What to choose between a serum and a cream?


Published on October 31, 2023, by Christelle

Reading time : 6 minutes

Serums and creams are among the most commonly found facial skincare products in our beauty routines. Their ability to moisturize our skin is complemented by a myriad of other benefits that cater to our needs (anti-aging effects, revitalization, radiance, etc.).

However, perhaps due to a lack of time, we might be tempted to use only one of these skincare products. This raises the question: what should you choose between a serum and a cream? In this article, we will examine the differences between serums and creams to help you make a better decision regarding your facial skincare routine.


What are the differences between a serum and a cream?

The Cream: Your Daily Protection

Moisturizing creams are designed to hydrate, seal in moisture, and protect the skin. In the form of creamy emulsions, creams combine lipophilic and hydrophilic ingredients, each with different roles to play.

Lipophilic ingredients are soluble in the lipid phase of the cream. Their purpose is to nourish and protect the skin by reinforcing its protective barrier. This group includes plant oils, fatty acids, and other types of compounds.

Hydrophilic ingredients are those that are soluble in water (such as floral waters or certain active ingredients like GSM10, for example). They come into play to provide the skin with various other benefits (anti-aging effects, soothing, regenerating, etc.).

The Serum: A Concentration of Actives

Facial serums are concentrated facial skincare products rich in active ingredients. They stand out due to their lightweight texture, which allows them to penetrate deeply into the layers of the epidermis. Thanks to their small molecule size, serums can penetrate the skin's barrier quickly and effectively, working deep within.

There are different types of serums formulated to address specific needs. Common active ingredients found in serums include hyaluronic acid, known for its exceptional ability to retain moisture. Serum formulations also include antioxidants, peptides, vitamins, AHAs or BHAs, among other beneficial components.

Cream and Serum: Two Complementary Treatments

Because of their different compositions and modes of action, creams and serums complement each other in facial skincare. In very rare cases (extremely humid climates, very oily skin), some people may choose to use a serum alone. But in most cases, the use of a moisturizing cream is essential to protect the skin and reinforce its skin barrier. Therefore, if you have to choose between a cream and a serum, we generally recommend using a cream on its own.

However, it would be a shame to miss out on the benefits of a serum, which can be used on a daily basis or as a cure. Paired with the use of a moisturizing cream, a serum is a perfect ally for specific needs: during seasonal changes, when the skin shows signs of fatigue, when it's exposed to the sun or cold, or when it's starting to show the first signs of aging. Let's see how to combine them to maximize their effectiveness.

What are the differences between a serum and a cream?

Day Cream, Night Cream, Serum: Which Facial Skincare to Adopt?

Your skin needs hydration from morning to night (and from night to morning). But did you know that depending on the time of day, your facial skincare should address different concerns? Let's explore how to enhance the benefits of your skincare products according to your needs throughout the day.

In the Morning:

Upon waking up, your routine should focus on effective skin protection. During the day, choose a cream that suits your skin type and needs, providing long-lasting hydration to help the skin maintain a healthy moisture balance and protect it from external aggressors. For serum, select a product that matches your current needs (matte, blemishes, spots, wrinkles, protection, etc.). For additional antioxidant action, prioritize serums with antioxidant active ingredients that protect the skin throughout the day.

In the Evening:

Before going to bed, it's better to focus on skin regeneration and repair. Opt for a richer moisturizing cream that promotes skin regeneration during the night and leaves your skin looking "plump" in the morning.
Combine this action with a serum capable of repairing the skin and enhancing its natural ability to rejuvenate.

Continuous Action:

Some facial skincare products have multiple crucial functions for the skin. You can use them in both the morning and evening because the skin draws the necessary actives as needed. For example, The Domaine's Serum has a firming and tightening effect, rejuvenating the skin in the morning. Its concentration of antioxidants ensures skin protection throughout the day. In the evening, the Serum offers its wealth of anti-aging actives to help the skin regenerate.
Day Cream, Night Cream, Serum: Which Facial Skincare to Adopt?

Reducing Visible Signs of Aging:

While some concerns (blemishes, sensitivity, dehydration, etc.) may be addressed by using serums in cures, other issues require continuous facial skincare use. Reducing visible signs of aging falls into this second category.

Combining Cream and Serum for Greater Effectiveness:

The actives used in creams and serums are often complementary. Their different compositions allow them to contain actives of various natures or in different quantities that have complementary effects on the skin.
To simplify, while a moisturizing cream provides various actives to the skin and creates a protective barrier to seal in moisture on the skin's surface, the serum, applied beneath this barrier, has the opportunity to fulfill its role by penetrating deep layers of the skin. In the case of The Domaine's Routines, facial care products like The Serum and The Cream or the Fluide Cream are perfect examples of this complementarity. On one hand, certain actives, such as ProGR3 or GSM10, are present in various formulations and complement each other. On the other hand, the specific actives in each type of product work together to reduce visible signs of aging.

Choosing Your Products Wisely:

Facial skincare products aimed at reducing visible signs of aging require consistency. It is essential to select skincare products whose effectiveness has been tested, of course, but this effectiveness will be of little benefit if you do not follow the skincare routine you choose. Try to choose facial skincare products that you enjoy using.

For a moisturizing cream, for example, the choice of texture is important based on your skin's needs and your preferences. It may seem obvious, but you wouldn't choose the same cream texture for different skin types. That's why The Domaine offers two moisturizing creams. The Cream, with its whipped texture, is rich and creamy, better suited for those seeking hydration and comfort. The Fluid Cream, on the other hand, quickly penetrates the skin while keeping it hydrated. Feel free to experiment with textures. For instance, we advise some of our customers to use The Fluide Cream as a day cream and The Cream as a night cream.

Lastly, don't forget to check the composition of facial skincare products. A strict blacklist is often the best way to avoid controversial ingredients, whether for the environment or for your skin's balance.

Prevention Rather Than Cure: SPF and Hydration

Sun protection is an essential element of skincare, especially for preventing premature aging. On a daily basis, opt for a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 as the final step in your routine to protect your skin. During the summer months, consider increasing the level of protection.
Additionally, proper hydration is an effective way to slow the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Drink enough water (between 1.5 and 2 liters per day) to maintain your skin's hydration from within.

Reducing Visible Signs of Aging: