Serum, Complex, Elixir, and Treatment - OH MY!

Face Oil, Serum, Treatment...there are so many skincare products to choose from its hard to know which products to choose.

The Brown Barn website has all of the following to choose from for everything from moisturizing to fighting aging to treating acne and skin issues.

1. Cream based moisturizers - these are the silky white creams that are the last step of your routine. Creams are usually what we think of when someone says "Moisturizer".

On the Brown Barn website we have the lighter Brown Barn Primrose & Oak Moisturizer for daytime use and the heavier Dolia Bio-Complex Cream for use as a night cream or to be used all day long.

2. Face Oil - Of all the moisturizing facial products we sell, I usually recommend a face oil as a "must have" for everyone because of its versatility and super healthy skin nutrients.

A true Face Oil will contain a broad spectrum of skin nutrients. You can find Face Oils for aging skin, problem skin, sensitive skin, and all skin types. Do not choose a face oil based on price - choose the face oil that has the widest range of ingredients possible. 

Brown Barn has a light "Recovery" face oil for those with sensitive skin and 7 Day Glow's superstar "INFUSE" facial moisturizing oil with literally every possible skin supporting ingredient in it. 

3. Serum, Complex, Elixir, Treatment - This category is where most of us get confused. And this is the category that we are going to dig into in this blog post.

What makes the terms Serum, Complex, Elixir, and Treatment so confusing is that the names can be used interchangeably. I often think these are names companies assign products when they are not really sure what to call them!


It used to be (many moons ago when I was but a young whippersnapper) that a Serum was a product that provided more powerful, targeted treatment ingredients and typically was made with oils that were known to sink into skin more deeply than a face oil. Today, a Serum can be anything from a very basic face oil to a super loaded advanced formulation.

At Brown Barn we name a product a serum if it is formulated to target a very specific skin issue. We have two types of "Serum". 

1. Brown Barn Cranberry Honey Serum

The first serum we ever made, and continue to keep in our line-up because it is so perfect for certain skin types, is Brown Barn's Cranberry Honey Serum. This is a water based formula that makes use of marine algae to delivery micro-nutrients and essential minerals with very little oil. Cranberry Honey Serum also includes Honey Extract to soothe, protect, and deliver damage battling anti-oxidants not found in any of our other products. 

Cranberry Honey Serum is perfect for anyone who has very oily skin and cannot use face oil or would like to add a wider range of skin nutrients to their regimen. Honey Extract makes this is a wonderful tightening product. It targets anti-aging without heavy oil, qualifying it as a "serum" in our line-up.

Only a few drops are needed. Apply to clean skin BEFORE applying face oil and/or moisturizer. I personally like to wait until the Serum dries completely before topping with Serum or Face Oil. 

2. Dolia Strawberry Rhubarb Active Serum

This is an oil-based Serum. On the surface it may seem like a "face oil" but what makes Dolia Strawberry Rhubarb Active Serum different from a Face Oil is the use of Strawberry and Rhubarb extracts to specifically target inflammation and provide added detoxification, which in turn helps those with acne, large pores, and/or skin redness. 

Again, only a few drops are needed. We designed Strawberry Rhubarb Active Serum to be used alone or it can be added to another product as a "Booster" by simply blending a few drops of serum to another product in the palm of your hand before applying. Strawberry Rhubarb Active Serum can also be used a spot treatment for problem areas.


"Complex" is generally the term used for a product that cannot be pigeon-holed into a specific product type. Think of it as not really a face oil, not really a cream moisturizer, not really a targeted's, well, complex.

Brown Barn carries one Complex. Dolia recently launched Angelica Echinacea Complex

The ingredients in Angelica Echinacea Complex were selected specifically to brighten dull skin, support a more even skin tone, fight inflammation that can damage skin, tighten and strengthen the outer layer of skin, and support new cell production. 

In other words, it's designed to target the outermost layers of your skin for a more luminous appearance. 

Just a few drops a day is needed, just pat onto clean skin following serum and before face oil and/or moisturizer. 

If you are using a broad spectrum face oil you can apply Angelic Echinacea Complex directly over your entire face, or apply to problem areas such as age spots, or blend a few drops of the complex with your face oil or moisturizer before applying over your entire face.


What is an Elixir??? This is a relatively new term in skincare and typically you will find this term used by companies that specialize in plant-based skincare products - although I have now noticed it slowly being used by mainstream skincare companies.

One of the things that makes skincare labels so confusing is when one label begins to get traction in marketing by a specific group (i.e. the people who should be using the label) it starts being used to promote products by everyone in an effort to boost sales. This is happening right now with the term "Elixir", you can expect to see a lot more "Elixirs" on the market in the coming decade.

On the Brown Barn website the term "Elixir" only refers to a product that is far outside the norm for the type of product it is - like a "complex", it doesn't really fall into a specific category. 

We have two products that count as an Elixir at Brown Barn:

1. Dolia Botanic Elixir Liquid Moisturizing Mist. This is one of my very favorite products. It is a nutrient rich collection of botanical waters and essential oils with added natural Hyaluronic Acid this meant to moisturize, decrease the appearance of fine lines, and fight aging.

What makes Botanic Elixir unique is that it is applied like a toner - you just mist it over your face after cleansing. You can apply it as many times as you like throughout the day and it can also be used to set make-up (meaning you can also keep a bottle in your desk drawer for a boost mid-day right over your make-up).  

Like Brown Barn's Cranberry Honey Serum, Botanic Elixir contains very little oil, making it perfect for anyone with very oily skin or who dislikes the oily feeling of face oils. It can also be used with any other product. 

I use Botanic Elixir in place of toner. I mist it on right after cleansing then follow with serum, face oil, and moisturizer. When I apply make-up I add one more mist of Botanic Elixir to fix my make-up into place.

I keep a bottle of Botanic Elixir in my refrigerator and mist as desired throughout the day. I especially like this in the Winter when my home air is dry from in-home heating and I love it as a cooling mist in the Summer.

2. Brown Barn Pre Cleanse (Elixir) 

A "Pre Cleanse" is an oil blend meant to be used before your cleanser as part of a double cleansing routine. It's not really a cleanser and not really a face oil and not a Complex - it's an Elixir. 


Brown Barn's Pre Cleanse is meant to act as a make-up remover and a lubricant that loosens debris and prepares skin for cleansing. Because it is so gentle it can be used every time you cleanse.


We actually removed the word "Elixir" from Pre Cleanse as it was confusing to us on the order fulfillment and spreadsheets used within the company. Even though you may not see the word "Elixir" on the label, Pre Cleanse is actually considered an Elixir. 


A "treatment" is a super targeted product meant to specifically treat one aspect of skincare. For example, a treatment may be a product that is used to treat blemishes, age spots, to exfoliate or to lighten under-eye dark circles. 

Brown Barn has two treatments in its mix.

1. Cider Rose Spot Treatment 

This is a very old (think centuries old) formulation of anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory botanicals infused in apple cider vinegar with rose water and witch hazel. It is meant to specifically treat blemishes, stings, wounds, burns, etc. 

2. 7 Day Glow BOOST Resurfacing Treatment

This potent oil based formula can be used as an exfoliating mask or as a spot treatment for blemishes, scars and age spots. It can be used with any other product line or as part of 7 Day Glow's three piece skincare system.

My Favorites

Disclaimer: My favorites change from week to week!

Right now (at age 58, in late January with my primary issues being aging skin and age spots) my skincare protocol looks like this:

1. Pre Cleanse with Brown Barn Pre Cleanse or 7 Day Glow CLARIFY oil based cleanser.

2. Cleanse with 7 Day Glow CLARIFY Hydrating Cleanser (you can use this as a double cleanser or with Pre Cleanse). Note: I always double cleanse because I've found it really boosts my overall Glow and helps my other products work better.

3. Apply Dolia Botanic Elixir Moisturizing Mist (instead of toner) to hydrate and plump skin with hyaluronic acid. I also use this to fix my make-up at the end AND I keep a bottle in my refrigerator for mid-day boosts. It's one of those things that once you start you just want more!

3. Spot Treat - Depending on my mood I either use 7 Day Glow BOOST Resurfacing Treatment or Brown Barn's Cider Rose Spot Treatment on any spots or scars I'm focusing on. I love BOOST for times when I occasionally get a boil and have scar build-up because it helps that move along faster and on major age spots. I use Cider Rose for minor issues and Cider Rose works great for skin tags - use it religiously and over about 2 to 3 months the tag will usually come off.

4. Serum - Cranberry Honey Serum is on my favorites list right now. I love the cooling, "lifting" feel of the serum and I know it brings the benefits of minerals and honey that are not found in any of my other products. I apply serum, then do my hair while the Serum dries. I follow with face oils, etc. Note: You do NOT need to let it dry before applying other products, this is just a personal preference.

5. Eyes - in the Winter I love Dolia Active Eye Cream and in the summer I usually just use the Sea Buckthorn Contouring Eye Serum - you can use both for a complete eye program.

6. AM - MORNING: Dolia Angelica Echinacea Complex - I use this over my entire face. It's a new product I personally formulated so is one of my new favorites! I added the Complex to my morning routine as I use the stronger 7 Day Glow INFUSE Moisturizing Oil at night. You could use both AM and PM as a super nutrient blend! (Note: if you are struggling more with inflammation, large pores, and "angry" skin opt for Dolia Strawberry Rhubarb Serum in this step).

7. AM - MORNING: Dolia Bio-Complex Cream. I love this luxurious, heavy moisturizer in the Winter as the last step in my routine. It just feels great going on and works to seal in the products that came before it. It can be used AM and PM and mixed with any complex or serum to boost it's nutrient content.

5. PM - NIGHT: 7 Day Glow INFUSE Moisturizing Oil - I use 7 Day Glow INFUSE moisturizing oil at night about 30 minutes before bedtime. Because INFUSE is such a complete product all on its own AND I use boosters in the morning, I do not mix it with a serum or complex BUT you can mix it if you want even more nutrients.

6. Weekly - I exfoliate weekly and mask weekly. I use 7 Day Glow BOOST Resurfacing Treatment over my entire face every Sunday because this is the most complete, strongest exfoliator possible.

And I use Dolia Rose Clay Mask with mashed fresh Avocado and a touch of Yogurt on Wednesdays for a lighter exfoliator, deep cleansing treatment, and for a fresh nutrient boost.

Masking is a very individual treatment that requires a blog of its own! For now, just know you should be exfoliating dead skin cells and deep cleansing debris from your face at least once a week. Exfoliating and double cleansing are my secret weapons against aging and for boosting my glow.

I also am known to steam with handful of herbs in steaming water, switch my products around on any whim, and sometimes completely forget to even wash my face!! In other words - I'm normal, like most of our customers!

Regardless of what products you use, the key to glowing, luminous skin is to wash and treat your skin CONSISTENTLY. The long term effects of sleeping with your make-up on, going weeks at a time without cleansing, and never feeding your skin nutritious ingredients cannot be quickly or easily cured. Only consistent, daily use of quality, nutrient rich products will result in a beautiful, luminous complexion.

If you have any questions about the products on Brown Barn's website do not hesitate to reach out - we are standing by to help!

Christine Untiedt, Founder, Brown Barn Botanicals


Notice: These statements and blog content have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information in our articles are not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and are not intended as medical advice. The content of these blogs and associated products is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using products or following blog advice.



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