What’s The Difference Between A Serum And A Moisturiser?

Everyone loves the feel of a beautifully cleansed and moisturised face. But it can sometimes be tricky to navigate your way through the huge range of products available!

From beauty balms, toners, peels, many of us have a huge collection! A question I get asked a lot is what’s the difference between a serum and moisturiser.  

So let’s find out once and for all! In my helpful article, we will also discover which one you use first, whether you should use both on oily skin, and what the main differences are.


Generally, serums and moisturisers are skincare products that can help to protect the skin, and both can be anti-ageing. A serum is lighter, thinner, and more absorbent. It delivers straight into the skin and there is little residue. A moisturiser is a skin barrier, which works by locking in moisture to keep skin hydrated  

Ok so now we’ve got the brief nailed, you can put your newfound knowledge and start using superb quality serums and moisturisers like a pro!  

In order for us to get behind the differences between serum and moisturiser let’s start with a little background on both of these moisture-giving products.

 Read on to discover more!

What is a moisturiser?

In essence, the clue is in the title! A moisturiser provides skin with moisture to hydrate it and stop your skin from drying out.

A moisturiser is a thicker barrier than a serum and it’s this that locks in the hydration and protects dry skin.

A moisturiser also helps the function of the top layer of your skin ( known scientifically as the status corneum.

This is the skin layer that is made mostly of fat and oil skin cells which works to retain the moisture in your skin.

Some moisturisers have added anti-aging ingredients, so they do double duty for your skin.

But by using both a top-quality 100% organic serum along with a moisturiser, you can help to fully address any skincare issues such as sun damage and also help to minimize the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of ageing. 

“A moisturiser is a thicker barrier than a serum and it’s this that locks in the hydration and protects dry skin.”

So now we’ve got moisturiser ticked off our list, let’s find out exactly what serums are and some of their important properties.


What is a serum?

Serums are usually much lighter to the touch than a traditional moisturiser and more absorbent.

They are generally in the form of a liquid, lotion, or gel-like consistency. The best quality serums feel light as a feather and silky smooth.

Generally, as soon as you add a serum to your skin, you will notice hardly any residue left to the touch and it will disappear into the skin very quickly. Unlike moisturisers which are designed to form a barrier with your skin, locking in the moisture.

The same as a moisturiser, a serum is also able to address issues such as skin brightening, anti-ageing, and some types will also help to prevent spot and acne breakouts.

Although serums may seem more expensive than other types of skincare, it’s worth understanding that a little goes a long way as they are so concentrated.

The best time to use a serum is in the morning as you start your day to give them a whole day to deliver their benefits and at night before sleep so they can go on delivering while you sleep. 

Ok so now that we’ve got the overview of these two skincare heavyweights covered, let’s delve in a bit more detail as to their main differences. 

“Serums are usually much lighter to the touch than a traditional moisturiser and more absorbent.”

Face serums vs moisturisers. The main differences

So from what we know here at Khoeskin, and our research, we’ve uncovered that serums are thinner and lighter, whereas moisturisers have a thicker, creamier consistency.

So how do both of these everyday beauty products actually perform in the moisturiser vs serum debate?

Serums: are intended to penetrate deeply into the skin to deliver targeted active ingredients

Moisturisers: help to fortify the surface of the skin, bind skin cells together more effectively, and work at the surface of the skin to increase hydration.

It’s worth understanding too that moisturisers also have larger molecules than serums.

This means that a moisturiser usually won't penetrate the skin as deeply, or as quickly, as a serum will.

So the easiest way to describe how they both work is that a serum very quickly penetrates and begins to work with a more potent effect, whereas continuous hydration is your moisturiser’s role. 

“a moisturiser usually won't penetrate the skin as deeply, or as quickly, as a serum will.” 

Ok so now that we’ve taken a look at the main differences between these two power-packed skin products, let’s find out how to integrate them seamlessly into your beauty routine.

Let’s start off by finding out if you should use the best collagen and vitamin C serums together with your favourite moisturiser in your daily skincare program.

Should you use Serums and moisturisers together?

So generally it’s fine to use both products together, but it will depend on their ingredients and also your skin type.

Dry skin

So for those with dryer skin, It’s a good idea to use your serum first to give instant delivery of active ingredients.

Then follow with your favourite moisturiser to lock in and seal the serum to maximize its active ingredients.

That said, if you have acne-prone skin, it's best to avoid an oil-based serum.

We also know that many of our customers wonder if a serum or a moisturiser works better for skin types.  

“For those with dryer skin, It’s a good idea to use your serum first to give instant delivery of active ingredients.”

Which is better for oily skin? Moisturiser or serum?

According to The American Academy of Dermatology, oily skin can clog pores and lead to acne breakouts, however, oily skin does come with a wealth of benefits.

Oil helps preserve the skin, and people with oily skin tend to have thicker skin and fewer wrinkles.  

The key is to strike a balance between having too much oil and maintaining your skin’s natural moisture.

Those of you with oilier skin might find that using both a serum and moisturiser might just add too much in terms of extra oils into your skin, so my recommendation is to use just a serum.  

Serums are usually less oily and don’t sit so long on top of the skin, which could block more if the Sebaceous glands which can cause breakouts.

“using both a serum and moisturiser might just add too much in terms of extra oils into your skin”

And to finish on…

I hope that’s given you the lowdown on moisturisers and serums and how to get the most out of them in your daily beauty regime!!

Here at Khoeskin, we understand skincare! So don't forget to drop by our store to find beautiful silky featherlight anti-aging and brightening serums.

Our organic serums play a vital role in collagen production, which helps to achieve a brighter complexion and a radiant glow.