How Moisturizers & Serums Work Together

Behind this hydrating, actives-packed duo.

Dylan Mustapich

Esthetician at Atolla

Dylan Mustapich

Dylan Mustapich is a NYC-based lead esthetician who has been featured in New Beauty, Teen Vogue, Wired, and The Huffington Post. With a lifelong love of all things skin, he is incredibly knowledgeable about skincare ingredients, routine refinement, and personalized skincare, and follows emerging technology closely.



Serums and moisturizers are simply made for each other. In fact, using just a serum or moisturizer by themselves greatly limits their potential! Without moisturizer, the benefits of a serum could be negated by dehydration and dryness. Without serum, you miss out on  fully penetrating the skin with effective ingredients and hydrating with humectants like Hyaluronic Acid and/or Glycerin. Pairing a serum with the right moisturizer allows you to treat multiple skin concerns while fortifying the delicate skin barrier for enhanced results. Most people should use both a serum and a moisturizer for day-to-day skin health.

How do serums work?

If you're dealing with a specific skin issue, a serum can help make a noticeable transformation in your skin in a short period of time. The reason is because serums have high concentrations of ngredients in small molecules that deeply penetrate the skin. 

Water-based serums are often loaded with humectants, ingredients that help draw and bind water to the skin. Oil-based serums are helpful for those experiencing dryness, as they are able to restore lipids to our skin with plant-based oils such as Squalane and Jojoba.

The viscosity and small molecule size of serums means that they are able to easily soak into the skin and provide a deeper level of hydration than a moisturizer alone. Serums can also include ingredients such as Vitamin C, Peptides, plant extracts, and AHA/BHA/PHA exfoliants. Their ability to deliver these ingredients (often at a higher percentage than in moisturizer) deeper into the skin maximizes their benefits. 

How do moisturizers work?

Serums often don't include the sealing particles that are in moisturizers. Moisturizers create a barrier to help seal in hydration and the ingredients in your serum, while bolstering your natural skin barrier with ingredients like emollients (texture softening), Ceramides (lipid replenishing), and Niacinamide (ceramide producing). They can also complement the ingredients in your serum with antioxidants, Peptides, Hyaluronic Acid (HA), and soothing plant extracts. For example, a moisturizer with antioxidants pairs well with a Vitamin C serum to boost protection from environmental free radicals.

Finding the best serum/moisturizer combo for your skin means that you’re able to simultaneously treat skin concerns (such as fine lines and discoloration), while also supporting the skin barrier and providing protection from environmental factors such as pollution. 

With Atolla routines, a custom moisturizer is formulated in conjunction with your custom serum to include ingredients that complement each other and support the overall health of your skin. The end result is a skincare routine that will give you the best results, while still being incredibly simple and affordable.

Simplify your skincare with a custom, complementary routine.