SERUMS v CREAMS — Why so many? What is the difference?

Saturday Beauty

Jeanette La Caille-Hill

Saturday, March 17, 2012

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You’ve probably been wondering why you need different products for each skin concern and each visible sign of aging. This is a very valid concern, given the current economic crunch. As daunting as it may seem, there is an easy way to navigate the sea of products out there in order to maintain and prevent aging and avoid drastic measures such as surgery later on in life. Here is what you need to know:

Concentration of ingredients

Remember the power of active ingredients. Always ask your aesthetician for details on the percentages of actives in the product. Like everything else, there are varying levels of quality ingredients, from high to low, and depending on the research and innovation in the formulation and use of actives and how effective they are on aging, the cost is increased. Serums do more than creams, and therefore cost more to make. All spas carrying professional strength products, receive training and detailed product knowledge.

Molecular weight

You may be asking yourself, “So exactly why do I need a serum and a cream?” They are both moisturisers, yes, but they serve two distinct and important functions. Imagine your skin in layers. What you don't see are the inner workings, the collagen and elastin that keep your face from sagging and wrinkling. In order for the ingredients to penetrate to the dermis or deeper layer, to reach and treat the collagen and elastin, you must use a serum. Serums are more potent in actives, and have a lower weight, which allows it to make its way into your dermis. Creams are just as vital as they have a heavier weight and have the actives that need to sit on the epidermis or outer layer. Creams act as enhancement to the protective barrier that exists on your skin called your Acid Mantle.

Anti-Aging v Anti-Wrinkle v Anti-Sagging

Do you know there is a difference between anti-aging and anti-wrinkle or even anti-sagging products? Anti-aging focuses on the other visible signs of aging such as dehydration, dullness and roughness, for example, while anti-wrinkle is very specific to preventing wrinkles from forming. Anti-sagging/slackening staves off the loss of elasticity which causes double chin, turkey neck, neck lines and other unsightly consequences of the stretching of elastin fibres and diminishing collagen.


Organic has a very specific meaning. Organic products must be 100 per cent certified organic. To be so classified, it must be inspected and awarded certification by an approved internationally respected body which is clearly printed on all packaging and informative brochures. These products have no chemicals, no pesticides, no artificial inputs. They are more expensive because the farms from which the ingredients are sourced have to operate at optimal levels to harvest a very exclusive, small amount of produce. Never be fooled by products that state “All Natural” and claim to be organic; they are not.

OTC v Professional

“Over the counter” or OTC products can be found in self-service locations such as supermarkets, pharmacies and beauty supply stores. OTC products are available to the general public without any restrictions because the concentration of ingredients is low and the effectiveness is minimal. However, despite the fact that the OTC product seems harmless, shoppers beware that you are purchasing at your own risk without a personal consultation and recommendation for your specific skin concern. Professional retail is the exact opposite and should always be bought in a professional spa following a skin analysis.

Men's skin

Male skin has more oil and is slightly tougher than female skin and should therefore be treated with specific products to control overproduction of oil and build-up of dead skin cells and blackheads. Because men shave and have more aggravation on their skin, deep cleansing, cream shaving products and moisturisers are indispensable.

Hormonal aging

Regular moisturisers are not equipped to correct and prevent further damage triggered by hormonal imbalance. Skincare experts rely on targeted treatments and retail products to stymie the effects of hormonal aging in pre-menopausal clients, for example. These products go beyond the average moisturiser and fight giving you global protection.


Similar to anti-wrinkle or anti-sagging products, there are specific serums and creams that eliminate the causes of hyper-pigmentation. Many of us have genetic tendency for brown spots and think that it is inevitable. The truth is there are solutions to lighten and prevent new spots from surfacing guaranteed by SPF30.

Fragile, delicate areas

The skin around the eyes, lips, hands and neck are extremely fragile and should be cared for with the gentlest but most powerful, of products. These are the first areas to reveal your age and you should always ensure you have a range of skincare that is meant for those key places.

Body v Face

All skin is not created equally. Your face requires attention, but many of us forget about our bodies. Dry skin on the body is a sign of inefficiencies such as dehydration and lack of protection. Always use homecare exfoliants and elixirs that are gentle, yet keep the body cool, moisturised and fragrant. Ask your aesthetician for body products from the spa as well. The ingredients are usually more potent for the same cost. Highly concentrated products last longer because you use less to get even better results, have the best quality ingredients and are certified. In addition, they come with a skin analysis, usually complimentary, and an expert in the field of skincare to recommend the right solution to your specific needs. Never be penny wise and pound foolish. Go for the best for your skin; after all, it absorbs everything and affects your overall health and well-being.

Jeanette La Caille-Hill is a beauty and wellness expert and qualified aesthetician. She operates the exclusive distributorship for SOTHYS, Paris professional skincare and body treatment line in Jamaica. Contact her at 536-7640 or e-mail her at sothysjamaica@ with questions and comments.




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