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Serums vs Creams and the Perfect Skincare Routine: Dermatologist Tells All!

Following the launch of our collagen-boosting and anti-aging serum, Maxerum, we got the lowdown from in-house Dermatologist Dr Ne Win on serums vs creams, how best to use Maxerum, and what he recommends as the best everyday skincare routine

September 10, 2020

Photo of a yellow Absolute Collagen sachet standing alongside a yellow Absolute Collagen serum bottle on a green and yellow blurred background

September 10, 2020

We’re so thrilled with the amazing response from our fabulous Absoluters following the launch of Maxerum, our new anti-aging collagen-boosting face serum, for our UK and Irish Absoluters - and we’re so excited to launch to our EU customers soon as well. We’ve had some wonderful feedback and it’s already proven incredibly popular.

There are a few questions, however, that keep popping up.

What exactly is a serum compared to a face cream? How should we be applying a serum? And what is the best daily skincare routine as recommended by a skincare professional?

To answer these questions, we got in touch with our resident Dermatologist and loyal Absoluter, Dr Ne Win.

What is a Serum and What is a Cream?

Image of green cosmetics packaging on a white background

Basically, the main difference between a serum and a cream is that a serum is lighter and thinner in texture than a cream and is designed to be absorbed more easily and quickly through the skin. Serums are an ideal transport medium to get your active ingredients to penetrate deeply into the skin for maximum benefit. This is because serums leave out the more occlusive, moisture-locking ingredients, such as petroleum derivatives and oils, that you find in creams - these are the ingredients that give the product its “creamy” qualities.

Diagram showing the way a serum penetrates deeper into the skin than a cream does

However, while serums are certainly lighter than creams, there are differences between serums themselves. Maxerum, for instance, is an all-natural serum densely packed with skin-boosting ingredients, so it has a naturally dewy, slightly stickier texture than some other serums. All this means is you should leave it to dry completely before applying creams and SPF on top - don’t rush the application - and be sure not to over-apply, as a little goes a long way!

Image of two clocks with 5 minutes in between their times

Most serums, being water based, are ideal for oily skin types as they leave out any additional oil to the skin. A lot of people find that using a serum is enough for them due to their more “minimal” nature, and this also usually results in delivering a higher concentration of the desired active ingredients. This makes them an ideal choice for a low-hassle and low-maintenance everyday skincare routine that still delivers powerful results.

When Should You Apply Serums?

The best time to apply a serum is twice a day, as part of your morning and evening skincare routine. This means putting it on before your makeup in the morning and after taking off your makeup in the evening, once you have potentially prepped your skin with something like a toner. You should, of course, always apply on clean skin only.

There are a couple of really important things to remember when it comes to using serums and creams in your skincare routine. Firstly, you should never apply serums or creams after your makeup, as there is minimal benefit to the skin. Secondly, do not apply serums after you apply cream. This can limit your absorption of the serum due to the occlusive nature of the cream. Basically, always apply serum before any other products.

Once you’ve given time for the serum to absorb (about 5 minutes) you can apply a daytime cream or a nighttime formulation cream. The cream will provide a moisturising and hydrating action which nourishes the skin and provides a comforting effect.

Graphic showing the multiple steps of a good morning skincare routine

Graphic showing the multiple steps to a good nightly skincare routine

Creams and in particular serums can both be used with treatments such as microneedling which will help more of the active ingredients to reach their desired destination. However this is not essential; if you prefer a more low-maintenance daily skincare routine, you will still see great benefits from serums.

A Skincare Routine Recommended by Professional Dermatologists

A good skincare routine, in my professional opinion, consists of a few key steps:

  1. Cleaning. Clean your skin with a gentle foam or gel cleanser. Clay based formulations are very good at purifying and unblocking pores. Clean your skin first thing in the morning and before bedtime, and also use a gentle scrub once a week - maybe one that contains AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids).
  2. Prepping. Prep your skin with a decent toner. Choose the one formulated for your skin type (oily, dry, combination skin).
  3. Boosting. Apply your skin serum. The Absolute Collagen booster serum Maxerum works a treat, as it contains four skin-boosting ingredients: Matrixyl 3000, Matrixyl Synthe 6, bakuchiol and hyaluronic acid. Pat onto skin evenly and wait 5 minutes for absorption. Many serums contain retinol, and whilst retinol is a skincare buzzword right now, it carries risks such as having to build up your use slowly due to skin irritation and increased UV sensitivity, while some people just find it very difficult to tolerate retinol. For this reason, Maxerum instead contains bakuchiol, a 100% natural plant-derived retinol alternative proven by a 2018 research article in the British Journal of Dermatology to provide all the skin rejuvenation benefits of retinol with none of the risks.
  4. Moisturising. Apply your face cream for a hydrating and soothing effect. Find one that suits you best! Choose one preferably with SPF for the daytime all year long. UVA rays have a similar concentration all year round and do not get filtered by clouds or windows, which means that over a lifetime we will all potentially be exposed to high amounts of UVA. You will of course also need good UVB protection. If not, you will have to apply sunblock / sunscreen separately.

Photo of a white woman taking an Absolute Collagen sachet alongside a four-step skincare routine graphic, Cleansing, Prepping, Boosting and Moisturising

Implement this as your daily routine and your skin will thank you. Start getting ready for the compliments coming your way!

Plus, if you'd like to read more about Maxerum and its benefits ahead of purchasing, please do take a look at our Maxerum serum reviews. As with any new product, we do recommend carrying out a patch test prior to use. You should apply a small amount of product behind your ear every day for three days, and if you experience discomfort, irritation, or redness during this time then we would recommend not using Maxerum. Samples are available for this purpose - please contact us if you would like to carry out a patch test before buying.

Dr Ne Win is an Absoluter and our resident Dermatologist. For other skincare and dermatological questions, you can email him on drnewin@absolutecollagen.com.

Photograph of an Asian man alongside description of his qualifications as Dermatologist


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