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Creams vs Serums: What’s the Difference, and Why Does it Matter?



Day creams, night creams, serums, moisturizers...the list is seemingly never ending. With such saturation in the marketplace, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the basic idea of a skin care regimen before you even begin to put one together. From a long list of hard to understand ingredients to misinformation about what products can and can’t do, it can start to feel easier to just let nature take its course - wrinkles, age spots and all.

It doesn’t have to be this way! Two fundamentals of any complete skincare regimen are creams and serums and understanding the difference between the two is key to finding products that work. It can be confusing, we know, but it’s not as complicated as you may think. Read on for everything you need to know about facial creams versus serums and how you can get the most out of each.


Day creams, night creams, serums, moisturizers...the list is seemingly never ending. With such saturation in the marketplace, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the basic idea of a skin care regimen before you even begin to put one together. From a long list of hard to understand ingredients to misinformation about what products can and can’t do, it can start to feel easier to just let nature take its course - wrinkles, age spots and all.

It doesn’t have to be this way! Two fundamentals of any complete skincare regimen are creams and serums and understanding the difference between the two is key to finding products that work. It can be confusing, we know, but it’s not as complicated as you may think. Read on for everything you need to know about facial creams versus serums and how you can get the most out of each.


What is a Facial Cream?

The term “facial cream” is generally used as an umbrella term to describe skincare products that have thicker formulations focused on hydration. Overnight creams, eye creams, and moisturizing creams are all part of this family. Often, creams are formulated with moisture locking ingredients such as petroleum derivatives and oils. Though not all creams serve the same purpose, a large portion aim to improve skin by making hydration and moisturization a top priority.


Don’t be fooled, however. Good creams will boast ingredients that do more than simply claim to hydrate. To truly get the most out of your night or day cream, you should look for products

that are more than just a thick and greasy moisturizer.

Boost the benefits of your face cream by looking for products that include additional ingredients to gently enhance the texture, appearance, and overall quality of your skin. Choosing the right cream can be a powerful tool in maintaining your skin as you age and can provide you with powerful anti aging benefits and results.

We formulate our COSMINOLOGY products with premiere ingredients, going above and beyond to make sure every product is giving you the best results possible. Our night cream, the Fault-Line Defender Twilight Anti-Oxidant Cream, is formulated for optimal overnight hydration and is enhanced by ingredients that work all night to leave your skin looking younger and more refreshed every morning.


The Fault-Line Defender cream takes advantage of synergism, meaning certain ingredients are combined in one product to enhance and optimize their effectiveness. Our cream features Vitamin A to increase collagen and improve elasticity, copper to build new elastin and improve skin tone, Alpha Lipoic Acid to reduce inflammation, and CoQ-10 to boost cellular renewal and repair damaged skin. All of these ingredients work together in our luxury

formula to create enviously beautiful skin, all while you’re busy dreaming. Talk about beauty sleep!


What is a Facial Serum?

You may have heard people talking about serums and wondered what all the hype is about. There’s a reason serums have gained popularity in the world of skincare and continue to be talked about by skincare gurus and dermatologists alike. Used correctly, serums can be the element in your routine that takes your skincare to the next level.

Serums are generally water or oil based products packed with concentrated amounts of ingredients designed to act and show significant results quickly. Many serums are designed to target specific concerns or problem areas, focusing on common skin complaints like fine lines or hyper pigmentation.

Serums are often very lightweight and good for daytime wear as they lack the heavy, greasy ingredients of many standard moisturizing creams. Because they can incorporate high, potent concentrations of active ingredients, those looking to get the most “bang for their buck” often find what they are looking for in a serum.

If you’re new to serums, and looking for a product that truly does it all, COSMINOLOGY’s Galactic Glove is packed with powerful antioxidants and active ingredients that not only leave your skin feeling nourished but also help to reduce fine lines and signs of aging. Unlike some serums which can be drying, Galactic Glove incorporates ceramides as well as Vitamin E and F to repair and protect your skin, all while reducing signs of aging and promoting firmness and elasticity. Just one or two pumps in the morning is enough to give you noticeable results. Pair with our Hi-Plutonic C Vitamin C serum in the morning and Fault-Line Defender night cream to turn back the clock on your skin even further.


What is the Difference?

It may seem complex but the notable differences between serums and creams are simple. Serums are usually thinner than creams and designed to deliver highly concentrated amounts of ingredients to the skin very quickly. They are great for daytime use as they do not leave thick or greasy residue on the face that can be bothersome during daytime wear or turn makeup application into a streaky, oily mess.

Because they pack so much into one product, serums can be perfect answers for those looking to maximize their skincare benefits without maximizing the amount of products in their medicine cabinets. Whether you’re looking for an all-over solution such as Galactic Glove or something to target specific areas of concern such as fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes, there’s a serum on the market that can work for you.

This isn’t to say that serums should become a catch all in your routine. Serums may deliver a quick dose of potent ingredients but they often work best when paired with a quality facial cream. Unlike serums, creams often have heavier formulations, and are not designed to be as intensely potent, or absorbed as quickly into the skin. This makes them gentler over time, and less likely to cause irritation or reaction from sensitive skin. A great example of this is Eye’m a Believer Firming Serum for wrinkles and more sun damaged skin or Rectif-Eye Me Eye Cream if your eye area tends to be dry.

Dermatologist Dr. Jane Prystowksy cites the benefit of creams for those with sensitive skin, saying that unlike serums that could “potentially dry or over-exfoliate your skin, a cream is more gentle”. Finding creams that are gentle but also incorporate quality ingredients is key to maximizing their benefits. It is often unproductive to rely on a cream that is simply a heavy moisturizer with no added active ingredients or benefits.

Because so many are formulated for nighttime wear, good creams will use the extended wear time to do double duty, both moisturizing the skin and repairing it as they slowly work and absorb. Creams such as COSMINOLOGY’s Fault-Line Defender will not only hydrate but also work to reduce the look of fine lines and aging and leave skin smoother and brighter overnight.


How Can I Work Creams and Serums into my Routine?

Once you’ve found the proper products, working serums and creams into your routine should be simple. Follow the recommendations of your dermatologist, and do not overuse any one product. Overuse of a serum or cream can lead to irritation and potential damage. To maximize the absorption of serums, apply before moisturizers and allow to fully sink in. Serums are generally used once or twice a day depending on their ingredients, whereas creams may be used more often, hence the common practice of “morning” and “night” creams. Never use any product over the top of makeup, as it will limit the benefit and absorption of the active ingredients.

As a rule of thumb, add products to your routine slowly rather than all at once. If you are new to a skin care routine, adding cleansers, creams, and serums all at once may result in major objection from your complexion. Products, especially serums, that deliver high doses of an active ingredient to your skin always present a small risk of negative reaction. Instead of going all in right away, adding products slowly gives skin time to adjust and allows you time to see whether or not your skin is benefiting from the product. If you experience any irritation or reaction from your skin, discontinue use and consult your dermatologist.


Common Questions

Should I use a cream or serum first? Why does it matter?

General recommendations call for serums to be used first, and allowed a few minutes to fully sink into the skin. Use after creams is generally not thought to be optimal, as the moisturizing ingredients in many creams will not allow for the proper absorption of a serum's active ingredients. However, always follow the directions of use for your individual products for best results.

Are all serums the same?

Absolutely not! Though some serums, like our Galactic Glove and Hi-Plutonic C, can address many of your most common skincare concerns all in one product, some areas may need special attention. Hyperpigmentation or fine lines around the eyes are examples of issues that can be treated and targeted with serums formulated with ingredients specific to those problem areas.

For example, serums with high levels of glycolic acid and Vitamin C can help to resurface skin and more quickly fade hyperpigmentation and prevent dark spots. Serums with nourishing ingredients like Vitamin E and niacinamide can be used to target dryness and reduce the appearance of pores and fine lines.

How do I know what to choose?

Knowing what products will work best for you is important. To determine this, we recommend identifying your skin’s individual problem areas and choosing products that work to directly address those. Individuals with dry skin should focus on hydration. Those with significant hyperpigmentation or acne scarring will get more satisfying results from products that focus on brightening and resurfacing skin. A patient with more significant concerns may need a more extensive regime or products with higher levels of active ingredients. Everyone’s skin is unique, which is why we make recommendations based on all of our patients' individual needs.

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