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Here’s a guide to using serums and moisturisers on your skin

As much as we hate to admit it, we need to take care of our skin. Moisturizers are primarily designed to hydrate the skin by adding to and sealing in the natural moisture of the body.

By Chetna Narula
Published on :
Here's a guide to using serums and moisturisers on your skin

To this day my mom swears that her Oil Of Olay was a magic wand that vanished all skin problems. But then, I am not wholly in approval of this.

As much as we hate to admit it, we need to take care of our skin. Moisturizers are primarily designed to hydrate the skin by adding to and sealing in the natural moisture of the body. Although moisturizers often contain ingredients to target specific issues like aging or sun damage, their main role is to get hydration to the skin and keep it there.

We spoke to Dr. Nivedita Dadu, who shared the difference and importance of using serums and moisturizers. “Both Serum and Moisturizers are an inevitable part of the skincare routine as both of them function differently. It totally depends on the skin type and what the skin requires. The Serums are usually light in weight and penetrate easily into the skin. Its active ingredients work effectively onto the skin and must be applied after cleansing and toning but before moisturizing. Serums address several problems such as aging, dullness, and acne. Several people confuse a serum with a moisturizer that should not be done. The serum goes deep into the skin whereas a moisturizer acts as a barrier between the skin and the environment. Moisturizers are comparatively thicker and creamier. They essentially hydrate the skin to avert water loss. Some moisturizers have added anti-aging ingredients, so they do double duty for your skin. But in order to really address a difficult skin care problem, like sun damage, you’ll want to combine your moisturizer with a quality serum.” Says Dr. Nivedita Dadu, Dermatologist and Dermasurgeon, Dr. Dadu’s Clinic

So let’s break down the difference between serum and moisturizers

A big difference between serums and moisturizers is what serums don’t include. Serums leave out the ‘sealing’ ingredients such as petrolium and mineral oils that moisturizers often use to keep water from evaporating from the skin. Serums also contain fewer fillers, thickeners and lubricating agents.( Please check specific brands for their content. There are many brands available in in the market that sulphate and paraben free)

The second important difference is that serums are actually able to work more effectively in your skin for two reasons. Firstly, because serums have smaller particles they penetrate the skin on a deeper cellular level. Also, because serums don’t contain the thick airtight ‘sealing’ particles present in moisturizers, the active ingredients in a serum penetrate your skin faster and can work more effectively.

So, the beauty of a serum is that they provide a high concentration of active ingredients, and penetrate further, effectively delivering beneficial nutrients and hydration actives to the deepest layers of the skin where moisturizers won’t penetrate.

So does your skin need a serum or a moisturizer?

This is where the layering effect comes into play – while an antioxidant serum works to repair skin cells and combat free radicals, a moisturizer acts to prevent the evaporation of moisture and provides a physical barrier to protect the skin from environmental irritants and makeup particles.

Serums can be used both morning and night to address specific skin issues more effectively than a moisturizer alone, and will also boost the hydrating effects of your moisturizer. Ensure your serum contains antioxidants to provide protection from environmental damage. There are certain serums which you will need to apply with your moisturizer. For eg, if you suffer from acne you might need to apply serums on the affected areas and then apply a moisturizer over it.

Ideally, you will use a facial serum to increase the effectiveness of your skincare regime and combat ageing and skin damage more successfully. If you are 30 or older, using a serum will make a huge difference in improving your skin.

Serums can be used alone by people with naturally oilier skin, or under a moisturizer to help protect the hydration levels in normal to dry skin.

During the winter months, it’s a good idea to use a moisturizer over your serum for extra hydration, to help your skin cope with changing temperature and drying winds.

Specific reasons to use facial serums in your skincare regime include:

repairing sun damage and reducing wrinkles
deeper skin hydration
skin firming and improved texture
exfoliation for smoother more radiant skin
calming redness and sensitivity
clearing and preventing blemishes
to fade brown spots and pigmentation.

How should you apply your serum and moisturizer?

Moist skin is ten times more permeable than dry skin, so we recommend that you always apply your serum twice daily, directly to your skin after cleansing and toning. In the morning apply your facial serum before your SPF moisturizer or sunscreen, at night time apply the serum before your night cream or moisturizer.

After cleansing, your serum should be applied over the entire face, neck and décolletage. Gently press on with your fingertips and allow it to absorb into the skin for a few minutes before applying a moisturizer.

Apply about a dime size of serum with two fingers and massage thoroughly into the skin. More serum does not equal more benefit. Your skin can only absorb a certain amount, and when a serum is packed with great actives, you don’t need large amounts. Using a serum often is better than simply applying more.

Using moisturizer over your serum will help lock in the serum anti-ageing actives and nutrients. If you keep your moisturizer in the refrigerator, the coldness of the cream when it is applied after your serum can push surface blood into the skin through the capillary contraction, increasing the penetration of the serum’s active ingredients.

There is no particular one method to applying serums or moisturisers, as I know of women who mix serums in moisturizers before applying. Well, if it works on your skin, go for it.

It does not matter if it is summer or winter, as weather in Indian cities tends to be harsh on the facial skins. With pollution on the rise, it is imperative that we take good care of our skin. Be sure to use serums that work on your skin and ideally take a skin test before you start using them.