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What’s the Difference Between a Face Serum and a Moisturizer?

It can be hard to differentiate between all of the skincare products out there—face creams, facial serums, toners, essences…the list goes on. But two of the most basic, and essential, products in your face care routine are your facial serum and your moisturizing face cream. What exactly is the difference between the two? We had Ginger Bishop, the International Education Director for Lancôme skincare, explain.

What are the primary differences between a facial serum and moisturizer?

Lancôme: Serums have a lighter texture than creams and absorb quickly into skin. We recommend applying a serum for face after removing your makeup and preparing your skin [with a toner or essence]. Facial serums should never be used alone; they need to be followed by a skincare product. Use a cream afterwards to add moisture and comfort to the skin.

Do facial serums add time to your skincare routine?

Lancôme: Applying a face serum adds maybe 10 seconds to your routine. But that 10 seconds is not much compared to the results and benefits you get in the end. You can use a face serum morning and night depending on the ingredients in your serum. Some serums that contain Vitamin C are great for use during the day.


What’s the difference between Advance Génifique and other facial serums?

Lancôme: The texture, feel, results. Advanced Génifique is our most loved serum for face that gives youthful radiance and strengthen's the skin's moisture barrier for all skin types and ages. Our other face serums are focused on anti-aging results: Absolue The Serum is more regenerative and helps to accelerate skin surface renewal whilst visibly smoothing skin; Rénergie H.C.F Triple Serum is more focused on volume loss and dark spots.

When is the best time to apply your facial serum?

Lancôme: In the morning and at night, before your face cream. Never go to sleep with unprotected skin!

Are there any times when you shouldn’t apply a face serum?

Lancôme: Do not apply a serum for face on top of your make up or after your cream. You also don’t want to apply them during the day when your skin is not clean.

What makes a better base for makeup—facial serum or cream?

Lancôme: The golden rule: One should never apply foundation without cream or face serum because you run the risk of drying out skin; it needs that protective layer. There is no ideal routine, or ideal texture—choose products that will suit your skin. Think about what results you want to get from your make up when choosing the texture of your cream: If you want a long-lasting makeup, choose light textures that are hydrating but won’t cause shine. For every day, you want something a little richer that will comfort skin. You may also like to use a face primer to prep your skin for makeup.

When do you need to start applying a face serum like Advanced Génifique?

Lancôme: You can start using Advanced Génifique serum for face as soon as you begin using skincare. When a person of any age says they wants to start taking care of their skin, that’s the best time to start using Advanced Génifique.

Do I need both serum and cream?

Yes! Facial serums are best used as a primer step for your moisturizer. Apply a serum and then cream afterwards to add moisture to the skin.

Face Serum and Moisturizer Guides

What is a face serum

Face serums and the skin moisture barrier

Why do I need a face moisturizer at night?

How to use Hyaluronic Acid

A Guide to Vitamin C

Anti-Aging Serum Guide

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