Oils vs. Serums

Oils vs. Serums

The skincare aisle at your local beauty supply shop can be an intimidating place. If you want to be an informed consumer, there’s lots to know about every step of your skincare routine and all the products you use. Newcomers to the world of skincare have lots of questions, but let’s narrow it down to one: what’s the difference between an oil and a serum?

You might see beauty gurus on Youtube endorse oils or serums, but from what you can tell, they just apply some liquidy stuff out of a dropper in a thin layer over their face after they’ve washed. What do those products do? Is one better than the other? Should you use either of them? Let’s get into the basics.

Face Oils

Oil in skincare is a pretty simple product. It tends to be thick and, well, oily, with large particles that make an effective shield for the skin. Oils are emollient, meaning they soften and smooth porous surfaces. They’re perfect for hydrating dry skin and sealing in moisture, repairing your skin’s natural barrier, and delivering a hearty dose of fatty acids and vitamins that the skin needs to look its best. When you apply face oil last, it can lock in products that you used before it, so your skin gets the full benefit of your beauty routine.

If you have naturally oily skin, you might think you’d never choose to layer more oil on. But, the right face oil can actually prevent breakouts and keep your skin’s sebum glands from overworking themselves. Look for oils with high concentrations of oleic and linoleic acids and antioxidants that will keep your skin balanced and healthy. Rosehip oil is known for soothing redness and irritation, and Moringa seed oil has unique cleansing and moisturizing abilities.


Serums differ from oils in many ways, primarily in the size of their particles. While oil particles hang out on the surface of the skin, serum particles are small enough to sink deep down into the skin at the cellular level, where they work their magic.

After you cleanse and tone your skin, applying a serum can remedy all sorts of skin woes. Serums have high concentrations of active ingredients tailored to address specific problems. Whether you want to reduce fine lines and shrink pores, get rid of sun damage or hyperpigmentation, exfoliate or fight off acne, there’s a serum out there that will get the job done.

Some serums have moisturizing ingredients and antioxidants, so they do the same thing as a face oil, plus some extra. If you have dry skin, though, layering face oil on top of a moisturizing serum could help lock in the hydration better than the serum alone.

To sum it all up, oils and serums could both make a great addition to your skincare routine! Read up on your skin type and decide what product is best for you. While you’re shopping, check out our selection here at Keshoume! Japanese serums and oils are some of the best in the world, so who knows? We might be carrying one of your new favorite products.

Rowan Thompson - April 5, 2021

Latif, Sofia. “Do You Need a Face Oil, Face Serum, or Both?” SOFIA LATIF®, 19 Feb. 2021, https://sofialatif.com/do-you-need-a-face-oil-or-a-face-serum/.

Latif, Sofia. “I Have Oily Skin. Can I Use A Face Oil? .” SOFIA LATIF®, 7 Oct. 2020, https://sofialatif.com/i-have-oily-skin-can-i-use-a-face-oil/.

“What Is The Difference With A Face Serum Vs Oil.” Kiehl's – Naturally Inspired Skin Care, Body and Haircare, https://www.kiehls.com/skincare-advice/difference-between-face-serums-and-oils.html.

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