Serum vs. Moisturizer vs. Face Oil: What’s The Difference?

Woman Applying Facial Product On Face

When it comes to skincare, the wide array of products can be a little overwhelming, especially when your goal is to moisturize. Between face oils, creams, and serums, how do you know what you’re supposed to put on your face and when you’re supposed to apply it? We’ve got the information you need, along with some recommendations of our own.

What is a Skin Serum?

Oils and creams provide moisture, but where do serums fit in? People are often confused by serums and facial oils, perhaps because both are liquid skincare products. They’re very different though, because while facial oils are oil-based and lock in moisture, serums are water-based and designed to target specific skin concerns like wrinkles and discoloration. The molecules in a serum are small enough to penetrate the skin deeply, making them ideal for layering with other skincare. 

What is a Moisturizer?

If the goal is to moisturize, wouldn’t it make the most sense to just stick with a moisturizing cream? In some cases, yes. But everyone’s skin is different, so it’s great that we have so many options. Creams can be wonderful because they don’t just moisturize but also provide ingredients that address different concerns. If you want more than just hydration, you might want to try Pili Ani’s Youthful Glow Facial Cream, which contains oat extract that improves firmness and elasticity. Natural Radiance Facial Moisturizer Cream has papaya extract to brighten and exfoliate. For dry, parched skin, Intense Hydrating Facial Cream may be your best bet, with beetroot extract rich in vitamins and minerals to restore hydration. 

Pili Ani Moisturizing Creams Collection

Pili Ani's lightweight and fast-absorbing moisturizers. Shop now

What are Face Oils?

The purpose of a facial oil is to lock in hydration, therefore protecting the skin's moisture barrier. These products are typically formulated to be non-comedogenic, so they won’t cause breakouts or clog your pores. Facial oils are often specially formulated with plant extracts and antioxidants, to not only moisturize the skin but also address additional concerns. If you’re looking for a hydrating face oil, we recommend our Self-care Night Recovery Oil (SCNRO). Supercharged with Pili Oil, Elemi Oil, and botanical extracts, it helps neutralize redness, boost moisture, and rejuvenate your skin for a softer, more supple complexion the next day.

If you want a multitasking daytime oil, Ageless Concentrate is the perfect treatment for you. With a higher concentration of Elemi Oil vs. SCNRO, you'll reap the benefits of the essential oil's antibacterial, firming, and skin-balancing properties. Using Ageless Concentrate to nourish your skin before sunscreen and makeup is the perfect way to extend the benefits of your night oil.

Pili Ani Ageless Concentrate and Self-care Night Recovery Oil

Ageless Concentrate and Self-care Night Recovery Oil, Shop now. 

Which Skincare Product Should You Apply First?

You can use face oil, moisturizer, and serum together, to reap the benefits of each unique skincare product. It’s important to note, though, that the order matters. Lighter, water-based products should be applied first, with the heaviest products last. This typically means that serums are the first step after cleansing and toning, followed by moisturizer, then face oil. Allow each product to sink into the skin for a few minutes before applying the next one, and once they’ve all been absorbed, follow up with sunscreen and, if desired, makeup.

Of course, it goes without saying that when you choose your skincare products, you should look for natural ingredients from companies that are ethical in their business practices. When you buy products from Pili Ani, you can be sure the oils were harvested sustainably and the workers gathering it were treated fairly. The brainchild of Rosalina Tan and her daughter Mary Jane Tan-Ong, Pili Ani is a family-owned, woman-owned, Filipino-owned business committed to producing all-natural cosmetics while doing good for the local community.

The company helps provide jobs and scholarships to families of local farmers and financial assistance to marginalized students. Pili Ani launched in the Philippines in 2016 and since then, the company has worked to provide clean, natural products that are good for your skin, good for the environment, and good for the communities in which they’re produced.  


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