Updated: Jul 20, 2020
If you’re confused about the difference between a serum and a cream, you’re not alone. Many people aren’t really sure about the different functions of a cream, a gel, a lotion, a serum, a complex, a formula or an elixir. They just know that they have several of them in their bathroom.
When hunting around for your next skincare purchase, you may want to keep the following information in mind.
What’s a Gel Moisturiser?
Gel moisturizers are water-based, are lightweight in texture, and are easily absorbed into skin. They are different to cream based formulations in that they are generally oil free.
There are gel products perfect for people who don’t like the feeling of heavy cream on their face. You’ll also find gel-based products used to combat oily skin.
What’s a lotion?
Similar to a gel, a lotion has a high percentage of water, and is lightweight in texture. It is easily absorbed into the skin, but what’s different is that lotions do contain oils. Lotions are ideal to use in the summer months as they won’t leave you feeling greasy. Lotions are also perfect for normal to slightly dry skin as they hydrate, but don’t feel heavy.
What’s a cream?
Creams are generally thicker and richer than lotions and gels as they contain a higher percentage of oil. They are designed to provide a barrier to keep your skin ultra-hydrated, and are perfect if you have skin that’s dehydrated or mature.
What’s a serum?
A serum is generally a water-based formulation, chock-full of powerful ingredients designed, to deliver a high concentration of active ingredients deep down into the skin. The reason they can penetrate so deeply is because they are made from much smaller molecules than those found in creams, lotions or gels.
When looking for a serum that’s right for you, keep in mind they can be given alternative names like ‘Elixir’, ‘Complex ’ and ‘Formula’. A variety of serums can also be found in tiny 2ml doses called Ampoules.
Please keep in mind that serums and some creams can be highly active, so it’s always a good idea to get advice from a professional therapist before you dive into unfamiliar products.
Don’t know what your skin type is? Check out this link for more information. What's my skin type?
There's even more we can tell you about these products - keep an eye out for Serums vs Creams | Part 2