Serum vs. Moisturizer: What’s the Difference?

In any holistic skincare routine, it’s important to use high-quality, helpful serums and moisturizers. Serums and moisturizers both provide numerous benefits to your skin, though they operate in different ways and sometimes include different ingredients.

But what if you’re not sure what the key differences between serums and moisturizers are or which skincare product you should prioritize? Today, let’s take a deep dive into both serums and moisturizers and explore the major factors that differentiate them.

What Is Serum?

In a nutshell, facial serums are specialized and beneficial skincare products that include lots of targeted, healthy ingredients. When applied properly to your skin, they may provide numerous benefits, including but not limited to:

  • Reduced appearance of signs of aging, such as wrinkles
  • Improved skin feel and texture
  • Improved skin moisturization (though not the same way as moisturizer does this)
  • Reduced appearance of hyperpigmentation or skin tone unevenness

Think of serums as tonics for your skin. They come with extra, though not strictly necessary, ingredients that can help your skin look and feel its best for years to come. Serums go above and beyond what a regular skincare routine does, which primarily cleans your skin and clears the way for new, young skin cells.

When you use a serum, you not only clean your skin with a cleanser or toner — you also give your skin additional ingredients so existing skin cells can regenerate better and your skin looks brighter and younger than before.

Hope Health’s Nourish skin serum is loaded with antioxidants and ferulic acid to help you achieve your best skin yet.

What Are Common Ingredients in Serums?

Facial serums often include beneficial ingredients known for their skincare positives. Some of the most common ingredients in facial serums include:

  • Vitamin A, especially the vitamin A offshoot called retinol. Retinol is a popular anti-aging skincare ingredient that may minimize the appearance of wrinkles as you age or help to minimize the severity of current wrinkles.
  • Vitamin C is a known antioxidant and anti-aging ingredient. Antioxidants like vitamin C can help soothe irritation, itchiness, or other damage to healthy skin cells.
  • Hyaluronic acid, which is also a popular moisturizer ingredient.
  • Glycerin, which can help draw moisture from deep within the skin to the surface to prevent your skin cells from drying out over the course of a day.
  • Collagen, which supports youthful-looking skin and healthy skin cells.

No matter which serum you try to use, make sure that you only apply serums made with healthy, organic ingredients. Serums made with subpar ingredients can lead to skin irritation, rashes, and other issues.

What Is Moisturizer?

Moisturizers are similar to face serums in several ways. For example, they help your skin look and feel younger and healthier. But moisturizers, as their names suggest, primarily focus on sealing in moisture for your skin cells or boosting how much moisture your skin cells have to work with.

In either case, moisturizers:

  • Prevent your skin from drying out, even in dry or hot environments
  • Help your skin retain moisture over the day
  • Make your skin look and feel younger and smoother. That’s because properly hydrated skin doesn’t wrinkle or crack as often.

On top of that, moisturizers are frequently used at the tail end of a holistic skincare routine. They’re often used to seal in the ingredients from serums and to maximize the effectiveness of other skincare products.

What Are Common Ingredients in Moisturizer?

Moisturizers include many healthy ingredients such as:

  • Hyaluronic acid, which is by far the most popular moisturizing ingredient on the market today. That’s because hyaluronic acid is actually natural; your body makes plenty of this to lubricate its joints and your eyes, for example. This ingredient helps seal in moisture throughout the day.
  • Glycerin, which works in moisturizers similarly to how it works in serums.
  • Shea butter, which smoothens the skin and provides some extra oils and moisture for your skin cells.

As with face serums, the best idea is to look for moisturizers that use organic, healthy ingredients wherever possible. Since moisturizers cap off your skincare routine, you’ll also want to use moisturizers that feel good to the touch. This is doubly true for the moisturizer you use at the beginning of your day, as it will affect how your skin feels for hours to come.

Which Should You Use?

Both serums and moisturizers are unique and effective ingredients that are best leveraged together.

While you can only use one or the other if absolutely necessary, both complement each other and ensure that they work as well as possible.

For example, you can apply serums after cleansing your pores and thoroughly washing your face. A serum will give your skin cells extra nutrients and ingredients to be as healthy as possible.

Then you can use a moisturizer, sealing those serum ingredients in and preventing them from evaporating or diminishing over the day. Plus, a moisturizer helps your skin feel better since it prevents it from drying out, even if you live in a dry environment or it’s very hot outside.

In fact, we recommend using both serums and moisturizers. Think of them as staple components of a skincare routine, like cleansers, toners, and even exfoliating agents/products (which should only be used twice per week).

How Can I Use Serum and Moisturizer Together?

To use serum and moisturizer together and for maximum effect:

  • Start with a cleanser or toner, depending on your skincare routine. These products can clear away dead skin cells, dirt, and debris and open up the pores so your serums work as well as possible.
  • If it’s that time of the week, use an exfoliating product to clear away extra dead skin cells.
  • Then use a serum. At this stage, your skin's pores are as open as possible. That makes them more receptive to the ingredients in facial serums and ensures that the serum you choose will be as effective as possible. Plus, cleansed pores mean those serum ingredients can penetrate into the deeper layers of your skin.
  • After applying your serum thoroughly, apply a moisturizer. Moisturizer covers the opened pores and prevents the serum ingredients from leaking out or otherwise becoming available. The moisturizer also protects your pores, which may be vulnerable to dryness after a thorough cleansing routine. After cleansing or exfoliating, you’ve washed away a lot of natural oil or sebum. Moisturizer protects your skin until the sebum is replenished.

As you can see, both serum and moisturizer form important parts of a skincare routine. You shouldn’t reverse this order under any circumstances. If you use moisturizer first, then serum, your serum ingredients won’t be as effective.


At the end of the day, using both serum and moisturizer is the way to go. That way, your skin benefits from as many healthy, organic ingredients as possible – many of which are found in Hope Health’s organic supplements, like our Organic Greens+ Gummies.

These easy-to-swallow and digest supplements are perfect for bolstering the gut microbiome, promoting foundational wellness, and more.

Have more questions or want to make sure you give your body what it needs to thrive? Check out our online store today.


Retinoids: active molecules influencing skin structure formation in cosmetic and dermatological treatments | NCBI

Hyaluronic acid, a promising skin rejuvenating biomedicine: A review of recent updates and pre-clinical and clinical investigations on cosmetic and nutricosmetic effects | NCBI

Glycerol and the skin: holistic approach to its origin and functions | NCBI