The Beginner’s Guide to Serums vs. Oils
Serum? Oil? What’s the difference? Follain founder and CEO, Tara Foley, breaks it down for us.
The main thing to remember here is that serums are used to target specific skin concerns, whereas oils are primarily intended to moisturize. Both can be derived from complex oil blends, but serums are typically lighter weight and best layered under a moisturizer (whether that’s an oil, balm or cream).
If you’re looking to invest in your skincare routine, your serum is a great place to start. Their molecules are very small so they absorb deeply in the skin to achieve a desired result: skin brightening, balancing, pigmentation, moisture barrier repair, etc.
Quality ingredients can make these blends run on the pricier side, but the powerful results are totally worth it. Some of my personal favorites include:
I have dry skin so I look for serums that will help protect against moisture loss. This one’s got a gel-like consistency, packed with hyaluronic acid and seaweed extract for ultimate hydration and plumping. I use it all year round, but it’s particularly great in the winter months as I transition between the cold wind outside and the dry heat indoors.
This complex oil blend is a cult favorite, and for good reason. I love how quickly this serum absorbs to rejuvenate my skin. Within a couple weeks of continued use, my complexion always looks calmer and brighter.
This light, emollient cream serum is made with mango butter, hyaluronic acid and a bevy of flower extracts to soften skin and relax the muscles that cause fine lines. My skin always feels a bit firmer after using this one. Because of its creamy texture, I tend to prefer this under a cream moisturizer rather than an oil.
Oils are used to moisturize, balance and protect our skin. While they can certainly be blended with or layered on top of serums to target specific skin concerns, their main purpose is to provide intense hydration.
Unlike cream moisturizers, oils are particularly effective as they mimic our skin’s natural sebum production. If you’ve done any sort of damage to your lipid barrier (common culprits are over-exfoliation and environmental pollution), then oils are really a must.
Don’t sleep on these all-star facials oils, which I use morning and night:
Whether you want to treat dry and flaky patches, blemishes, fine lines, sun damage or dull skin tone, this bestselling oil really does it all. Made from rosehip seed oil, it’s loaded with essential fatty acids to regenerate skin cells and fight aging. Also perfect for sensitive skin.
Another incredible single-source oil, this one’s packed with tons of vitamin E. If my skin ever needs serious repairing—anything from a sunburn to an acne scar—this oil is my go-to for daily moisturizing.
This powerhouse complex blend is just so effective at hydrating, softening and nourishing my skin. I like to use it when I don’t have the time (or the room, if I happen to be traveling) to fit in a serum or multiple treatments.
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