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Emulsion vs. Moisturizer: What is the difference?

Do you feel overwhelmed when it comes to choosing between a moisturizer and an emulsion for your skincare routine? Emulsions and moisturizers are components of a skincare routine and do have similar functions. However, there are some key differences between the two that can help you decide which option is best for your skin’s needs. In this article, you will discover what emulsion is and how emulsion differs from moisturizer and some of the most common questions about emulsions in skincare so that you can make informed decisions on which one is right for you.


What is emulsion in skincare?

An emulsion is a mixture of liquid substances that do not dissolve naturally on their own. In order for the substances to retain their consistency, an emulsifier is added to the formulation to help the substances blend together. This blend creates a layer of protective hydration while locking in moisture and protects the skin from external factors such as pollutants and other environmental stressors. Some commonly found emulsifiers that you may see in your skincare products include Polysorbate 60, Cetearyl Alcohol and Glyceryl Stearate.


Are emulsions and creams the same thing?

Emulsions are usually found in gel-like or liquid forms and generally have thinner and lighter consistency compared to moisturizing creams. Emulsions have water-based formulas that offer more hydration and are often non-comedogenic compared to moisturizing creams. Cream moisturizers tend to be richer and thicker in texture and contain more oil than water. Moisturizers can also be occlusive depending on the formulation of the product that you are using.


 Emulsion vs Moisturizer: What is the difference? | Oshen Skin


What are the benefits of using emulsions in my skincare routine?

Easily absorbed into the skin

The ingredients in emulsions tend to be lightweight and are easily absorbed into the skin without sitting on top of your skin as one would expect when using a moisturizer.


Unlike cream moisturizer that can have richer and denser texture, emulsions are generally water-based formulations and oil-free which makes them less likely to clog skin pores that can lead to acne or breakouts.

Reinforce the skin barrier

Emulsions are often used in Asian skincare for a good reason as they are regarded as a booster to help achieve a more supple and glowing complexion with an additional layer of hydration and nutrition. The ingredients found in emulsion are more concentrated than in moisturizers, making them a preferred choice to fortify the skin barrier, keeping the skin looking healthy and radiant.


Can address specific skin issues based on the formulation

Some emulsions contain active ingredients that can target specific skin issues similar to that of a serum. It can be considered as a hybrid with a combination of a serum and a moisturizer in one product, which you can choose to use in lieu of a moisturizer. However, it is advisable not to replace a serum with an emulsion as the concentration of active ingredients in a serum is much higher to produce effective treatment results when addressing your specific skin issues.


Do emulsions work for all skin types?

Yes, emulsions can work for all skin types. For oily skin, it can be used to replace a moisturizer as the lightweight formula won’t clog pores, but still provide enough hydration without feeling greasy or heavy on the skin. It is also a great option if you live in a hot and humid environment. For combination skin, emulsions can be used on areas like the T-zone to help control excess sebum. For dry skin, emulsion can double up the hydration when combined with a cream or face oil which is especially beneficial in colder weather conditions when your naturally occurring oils may be stripped away.


How do I include emulsion in my skincare routine?

An emulsion can be added to the moisturizing step in your morning skincare routine before applying your SPF. It can also be included in a night routine before applying a moisturizing cream to give your skin a boost in hydration.


Here are a couple of our favourite emulsions at Oshen Skin:


5Α Control Clearing Serum In Emulsion 100ml


5A Control Clearing Serum in Emulsion is a multifunctional hybrid serum and moisturizer that helps control excess sebum production while maintaining the skin’s moisture level. The key ingredient Sepicontrol A5 focuses on regulating the enzyme that triggers oil production in the skin, preventing the skin from turning into a shiny disco ball by midday.


Der. Moist Hyal Treatment Emulsion 125ml


RNW Der. Moist Hyal Treatment Emulsion is a lightweight emulsion that aims to hydrate and lock in moisture within the skin layers with ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, polyglutamic acid, peptides and ceramides. If you have dry or combination skin, this is your must-have emulsion in your skincare routine.

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