Narrowing down an anti-aging skin treatment that’s suitable for your personal needs and skin type and can be tricky and confusing to say the least, especially when you’re trying to decide between a skin cream or serum. The “how-to-use” description on the bottles can be similar and will often claim to yield the same results. So, what sets an anti-aging skin care cream and serum apart then?
The main difference between these two anti-aging skin treatments is how they work. Skin creams are used to hydrate, nourish, or soften the skin, and may provide extra benefits, such as treating acne, wrinkles, or other common signs of aging. Serums are a similar type of anti-aging skin treatment in that they offer the same benefits, but they penetrate past the epidermis.
The molecules of a skin cream are relatively large and cannot penetrate deep into the skin like a serum can. Therefore, cold creams or emollients usually function only as a surface-level skin treatment. Serums, on the other hand, are highly concentrated skin treatments that have smaller molecules and are therefore able to easily absorb deeper into the skin, working immediately. You’ll notice that the consistency of each type of skin treatment is very different. Serums have more of a gel-like or water-gel solution, versus a cream or lotion that has a thicker texture. This is because serum skin treatments usually don’t contain any thickening agents or fluid, which is why the formula is more concentrated with active ingredients.
Benefits of Anti-Aging Serum
Serums are a great skin treatment option if you need to pack an extra punch to resolve a specific skin concern, such as fine lines, hyperpigmentation, or dryness—like creams, serums often target a particular skin issue. Anti-aging serums are one of the most popular skin treatments because of their concentrated levels of ingredients, like retinol, alpha hydroxy acids, and Q10, which work to reverse visible signs of aging on the skin.
With any skin treatment, it’s always advised to do a patch test on your skin before using it for the first time; wait 24 hours to ensure it’s compatible with your skin. This is especially important for a serum skin treatment, since the ingredients are more concentrated. If you don’t see a negative reaction, start with using your serum two to three times a week and then gradually build up to using it every other day. The idea is to build your tolerance to the serum in the safest way possible as you introduce your skin to the high amount of active ingredients in it.
For combination skin to oily skin types, you might feel comfortable without following up a serum skin treatment with a moisturizer; serums often provide sufficient hydration. However, it is still recommended to follow up with a sunscreen in order to prevent further skin damage—SPF protection is a stable for any anti-aging skin care routine, regardless of what other products you’re using.
If you have dry or sensitive skin, steer clear of any anti-aging skin treatments that contain alcohol, including your serum. Alcohol strips the skin of its natural moisture and can cause further dryness, which exacerbates the skin even more. You’ll probably also need to use a moisturizer after applying the serum. Because of their consistency, serums do not always make for a great makeup base, so you may want to consider only using your serum skin treatment at night.
The type of skin treatment you require depends on what you want achieved, but also on how long and how much you are willing to invest. Serums are typically more expensive anti-aging skin treatments due to their content, clinical testing, and evaluation. However, you don’t need to apply as much as a cream—a couple drops of the skin treatment is enough—so one bottle goes a long way.
Skin creams are a great anti-aging skin treatment and essential if you want to look younger as you get older. But if you’re looking for something to make your anti-aging skin care routine even more effective, especially over a shorter period of time, a serum is the perfect way to go.