums and moisturizers are molecule size and ingredient concentration. Because serums are designed to absorb more deeply into the skin, they are typically more concentrated, meaning they contain higher amounts of active ingredients. This is for the purpose of delivering these active ingredients to the deeper layers of your skin.
Serums absorb quickly, and usually without a trace. A serum will usually provide a specific benefit or perform a specific function, though it is not always limited to one function. These benefits and functions include hydrating, firming, brightening, managing acne, combatting free radicals (antioxidants), and anti-aging (think collagen-producing ingredients such as peptides). Serums can also improve textural imperfections in the skin, and even out skin tone.
Serums By Skin Type
- Oily/Acne Prone Skin: Simply stated, Acne is inflammation caused by trying to force too much skin oil through too small a pore. The oil builds up and becomes infected. So, if one controls the oil flow, reduces the inflammation, and eliminates the bacteria, skin will come back into balance. You will still have to watch your diet and keep harsh ingredients off your face.
- Oily and Acne Prone skin usually respond extremely well to a lighter serum with clarifying/antibacterial ingredients, like Tea Tree Essential Oil to help with inflammation, and Matcha Tea to control the flow of skin oils.
Combination Skin:Combination skin is where facial skin has different moisture patterns like T-Zone or Half Zone. This condition can fluctuate with hormones, climate, and diet. Serums that contain more water, help regulate oil production, and help clarify the pores are a good choice for combination skin. Additionally, in our experience, combination skin can almost always be traced to a syntheticbased skincare routine; not always but it is a prudent place to start and far simpler and less expensive than heading straight to the dermatologist.
The Serum for this skin condition should be rich with nutrients and vitamins with a somewhat lite texture. Again, serums are all about rapid and deep penetration. Also have a look at the ingredients of your current products, if you see a long list of things you don't recognize be very wary. Call the manufacturer and ask questions.
Dry Skin: Dry skin is a condition in which your skin does not produce enough oil to lubricate itself. Because of this, you need to supplement oils through your skincare. A deep penetrating serum without non-comedogenic oils alcohols and astringents along with being rich in humectants and occlusives, are the best ingredient options for dry skin. Humectants help draw much-needed water to the skin, and oils in your moisturizer provide the richer nourishment that dry skin lacks.
All About Moisturizers
Now that we’ve taken an in-depth look at serums, let’s talk about moisturizers. Moisturizers have a larger molecule size and are designed to sit higher up on the epidermis, creating a protective moisture barrier. This barrier prevents water from escaping the skin, keeps environmental threats out, and keeps your acid mantle happy. Contrary to serums, moisturizers are less aqueous and contain more emollient and occlusive ingredients in them. They offer a thicker consistency than a serum, which provides the foundation for a strong moisture barrier to protect your skin.
Not all moisturizers are created equal, however. Based on the type of skin you have and taking into consideration any concerns that you wish to address, there are some factors that you want to consider when selecting a facial moisturizer that will work best for your skin.
Moisturizers By Skin Type:
- Oily/ Acne-Prone Skin: Oilier and blemish-prone skin types do well with lighter moisturizers. A moisturizer with higher water content or a gel-like consistency that does not further contribute to congestion in the pores is ideal. Clarifying ingredients like tea tree are wonderful choices and ideally are found in Acne Serums. Anti-inflammatory ingredients such as cucumber and chamomile found in toners are also great. Addressing inflammation first and foremost is the key to keeping blemishes at bay.
- Combination Skin: combination skin is a condition where your skin overproduces oil in some areas (your t-zone, usually) and is dry (lacking oil) in other areas of the face. This condition can fluctuate with hormones, climate, and diet. Formulas that contain more water, help regulate oil production, and help clarify the pores are a good choice for combination skin. Depending on how dry the remainder of your facial skin is, you may have to add a richer moisturizer more suited for dry skin to the rest of your face. Usually, a formula that has a balance of water and oil will suffice.
- Dry Skin: Dry skin is a condition in which your skin does not produce enough oil to lubricate itself. Because of this, you need to supplement oils through your skincare. Formulas with non-comedogenic oils, and emollients, meaning humectants and occlusives, are the best ingredient options for dry skin. Dry skin is always lacking oil, but because dry skin usually results in an impacted barrier, dry skin tends to be dehydrated and desperately needs water too. Humectants help draw much-needed water to the skin, and oils in your moisturizer provide the richer nourishment that dry skin lacks.
- Sensitive Skin: sensitive skin is a skin type one is born with, and sensitized skin is a condition that happens later on in life that can be triggered by certain ingredients, fragrances, and colorants. It is important to use products that use gentle, synthetic-free formulations to not agitate your skin. Products with soothing ingredients, such as rose and chamomile are great options for sensitive skin. Anti-inflammatory ingredients, like cucumber, also work to prevent flare-ups.
- Normal Youthful Skin: normal skin is pretty balanced, it does not lack oil, nor does it have too much oil. This does not mean that normal skin types do not need a moisturizer, however. All skin needs moisture. Normal skin types can do just fine with a lightweight moisturizer. A hydrating gel or hydrating milk would be excellent options for normal skin types.
- Aging Skin: technically all skin is aging, but in our mid-twenties is when we need to consider supplementing certain ingredients into our skincare to help protect it. Aging skin needs vitamins, firming ingredients, and ingredients that encourage collagen production. As we age, our skin produces less and less collagen to keep its supple appearance, and elasticity weakens over time. This is when the signs of aging begin to appear. Universally, peptides are a great way to encourage your skin to produce more collagen. There are many different strands of amino chains that create a peptide bond, and peptides are beneficial to all skin types. Antioxidants are another great way to keep skin youthful because antioxidants neutralize the free radicals that wreak havoc on your skin. Vitamin C is a great way to combat this.
We hope this helps clarify the confusion between serums and moisturizers and sheds light on what your skin needs and why your skin needs both serums and moisturizers for optimal health!