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- Best for dry, acne-prone skin
- Best for oily skin
- Best for combination skin
- Best for sensitive skin
- Best for aging skin
If you want to add a skin care product to your cleanser but not your moisturizer, a serum is the best choice. Liquid consistency and minimal residual make them great for layers.
“Serums are typically water-based or gel-like textured products packed with concentrated ingredients that target a specific concern,” explains Hope Mitchell, MD, a board certified dermatologist in Ohio.
Since they target specific skin concerns, they can be tailored to your skin type. The best face serums for every skin type can be found here.
According to board certified dermatologist Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, serums are thin-viscosity topical products that contain concentrated amounts of active ingredients.
A skin care product can help treat skin issues. The concept is that a higher concentration of larger molecule is needed for optimum effectiveness. It is also lighter than a moisturizers and delivers active ingredients to the skin quickly so it would go on before a moisturizers.
The skin types that fall into the following categories are oily, dry, normal, combination, and sensitive. Skin can show signs of aging.
Here are the symptoms of each type.
- Oily skin: This type of skin produces excess sebum that causes shininess and greasiness. Excess oil can oftentimes leave pores congested and clogged.
- Dry skin: This is skin that typically looks dull and may become rough, flaky, and scaly. It can also feel tight and may be prone to showing more visible fine lines.
- Normal skin: When your skin is normal, it’s neither dry nor oily — it’s balanced. Normal skin also doesn’t experience many breakouts, and it doesn’t react negatively to product changes or weather changes.
- Combination skin: This is when your skin has areas that are dry and areas that are oily. The T-zone is commonly oily, and the cheeks are typically either dry or normal.
- Sensitive skin: This is skin that’s more vulnerable to external irritants and may be triggered by certain ingredients, like dyes or fragrance, as well as environmental factors.
- Mature-looking skin: All skin types can show signs of aging, such as wrinkles, sagging, dark spots, dullness, and dehydration.
Criteria were used when choosing the best face serums.
- Product vetting: Any product we recommend or brand we work with is thoroughly vetted by our team for medical credibility, good business practices, and social impact.
- Price: There are effective face serums at all price points. Since budgets can vary, our selection spans from affordable to premium prices to reflect that.
- Accessibility: Skin is the body’s largest organ, so skin care should be accessible for all. We chose products that are available at a variety of retailers or can be found easily online.
- Effectiveness: Serums tend to have higher concentrations of active ingredients, making them a go-to product for efficacy. We prioritized serums that are formulated to produce results.
- Ingredients: The products below all contain active ingredients that are highly recommended for various skin types and concerns.
- Customer reviews: Product descriptions, ingredient lists, and manufacturer claims are all helpful when selecting a skin care product, but nothing beats testimonials from real-life users. We read reviews for each product to understand customers’ firsthand experiences.
- $ = under $20
- $$ = $20–$50
- $$$ = over $50
Best for dry, acne-prone skin
- Price: $$$
- Pros: dries quickly
- Cons: potent alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) may cause temporary stinging
- Best for: people who want to minimize the appearance of enlarged pores
This AHA night serum is a quick way to exfoliate and hydrate your skin at the same time. The exfoliating blend sloughs away dead skin cells and reduces the appearance of hyperpigmentation, pores, fine lines, and wrinkles.
It also contains a substance that is good for dry skin. Water is drawn into the skin to plump it.
Though the presence of honey means this product is not vegan, the honey soothes and moisturizes skin while providing antioxidant benefits.
People with sensitive skin should be aware of the levels of AHAs in this product. The effects are usually short-lived, but skin may become red and irritated.
- Price: $$
- Pros: clears acne-prone skin while hydrating dry skin
- Cons: thick, heavy texture that doesn’t absorb immediately
- Best for: people with breakouts and clogged pores
Juice Beauty products are popular among clean beauty fans because of their combination of natural and synthetic ingredients.
The The Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Serum is for cleansing. can be used in either morning or evening routines for people who want to clear and hydrate their skin at the same time.
People with dry skin experience more skin problems than people with oily skin. The willow bark in this serum is used to remove pores.
The base consists of organic juice blend that is made from fruit and contains green tea and white tea that have anti-aging properties.
- Price: $
- Pros: supports natural collagen production
- Cons: small bottle doesn’t last long
- Best for: people with skin dryness or dullness and an uneven skin texture
This bottle is small but mighty. The ingredients list is short compared with most facial serums, but it includes two key players: hyaluronic acid and Matrixyl 3000. The latter is made of peptides that support the skin’s natural collagen and can give a plumping effect.
“People with dry, blemish prone skin may experience dullness. People with dry skin shouldn’t forget proper hydration, even if the ingredients like vitamins C and chemical exfoliants seem obvious.”
The hyaluronic acid in this product is good for the skin. It is less likely to look thirsty if the skin is properly hydrated.
The bottle is small, which makes this serum less impressive.
- Price: $$
- Pros: gel is lightweight and nongreasy
- Cons: may not be moisturizing enough for very dry skin
- Best for: people with dry skin who want water-based products
“Dry skin can be prone to breakouts, even though it’s associated with oily skin. People with oily skin tend to look for things like water-based, lightweight, and fragrance-free in beauty products. The qualities in a serum can be helpful for people who want to keep their skin hydrated.”
It has a substance that attracts and bonds skin to the outside. Licorice root protects against free radicals that can cause skin issues and oatmeal is good for redness. This is a cocktail of ingredients that can be used to target redness, inflammation, and the signs of aging.
Best for oily skin
- Price: $
- Pros: potent high-strength formula
- Cons: some people don’t react well to niacinamide
- Best for: people who want to balance oil production
“People with dry skin tend to use hyaluronic acid, while people with oily skin use niacinamide. The Ordinary’s zinc and niacinamide is a good choice for oily skin care.”
However, people with sensitive skin might not react well to niacinamide. If you have sensitive skin, start with a lower concentration before trying this product, which has a 10 percent concentration.
The key active ingredients in this serum were carefully selected. The compound that is known as niacinamide is an anti-oxidants. Zinc is an important ingredient for those who want to regulate excess sebum levels.
This product is great for dull skin.
- Price: $$
- Pros: lightweight serum doesn’t feel heavy on oily skin
- Cons: some users experienced more breakouts
- Best for: people looking for vegan skin care products
While you may think of salicylic acid as an ingredient for facial cleansers and washes, it also has a place in serums and treatments for acne.
This breakout-busting ingredient targets acne by purging excess oil, treating blackheads, and clarifying clogged pores.
Reviewers say that this product is designed to reduce the amount of skin on the face, but they experienced more skin problems when using it.
- Price: $$$
- Pros: oil-free ingredients
- Cons: pricey
- Best for: people with all skin types who want to balance moisture levels
There is a lot of confusion about the difference between hydration and hydration. Dehydration refers to the water content in the skin.
This SkinCeuticals serum is suitable for people with oily skin who have excess oil and sebum.
It is a plus for people with very oily skin. It contains an ingredient that is used to treat dry skin.
People with excess sebum should use hydrating serums like this in their skin care routine because it may be a result of dehydration.
- Price: $$
- Pros: clean ingredients
- Cons: niacinamide can be irritating
- Best for: people with photo-damaged skin
“Glass skin” is a term coined in the K-Beauty community to describe skin that is visibly healthy. It appears poreless, radiant, and seemingly translucent like glass. If you’ve ever wanted to experience this yourself, the Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum may be able to help.
It is suitable for all skin types, but it is best for those who lean on the oily side. The salutary effects of niacinamide include smoothing out the skin, lightening the skin, and fading dark spots from photoaging. It has a lot of power due to the use of hyaluronic acid and peach extract to nourish the skin with fat acids that encourage firmness.
Best for combination skin
- Price: $$
- Pros: soothes redness and irritation
- Cons: liquid formula runs out quickly
- Best for: people who want to strengthen their skin barrier
The glow recipe products are in high demand. You may have seen this brand on social media, as it is sometimes promoted by beauty experts.
“People rave about the brand’s pleasant scent, effective formula, and satisfying texture. This product is not different.”
The heroes of this serum are the Antioxidant-rich avocados. Skin care products containing ceramides can support skin barrier health.
- Price: $$$
- Pros: brightens dull skin and improves texture
- Cons: AHAs and BHAs may be too strong for some people
- Best for: people with combination to oily skin
If you have combination skin that is oily, this is the right product for you.
It contains seven acids and a hydra. The ingredients remove dead skin cells to reveal a glowing skin underneath.
This is a good anti-aging product. The power of thescorbic acid is that it protects against free radical damage and targets dark circles.
- Price: $$
- Pros: award-winning formula
- Cons: smell may be overpowering
- Best for: people with combination skin looking for vegan products
This fragrance-free serum is lightweight, hydrating, and cruelty-free. If your combination skin leans on the dry side, this serum may be for you.
It has hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and omega 3, 6, and 9.
There are not many skin care products that contain the acids that are found in the skin. Omega 3, 6, and 9 are the main sources of these acids. The skin is dry and dull.
Some users say that the formula causes breakouts and that the smell is overpowering.
- Price: $$
- Pros: doesn’t clog pores
- Cons: user reviews say the product isn’t long-lasting
- Best for: people who want to reduce fine lines and wrinkles
A good skin care product should be a good serum. The serum met both criteria according to user reviews. The Skinfix is a highly rated product. It is good for oily skin but not good for dry skin.
It is packed with a blend of ingredients that support the natural oils in the skin. It contains peony root extract which can help with skin barrier health and can improve areas of excessive dry and oiliness.
“Some users didn’t like the packaging. Skinfix has received criticism for using too much plastic in its packaging.”
Best for sensitive skin
- Price: $$
- Pros: cruelty-free and vegan
- Cons: contains essential oils, which are irritating to some people
- Best for: people who want to improve the appearance of sun-damaged, aging skin
Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A, and it can be irritating to some people. However, this vitamin A serum is safe for people with sensitive skin.
The base of the serum is made up of a combination of oats and a type of plant called aliquore.
The anti-aging benefits of this serum can be attributed to bioavailable vitamins A and hyaluronic acid. The appearance of fine lines and wrinkling is reduced by the use of vitamins A and C.
A patch test is recommended for people with sensitive skin. Some users have experienced burning sensations after using this product.
- Price: $$
- Pros: formulated to strengthen the skin barrier
- Cons: not widely available
- Best for: people with compromised skin
There are many serums for sensitive skin on the market, but the Krave Beauty has a great Barrier Relief. product is truly unique. It has a thicker and creamier consistency than most serums, which tend to have a liquid or gel-like texture.
Tamanu oil is the star ingredient of this serum. Tamanu oil is used to heal wounds and cure skin conditions.
People with nut allergies should perform a patch test before using it. Tamanu oil has a strong smell.
The best way to calm sensitive skin is to use a free of animal by-products, colorants, fragrance, and essential oils.
- Price: $$$
- Pros: soothes inflammation
- Cons: reviews describe consistency as greasy
- Best for: people with inflamed skin
Inflammation and sensitive skin go hand in hand. oat kernels extract and evening primrose oil are active ingredients that are effective at calming irritated skin.
“Some reviewers think this is a must- buy, but others can’t get past the greasy consistency. This is a good product for sensitive skin that is dry.”
- Price: $$$
- Pros: truly unscented
- Cons: pump may be faulty, according to user reviews
- Best for: people who want to repair damaged skin
Many brands claim to formulate noncomedogenic products that are safe for sensitive skin, but EltaMD takes those claims seriously. The EltaMD Skin Recovery Face Serum is used. is noncomedogenic, fragrance-free, oil-free, and paraben-free. It doesn’t even contain natural fragrances, so it truly has no scent.
Supporting your skin barrier health may help if you have sensitive skin. Skin damage may be the cause of sensitivity. The blend of the amino acids in this serum helps repair skin damage. hydrated skin is healthy because it attracts water and has the ability to retain it. It contains anti-oxidants to fight off free radicals.
Best for aging skin
- Price: $$$
- Pros: patented formula mentioned extensively in peer-reviewed scientific journals
- Cons: pricey
- Best for: people concerned with dehydration and discoloration
This antioxidant serum by SkinCeuticals is a beauty favorite. It’s not only backed by thousands of reviews and skin care influencers, but also by science. The formula is patented, which means the composition is public.
The three key ingredients are 15 percent L-ascorbic acid, 1 percent alpha-tocopherol and 0.5 percent ferulic acid.
Due to the high price, this serum isn’t accessible for everyone. If that’s the case, opt for a more affordable vitamin C serum and pair it with a broad-spectrum sunscreen to target fine lines and wrinkles and protect against sun damage.
- Price: $$$
- Pros: large bottle is long-lasting
- Cons: formula can be drying
- Best for: people who want to lighten dark spots
Lactic acid is a gentle chemical exfoliant that smooths the texture of the skin and improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkling.
Lactic acid is an exfoliant that removes the outermost layers of skin, revealing a smooth, glowing skin from underneath.
The anti-aging all-stars in this product include Licorice and lemongrass, which have anti-aging properties. They can improve skin appearance.
This is a good product for people with oily and blemish prone skin. People with dry skin should follow up with a hydrating moisturizer, according to some user reviews.
- Price: $
- Pros: stable and slow-releasing formula
- Cons: may exacerbate breakouts
- Best for: people looking to target fine lines and wrinkles
The INKEY List is a good place to look for affordable skin care products.
The two types of retinol that lead the simple ingredients list are RetiStar and Granactive retinoid. They reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkling in people with aging skin.
In addition to retinol, this serum has an impressive lineup of other ingredients, including hyaluronic acid, squalane, and peptides.
Some reviewers say that retinol products can not help with the problem of skin problems. Some reviewers say this product is too hydrating for skin prone to breakouts.
- Price: $$$
- Pros: 1.7-ounce bottle is larger than others
- Cons: texture may be unpleasant
- Best for: people who want to increase skin firmness
“When skin is dry, plumping ingredients can help fill in lines andwrinkles. The brand’s star ingredient is squalane, which is used to make skin look younger. Wrinkles don’t stand a chance with the help of one of the best ingredients for plumping effects.”
“The blue hue of the serum is due to vegan copper peptides, which help to support skin’s collagen. It can be used to tighten the fibers of the skin.”
“Some people didn’t like the texture of it, describing it as leaving a slimy and sticky film.”
“It shouldn’t be a problem to choose the right skin care product. With so many options, narrowing down the selection can be difficult.”
Mitchell suggests that you think about what you are missing in your current regimen, whether it is anti-aging, hydration, or something in between.
Take a look at your skin and see if you have the right skin goals. Product labels can be used to determine if a product is suitable for your skin type.
Skin type should be taken into account. The following skin types may respond best to certain active ingredients.
- Dry skin: hyaluronic acid
- Oily skin: niacinamide, salicylic acid
- Sensitive skin: calendula, green tea
- Aging skin: vitamin C, glycolic acid, retinoids
Is vitamin C serum necessary?
The most popular type of serum is the one with the highest level of vitamins C and C. It has a variety of benefits, including anti-aging, and hydrating. Skin care is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor, but it does fit into a variety of skin care regimes.
If you want to improve your skin care routine with a serum, vitamins C is a great choice.
retinoids, acids, and benzoyl peroxide should not be used with vitamins C and C. You can use these ingredients and vitamins at different times. Your morning and evening routines can contain vitamins C and Retinol.
Do I need both a serum and moisturizer?
The active ingredients in the moisturizers and the scurries have different purposes. They are applied at different points in your skin care routine.
Liquid tinctures are liquid products that contain active ingredients. The purpose of a skin care product is to target skin issues. A person is applying a product.
Moisturizers are applied toward the end of a skin care routine because they are thicker in consistencies. Evaluating moisturizers includes creams and lotion. Both creams and lotions help to keep the skin moist.
If you want to simplify your skin care routine, a moisturizer is more important than a moisturizers. A basic skin care routine should include cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen. It is optional for those who want to target specific skin care concerns to use a serum.
Do face serums really work?
A good serum can be effective when used properly. The high concentration of active ingredients make the serums effective.
They are absorbed into the skin easily since they are water-based and can travel deeper into the skin. They are especially effective at targeting visible signs of aging.
To get the most out of your skin care products, apply them from the lightest to the most thick consistency. It is important to seal it in with a moisturizer to keep the water-based ingredients from drying out. The product could leave your skin dry.
Can serums be layered?
Since they are so lightweight, they can be used as a pair. The vitamins, such as hyaluronic acid and vitamins C, work well together. If you want to layer your face care, make sure the ingredients are compatible and wait about one minute between each product.
It is not possible to reach your goals faster if you use too many skin care products. It is possible to cause irritation and breakouts by using too many products.
Depending on your skin type and concerns, your skin care products may be different. All skin types share a common goal: to have a balanced diet of hydrating, exfoliating, and anti-aging ingredients.
Look at your skin care routine and see what is missing. That should help you find the best face cream for your skin type.
Lacey Muinos is a health, wellness, and beauty writer based in Southern California. She holds a BA in English. Her work has appeared in digital publications like Livestrong, Verywell, Business Insider, Eat This Not That, and others. When she’s not writing, Lacey is likely pursuing her other interests: skin care, plant-based cooking, pilates, and traveling. You can keep up with her by visiting herwebsite or herblog.