Should You Use Serum Before Or After Moisturizer?

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Should You Use Serum Before Or After Moisturizer?

Face oil before or after moisturizer? We answer once and for all!


Just when we thought our skincare routine couldn’t get more complicated, here comes the old “face oil before or after moisturizer” dilemma. Before you start wondering when to apply face oil – before or after moisturizer – let us break down the facts for you.

“Face oil before or after moisturizer” is one of the biggest beauty questions of all, and over the years there has been conflicting advice. We’ll help put the debate to rest. Learn how to get the most out of your facial oils – plus the best face oil and moisturizer duos to transform your skin from dull to dazzling.

Face Oil Before Or After Moisturizer: Why the Debate?

For the average consumer, the face oil before or after moisturizer debate is a bit like did the chicken or the egg come first? Over time, the paradox has evolved; first team moisturizer dominates, but now team face oil leads. There is also a diehard group of skincare enthusiasts who, to this day, still think a facial oil should go first – here’s why.

The school of thought on face oil coming before moisturizer stems from a rule that’s been written on esthetician school whiteboards for decades. Traditionally, estheticians and beauty experts were taught the “thinnest to thickest” technique, which would put moisturizer after face oil.

When you think about it from a consistency standpoint, it makes sense. However, “for every rule, there may be an exception.” When it comes down to science, using face oils before moisturizers is notcorrect – and we’ll explain why. This should clear up the ever-present face oil before or after moisturizer dilemma!


Why Water-Based Products Should Come First

Let’s take a closer look at deciding between face oil before or after moisturizer. More recently – thanks to science-backed research – it is now widely accepted that a face oil should go on AFTER moisturizer. That’s right: that oily essence that doesn’t play well with water can actually penetrate moisturizers. The reasoning is in its makeup.

Toners and serums are thinner, and generally more humectant. As water-loving ingredients, humectants draw moisture or water into the skin. They work by attracting water molecules from the air, and pulling them into the skin’s surface. Humectants deliver active ingredients into the skin most efficiently. This match made in hydration heaven leaves your skin plump and supple.

In the case of skin care, adding water improves how well your face oil is absorbed. These water-based products are prepping your face for more nutrient-dense ingredients to be absorbed – like moisturizers, face oils, and SPF. That’s also important to remember in the debate of face oil before or after moisturizer.

Why Face Oil Comes After Moisturizer

Face oils are the thickest or most occlusive ingredients in a regimen. Occlusives form a protective barrier on top of skin, and lock moisture in. So, in the debate of face oil before or after moisturizer, it’s important to remember that if you apply a moisturizer after a face oil, it won’t be able to penetrate that seal and as a result, will be less effective.

Moisturizers contain water, whereas oils do not. Water cannot penetrate through oil; therefore, a moisturizer would not be able to fully absorb into skin if an oil is below it. Moisturizers are great for sealing serums on your skin, which can make them more efficient at keeping skin hydrated.

On the flip side, oils can penetrate moisturizer, but not the other way around. Using a face oil last allows the more impenetrable “oil” layer to trap hydration from your moisturizer within your skin. Facial oils have the ability to act as a top-tier skin protector, meaning they can lock absorbent ingredients below to help them work more efficiently.

Now we have the answer to “face oil before or after moisturizer” once and for all!

PRO-TIP: Oil and water don’t mix. So, if you put an oil anywhere near the frontend of your routine, your products won’t play well together and will likely be less effective. Applying a face oil before your SPF can actually dilute it, lessening its sun protection abilities.


The Best Face Oil and Moisturizer Duos

Face oils put the finishing seal on your beauty routine, and can transform skin from dull to dazzling. Whether you’re prepping for daytime defense or catching some Zs, all skin types can benefit from using a facial oil for a gorgeous complexion.

So, now that we’ve addressed the “face oil before or after moisturizer” debate, here are some great face oil and moisturizer combos to kick your radiant complexion up a notch!

If you’re concerned that face oils may feel too heavy, check those fears at the door. Our Intensive Nourishing Facial Oil is fortified with non-comedogenic grapeseed and blackcurrant oils to restore and replenish dry or depleted skin. Its lightweight formula makes it perfect for daytime use, for just about any skin type.

Pair this antioxidant-rich face oil over our Green Tea EGCG Concentrate Cream for an extra dose of glow. This cream harnesses the power of green tea’s EGCG to soothe inflammation, unclog pores, and promote healthier skin. Both formulas can help defend your skin against daily environmental damage.

During the night, your skin has plenty of time to replenish and recuperate without complications from other products. Our Multi-Vitamin + Antioxidants PM Facial Oil is a game changer in the anti-aging department. It’s made in a base of ultra-light jojoba oil and features hefty doses of vitamins C, E, CoQ10 and retinol.

Try this powerhouse facial oil over the fan favorite Multi-Vitamin + Antioxidants Cream, to lock in moisture and double down on potent vitamin power. Delicate hints of blood orange will lull you into a state of deep relaxation as you perfect your PM oil before moisturizer routine.

Looking for an antioxidant-packed treat for your skin? Layer our light, non-greasy Super Fruit Facial Oilover our richly moisturizing Super Fruit Cream. You’ll love the luscious, fruity-floral aroma, and normal and dry skin will love the one-two caress of superfruit nutrients and deep moisturization from avocado and olive oils.

Roses aren’t just beautiful to look at; they also help make your skin gorgeous! Apply our ultra-lightweight Rose Water Hydrating Milk followed by our Organic Rosehip Oil to harness the power of roses. Our silky hydrating milk delivers a kiss of moisture with rose hydrosol and hyaluronic acid. Aloe juice and beta glucan soothe skin and reduce redness.

Our richly moisturizing rosehip oil is rich in vitamins and omega fatty acids, to deeply nourish the thirstiest skin. This cold-pressed oil offers maximum potency to lessen the appearance of fine lines and uneven skin tone, and help to plump skin.

Frequently Asked Questions About Face Oil

What are the benefits of incorporating face oil into my skincare routine?

While they’re predominantly known for their hydrating properties, we’re here to shout from the rooftops about the endless benefits of face oils for all skin types! Facial oils help keep skin balanced – even for oily or acne-prone skin. They seal in moisture and add extra nourishment, especially for dry skin.

Face oils promote a healthy glow, especially for mature or dull skin – plus keep the early aging signs away from your skin. These all-star elixirs help foundation to apply more smoothly, while also making their mark in nighttime routines to make your favorite products more effective.

How do I choose the right face oil for my skin type?

For oily or acne-prone skin, face oils can help to balance excess sebum and keep acne at bay. For dry skin types, whether your dryness can be blamed on plummeting fall temps or regular dry skin symptoms, facial oil can help boost your moisturizer’s hydrating efforts.

Facial oils can help with mature skin and anti-aging concerns because they contain antioxidants that pass through the skin quickly, preventing water loss while keeping skin plump. For flaky or uneven skintone, facial oil helps your makeup brushes glide across the skin for a smooth, even makeup application.

When is the best time to apply face oil in my skincare routine?

Face oils should be the final product in your night or daytime skincare routine. The reason behind this is the thick texture of face oils traps whatever product you applied before it. Also, any serum or lotion that you apply after the face oil won’t be effective for your skin. Use face oil only when you are done with all the other products like cleanser, toner, serum, and moisturizer.

Can face oils be used daily, or should they be applied only a few times a week?

You can use face oil every morning and at night for the best results. Don’t forget to let the oil fully absorb into the skin before applying other products or makeup. If you layer products without letting them absorb properly, it can lead to pilling, which means you’ll have to start all over again.

How do face oils interact with other skincare products like serums and moisturizers?

Just remember that oils should always be applied last in your routine, as they can penetrate serums and moisturizers, but your other skincare products can’t penetrate facial oils. So, which formula you decide to use all depends on your skin goals and personal preference.

Face oils are rapidly growing in popularity in skincare routines, often as part of providing an extra sealant of protection with the added beauty and anti-aging benefits we all crave. Although there may still be some little debate as to whether the chicken or egg came first, we have solved the “face oil before or after moisturizer” debate. Get ready to transform your skin from dull to dazzling!

We carefully hand-select products based on strict purity standards, and only recommend products we feel meet this criteria. 100% PURE™ may earn a small commission for products purchased through affiliate links.

The information in this article is for educational use, and not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should not be used as such.

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