Face Oil vs. Face Serum: What's the Difference and How Should You Use Them?
Two of the most popular categories of facial skincare are face oils and face serums. While they may seem interchangeable, there are actually some key differences between the two:
1. What are they made up of?
Firstly, face oils are, as the name suggests, oils. They're usually made from natural ingredients like plant-based oils and concentrated extracts, and are designed to hydrate and nourish the skin. This is of course the most well-accepted form of moisture by skin itself, offering deep penetration.
On the other hand, face serums can be either water-based or oil-based formulas. Similar to face oils, they may also contain concentrated plants extracts and actives, designed to hydrate and nourish the skin, however, they are considered more on the lines of chemical-based (not necessarily harsh chemical) formulations.
2. What is the difference in feel?Unlike facial serums, organic oils are not formulated using water and therefore feel heavier when applied to skin as they have a thicker consistency.
Pro-tip: Look out for ingredient paraffin in facial oils, sometimes used to make oils feel lighter in weight, however, are not generally considered beneficial for skin.
Face serums tend to feel lightweight, and are formulated to be fast-absorbing liquids.
3. Let's talk benefits
Depending on your face oil of choice, a deeply moisturising carrier oil (such as almond / coconut / rosehip / jojoba) or one which is complexly formulated to also have benefits of herbs, the oil can offer a variety of benefits.
Both, serums and oils can be formulated to offer benefits ranging from brightening, firming, anti-inflammation, balancing oily skin (yes, you read that correctly), balancing dry skin, radiance-boosting, break-out-control, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and so on.
4. How can you add serums / oils to your routine?
Oils can be the 1-step skincare routine you've been looking for. Easy to use just by themselves after cleansing and patting dry or as part of a longer routine. Seasonal adjustments may include using the oil only at night in summer / monsoon.
Serums often have a thinner consistency than oils, which makes them great for layering under other products like moisturizers or sunscreen.
Ideally, the routine would be cleanser > toner > serum > moisturiser > sunscreen.
Of course, you don't have to choose between face oil and face serum – you can use both! In fact, layering the two can be a great way to give your skin an extra boost of hydration and nutrients. Just be sure to apply your products in the right order – generally, you'll want to apply your serum first, wait a few minutes for it to absorb, and then follow up with your face oil.
In summary, face oils and face serums are two different types of products with a whole host of benefits. You can always use both for an extra boost of hydration and nutrients, choosing the best ones for you depending on your skin type and concerns.
Look for products that are free from common irritants like parabens, mineral oils or harsh alcohol, and always patch test new products before adding them to your routine.
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