Skip to main content

Balms, Jelly, Lotions, Gels: Your Guide To Skincare Textures

Balms, Jelly, Lotions, Gels: Your Guide To Skincare Textures
Writer and expert6 years ago
View GLOSSYBOX's profile

Balmy, silken, oily or jelly-like, there are so many different skincare textures out there  - and each one makes applying skincare that bit more indulgent. Better yet, these different consistencies have been carefully whipped up to help your skin to absorb the active ingredients and increase their efficiency. Yep, your product’s texture has a lot to do with how well it works with your complexion.

In my time as a beauty editor, I’ve tried face creams that are ridiculously fluffy and mousse-like, soft and bouncy serums that remind me so much of jelly they may as well be served with ice cream, and silky oils that glide effortlessly onto my skin. So, to help you figure out which skincare texture works best for you, I’ve created this simple guide that lays everything out in the open.

Skincare Textures: Concentrates, Serums And Lotions

skincare textures


Most of us overlook the benefits of using concentrates and essences, reaching for a moisturiser or serum immediately after cleansing. However, concentrates have the ability to super-charge your existing skincare routine.

Boasting water-like consistencies (think little droplets of rainwater), they can carry an incredibly high concentration of vitamins, minerals and nutrients deep down into your skin.

Insider Tip: If you haven’t tried a concentrate before, give the Caudalie Vinoperfect Concentrated Brightening Essence a whirl. Its radiance-enhancing formula is enriched with glycolic acid to gently buff away dead skin cells, smooth your skin and replenish its moisture levels deep below the surface.


Containing tiny molecules that can travel into the deeper layers of your skin, a serum is lighter than a moisturiser and more nourishing. It absorbs ridiculously quickly, allowing you to layer a moisturiser over the top. It’s the perfect combo to repair the deeper layers of your skin, whilst also protecting the surface from damage.

Insider Tip: When it comes to serums, you can’t go wrong with the NIP+FAB Dragons Blood Fix Serum. Enriched with Dragon’s Blood, hyaluronic acid and velvet flower, it plumps out the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, leaving your skin feeling smooth and replenished.


Similar to creams but much more lightweight, lotions are a perfect consistency if you like to layer your products. They absorb really quickly and don’t sit on the skin or prevent the other products from working their magic. They also contain little (if any) oil, so are ideal in the summer months when the air is more humid.

Insider Tip: Looking for a lotion? The Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+ hydrates dry skin whilst strengthen its barrier and locking in moisture. Apply it twice a day onto cleansed, toned skin to achieve a soft, hydrated, and radiant glow.

Skincare Textures: Creams, Gels And Oils

skincare textures


Probably one of the most popular skincare textures, creams have a thicker consistency. It means that they’re great to layer over your serums, concentrates and lotions. Whilst they may not penetrate the skin as deeply as the aforementioned, they do create a barrier that helps to prevent any further moisture loss.

Insider Tip: I talk about how great ELEMIS is a lot but, trust me, you’ll love their Superfood Day Cream. Rich in nutrients powered by ginger, matcha tea and goji berry, this softening cream leaves your skin feeling healthy, hydrated and revitalised.


If your skin is on the oily side or you suffer from blemishes, gel textures are the ones for you. The lightweight consistency offers up oil-free hydration which works a treat during the hotter months.

Insider Tip: I’d recommend the Origins GinZing Ultra Hydrating Energy-Boosting Gel Moisturiser. This oil-free moisturiser quenches even the driest of skin and helps to strengthen its barrier. With each use, your complexion will look softer, more hydrated and more radiant.


Perfect for very dry and sensitive skin, oils have rich, silky textures that absorb slowly into your skin to deeply hydrate and restore your complexion’s moisture levels. I’d recommend using it as an overnight treatment so that it has time to work its magic. Oh, and don’t worry, contrary to popular belief, oils don’t feel greasy. You just need to use them sparingly and massage them correctly into your skin.

Insider Tip: There are lots of great oils out there, but I have to recommend the ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Marine Oil over all else. Infused with three seaweeds, it supports your skin’s natural moisture barrier, delivers some serious hydration, and smooths out the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Skincare Textures: Balms, Mousses And Exfoliators

skincare textures


Perfect for dry skin, balms have a really rich consistency that is both ultra-soothing and deeply hydrating. It also helps to prevent irritation.

Insider Tip: Balms work best as overnight treatments – and that’s why the REN Evercalm Overnight Recovery Balm is a great choice. Rich and moisturising, it is enriched with oils to provide instant relief against dryness and irritation as you sleep.


Similar in texture to whipped cream, mousse may seem thick and creamy but is surprisingly airy and fluffy. Often used for fake tan, this texture smooths over your skin like silk (akin to shaving foam, but even lighter) and dries really quickly for a professional-looking finish.

Insider Tip: St. Tropez Gradual Tan Mousse is a fabulous product! Its non-sticky, mousse-like formula glides effortlessly over your skin and dries quickly to leave you with a streak-free, beautiful golden tan.


With a few exceptions, most exfoliators are formulated with tiny beads that give it quite a rough texture. Of course, it is the beads that work to slough away dead skin cells and reveal the fresh, smooth skin below.

Insider Tip: The Avant Exfoliator from our April ‘Blossom’ edit is a definite winner! Formulated with hydrating rose, softening vitamin B5, and exfoliating microbeads, it is really hydrating, leaves skin feeling soft and soothed, and helps to smooth out wrinkles.

Skincare Textures: Water, Foam And Jelly

skincare textures

Micellar Water

You should think of micellar water as a refreshing shower. Formed of tiny oil molecules that are suspended in water, it wipes away all the day’s impurities in one fell swoop. Oh, and it’s great for sensitive skin.

Insider Tip: When it comes to Micellar Water, there’s no point straying from the classics. The Garnier Micellar Water Facial Cleanser draws out dirt, bacteria and impurities from deep within your pores without stripping your skin of vital moisture.


Really light and airy, foams are perfect for oily skin as they soak up a lot of excess sebum. Do check the ingredient list for sulfates, though, as these will dry out your skin. You’ll want to opt for an incredibly gentle one.

Insider Tip: The Vichy Purete Thermale Cleansing Foam Radiance Revealer washes away impurities to cleanse and purify your complexion. It will revitalised tired, dull skin and reveal a healthy-looking glow.


When it comes to skincare textures, I do like a good jelly. Though it feels bouncy and springy, it still melts effortlessly into your skin and leaves no residue. It’s often refreshing and cooling to apply too.

Insider Tip: The Shiseido WASO Fresh Jelly Lotion is a favourite of mine. Inspired by Japanese beauty, the jelly-like formula transforms into a lotion as you massage it into your skin. Formulated with a moisture-retaining mushroom, it will give you a hydrated and plumper-looking complexion with a dewy glow.

Related: J-Beauty Skincare, Haircare And Makeup You Need To TryAnd there you have it, the lowdown on all the different skincare textures out there to ensure that you are using the right ones for your skin.

Subscribe To GLOSSYBOX

Subscribe to GLOSSYBOX to get five beauty products delivered straight to your door every month. It’s the ideal way of trying the latest makeup, skincare and haircare trends without breaking the bank. Join us now from just £8.50 a month!

Writer and expert
View GLOSSYBOX's profile