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A serum or a cream? Is it important?

The answer to the question: not really. What matters is the ingredient list and the formulator may have to change the consistency of the product to  make sure that the actives are dissolved completely.

From my book

Types of skin care products

Cream: an emulsion of oil and water in approximately equal proportions that penetrates well the outer layer of skin. Both oil soluble and water soluble actives can be used. Creams have a higher viscosity (thickness) than lotions.

Lotion: a low viscosity topical preparation.

Gel: a jelly-like material that can have properties ranging from soft and weak to hard and tough. By weight, gels are mostly liquid, yet they behave like solids because the polymers dissolved in the water form a three-dimensional cross-linked network within the liquid. It is the cross-linking within the fluid that gives a gel its structure and contributes to the adhesive stick. Because viscosity of the gel depends on the interaction between the solid and water, it can change greatly by adding even small amounts of salts or other ingredients.

Our Sea Kelp Coral is an example of a gel.

Serum: a (skin care industry) fancy term for lotion, with oil and water components that vary. Serum is a word borrowed from medicine, to suggest the idea of something strong that can benefit your skin. In medicine, the word refers to a blood-derived liquid, plasma, from which the clotting factors have been removed. The industry steals many terms from medicine and science in general. By FDA definition, a cosmetic cannot claim to change skin physiology. The medical-sounding terminology is used to convey the idea of medical benefits without annoying the FDA.

Sunscreen: a lotion that contains ingredients capable of absorbing and/or reflecting UV radiation before it reaches the skin thus preventing burning and photoaging. (Thankfully, the public has been educated about the dangers of sun exposure and tanning oil has all but disappeared from the market. The general population has evolved from wanting to promote or enhance a suntan to wanting to prevent tanning or burning. For skin that has seen too much sun and experienced sunburns, our UV Repair Cream will help.)

Toner is a liquid, mostly water but with additions, used to remove oils and sebum, stripping the skin of oily substances. Sebum, however, has a purpose: it lubricates skin and prevents water loss from the skin. People think that having oily skin means that the skin is dirty – this is not true at all. Photoshop has convinced people that the skin is supposed to be matte and not glossy. Beware of toners or other “skin care” products that contain ethanol or other alcohols used to remove sebum, and don’t complain later about “dry skin” or “sensitive skin”.

Exfoliators remove dead skin cells to give skin a smooth feel. Be careful with exfoliation as there can be a cost to your skin. There are three ways of exfoliating your skin: physical scrubs (which involve a gritty texture that can come from sugar, salt, crushed nuts, crystals used in micro-exfoliation, etc.), chemical peels, and enzymatic peels. At Skin Actives we have products that use these three methodologies without resorting to brutal skin treatments that treat the skin as if it was an old wall in need of resurfacing by sandblasting. Welcome to the real world, where skin is not an inanimate object but a live organ, and knowledge is helpful; our constant goal at SAS is to preserve your skin’s health.

Acid solutions, often called “chemical peels”, break down the proteins in the most external layers of the skin when used with caution (if used without great caution they will burn the skin). A mild form of chemical peel, our Alpha-Beta Exfoliant, which can be used on face, décolleté and hands without problems. It will provide an invisible peel, and you will have satisfyingly smooth skin without downtime or visible peeling. If you are looking for something even milder, our Vitamin C Serum with its low pH will leave your skin feeling smooth.  “Mild” is relative. If you leave these chemical exfoliants on your skin for too long, get ready for a real peel with days spent inside the house waiting for the redness, peeling and inflammation to subside. You have been warned!

Remember that the epidermis is all that stands between your body and the outside world. It is the skin barrier you absolutely need to prevent water loss and penetration of external “bad stuff”. No cream or serum can substitute for it.  It also protects the nerve terminals in your dermis, and removing it will be the beginning of years of self-inflicted  sensitive, dry and itchy skin.


DISCLAIMER: These claims have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease.


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