25 Best Face Serums for Every Skin Type and Challenge
For clear, glowing, and radiant skin, incorporate one of these expert-recommended face serums into your daily beauty routine.
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Do you really need a face serum?
Yes! A face serum is a must-have for every skin care lover. You may think it’s no different from a moisturizer, but this product serves a different purpose: Often clear, gel-based, or liquid, serums deliver high concentrations of specific actives—including retinol, vitamin C, or hyaluronic acid, to name a few—to the skin to troubleshoot various conditions. Some brighten and lighten, others tighten and lift, and still others promise to fade dark spots and boost hydration.
Typically applied after cleansing and before your moisturizer, different serums work best for different skin types, such as dry, oily, acne-prone, and sensitive. For the best results, follow with the best anti-aging face creams, the best moisturizers—whether that’s the best moisturizer for oily skin or the best moisturizers with SPF—and then a face sunscreen. As with what to look for in a sunscreen, you’ll want to choose a face serum that’s effective yet won’t clog your pores.
How we chose the best face serums
We selected the best face serums for each skin type with the help of dermatologists and skin care professionals. We also included products for users with specific skin care needs, such as those looking for affordable face serums, sustainable beauty products, retinol alternatives, or quick results.
In this list
- Best for dry skin
- Best for oily skin
- Best budget
- Best for wrinkles
- Best for mature skin
- Best for sensitive skin
- Best for rosacea
- Best for premature aging
- Best for dull skin
- Best for hyperpigmentation
- Best for dehydrated skin
- Best for sun damage
- Best for multiple signs of aging
- Best for acne discoloration
- Best for scar tissue
- Best for large pores
- Best retinol alternative
- Best for redness
- Best for crow’s feet
- Best for deep lines
- Best for all skin types
- Best for quick results
- Best vegan
- Best for acne-prone skin
- Best for fine lines
Best for dry skin
La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum for Face
This fan-favorite serum contains two types of pure hyaluronic acid plus vitamin B5 to lock in moisture and plump up your skin. “I love this stuff. Really hydrates and for the first time ever I see visible results in a short time!” writes one five-star reviewer. It’s the best face serum for dry skin that can help your face retain more hydration. If your hands are dry as well, La Roche-Posay also makes one of the best hand creams with nearly perfect reviews.
- Hydrating to repair dry skin
- Highly rated
- Some users didn’t like the thick consistency
Best for oily skin
Isdinceutics Hyaluronic Concentrate
It’s not just dry skin that needs hydrating—keeping oily skin moisturized helps prevent the overproduction of oils. Found in abundance in your skin and connective tissue, hyaluronic acid is tasked with holding moisture in so skin retains its youthful glow, explains Dendy Engelman, MD, a dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at Shafer Clinic in New York City. “Isdinceutics Hyaluronic Concentrate is intensely hydrating, and has a plumping effect that helps smooth wrinkles and improve skin’s appearance from the inside,” she says. “It also helps reduce sebum or oil production, and minimize the appearance of pores while working to repair the skin barrier.” Follow with moisturizer and the best foundations for oily skin.
- Hydrating while reducing oil production
- Fights acne
- Reduces large pores
- Some users didn’t like the fragrant scent
TruSkin Vitamin C Serum for Face
People are obsessed with this vitamin C serum sold on Amazon. With over 99,000-plus reviews and counting, TruSkin’s face serum contains vitamin C, plant-based hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, witch hazel and jojoba oil to brighten skin, and fade wrinkles and dark spots. It’s the best vitamin C face serum at a great price point.
- Huge fan base
- Some users report rashes, so test first
If you like this, consider the InstaNatural Vitamin C cleanser, too.
Best for wrinkles
Kat Burki’s Lift & Fill Form Control Marine Collagen Gel
Soft tissue fillers that volumize wrinkles from the inside out are always in demand, and Kat Burki’s Lift & Fill Form Control Marine Collagen Gel provides similar benefits without needles, says Cynthia Franco, an esthetician in Beverly Hills, California. “This anti-aging serum is one of my favorites to use as it instantly does what it says: lifts and fills,” she says. “It is a lightweight gel that’s hydrating.” Use it to fill in lines and wrinkles and follow with a moisturizer, she says: It will give the skin a radiant, youthful, plump glow with a boost of hydration.
- Lifts and fills
- Pleasant cucumber scent
- Need to wait three to four minutes for complete absorption
Best for mature skin
Murad Resurgence Retinol Youth Renewal Serum
This Amazon’s Choice retinol serum earns rave reviews for its ability to turn back the clock, which makes it the best face serum for over 50. With three types of retinol—fast-acting, time-release and a booster—the product reduces the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Plus, it has hyaluronic acid to hydrate and increase plumpness. Calling it an “awesome product,” one five-star reviewer said, “I have tried many retinol products and this one has shown me the best and quickest results!” It’s one of the best retinol serums for anti-aging results.
- Gentle yet effective
- Safe for all skin types
- Only for use at night; too frequent usage may cause irritation
Best for sensitive skin
Burt’s Bees Calming Serum
This lightweight serum is specially made for sensitive skin, says Stanley Levy, MD, a dermatologist in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. “The product contains ingredients known to be safe and effective for such individuals, avoiding potential irritants and sensitizers,” he says. The serum is rich in soothing aloe and rice milk. “Burt’s Bees Calming Serum has been clinically shown to be safe and well-tolerated in sensitive skin sufferers with conditions such as eczema, rosacea, or cosmetic intolerance,” he says. “The product is mild and does not disrupt skin barrier function, making it suitable for acne-prone skin and other forms of hypersensitivity.” Follow with moisturizer and the best foundations for your sensitive skin type.
- Soothing for sensitive skin
- Widely available
- Some users didn’t like the natural smell
Best for rosacea
iS CLINICAL Pro-Heal Serum Advance+
iS CLINICAL Pro-Heal Serum Advance+ is great for those with the skin condition rosacea, as well as those with sensitive skin or acne, says Lily Talakoub, MD, a dermatologist in McLean, Virginia. Why? “It works for those with rosacea who may not typically be able to use a retinol product,” she explains. Retinol can cause redness, dryness and peeling, and leave your skin more sensitive to UV sunlight—but this formula is different because of its other actives, including botanicals and antioxidant vitamins. “The retinol helps with the signs of aging, and is packed with vitamins C and E to help nourish and protect skin,” Dr. Talakoub says. Just like the ingredient list, it’s also important to pay attention to the symbols on your skincare products before you purchase them.
- Contains soothing antioxidant ingredients
- Reduces inflammation
- Test first to make sure it doesn’t cause a reaction
Best for premature aging
SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic
SkinCeuticals’ serum contains antioxidant powerhouses like vitamins C and E to help defend the skin against the ravages of free radicals linked to oxidative damage from UVA rays, ozone pollution and diesel exhaust—basically, environmental causes that make the skin age early. Plus, “no vitamin C [serum] out there has endured the clinical testing and decades of rigorous research that SkinCeuticals has put behind gold standard C E Ferulic,” says Ted Lain, MD, a dermatologist at Sanova Dermatology in Austin, Texas. “What I love most about the product is how effective it is when paired with different ingredients, as well as its protection against a wide array of environmental factors and premature aging,” he says. “It’s a 365-day-a-year must-have.”
- Rich in vitamins C and E
- Protects against environmental damage
- Although it’s fragrance-free, some users didn’t like the natural smell
Best for dull skin
Paula’s Choice BOOST 10% Niacinamide Booster
Thanks to antioxidant powerhouse niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, this serum helps brighten dull skin, restoring radiance and glow. “I absolutely love this product…My pores appear smaller, my skin more even in tone and the best part is that it completely absorbs into your skin without leaving a film or tacky residue,” says one five-star Amazon reviewer. This best face serum is part of Paula’s Choice founder Paula Begoun’s perfect skin care routine.
- Shrinks pores, evens tone and brightens skin
- Some users said the small bottle didn’t last long
Best for hyperpigmentation
Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Dark Spot Serum
Made from the sap from grapevine stalks, this Caudalie serum‘s active, viniferine, is even more effective than vitamin C to reduce dark spots caused by hyperpigmentation, or an excess production of melanin. “Nothing was working for my sunspots until I ordered this serum! Magical! Just got carded the other day!” wrote one verified Amazon reviewer.
- More effective than vitamin C
- Works on discolorations including sunspots, acne spots and hyperpigmentation
- Best for normal to oily skin
Best for dehydrated skin
Cetaphil Deep Hydration 48-Hour Activation Serum
It’s Cetaphil Deep Hydration 48-Hour Activation Serum for the win, says Tiffany Jow Libby, MD, director of dermatologic surgery at Brown Dermatology and an assistant professor of dermatology at Brown University Warren Alpert School of Medicine in Providence, Rhode Island. “It is a lightweight, yet deeply hydrating serum that immediately replenishes the skin’s moisture barrier,” she says. “It’s formulated with Cetaphil’s Hydrosensitiv Complex that features ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, vitamin B5 and sunflower seed oil to provide 48-hour hydration to address the needs of dry and dehydrated skin.” It’s also the best drugstore face serum that’s widely available—Cetaphil products are even great beauty items to buy at the dollar store.
- Affordable and sold in drugstores
- Super hydrating due to ingredients hyaluronic acid and vitamin E
- May irritate sensitive skin
Best for sun damage
Maya Chia: The Super Couple Ultra Luxe Face Oil Serum
Maya Chia: The Super Couple contains the superfood chia extract along with astaxanthin, an antioxidant, says Joshua Zeichner, MD, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in the dermatology department at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “Chia is rich in fatty acids that hydrate and protect the skin, while astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant that neutralizes free radical damage to protect the skin from UV light exposure,” he says. The result is the best face serum to fight the sun’s damaging rays. To prevent sun damage, you should also opt for the best self-tanners rather than lying out in the sun.
- Protects skin from UV damage
- Formulated with antioxidants and omega fatty acids
- Lightweight and nourishing
- Doesn’t actually contain SPF, so doesn’t replace sunscreen
Best for multiple signs of aging
DefenAge 8-in-1 Bioserum
DefenAge 8-in-1 Bioserum contains defensins, molecules that cause skin rejuvenation by stimulating a master stem cell to make new skin cells. “This causes a new epidermis to grow, and with a new top layer of skin, people see improvements in fine lines, coarse wrinkles, texture, sagging, pigment and pore size,” says Nashville-based dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon Natalie Curcio, MD. “Most people start noticing a difference in four to eight weeks, and others will comment on how much smoother and radiant your skin looks.”
- Multitasks to correct many signs of aging of once
- Works as well as eight separate serums
Best for acne discoloration
Differin Dark Spot Correcting Serum
If you have discoloration due to prior acne and are looking to even out skin tone, this is where Differin Dark Spot Correcting Serum shines, says Dr. Libby. “This two percent hydroquinone treatment [a depigmenting agent] will help fade post-acne discoloration that can otherwise take months to resolve on its own,” she says. The product is non-comedogenic, which means it won’t block pores. To prevent further spots, make sure you know about the type of acne you shouldn’t pop.
- Fades dark spots
- Brightens skin tone and clarity
- Hydroquinone can be irritating
Best for scar tissue
iS CLINICAL Super Serum Advance+
iS CLINICAL Super Serum Advance+ is formulated with a time-released L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C), a performance-maximizing copper tripeptide growth factor for skin healing, and hydrating hyaluronic acid, says Dr. Talakoub. What’s more, it’s loaded with plant-based antioxidants and skin brighteners to help improve the look of dark spots and raised scars, and visibly diminish uneven skin tone, she says. If you’re looking for how to get rid of scars, this is the best face serum for you.
- Helps with wound healing and scar tissue
- Brightens skin
- Intensely hydrating
- High price point
Best for large pores
Mineral Air Renewal Serum
The ElixirMist device delivers Mineral Air’s Renewal Serum as a soft micro mist, so application is touchless. “It’s like having a compact facial device ‘misting on demand’ that distributes skin renewing, multi-functional superstar ingredients,” says Ava Shamban, MD, a Los Angeles-based dermatologist. The serum is rich in hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and soothing aloe vera for intense hydration, plus niacinamide (vitamin B3), which minimizes enlarged pores and improves uneven skin tone, among other ingredients, she says.
- Mists on demand
- Helps shrink pores
- Touchless application
- Must follow multi-step instructions on how to use
Best retinol alternative
Neocutis Bio Serum Firm
For those whose skin has a reaction to the intensity of a retinol serum, this product may work for you. Neocutis Bio Serum Firm combines the two most important ingredients to improve skin health, skin strength and skin resilience, says Roberta Del Campo, MD, a dermatologist at Del Campo Dermatology & Laser Institute in North Miami, Florida. “Human-derived growth factors help support collagen production, smoothing fine lines and wrinkles; and proprietary peptides support an increase in collagen and elastin levels, improving firmness, tone and elasticity,” she says. “It is wonderful for patients who cannot tolerate other collagen stimulators such as retinoids or retinols.”
- Smooths, tightens and firms skin
- Hydrates and brightens
- Alternative ingredients to retinols
Best for redness
Saint Jane Luxury Beauty Serum
Cannabidiol (CBD) is all the rage, and its list of potential benefits includes skin health. “Thanks to CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties, topical CBD and serums like Luxury Beauty Serum can help reduce inflammation and redness, soothing the skin,” says June Chin, MD, an integrative medicine specialist in New York City.
- Contains CBD
- Cools inflammation and reduces redness
- Some users didn’t like the herbal scent
Best for crow’s feet
RoC Skincare’s Derm Correxion Fill + Treat Serum
RoC Skincare’s Derm Correxion Fill + Treat Serum is the new kid on the block, and made quite a splash at the recent annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology. “RoC Skincare’s Derm Correxion Fill + Treat Serum is formulated with the power duo of retinol and hyaluronic acid to give both immediate and long-term effects,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Think of hyaluronic acid like a sponge to pull in water to the outer skin layer to plump and fill lines, and a stabilized form of retinol works to rev up collagen production, which strengthens the foundation of the skin and improves the appearance of lines you have.” This is the best face serum to target crow’s feet, laugh lines and 11 lines (the lines at the top of your nose that look like an “11”).
- Helps fade and prevent fine lines and wrinkles
- As a new product, hasn’t yet stood the test of time
Psst! While you’re at it, check out the best everyday skincare for men, too.
Best for deep lines
SkinMedica TNS Advanced+ Serum
If you have deep nasolabial folds (the lines that go from the sides of your nose to the corners of your mouth), forehead lines, or other very noticeable creases on your face, this pricey formula can help. SkinMedica’s TNS Advanced+ Serum contains essential growth factors and peptides that help with collagen production, which is important for maintaining skin structure, says New York City plastic surgeon David Shafer, MD. Collagen is the main protein that gives skin its youthful properties, but our supply dwindles with advancing age, causing lines on our face to deepen. Expect improvements in these facial wrinkles and less sagging within two weeks of regular use, he says.
- Works quickly
- Boosts collagen production
Best for all skin types
L’Oreal Paris Revitalift 1.5% Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum
This top-selling, paraben-free face serum contains 1.5 percent pure hyaluronic acid to plump skin and reduce wrinkling—and is a versatile product that’s effective for all skin types, from dry to oily. Don’t believe us? The 34,000-plus Amazon reviews speak for themselves. “Excellent product, after using just two weeks results are visible!” writes one five-star reviewer.
- Inexpensive and well-rated
- Versatile for all skin types from dry to oily
- Shouldn’t be used around eye area
Best for quick results
Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Serum
If you have an event coming up you’d like your skin to look its best for, give Neutrogena’s inexpensive anti-wrinkle product a try. This Amazon’s Choice retinol serum with hyaluronic acid is lightweight and silky, and promises visible wrinkle reduction in just one week. “Noticed a difference in the bags under my eyes in about 2 weeks of use. I work nursing and work 3rd shift so that’s saying a lot,” one five-star reviewer wrote. It’s another of the best drugstore beauty products dermatologists swear by.
- Works quickly
- Highly rated
- Retinol can be irritating
BL+ The Serum
For those looking for a vegan, sustainable, eco-friendly option, consider a face serum using the famous healing powers of the waters of Iceland’s Blue Lagoon. BL+ The Serum contains hyaluronic acid, the powerful antioxidant vitamin C and the new BL+ complex, says Jenna Huld Eysteinsdóttir, MD, PhD, a dermatologist in Reykjavík, Iceland. “We already know that hyaluronic acid is a great hydrator and vitamin C a powerful antioxidant that protects our skin from oxidative stress as well as promoting our collagen stores, and the BL+complex gives an additive effect to these known active ingredients,” she says. This complex contains two ingredients from the mineral-rich Blue Lagoon in Iceland—microalgae and silica—that have been shown to strengthen the skin barrier, prevent collagen breakdown and promote collagen synthesis. “I would recommend BL+ serum to everyone that wants to improve the appearance of the skin, fine lines and brighten skin’s complexion,” Dr. Eysteinsdóttir says. Another plus? It’s ideal for all skin types.
- Contains two ingredients from the mineral-rich Blue Lagoon in Iceland
- Sustainable and vegan
- Rich in vitamins C and E
- Only available online
Best for acne-prone skin
SkinBetter Science’s AlphaRet Clearing Serum
SkinBetter Science’s AlphaRet Clearing Serum is the best face serum for acne as it features SkinBetter’s patented retinoid technology and is formulated with salicylic acid and additional pore-clearing, hydrating and soothing ingredients, says Jeremy Brauer, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist. “This helps rejuvenate and clarify the appearance of oilier, blemish-prone skin.” If you are struggling with acne, consider adding it to your skin care regimen, he suggests. Then, take a look at your other beauty products as well, and make sure you’re using the best foundations for acne-prone skin.
- Helps treat acne
- Reduces oil
- Only available through authorized physicians
Best for fine lines
DRMTLGY Needle-less Serum
The medical-grade company’s bestselling product, DRMTLGY’s face serum isn’t exactly equal to a face-lift in a bottle—but it’s close. If you’re just starting to notice fine lines around the mouth, eyes and forehead, this is the best face serum to head them off before they get any deeper. The product is formulated with their proprietary Cerapep Technology, a blend of restorative peptides (amino acids that help build the proteins collagen and elastin) and ceramides (lipids that help your skin retain moisture). “Was starting to notice lines on my forehead, around my eyes and mouth…This product is very light and easy to apply. Leaves the skin glowing and I am noticing the lines are less noticeable,” writes one five-star reviewer.
- Helps skin retain a youthful appearance
- Smooths tone and helps strengthen skin’s moisture barrier
- Product dries quickly so needs to be applied fast
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- Ted Lain, MD, dermatologist, Sanova Dermatology, Austin, Texas
- Dendy Engelman, MD, dermatologist and Mohs surgeon, Shafer Clinic, New York City
- Joshua Zeichner, MD, director, cosmetic and clinical research, dermatology, Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City
- Stanley Levy, MD, dermatologist, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
- Natalie Curcio, MD, dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon, Nashville
- Tiffany Jow Libby, MD, director of dermatologic surgery, Brown Dermatology, assistant professor of dermatology, Brown University Warren Alpert School of Medicine, Providence, Rhode Island
- Roberta Del Campo, MD, dermatologist, Del Campo Dermatology & Laser Institute, North Miami, Florida
- Lily Talakoub, MD, dermatologist, McLean, Virginia
- Cynthia Franco, esthetician, Beverly Hills, California
- Jeremy Brauer, MD, dermatologist, New York City
- Ava Shamban, MD, dermatologist, Los Angeles
- Jenna Huld Eysteinsdóttir, MD, PhD, dermatologist, Reykjavík, Iceland
- David Shafer, MD, plastic surgeon, New York City
- June Chin, MD, integrative medicine specialist, New York City