Skincare Serums and Oils

The Beginner’s Guide to Serums vs. Oils

The Beginner’s Guide to Serums vs. Oils

Skincare Serums and Oils

What’s the difference between a serum and an oil? Follain founder and CEO Tara Foley breaks it down for us.

Why should you use a serum?

The main thing to remember here is that facial serums are used to target specific skin concerns, whereas oils are primarily intended to moisturize. Both can be derived from complex oil blends, but serums are typically lighter weight and best layered under a moisturizer (whether that’s an oil, balm or cream).

If you’re looking to invest in your skincare routine, your serum is a great place to start. Their molecules are very small, so they absorb deeply in the skin to achieve a desired result: skin brightening, balancing, pigmentation, moisture-barrier repair, etc.

Quality ingredients can make these blends run on the pricier side, but the powerful results are totally worth it. Some of my personal favorites include:

OSEA Hyaluronic Sea Serum

I have dry skin, so I look for serums that will help protect against moisture loss. This one’s got a gel-like consistency, packed with hyaluronic acid and seaweed extract for ultimate hydration and plumping. I use it all year round, but it’s particularly great in the winter months as I transition between the cold wind outside and the dry heat indoors.

Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum

 This complex oil blend is a cult favorite, and for good reason. I love how quickly this serum absorbs to rejuvenate my skin. Within a couple weeks of continued use, my complexion always looks calmer and brighter.

Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum

This light, emollient cream serum is made with mango butter, hyaluronic acid and a bevy of flower extracts to soften skin and relax the muscles that cause fine lines. My skin always feels a bit firmer after using this one. Because of its creamy texture, I tend to prefer this under a cream moisturizer rather than an oil.

Is a facial oil right for you?

Facial oils are used to moisturize, balance, and protect our skin. While they can certainly be blended with or layered on top of serums to target specific skin concerns, their main purpose is to provide intense hydration.

Unlike cream moisturizers, oils are particularly effective because they mimic our skin’s natural sebum production. If you’ve done any sort of damage to your lipid barrier (common culprits are over-exfoliation and environmental pollution), then oils are a must.

Don’t sleep on these all-star facials oils, which I use morning and night:

Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil

Whether you want to treat dry and flaky patches, blemishes, fine lines, sun damage or dull skin tone, this bestselling oil really does it all. Made from rosehip seed oil, it’s loaded with essential fatty acids to regenerate skin cells and fight aging. It’s also perfect for sensitive skin.

La Bella Figura Barbary Fig Seed Oil

Another incredible single-source oil, this one’s packed with tons of vitamin E. If my skin ever needs serious repairing—anything from a sunburn to an acne scar—this oil is my go-to for daily moisturizing.

Tata Harper Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil

This powerhouse complex blend is just so effective at hydrating, brightening, and nourishing my skin. It’s the perfect way to end your skincare routine, sealing in all the goodness from your other products. I also like to use it when I don’t have the time (or the space, if I happen to be traveling) to fit in a serum or multiple treatments.


Tara Foley | April 6, 2018

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