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  • August 19, 2022 5 min read


    Understanding how skincare works enable you to make an informed buying decision, select products that are suited to your skin type/condition and enjoy the best out of them as part of your daily routine.

    The article will explore the difference between face oils, and face serums, help you to decide on which product you may choose, and also give you expert advice on how to apply them.

    Face Serum Vs. Face Oil

    Some oils are marketed as serums and this can be confusing. The purpose of face oil is to nourish, moisturize, and protect the skin with a face serum targeting specific skin areas like wrinkles, dullness, fine lines, dryness, irritation, acne, and redness. Because the latter serves a particular purpose. Serums are more expensive than oils.

    Emer et al. (2011) commented that serums are concentrated and contain ingredients like antioxidants and anti-inflammatories which affect the functions of the skin. Their molecules are usually small, hence allowing them to absorb deeply for rejuvenation, luminosity, regeneration, balance, and other benefits. Some of the benefits you can get from serum are:

    • Repairs sun damage
    • Treats hyper-pigmentation
    • Calms red and puffy skin
    • Exfoliates away dead skin cells and also speeds up cell turnover
    • Fight acne and future breakouts
    • Reduces the appearance of pores and prevents them from being clogged
    • Brightens smoothies, and firms the skin

    According to Dreno et al. (2018), the main purpose of applying oil to the skin is to protect it from temperature changes, and weather while retaining moisture, repair the skin barrier by improving overall resilience, keep it supple and provide a source of antioxidants, vitamins, and fatty acids.

    Because of their emollient nature and thicker texture, oils should be massaged in to help deliver smoothness and softness to the skin. When used as the last step in your skincare routine, they protect the serum evaporating from the skin. Both the face serum and the oil face are highly concentrated and frequently come in a glass bottle with a dropper or pump for easy application.

    Do you have to Use Oil Serum and Face Oil?

    It mostly depends on an individual’s skin type as to whether there’s a need to use both the serum and the oil. For a case of a particular skin concern, you can apply the two. It ensures the specific problem is addressed while receiving all the benefits of the face oil.

    Other serums contain some moisturizing ingredients like Hyaluronic acid which may mean that you do not necessarily need the face oil too. Khan et al. (2021) showed that dryer skin can benefit from sealing the hyaluronic acid into the skin with a face oil, to prevent it from evaporating easily.

    Many are now embracing the aging process and are investing in caring for their skin earlier in their life. But as we age, the natural oil will inevitably change and decrease, meaning that the skin will always need a helping hand by using face oil. You can also choose to use a serum to target any skin concern.

    Most people with oily-combination skin believe it is not bad to add more oil to the skin. But this is not the case. The right face oil for the skin type when used sparingly will help in locking in moisture and protecting the skin, keeping it consistently hydrated and healthy.

    Whether an individual decides to use one or both of these products, it’s recommended to start by washing hands to prevent the spread of bacteria.

    Tips on How to Use Face Oil

    Use Small Amount

    Try using two to six spoons depending on the type of your skin, as a little can go a long way to achieve the benefits. Make sure to reduce the amount you are using if you experience breakouts or have an oily skin combination skin type. If the face is 100% oil, then you will also require a few drops.

    Massage into the Neck and Face

    For you to increase absorption into the skin. Apply on damp skin to be able to trap moisture.

    Always Apply After a Toner, Moisturizer, or Serum

    This is because applying underneath prevents penetration into the skin. It is also recommended not to use face oil alone because the skin needs access to water and oil. It means that some underlying moisture is required.

    Start applying it in the Evening

    It’s because this is the time when the skin has time to rest. It protects and repairs the skin as you sleep. A single drop can as well be applied in the morning, particularly on no makeup days when the skin can breathe.

    Tips on Using Face Serum

    Determine the Skin Concern

    It will enable you to choose the serum with the most appropriate ingredients.

    Apply to a Small Area to Test

    Use three to five drops before applying serum more widely to your skin.

    Use Prior to Moisturizer and Oil

    This is after toning and cleansing. Because skincare is best applied from the thinnest to the thickest consistency.

    The Difference between Serum and an Oil

    The two are different products that provide the skin with unique benefits. The serum is much lighter in texture and it should be among the first products to administer daily after washing the face. It is a lightweight liquid moisturizer that can penetrate deep to deliver active ingredients like AHAs and BHAs, which helps to buff away dead skin cells and reveal brighter skin.

    Facial oils are heavier than serums and are designed to prevent water loss and lock in moisture, which contribute to dry and cracked skin. Facial oils are known to benefit the skin if someone is excessively dehydrated, dry, or exposed to dry conditions like cold weather, wind, or sand.

    Applying the facial oil supplements the natural oil production on the face, leading to increased moisture on the skin and also skin barrier repair. They provide the much-needed moisture to dry skin and also add an instant glow.

    Which works Better: Serum or Oil?

    Although you can layer both in your skincare routine, consider the type of your skin before applying in new product in your routine. For acne skin-prone skin type. Hellman et al. (1994) recommended proceeding with caution while applying facial serum because it cannot plug up the skin and produce blackheads.

    Bottom Line

    If a moisturizer suits your skin type, have it in your kit, pick a serum that will target your immediate skin needs like tackle blemishes, fight fine lines and reduce dullness. Apply the face oil when you experience extreme dryness or when in need of additional moisture because of internal or external factors.

    Whether using oil or face serum, both should be applied in small quantities and in the correct order to lock in all the nutrients for a gorgeous and glowing complexion.


    Baig, M. S. (2021). Overview Of Skin Whitening Agents.

    Dréno, B., Bettoli, V., Araviiskaia, E., Sanchez Viera, M., & Bouloc, A. (2018). The Influence Of Exposome On Acne. Journal Of The European Academy Of Dermatology And Venereology, 32(5), 812-819.

    Emer, J., Waldorf, H., & Berson, D. (2011, September). Botanicals And Anti-Inflammatories: Natural Ingredients For Rosacea. In Seminars In Cutaneous Medicine And Surgery (Vol. 30, No. 3, Pp. 148-155). WB Saunders.

    Khan, S. F. H., Bawankar, S. S., Shaikh, S. P. M., Sharma, G. S., Jaiswal, G. C., & Bodhankar, M. M. (2021). Dried Serum Powder And Sheet Mask For Anti-Aging Purposes. GSC Biological And Pharmaceutical Sciences, 15(3), 218-224.