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What is the Difference Between Serum and Concentrate?

Updated: Aug 11, 2022

Skin Care isn't always the Lala land we see in glitzy magazines or commercials. Sometimes, even with filled beauty shelves and counters, you could still be cut up with different skincare problems all at once! And no, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. It would help if you often had a more potent, fast absorbing, and unadulterated solution.

Serums and concentrates present more potent and fast-acting solutions than our regular skincare products. Although serving a similar purpose, these two products get mentioned interchangeably. This slip-up can be confusing, prompting questions like; is Concentrate the same as Serum? or which is better, Serum or Concentrates?

To answer the above questions and clarify which of these star cosmetic products your skin needs, let's dive deeper into what serums and concentrates are and how they differ.

What is a Serum?

A serum is a skincare formulation with a high concentration of active ingredients that boost skin health and tackle several skin problems in targeted areas. These powerful ingredients include antioxidants, peptides, or hyaluronic acid to target problem areas.

Serums possess a relatively small molecular size, enabling an instant absorption and deeper penetration into the skin to target specific problems like wrinkles, dehydration, redness, and aging issues.

The gel-like and light fluid consistency of Serums make them suitable for faster absorbing skincare, delivering potent skin-restoring and hydration boosting components.

What is a Concentrate?

Concentrates are potent lightweight lotions that contain 'only one' active ingredient in a powerful and highly concentrated form. Due to this monotony of a single active ingredient, Concentrates get specially formulated to focus their high potency on a specific skin care concern. Such skin care concerns could be as precise as a slight change in skin tone or the appearance of a pimple.

Unlike Serums, Concentrates, as their names suggest, contain a more significant amount of a particular active ingredient than regular skincare or even serums. These potent ingredients have proven four times more powerful than most Over-the-counter (OTC) creams.

Different concentrates contain high amounts of Vitamin C (Retinol), Vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, or Rosehip ingredients. These concentrates can be used in tandem with Serums to expedite the treatment of specific skin concerns.

How to Use Serums and Concentrates

If you are still wondering, what goes on first, serum or concentrates? Serum and concentrates can get used independently or in conjunction with your other skincare productslike moisturizers - to increase their potency. They can also be used together in a single regimen but under specific directions to achieve the desired result.

Here are the steps involved in combining these two highly concentrated potent products.

Step 1: Cleanse

The skin should be washed and made pristine with a cleanser to ensure the key ingredients in these products permeate through.

Step 2: Apply a Toner

Toners are not as astringent as people think they are. These water-like skincare products get packed with much more than just hydrogen and oxygen. They contain antioxidants, glycerin, and anti-inflammatories to eliminate dead cells and thoroughly hydrate the skin.

Step 3: Apply a Concentrate

After cleansing and toning, you should add concentrate to the face to ensure easy product absorption. Wait for two minutes to ensure deep penetration and absorption of the concentrate.

Step 4: Apply the Serum

Put the serum on your palm, and serenade on your skin. Pat in upwards and outwards motion until the serum is applied adequately to your face and neck.

Step 5: Moisturize

Allow serum to get absorbed for a minute or two, and then apply a moisturizer in a circular form on your skin. This practice helps lock in the key ingredients of the serum and concentrate.


These two highly effective topical agents are no doubt imperative in every skincare regimen. Though slightly different, they can create a synergy of skin care regimens that would leave your skin looking great.

There are many types of serum and concentrates; each comes with a unique purpose and ingredient(s). Some improve the skin's appearance, while others specifically target skin concerns like aging.

Our body types are different; hence, these topical products react differently to different skin types. To ensure what type of serum or concentrate is suitable for your skin, I suggest you talk to a board-certified dermatologist for more clarity.

What are your thoughts? Would you incorporate these active topical agents into your skincare regimen?

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