Emulsion vs Serum – Defining Skincare Terms

Emulsion vs Serum – Defining Skincare Terms
February 25, 2022 Ellis James
Keeping up with all the different beauty terms and types of products can feel like a full-time job at times.  Emulsions?  Serums?  What do each of these terms mean, and what is the emulsion vs serum difference?  Ready to find out?  Then keep reading!

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Emulsion vs Serum

So, just what are emulsions and serums?  Let’s take a look at the properties and benefits of each of these skincare products.

Serums are very thin and contain small molecules that are able to penetrate deep into the skin.  Serums have a high concentration of their ingredients, which allows them to provide very powerful results.  The exact benefits a serum will deliver depend on its formulation.

You can find serums for many skincare needs, such as:

Emulsions are thicker than serums and thinner than cream moisturizers.  They are formulated with emollients that can help seal hydration into the skin while also forming a barrier over the skin for protection.  Emulsions are water-based, which means they are non-comedogenic and a friendly option for those with oily or sensitive skin.  Unlike some heavy creams that can clog pores, emulsions ensure that your skin is still able to breathe.

Among others, emulsions are available with different formulas for purposes such as

 

How emulsions and serums the same?

Now that we have a general understanding of what a serum is and what an emulsion is, let’s look at how both items are similar.

Emulsions and serums are both thin skincare items that won’t weigh your face down like heavy creams.  They are available to address different types of skin concerns, such as hydration, brightening, and anti-aging.

 

How are emulsions and serums different?

What’s the difference between an emulsion and a serum.  One big difference between emulsions and serums is that serums have a much higher concentration of ingredients than emulsions do.  This means that serums are very potent and can have a greater impact on the skin than an emulsion.  If you had to choose to use just a serum or an emulsion, you may get the better bang for your buck by choosing an emulsion.

Fortunately, you don’t have to choose just one or the other.  You can use serums and emulsions together as part of your skincare routines.  But, what comes first serum or emulsion?  You’ll always want to start with the serum first.  Applying a serum after cleansing your face and before any emulsions or other creams and lotions allows it to penetrate into the skin better for your skin to enjoy the greatest benefits.  After you apply your serum, then you can follow up with an emulsion.

 

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Emulsion vs Serum: Which Should You Choose?

Should I choose an emulsion instead of a serum?  Can I use emulsion instead of serum?  Like we shared above, you don’t have to choose between emulsions and serums; you can use both together.  If you’re choosing just one, you might want to go with a serum since it can be more potent for the skin for greater benefits.  However, if you have oily skin, be sure to avoid thicker or oil-based serums that may irritate your skin.  Some with oily skin may prefer the water-based, non-comedogenic formula of an emulsion.

For more about skincare, here are related reads on our blog:

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