Tag Archives: Cream

Know The Difference: Serums Vs. Lotions Vs. Creams

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Your friend tells you that you need to get a skin product that contains retinol, so you search for one on Amazon. You see a few products that fit the description, noticing that some are much cheaper than others. Seeing that they seem to have the same active ingredient, you naturally buy the cheaper one. Upon closer inspection, you see you have bought the cream or lotion formula, and that the more expensive one was a serum. Does it make a difference?

With the overwhelming selection of skincare on the market, it’s hard enough to choose a product with the right ingredients, and now it seems you have the added challenge of choosing the right formula. So, is there a difference between a cream, a lotion, and a serum? Apparently. And you should probably know what it is.

Lotions
Lotions are made of a mix of oil and water and are generally thin and free flowing. That means they can be easily applied to large body parts like legs and arms. Besides oil and water, lotions contain glycerin to keep in moisture, fragrances for an appealing odor, dyes to lend color, and preservatives to increase longevity. Lotions are generally preferred in the summer, because of their cooling sensation, and by eczema sufferers or those whose hairy bodies who call for a formula with a high spreadability factor.

Creams
Also a mix of oil and water, Creams are thicker than lotions, which means they don’t penetrate the skin as easily, although they are absorbed more quickly. This makes them better for applying to areas such as the skin around the eyes to prevent the fluid drip associated with lotions, and also makes them better for applying under clothes in the winter. Like lotions, creams contain glycerin to moisten the skin and also contain preservatives and fragrances. Some contain aloe, which reduces inflammation. Creams containing heavy oil bases are not recommended for facial use.

Lotions Vs. Creams

  • Both are a mix of oil and water that hydrate the skin.
  • Lotions can be more easily applied to larger body parts.
  • Lotions are best for hairy body parts. Creams are best for facial wrinkles and eye areas.
  • Creams are thicker than lotions.
  • Lotion penetrates the skin faster.

While lotions and creams both come under the category of moisturizers, one is not generally considered superior to another; preference is usually a matter of which is more tailored to your needs. Serums, on the other hand, are generally considered to be of a higher quality and tailored to address more specific needs.

Serums
Serums typically contain active ingredients that you want to penetrate deeply into your skin. This is why you’ll want to apply a serum to your skin immediately after cleansing and before moisturizing or applying sunscreen. They can be used morning and night and, while they will not replace your moisturizer, they may enhance its effects. Serums are made to address a variety of issues. Some contain skin brighteners, others prevent acne, while still others offer anti-aging properties. While they tend to bear a somewhat heftier price tag than creams and lotions, they are also more potent and a small quantity can go a long way. Bottom line: moisturizers are great for hydrating and preventing water loss, but when the going gets tough, it may be time to call in the serum.

What do you think? Does formula make a difference, or is it all about ingredients? Let us know!

Boost Your AHA

Woman getting a cleansing treatment

Alpha hydroxy acids are a group of several types of acids which naturally occur in foods, including but not limited to citric acid from citrus fruits, glycolic acid from sugar cane, lactic acid from milk, malic acid from apples, and tartaric acid from grapes. But why should you care? Well, interestingly enough, there’s a fair bit of evidence indicating that alpha-hydroxy acids could help even out and firm up your skin when applied topically. While more study is necessary to say for certain, alpha-hydroxy acids seem to be able to remove the top layers of dead skin cells, making them a powerful exfoliant, and cause deeper, living layers of skin to thicken, which may promote firmness, acting as a potential anti-aging ingredient.

So let’s go over a few of the ways you can use alpha-hydroxy acids to better your skin.

Commercial Creams
You can get commercially available creams that contain various alpha-hydroxy acids in moisturizers, peels, etc. For something you’re going to leave on long-term, you don’t want anything stronger than a 8% concentration for most alpha-hydroxys, and 14% for products using the alpha-hydroxy acid acid gluconalactone. Leave-on creams with this concentration are effective for treating sun-damaged and aging skin to help firm it up.

For exfoliation to get softer, smoother skin and/or help reduce the appearance of acne scars, glycolic acid is a good bet. You should use glycolic acid peels once every two weeks, starting with a 20% concentration and then building to 35%, 50%, and finally 70%, leaving the peel on for 2 minutes the first time, and adding a minute every time until you hit 4-5 minutes.

Homemade Treatments
Remember how we said that alhpa-hydroxy acids are found in foods? You can take advantage of this fact by using fresh fruits right at home. You can apply lemon juice to your face (though you might want to water it down slightly, try one part lemon juice to one part water) and rinse after leaving it there for a few minutes. You can also used crushed papaya, tomato seed pulp (the juicy, seedy center of the tomato), plain yogurt (which contains lactic acid), or blended pineapple meat as an anti-aging mask. It might be a little messy and sticky, but the leftovers from your project mean you get an anti-aging treatment and a snack at the same time!

Talk to Your Dermatologist and Listen to Your Body
With all alpha-hydroxy acids (and, for that matter, beauty products in general) listen to your body, and immediately stop and rinse off the product or homemade treatment if it starts to cause uncomfortable pain, tingling, or burning (low-levels of tingling that do not cause discomfort are okay).

Finally, make sure you discuss your skincare with a dermatologist, and don’t forget to detail all aspects of your home care! And with potentially harmful acids (alpha-hydroxy acids are considered generally safe in the right concentrations and when used correctly, but they are still acid, and can quite literally burn you if misused), you should check with your dermatologist before beginning any homemade treatments. Tell them exactly what you intend to try and get the all clear first. It may sound like a pain, but “better safe than sorry” definitely applies here!