The difference between face oils, serums, lotions and balms

With so many skincare products out there on the market today, it can be confusing as to what product serves what purpose, and which one is good for your skin type. We're here to simplify all of it and break it down once and for all.

We'll cover the difference between face oils, serums, lotions, and balms, when to use each one, and what skin type is best for each one. 


Face Oils

What is a Face Oil?

A facial oil is a water-free formula that contains various high quality oils that are mixed together. Oils can range from simple carrier oils such as sunflower seed oil, olive oil, or fractionated coconut oil. You might see more unique oils that come from fruits and nuts, such as strawberry seed oil, cranberry seed oil, marula oil, apricot oil, or argan oil for example. 

When to use a Face Oil?

A face oil should be used as one of the last steps in your skincare routine. This is because an oil-based product will seal in all the hydration from your previous steps. Since oil and water don't mix, it would be harder for a serum or other facial product to penetrate a barrier of facial oil that is applied to the skin. Evening or mornings are fine to use, and many times, a face oil can be used in lieu of your regular moisturizer. An example routine would be: cleanse, tone, serum then face oil. Top it off with an SPF if it's a morning routine.

What skin type should use a face oil?

Anyone can benefit from using a face oil. It depends on what type of oils the product contains, learn more about which oils are best for each skin type.


What is a serum?

A serum's formula is a mixture of water, emulsifier, and oils or extracts, usually very watery in nature. It might feel slippery and smooth. It will have a specific function or desired result. For example, a hyaluronic acid serum will specific to hydrating dry skin. A niacinamide serum will aid in hyperpigmentation. A vitamin c serum will help with various skin issues like wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, collagen production, and many more. There are so many serums that serve different functions, you get the picture. 

When to use a serum?

A serum is used after cleansing and before moisturizing. We recommend to sticking with 2, maybe 3 serums maximum. If you over do it, these serums can react with one another, or even cancel out the benefits of one. 

Who should use a serum?

If you have a specific skin concern that you are trying to target, you should use a serum. The targeted ingredients help combat whatever concern you may have. If you don't have a specific issue, look for anything that contains hyaluronic acid, and vitamin C.


What is a lotion?

A lotion is an emulsification of water and oil, typically with about 70-85% water. The thicker the lotion feels, the less water is used in the formula. Because our skin loves water and the outer most layer of our skin acts as a barrier to seal in hydration, lotions are a wonderful way to retain water within our skin cells. 

When to use a lotion?

A lotion, or moisturizer, should be used after your serums and before your facial oils or spf.

Who should use a lotion?

If you tend to have dry skin, a lotion, cream or moisturizer all work great. But generally, anyone can benefit from using a lotion.


What is a facial balm?

A facial balm is made of thick butters like cocoa butter, kokum butter, mango butter, or shea butter. It is usually oil-based, thick, and almost tacky to the touch. This type of product is a great alternative to products that use petroleum jelly, petrolatum, or mineral oil, and acts as a superior skin barrier that can work wonders throughout the night as part of your nighttime routine.

When to use a facial balm?

Use a facial balm in the evenings as the very last step in your skincare routine. A facial balm, also sometimes referred to as an overnight mask, can aid in skin barrier repairing that allows your skin to replenish and rejuvenate. 

Who should use a facial balm?

If you suffer from severe dry skin, where skin is red, itchy, patchy, or scaly, a facial balm is a wonderful addition to your skincare routine. Even if you have normal or normal to dry skin, a weekly use of an overnight mask, or balm will keep your skin barrier in tip top shape.

We hope this was helpful. Stay moisturized, and stay beautiful.



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