FREE standard Shipping on AU & NZ orders

Shop now, pay later with Afterpay

Cart items
Face Serum vs. Face Oil

Face Serum vs. Face Oil

Face serums and oils are two of our favourite ways to treat the skin but there’s often confusion about what each one does! Here is our guide to what they are, what they do and where they fit in your skin routine.

What is the difference between a face oil & a serum?

What is a face serum and what is a face oil?

Let’s begin by clearing up any confusion about the difference between serum vs oil. 

Serums: Target specific skin concerns with potent active ingredients

What does serum do? Serums are lightweight products formulated with a high concentration of active ingredients to target specific skin concerns including fine lines and wrinkles, dullness, hyperpigmentation, dehydration, and acne.

Serums have a smaller molecular structure than other skincare products, like moisturiser creams, lotions, or face oil. This allows them to deliver a potent hit of ingredients more quickly and deeply into the skin.

Serums may have a thin and watery consistency or a more gel-like texture. Serum isn’t designed to replace a moisturiser, but rather be used in conjunction with one for best results.

The addition of a serum will supercharge skincare results for all skin types and concerns.


  • Concentrated levels of active ingredients (up to 70%)
  • Target specific skin concerns
  • Absorb rapidly and deeply into the skin
  • Smaller molecular structure
  • Water or gel like consistency
  • Best results use with a moisturiser

Face oils: Deliver moisturising benefits and increase derma strength

Face Oils are a blend of natural oils containing antioxidants, vitamins, and essential fatty acids.

Their main goal is to boost hydration levels by sealing in moisture to prevent it evaporating off the skin. Face oils support your skin’s natural barrier (lipids, cholesterol, and ceramides) to improve derma strength.

Unlike serums, which absorb deeply into the skin, face oils have larger molecules that can only penetrate the surface. They work on strengthening the skin barrier - the outer layer - to minimise trans epidermal water loss. This keeps skin hydrated and plump, improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

All skin types, even oily ones, can benefit from facial oil.

Face oils

  • Contain antioxidants, vitamins and essential fatty acids.
  • Focus on sealing moisture into the skin
  • Improves the appearance of fine lines / wrinkles
  • Larger molecular structure
  • Works on surface level to strengthen the skin barrier
  • Can replace or be used with a moisturiser

How to Use Face Oil and Face Serums

Serum or oil first? That’s probably the most common question on the topic of face serum vs oil! The quick answer - serum first followed by face oil.

How to use a face serum

After cleansing, while the skin is still damp, apply serum by using a gentle motion to press or massage it into the skin. Allow time for it to fully absorb.

How to use a facial oil

Once the serum has absorbed into the skin follow with facial oil application. Drop a few drops of face oil into your palm and massage into your face.

If you’re using a cream / lotion moisturiser in addition to face oil, follow the serum step with the cream / lotion then apply the face oil.

Face Duo: Combining face oil and face serum into one simple step!  

esmi Face Duos combine the intensity of a water-based serum and moisturising benefits of an oil. It’s easy to give your skin the benefits of a face oil and serum in one simple step!

Let’s take a look at the Sunrise Skin Energising Acai Duo, for example. This Face Duo offers the potent, active brightening benefits of Kakadu Plum and Liquorice extract to target hyperpigmentation and dullness concerns while Acai Oil offers moisturising and anti-ageing benefits to smooth and tone skin.

How and when to use a Face Duo

Shake the bottle well to mix the acai oil and water-based serum together.

Dispense a pearl size amount of mixed oil/serum directly to the palm of the hand and massage into the skin after cleansing or exfoliation.

Perfect for use under any makeup, moisturiser, oil or sunscreen. Can be used morning, night and around the eye area.

View the full range of esmi Face Duos, Face Oils, and Face Serums!

You Might Also Like To Read

Infographic_ Face oil vs serum