Why the Texture of Your Skin-Care Products Is So Important

There's a big difference between a whipped formula and a pressed one.

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Pressed, solid, whipped — the latest skin-care formulas for serums and creams are designed to deliver more active ingredients to your skin and to hydrate it better than a typical lotion can. On top of that, they feel fantastic. Here, the low-down on how each type of formula works — and its benefits.

Why-The-Texture-of-Your-Skincare-Products-Is-So-Important-GettyImages-1290153367
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Pressed

These serums start as a fairly solid balm, which then melts into a lotion. "One specific ingredient, a polymer called a rheology modifier, is responsible for this transformation, causing the thick formula to become flowable when you apply pressure by massaging it into skin," says Jessica Snell, a research and development director at Neutrogena. (Wait, what does serum do, anyway?)

Once you've rubbed the serum in fully, it shifts back to a thin balm, "leaving a nice, cushiony feel and an effective barrier that holds moisture in," she says. "There are many formulas that create a moisture-retaining barrier — oils and petrolatum, for example — but this polymer forms that seal on the skin without feeling heavy."

The result: You get the hydration of a thick balm without its greasy side effects. Try Neutrogena Hydro Boost Night Pressed Face Serum (Buy It, $16, amazon.com) or Algenist Power Recharging Night Pressed Serum (Buy It, $95, sephora.com).

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Night Pressed Face Serum

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Night Pressed Face Serum
Amazon

Algenist Power Recharging Night Pressed Serum

Algenist Power Recharging Night Pressed Serum
Sephora

Solid

When you swipe a solid serum stick across your face, the heat from your skin causes it to melt and then sink in instantly. And because solid sticks are formulated with little to no water, they're able to contain more or higher levels of active, effective ingredients. That also means that they remain stable with fewer preservatives.

Two to try: Tatcha The Serum Stick: Treatment and Touch-Up Balm (Buy It, $48, amazon.com), which has squalane and lemon balm to target dryness, and Olay Brightening Pressed Serum Stick (Buy It, $9, amazon.com), which is infused with niacinamide and vitamin C to brighten.

Tatcha The Serum Stick: Treatment and Touch-Up Balm

Tatcha The Serum Stick: Treatment and Touch-Up Balm
Amazon

Olay Brightening Pressed Serum Stick

Olay Brightening Pressed Serum Stick
Amazon

Whipped

Whipped formulas are all about the sensory experience. In the case of SeroVital Deep Moisture Recovery Whip (Buy It, $49, amazon.com), biomimetic ingredients create a cloud-like consistency and enable the delivery of plant-based extracts that boost the skin's own natural moisture.

"Your skin recognizes biomimetic ingredients because they complement its properties, so it's more likely to accept them without irritation," says Amy Heaton, Ph.D., the director of scientific affairs for SeroVital. And skin is more likely to stay hydrated. (

SeroVital Deep Moisture Recovery Whip

SeroVital Deep Moisture Recovery Whip
Amazon
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