If you’re confused about what anti-aging products will work best for you, or if your current regimen just isn’t giving you the results you’re looking for, the first thing to consider is how much moisture your skin needs. Creams, lotions and serums may all sound similar, but they’re formulations are different and each works best with certain skin types over others.
If you have oily, sensitive and normal skin, try lotions.
Light in weight, a lotion gives a bit of moisture to skin while also providing anti-aging actives. However, the formulation may contain filling agents and other ingredients that can water down the actives in some cases.
When using lotions, you’ll notice a lightness or dewiness on your skin that’s quick to absorb—some even leave behind a pretty sheen or healthy-looking glow.
All skin types can use serums.
The main function of a serum, which can be watery, liquidy or creamy in texture, is to deliver a concentrated dose of anti-aging ingredients into the skin. Heavier than a lotion, but lighter than a cream, serums have some slip to them, but not as much as an oil. “Serums are low in waxes, so companies can load them up with actives at efficacious levels for an intense treatment without penetration barriers in the product,” explains cosmetic chemist Ni’kita Wilson. Celebrity aesthetician Nerida Joy adds that they also tend to be less buffered, which allows them to absorb better and penetrate skin at a deeper level.
Serums glide onto skin and evenly coat it. And because they are more of a treatment, you may need to top them with a moisturizer for hydration.
If you have dry, mature skin types concerned with the effects of aging, try creams.
Whether you use a cream on its own or after a serum to seal in its effects, this is the heaviest option and usually has a moisturizing benefit. “Dry, mature skin types need a lot of moisture, which is why they tend to use heavier anti-aging creams, especially during menopause,” says Frauke Neuser, senior scientist for Olay. The downside to them: “Only so many anti-aging ingredients can fit into a cream base while still keeping it elegant and efficacious, which is why serums were invented,” says Wilson. The upside: These rich, thick creams are full of moisturizers, so your skin will feel softer and really hydrated.
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