RAWKANVAS skincare

Your glossary of skincare textures

Let’s talk skincare textures. With the likes of gels, lotions, creams, balms and everything in between – how do you know what they are and what to choose?!

Considering skin type, skin goal and the benefits of each, we summarise for you.


Serums are a light and silky fluid that usually contain a high percentage of active ingredients. Because of their ability to absorb ridiculously fast, they’re perfect to use in a skincare layering routine and they’re usually suitable for all skin types. Opt for a serum when you have a specific skin goal in mind e.g. plumper skin, radiant skin, even skin tone, etc.



Gel formulas are usually oil-free, making their texture watery and lightweight. They’re versatile and often used to create cleansers, masks and moisturiser products. Boasting more water content than oils, they are deeply hydrating and fast-absorbing, and they’re great for oily and breakout-prone skin types. Go for a gel formula (for say a moisturiser) when you want a dose of hydration without clogging pores, while also minimising excess oil and shine too.



A lotion formula falls between a gel and a cream – being richer than their gel counterparts and lighter than a cream. They typically contain little (if any) oil. It’s this rich but light consistency that makes a lotion great for the drier skin types (in comparison to a gel texture). Choose a lotion if you want a fast-absorbing product that also works well in a skincare layering routine (as it won’t inhibit other products from absorbing properly!).



A cream formula contains a mixture of water and oil and is the thickest, most traditional, skincare formula used for moisturisers. Best layered over other serums, concentrates and lotions, this combination of water and oil can penetrate your skin to provide much needed hydration while also creating a barrier to help prevent moisture loss – making it perfect for dry and mature skin. Because of its versatility to include different actives, opt for a cream formula that aligns to your skin goals and type.



Oils have rich, silky textures that absorb into your skin slowly to deliver and seal in hydration. Best used overnight because of their density, oils are often better for combination, dry and mature skin types. Go for an oil when you want long-lasting hydration, replenished skin and protected skin too.



While a mousse may seem thick and creamy, they also offer a somewhat airy and fluffy texture too. It can be applied across the skin easily while drying quickly too. Mousses are versatile and often span the likes of moisturisers, masks and fake tan. Skin type suitability depends on the product. Opt for a mousse when the product benefits simply align with your skin goals.



Exfoliators are typically formulated with tiny beads that provide a rougher texture – but it is this ‘rougher’ texture of the beads that work to polish away dead skin cells. Used with care, exfoliants are suitable for all skin types. Opt for an exfoliant in your routine when you need to refresh, smooth and brighten your skin.



Balm textures are dense but extremely nourishing butter and oil formulations. Balm formulations can span cleansers and face balms, but they’re most commonly found as a lip balm. Skin type suitability depends on the product. Go for a balm when you want a really nourishing treatment.