Serum vs Cream for Hair: See What Is Good for Your Hair

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Serum vs cream for hair. What you choose to apply to your hair affects a lot of things like the appearance, texture, and growth of your hair.

Your hair type and hair worries, to a large extent, determine how careful and particular you are about your hair care routine and the products you apply. With so many available products and different formulas, it can be quite difficult to make a choice.

But not to worry, for the comparison of serum vs cream for your hair, I have put together an article that talks about what each product does for your hair, their differences, and how to use them together.

What Does Serum Do for Your Hair?

Hair serum is a styling hair care product that is quite viscous and may have the consistency of oils. Common ingredients found in serums are silicones (protectors) and oils (moisturizers).

On application, the silicones coat the surface of your hair strands and give your hair a superficial voluminous look. Moreover, the silicone molecules lay over the strands of your hair and create a protective barrier between your hair cuticles and damaging factors.

These factors include the damaging heat from heat-styling tools. As a result, hair serum acts as a heat protectant, protecting your hair from getting dry and brittle.

More so, hair growth serums contain vitamins and minerals that are good for hair growth. Serums are great moisturizers; they stimulate blood and nutrient circulation and extend the growth phase of your hair.

Applying serum to your hair boosts your hair’s moisture levels and prevents hair breakage, controls frizz, and adds shine to your hair.

On the flip side, serum can be bad for your hair when you use too much of it. When you apply too much serum, the silicone that protects your hair accumulates and causes product buildup. This buildup can weaken your roots and lead to breakage.

Serums are not meant for everyday use unless when you’re battling hair issues like frizz, dryness, and breakage.  

What Does Cream Do for Your Hair?

Hair creams are also styling products and they double to provide your hair with nourishment. Creams contain oils that can make your hair greasy if used in excess. When applied to hair, creams add life to dull-looking hair with flyaway strands.

Hair cream should not be mistaken with hair gels that form a caste over your hair. With hair creams, your hair is more flexible, has more body and movement, and looks softer with natural shine.

Additionally, creams are good for thin, limp hair; they add texture and strengthen the strands against factors that can cause breakage. They are lightweight products and so won’t weigh your hair down.

The ingredients in hair cream penetrate your hair and provide nourishment that is necessary to improve the health of your hair. Hair cream is a better substitute for hair oils as it does not create any mess or stains during and after application.

Generally, creams are good for every hair type but more beneficial for curly and wavy hair types which are more likely to need products that tame flyaways without weighing the strands down.

However, the chemicals in hair cream do not spare your hair. When applied in excess, it can harm your hair strands and scalp because it penetrates your cuticles. 

Hair Serum vs Hair Cream

1. Appearance

Hair serum is a much lighter liquid-based haircare product that comes in small bottles with dropper applicator caps. Hair creams, on the other hand, have a cream-like consistency. They are usually packaged in cups of different sizes.

Serums are clear liquids while creams are usually white or off-white. When you apply them to your palms, serums are more likely to evaporate when compared to creams.

The wonderful thing about both products is that they are not sticky nor do they leave your hair greasy.

However, when you apply too much of either, they leave product buildup on your scalp with your strands looking greasy.

2. Purposes

Both products aid styling and help to gather stray strands together, giving your hair a smooth and glowing finish. Looking deep into their purposes in haircare, they are quite different.

Hair serums coat the surface of your strands, moisturize your hair and soften it. More so, serums can serve as heat protectants during heat styling.

Also, they help to restore heat and color-damaged hair to health by fixing splitting ends and preventing breakage.

Hair creams are more nourishing than serums. Rather than just coating the surface of your cuticles, they penetrate and fortify your hair and scalp with nourishing oils and other ingredients.

These ingredients improve the health of your hair and can foster hair growth. Additionally, the oils and vitamins in creams make them very hydrating and hydration is a necessary factor for healthy and shiny hair.

3. How to apply

Serums are best applied to damp hair; when your hair still has moisture, it is easier for the serum to be absorbed and carry out its specific functions. Creams can be applied on either dry or damp hair, based on when you want to use them.

You may apply hair cream before or after shampoo to protect your hair from breakage and the harsh chemicals in shampoos.

On the frequency of application, serums are not permanent hair care products. You should use serums on your wash day and every other day.

But if you’re treating hair issues, then, you can safely use serums every day, perhaps, twice a day in moderate amounts. Hair creams, on the other hand, can be used every day to slick your hair back and give it a natural look.

Is Serum Better Than Cream for Your Hair?

What is best for your hair depends on the demands of your hair at a given time. The comparison of serum vs cream for your hair rather points out their differences in formulation and uses.

Superiority is determined by what takes care of the need of the moment.

Based on consistency, creams are thicker, but they penetrate better than hair serums which only coat the surface of your hair and add volume to your hair. Hair serums can aid in detangling which creams may not effectively do because they rather make your hair slick.

Both products help to moisturize, smoothen, soften, and add shine to your hair. In their capacities, they are great products for your hair.

Can You Use Serum Without Cream for Your Hair?

How you combine products on your hair depends on what you’re looking to achieve. Since serums do not penetrate your hair, it means they cannot improve the health of your hair alone. More so, no product alone can completely achieve your hair goals.

Therefore, you should complement hair serum with a more hydrating product like hair cream to seal in the ingredients of the serum. Also, it will make slicking your hair together easier while providing nourishment.  

Can You Use Cream Without Serum for Your Hair?

You can apply hair creams alone without serums, especially on your non-wash days and if you are not treating any hair issues. Creams are moisturizing and packed with nutrients that give you healthy-looking hair.

Creams alone may suffice to soften curly and coarse hair. Additionally, it can help to gather stray hair and give you a shiny and smooth finish.

Should You Use Cream and Serum Together on Your Hair?

Yes, you can. Hair experts recommend that people with curly, wavy, and multi-textured hair should use hair serum and cream in their haircare routine.

Both products will work together to aid styling, hydrate, protect and provide nourishment to your hair. Creams will tame unnecessary shine and give your hair a natural shiny look.

Post-wash, applying serum to your hair will aid in detangling and help to protect your hair from heat damage before heat styling. Also, the cream will complement serums post-wash to help gather strands into a smooth bun or ponytail.  

How to Use Serum With Cream in Your Haircare Routine

Since you know you can use hair serum and hair cream together on your hair, you should learn how to use them in your haircare routine.

  • If you like to pre-poo, you may use oil or hair cream as your pre-poo treatment
  • Massage a generous amount of oil or cream all over your scalp and hair. It will aid in cleaning your scalp and hair and protect your strands from the harsh chemicals in shampoo and absorb water
  • Allow the treatment to absorb into your hair for up to two minutes
  • Thereafter, apply shampoo to your scalp and gently use your fingers to lather it, make sure you reach every area of your scalp
  • Rinse off the shampoo and condition your hair (use a hair mask also, if necessary)
  • Gently wring out most of the water from your hair and detangle it with a good detangling brush or a wide-tooth comb
  • Afterward, apply leave-in conditioner while your hair is still wet and allow it to absorb for a few minutes
  • Then, you can apply your serum which is thicker than the leave-in conditioner
  • When you apply hair serum, go for full coverage but avoid getting serum to your roots. Gently rub the serum into your strands and allow it to absorb too
  • Thereafter, you can blow dry your hair
  • After drying your hair, take a dollop of hair cream, warm it between your palms to aid absorption, and massage it into your scalp and strands
  • Ensure you apply the cream all over your hair
  • Go ahead to comb your hair and style it with gels (if you wish)


Is serum good for your hair?

Yes, it is. Serums perform a wide range of functions which include stimulating hair growth. Also, serums help to control frizz, hydrate your hair, and add volume and shine to your hair.

Moreover, you can use serums as a natural heat protectant before you heat style your hair.

How often should you apply hair serum?

Apply serum to your hair on your wash days and maybe two to three times a week. If you’re treating limp, dry, brittle, or damaged hair; you may apply serum to your hair two times a day, every day.

Most importantly, serums are not permanent hair treatments.

How often should you apply hair cream?

You should use hair cream every day and for midday touchups. Creams do more nourishing than styling for your hair. Your hair and scalp need these nutrients to protect and naturally shine hair.

Is hair cream good for every hair type?

Yes, it is. Hair creams work for every hair type but some hair textures benefit more from using creams for hair. Creams soften, nourish, and help to gather flyaways into a smooth bun or ponytail.

In addition, the nutrients in creams are essential for healthy strands, especially for those with thin and fine hair.


The comparison of serum vs cream for your hair shows the differences between the two products and this does not suggest a superiority.

Your hair care routine can be as simple or as detailed as you want it. Also, you may wonder whether one product can fill in for another or not.

What you choose to apply to your hair largely determines the results you get. Serums and creams are two distinct products that perform different functions on your hair.

Why want to pick one when you can use both in your routine? However, if you’d drop one, you should do so according to the current demands of your hair.

Thanks for reading.

Looking to make the best choices of products for your hair? Serum101 has the best guides to help you achieve your hair goals.