Serums vs. Oils: Getting to the Bottom of Skincare Products and Their Uses


In the vast array of skincare products available, it is easy for serums, oils and moisturizers to blur together and leave us confused about what products are important for proper skincare and how to apply them. To clear up some of this confusion, MODERN SALON asked Georgia Katritsis, Territory Manager and West Coast Regional Educator for Decléor, a few questions on facial care products and methods.


MS: What makes a facial serum different from facial oil?

Katritsis: Facial serums are water-based, containing vitamins and antioxidants,” says Katritsis. “They are chemically formulated with smaller molecules that are able to penetrate further into the skin, thus making them extremely effective. Many facial serums come in pump or dropper applicators to dispense. It is best to apply two to three pumps on cleansed and toned skin followed by a moisturizer.

Facial oils consist of a blend of several Essential Oils that work to deliver optimal beauty results. Essential Oils can contain over 200 different molecules! They have perfect affinity with our skin’s cutaneous lipids and work to the core of the epidermis. These oils are rapidly absorbed by the skin. For this reason, when using a pure and highly concentrated product, such as Decléor’s Aromessence, only two to three drops of the products are needed on-top of a cleansed and toned skin, again followed by a moisturizer.


MS: How are serums and oils different from moisturizers? Should they be used with, or instead of moisturizers?

Katritsis: Great question! People are often confused about the differences between a moisturizer and a facial serum, and may be unsure if they should use one or both products. While facial serums and oils can provide you with added moisture, the main reason you’d want to use a facial serum is to get added nutrients into the deeper layers of your skin that a regular moisturizer is unable to reach. For this reason, the serum or oil and a moisturizer pairing are designed to work in conjunction with each other, not alone.  While the serum or oil is able to penetrate the skin on a deeper level and work on the inside, the moisturizer protects on the outside and also enhances the effect of the serum or oil. 

Moisturizers are generally made-up of oil and water bound together by an emulsifier making the   molecular structure larger, allowing it to only penetrate into the upper layers of the skin. This allows the moisturizer to seal and lock-in moisture. A facial serum on the other hand, is able to penetrate into all three layers of the skin because it is made of smaller molecules. The serum’s ability to go deeper into the skin is what allows it to combat many skin concerns at their core.


MS: How can facial oils and serums be used in the salon? Can they be incorporated into facials and spa treatments?

Katritsis: By using essential oils in professional treatments, you not only receive the benefits of these tiny, complex and potent oils which contain vitamins, minerals and hormones, but also receive a physiological, psychological, sedating and stimulating reaction of your mind, body and senses. Decléor’s Professional Spa Treatments are inspired by a rare combination of the energy of essential oils and the concentrate of natural active ingredients in our treatments, including our signature Aromessence serums, products and expert masks that provide effectiveness that heighten and create instant relaxation, well-being and utter Zen.


MS: How can estheticians educate clients in the salon on the use of facial oils/serums?

Katritsis: The number one key lesson to learn is that less is more. Whether using a facial serum or oil, both should be applied in small quantities to a cleansed face morning and evening, followed by a moisturizer to lock all the nutrients in for a glowing completion.

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