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  5. Night Cream Vs Moisturiser Vs Serum - Which Is Best For Your Skin?

Ever wondered what the right skincare product for your skin is? From night creams and moisturizers to serums, a wide range of skincare products beckon from the shopping aisles. While one often tends to use these on constant rotation, do they all serve your skin needs?

While night creams, moisturizers and serums are thought to serve similar purposes for your skin, they have fundamental differences considering your skin type and needs. This article helps you understand the differences between the three, and enables you to make more informed choices for your daily skincare routine.

What Are Night Creams?

Meant to be included in your nighttime skincare routine, these creams are ideally applied before you hit the bed. Night creams are formulated especially to let your skin rejuvenate, regenerate and repair the damage caused throughout the day.

While primarily night creams help your skin with hydration, they also boost cell turnover rate, strengthen collagen, smoothen dry spots, etc. You can always choose one based on your skin type and needs.

What Are Moisturizers?

Simply put, moisturizers are thicker formulations that create a barrier in your skin to seal in hydration. Besides, they have skin moisturizing and hydrating agents and other ingredients to enhance the function of the stratum corneum which is the uppermost layer of your skin.

What Is A Serum?

Serums are typically made with active ingredients to target skin-specific concerns such as aging, acne breakouts, pigmentation etc. Serums are lightweight formulas, and hence they get absorbed into your skin quickly.

Differences Between Night Cream, Moisturizer & Serum


Night Cream





  • Night cream is rich in texture.
  • It has a thick texture that creates a protective layer on your skin.



  • Moisturizer comes in different forms. It can either be gel-based, cream-based or lotion-based.
  • Due to the variety of forms, the texture also differs.
  • Creams typically have a dense texture while gel formulations are water-based and lightweight.
  • Lotions are thicker than gels but lighter than creams.



  • Serums are either oil-based or water-based.
  • However, the texture still remains oil-free so that it can be absorbed deep into your skin.
  • It does not make your skin greasy or leave any residue.




  • Retinols [1]
  • Peptides
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Resveratrol
  • Ceramides
  • Glycerin
  • Lactic acid



  • Occlusives like cetyl alcohol, lanolin, lecithin, mineral oil, paraffin, and stearic acid.[2]
  • Humectants like glycerin, honey, and panthenol
  • Emollients such as octyldodecanol
  • Vitamins, Menthol and Lactic acid



  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Vitamin C and E
  • Retinol (Vitamin A)
  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
  • Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)
  • DMAE (Dimethylaminoethanol)




  • Night cream has higher concentration of nutrients that support circulation, hydration, and cell turnover.
  • Using a night cream can moisturize and soothe your skin while also promoting cell turnover, which aids in healing.



  • By efficiently supplying skin with water and boosting occlusion to lower trans-epidermal water loss, moisturizers improve skin hydration and raise the water content in the stratum corneum.
  • Additionally, moisturizers fill up tiny skin fissures, offer a comforting barrier, and shield the skin from rubbing.



  • Serums are available in a wide range, and each has a unique purpose and specific ingredients.
  • Some serums work to brighten your skin or minimize blemishes, others seek to moisturize your skin or fight the signs of aging.




  • A night cream repairs and rejuvenates your skin while you are asleep. It treats skin damage throughout the night. This ensures that you have smooth and healthy skin when you wake up.
  • The right time to apply a night cream is just before going to bed. Make sure you properly wash your skin before you apply the night cream.



  • Moisturizing every day can reduce skin dryness and patchy skin and prevent skin conditions like eczema.
  • You can moisturize your skin twice daily to get the best results.



  • Serums get absorbed deep into your skin rather than sitting on the surface like moisturizers.
  • All you need to do is apply a tiny amount of serum to your face gently and let your skin absorb it naturally.


Night cream, Moisturizer Or Serum: What Should You Use?

Every skincare product is unique and serves individual purposes in your skincare routine. Thus, an ideal skincare routine will consist of multiple steps and products. Night cream, moisturizer and serum are equally important for your skin. You should include each of them in your daily skincare routine but based on your skin type and needs.

Night Cream

Your skin repairs itself at night. Naturally, night creams are formulated with skin-repairing agents. Your skin has several layers and as you age these layers get thinner and weaker due to the lack of collagen. As a result, you tend to develop fine lines and wrinkles. However, apart from the natural aging process, regular sun exposure and other external environmental factors speed up skin ageing.

Night creams primarily consists of actives like peptides, ceramides, retinol[3] etc. Retinol is an anti-aging agent that helps you reduce fine lines, dark spots and wrinkles. It works to manage hyperpigmentation issues as well. Another important ingredient in night creams is Hyaluronic acid, which moisturizes your skin and locks in hydration.


Typically, dry skin is not a serious issue. But it can lead to cracks and fissures that cause infections. Also, discomfort is an additional factor of dry skin as you may experience itchiness along with flaky skin. Moisturizers contain emollients and humectants which work like moisturizing agents. They include ingredients like glycerin, honey, panthenol, sorbitol and urea.

Also, a few moisturizers have topical retinol acids in the form of Vitamin A which helps in reducing fine lines and wrinkles.

Moisturizer can be used at any time of the day, whenever your skin feels dry. However, wash your face before applying any moisturizer. Applying moisturizer without washing your face will lead to dirt build-up on the skin.


Face serum works as a significant step in your skincare routine. Serums typically are made to target and treat specific skin issues. Therefore, while few serums are formulated to treat acne, some work against pigmentation and others are for hydration. [4]

Typically, ingredients in serum differ, and address specific skin issues. For example, Alpha-hydroxy acids[5] (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids [6] help against fine lines and wrinkles, age spots, enlarged pores, etc. These acids gently exfoliate your skin and remove dullness.

Hyaluronic Acid [7] is one of the critical ingredients in serums. It is a moisturizing agent that heals your dry and dehydrated skin. Other commonly-found ingredients are vitamin c, retinol and vitamin E. Retinol treats aging signs and vitamin C works on skin pigmentation. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that minimizes ageing signs and fights against free radicals. It also improves your skin tone and provides an even complexion.

Wrapping Up

  • Night creams are meant for nighttime usage only. These are rich in texture and help to repair and regenerate your skin while you are asleep.
  • Moisturizers are thick in nature and can be used at any time. It deeply hydrates your skin, keeping dryness at bay.
  • Serums are meant to target and treat specific skin concerns like pigmentation, dehydrated skin or age spots.
  • You should include all three products in your skincare routine to maintain your skin’s health. Know your skin type and incorporate suitable skincare products into your daily skincare routine.