Whether your skincare routine consists of 15 steps or five, there is one in particular that should always be a priority: serum. This essential offers more targeted results, potent formulations, and customization options. So, what exactly is a serum? “A serum is usually a liquid or gel containing high concentrations of skin actives, which are able to penetrate deeper than other topicals [like moisturizers] with content occlusives that prevent deeper penetration,” explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marnie Nussbaum.
You’re never too young to start using a serum, Nussbaum shares, and they’re the best way to target specific skin concerns due to their high concentration and potency. It’s important when choosing a serum to know which skin concern you’re hoping to target—most basic serums contain a combination of antioxidants, which will brighten the skin. Looking for something moisturizing? “A hydrating serum should contain hyaluronic acid and peptide,” Nussbaum says. “Hyluaronic acid keeps skin plump and glowing—and basically allows your skin to repair itself easier.” If anti-aging is your main concern, Nussbaum advises looking for a serum that contain retinols (which increase skin cell turnover), glycolic acid, and Vitamin C.
Nussbaum recommends applying serum twice a day immediately after cleansing your skin to your face and neck. Since serums are so lightweight, they’re easy to layer, she says—apply yours before any SPF or makeup. Whether you're already a superfan of serums or ready to try one for the first time, check out these options to help you get the skin of your dreams.
“Freaked-out skin, meet your match,” is how Glossier explains Super Pure serum and, tbh, it’s true. The niacinamide and zinc work together to calm blemishes, redness, and other impurities (especially those that come around a certain time of month). If bad eating habits or stress are causing your skin to freak, grab Super Pure to calm the meltdown.
Botanics Hydration Burst Light Serum - 1 fl oz
Give thirsty skin a mega dose of moisture that will prevent it from feeling parched for a full day. The non-greasy formula is infused with Clary Sage extract and a blend of antioxidants that help to restore your skin's natural barrier and calm sensitivity, too.
C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum
Face looking a bit meh? Drenching it with this fast-acting, Vitamin C-packed serum promises to bring back the brightness you've been missing in an instant (plus, it delivers brilliant long-term results when you stick with it).
C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum
Brighten up dull skin by slathering your face with this illuminating gel- serum hybrid packed with potent Vitamin C. It absorbs quickly and leaves behind smoother and more luminous skin
Organic Sunless Tan Anti-Aging Face Serum
If you're a two birds, one stone kind of girl, then this serum that doubles as sunless tanner will be your jam. While you hydrate and smooth your skin, the gradual tanning agents go to work. You'll be left with a golden glow that lasts a few days—or forever if you keep up with using the stuff.
Advanced Génifique Sensitive Antioxidant Serum
Activating this calming treatment generates an attention-grabbing visual effect that's begging to be 'grammed. But, the purpose of this on-the-spot blending of the environmental damage-fighting antioxidants and soothing base is to keep the contents super fresh for maximum potency.
The Revitalizing Hydrating Serum
When tall drinks of water and a constantly running humidifier aren't doing the job for your parched skin, douse it with this seriously hydrating serum. Like La Mer's other offerings, this formula mines the power of the ocean to save your face (in this case drenching it with a nourishing algae blend).
Acne Solutions Acne + Line Correcting Serum
Has your skin doubled-down on sabotaging your selfies with fine lines and zits at the same time? This oil-free solution fights back on two fronts—softening wrinkles, while also battling the spots.
Crystal Iceplant Pressed Serum
Everyone knows the sun is the devil, but pollution is also a pretty nasty adversary for skin. An ingredient called ice plant extract helps minimize the damage done by all the grime floating around. If you're truly not into adding an extra step, this serum-moisturizer-in-one is the jar for you.
Forever Youth Liberator Y-Shape Concentrate
Softening and sagging in the jawline are sure signs of aging. This concentrate targets that specific concern to keep everything nice and tight.
Golden Krocus Ageless Saffron Elixir Serum
A field of crocus is bright as the sun and the saffron extract derived from those handpicked blossoms will make your skin look (almost) as radiant. That’s why Korres put them in this skin-smoothing serum.
Rose Deep Hydration Face Serum
Roses are red. Roses are pink. And roses make your skin happy. That doesn't rhyme, but the water and oil derived from the poetic flower will seriously give you an enviable glow, anyway!
While New York City plastic surgeon Michael Kane usually wields syringes and scalpels in the quest for eternal youth, he's decided to pin some hope on non- invasive age-defying in the form of his high-powered serum. A combination of proven skin-smoothers like vitamins B5, C and E, along with a high-tech ingredient, called HALO-C, kicks collagen production into high gear.
Le Lift Serum Firming Anti-Wrinkle Serum
For instant gratification and long-term results, this featherweight serum packs a punch with futuristic-sounding 3.5-DA technology and earthbound resveratrol. Seemingly whip-smart ingredients seek out and address specific aging concerns at a molecular level. The future is now.
Celestial Black Diamond Emulsion
Not into piling on the products when it's steamy outside? This lightweight option is designed for sweaty weather and oilier skin—but while the texture is barely-there, it's jammed full of age-fighting power players, like antioxidant trio NAC Y2, brightening Arbutin, and collagen-boosting Centella Asiatica, all delivered via black diamond microspheres (hence the price).
Capture Youth Serum Collection
There's five varied facial serums in the Dior collection, but we chose this one —which is loaded with hyaluronic acid—to quench the skin and release fine lines for a supple, fuller face.
Double Serum Complete Age Control Concentrate
Some of the best plant-based extracts are water-soluble. Others can only thrive in oil-based solutions. The dual-chambers in this handy vial makes space for both types—20 botanical actives, to be exact, including turmeric, oats, and kiwi.
If your skin is extra dry, go for a power shot. On oilier days, dial the adjustable nozzle back to a smaller dosage.
Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum
If you’re looking for a good hydrating serum without retinol or lactic/glycolic acid (for the sensitive-skinned among us), this is the formula for you. The lightweight product sinks into your complexion to provide an immediate burst of hydration.
Luna Retinol Sleeping Night Oil
Luna is clinically proven to fight the signs of fine lines and wrinkles and promote skin smoothness in as little as four weeks. Retinol targets your pores to prevent fine lines, age spots, and dullness. You can easily add Luna to your nighttime routine—plus, you'll enjoy the product’s color change from blue to clear once it’s absorbed.
A favorite among celebrity facialist Vargas’ clients like Dakota Johnson and Mindy Kaling, this serum is infused with vitamins A, C, E, and F to even natural skin tone and minimize the appearance of pores.