Confused about the difference between face serums and oils? We don’t blame you. The distinction isn’t always clear--especially since many serums also contain oils.
Generally though, you can think of serums as a concentrated dose of ingredients meant to address a specific need, like fine lines or acne. Meanwhile, oils are meant to hydrate your skin and lock in moisture and nutrients.
Want to learn a little more? Here are the details:
All About Oils
Nearly everyone can benefit from using facial oil, especially as we age. Our skin tends to get drier with the years, so a good quality oil is essential to maintaining that youthful, dewy look.
Although everyone can use a face oil, it’s important to use the right one for your skin. For example, people with drier skin types will benefit from an argan or grapeseed oil, while people with oilier skin may like jojoba or marula oil. If you’ve got acne prone skin, you may do well with an anti-inflammatory choice like evening primrose oil.
If you’re not sure what type of skin you have, or if it shifts with the seasons, squalene oil (or a serum that contains it) is a great choice for just about any skin type.
Why Should I Use Face Oil ?
Face oils are special because they can mimic your skin’s natural sebum production, which means they do a great job of balancing the oil your skin is already producing. This means face oils can not only lend some moisture to dry skin, but can actually help oily skin to be less oily.
Face oils are also excellent for “locking in” the other products you’ve put on your skin, so you can get maximum benefit from everything you’re applying to your face and keep your skin hydrated at the same time.
The Skinny on Serums
Unlike oils, serums tend to include a combination of ingredients in concentrated doses. Whether you’re looking to reduce hyperpigmentation or reduce the appearance of acne scars, there’s a serum for that.
Serums also tend to be lighter than oils because they’re made of smaller molecules. This means they can penetrate deeper into the skin for maximum benefit.
Why Should I Use a Serum?
Serums are a convenient and highly-effective way to address a specific skin concern in a way that other products can’t. While other products in your routine, like cleansers and moisturizers, are excellent for general skin maintenance, a serum is the one product that makes a targeted change to your skin’s appearance.
Which Is Better: Serum or Oil?
Neither serums or oils are better. They simply have different uses. And in fact, they work best when paired together.
However, if you’re going to only choose one of the two, we recommend going with a serum that’s designed to target your specific skin needs. You’ll likely see more profound change than you would with just using an oil.
That said, if there’s nothing you’d like to change about your skin and simply want to keep it well-moisturized, a good oil may be the best choice for you.
How to Apply Oils and Serums
Your oil and serum should be applied after you finish cleansing and toning your skin. If you’re going to use both a serum and an oil, apply the serum first. This will allow it to penetrate your skin for maximum effectiveness, and the oil will lock in the results.
For many serums, it’s a good idea to wait at least a few minutes before applying anything on top of it. This gives the ingredients time to take effect. We recommend applying your serum then taking a break to brush and floss your teeth before going on to apply your oil or moisturizer.
The best way to make sure the serum penetrates your skin is to firmly pat it in. On the other hand, oil is best massaged into the skin--and you may want to warm it in between your hands first so that it’s closer to your skin’s temperature.
Depending on the intensity of the serum you’ve chosen, you may be able to apply both your serum and oil in the morning and the evening. Be sure to wear sunscreen always, but especially if you’re using a serum. Many of those targeted ingredients that make up the serum can also make you more susceptible to sun damage.
If you’re only going to use your oil and serum once per day, use them at night. This is the time when your body is repairing itself (via sleep) anyway, and you also don’t need to worry about sun exposure.
Choosing Cold-Kept Serums and Oils for Best Results
Especially because serums penetrate so deeply into your skin, you don’t want to choose one that’s formulated with synthetic ingredients and toxic preservatives. The only way skincare can be made without these harmful ingredients is if it’s preserved with cold instead.
Wild Ice Botanicals is the only skincare company to keep our products cold from the moment they’re made until we ship them off to you, so you’re applying the highest quality, purest ingredients to your skin.
This includes our Cryo-C serum, which is made with high quality vitamin C, nourishing antioxidants and squalene oil to help you get glowy skin with less visible dark marks and scarring.
And if you’re looking for an indulgent oil to hydrate and nourish the skin on your body, we’ve formulated Berry Boreal Bod with elderberry to prevent wrinkles while it soothes and moisturizes your skin.
Grab a bottle of each and get started locking in moisture and nutrients. You’ll thank us later!
Mila (pronounced 'mee-luh') is mother of three, wife, and founder of Wild Ice, an all-natural cold-preserved skincare line dedicated to bringing the best of care to women everywhere.
I can’t say enough about all the Wild Ice products! The toner is light and refreshing and is the perfect addition to my skin routine. I highly recommend all her products if you are craving beautiful skin!
Started this 4 step set 2 weeks ago and was hooked after the 1st day. Can't wait to post my 6 week progress photo. With each use I keep changing my mind to which one is my favorite. I look forward every morning and evening to the fresh feel of washing and moisturizing my face. Thank you Mila for this beautiful product.
I have used several cleansers over the years and since trying the B-Meltee, I always come back to this product. It is a clean fragrance as well as a clean feeling without drying out my skin. I would recommend this product to all ages and all skin types. It will not disappoint, I promise.
I began using the cryo- C about six weeks ago and my skin has never looked better!
I began using the cryo- C about six weeks ago and my skin has never looked better! The first thing you notice is how wonderful it smells, the second thing you notice is how it glides on and gives you an instant glow, and the next thing you notice overtime is that it provides a permanent dewy glow with diminished discoloration‘s and lines! I love love love this product! I’m 58❤️
Best products ever - and that’s from a very picky user!
This is truly the best system I’ve ever used. My skin is healthier - I’ve always had dry skin and finally it feels hydrated and the difference is visible. It even stayed hydrated feeling and looking on a 5 day ski trip, which always especially drys out my face. I’ve also had redness on my cheeks and that is slowly but noticeably decreasing. I gave wild ice to my daughters and best friend for Christmas as well and they are so happy with it and agree it’s a game changer for our skin. Thank you!
This class was such a great experience. Mila explains how the muscles in your face work and how to use her products to enhance your face and glow. I had so much fun as this class and I would definitely go to another one!
This cleanser is light and refreshing, but does the heavy lifting of cleaning my face daily! I love how refreshed my face feels afterward- not dry or tight; just soft and clean! I have used Mila’s 4 step program for a year now and my skin has never looked better! I’m absolutely obsessed with each step and the benefits my skin has gotten from them. Clear, glowing, soft skin!
The entire Wild Ice line of products are what my skin responds to over any other product I've ever used. I do not hesitate to put any new Wild Ice product on my skin knowing I can trust the ingredients to do the job well. Just smelling the freshness of the products is a daily pleasure. And look no further than Mila's gorgeous skin for inspiration :)