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Facial Oils or Facial Serums – which one’s for me?

In the recent past, there has been a lot of conversation about facial oils and serums and whether you go to your local pharmacy or shop online, you will find so many options on offer! If you are not sure about what will work for you or what will be the better option for your skin, then it is important that you learn about the differences between both of them and then try to make an informed decision about which is the better option for your skin. 

Let’s start with the most basic – what is a serum and what is a facial oil?

  • Facial serums are generally extremely potent skin care products, which are specific ingredient rich and can be directed towards tackling a particular skin problem or goal. Serums are generally applied on freshly cleansed skin and the main reason why their potency is so high is because their tiny molecular size allows for much deeper penetration. 
  • Facials oils, on the other hand, will help to prevent water loss and some will also mimic the natural sebum that is present in the skin and help to balance sebum . As a matter of fact, if you thought that oily skin would not need oil, you would be wrong. Remember that your skin is at its happiest when there is a balance of oil and water. 

Here is a table that allows you to see the difference between serums and oils easily:



These are water based

These are oil based

Serums generally have light and thin consistency

Because it's an oil, it will have a more viscous and more emollient consistency

It will get absorbed really quickly

Facial oils create a barrier to protect skin and retain moisture.

The molecules in a serum are tiny, which is why it is easy for them to get absorbed into the skin quickly and effectively

Given that the molecules are larger, it will help prevent water loss and provide barrier support.

This should ideally be the first step of your skin care routine

This should be the last step, allowing it to seal in the moisture. 


There are some really good quality serums that work not only as step one of your skin care routine, but also the last step – this means that the serum will not only give you targeted results, they will also offer you the hydration that your skin needs. For instance, if you pick the indē wild AM Sunrise Glow Serum or the PM Sunset Restore Serum, you are getting that two-in-one benefit – you get the targeted benefits of handpicked ingredients, and you also get the benefit of a high-quality moisturiser. This is one of the reasons why the indē wild skin care range can replace several of your products. 

Now that you have taken a look at the differences between facial oil and facial serum, let’s move onto how you should go about picking the right ones for your skin:

While both serums and facials are meant for the skin, it is important to understand the ingredients and then pick ones that work for your skin type or to target any specific skin issues that you might have. 

  • Let’s say, you are looking to brighten your skin, then you will want to invest in a vitamin C serum, but if you are looking to deeply hydrate your skin, while managing fine lines, then you will need a serum that has hyaluronic acid. Deep moisture and hydration can also be gotten from vitamin based facial oils for dry skin, such as vitamin E. 
  • For acne prone skin, you will want to look at serums and oils that have vitamin C, which will help increase collagen production and give you smoother and healthier skin. 
  • However, for dull skin, you will want to look at green tea extract or ferulic acid, which will not only combat free radicals, but also promote cellular repair and overall healing of the skin. 
  • Dry skin will need ingredients like niacinamide, squalane, peptides and hyaluronic acid to offer deep nourishment and hydration, while locking in the existing moisture. 

Once you are done purchasing the serums and oils, you also need to know when and how to use them so that they offer you the best results:

On most bottles, the directions for use and the when and how to use should be mentioned – depending on when in the day you have been suggested the usage, you can take the directed amount and apply gently on the face and neck. In case you are wondering how to use facial oils, the method remains the same, but this is a step you will do towards the end of your routine. The rule of thumb is starting with the lightest and moving onto the thickest. So, serums should be applied on freshly washed skin and the oil should be used as the last layer to seal in the moisture. 

The frequency of using the serums and oils will depend on the product itself – good brands offer this kind of information on the product label itself. However, serum is generally applied only once a day – in case you are using serums from indē wild, you will see that one product is meant mainly for the mornings and one more to help repair and rejuvenate your skin during the night. Do remember to only tap the serum into your skin and not rub it. 

So how do you know what is the better option for your skin?

You might have been browsing through the best rated facial serums and oils, but there is no assurance that that particular product is the best option for you. Your choice needs to be based on your skin type, the problems that you would like to address or the specific pampering that you would want to offer. The best way out would be to look for products that bring the best of both worlds or perhaps include one of each. It's always advised to try a few different options  to find your perfect match, as skincare is subjective, and always remember to patch test prior to use.