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Editor’s Picks: 19 of the Best Face Serums to Target Every Skin Concern (Hydrating, Brightening, Anti-Aging and More)

Magic in a bottle.
Best face serum

No matter what skin issue that you're looking to treat—whether it's dryness, dullness or the signs of aging—there's a face serum for that.

As lightweight liquids, face serums are the best way to get active ingredients into your skin. Not only are they highly concentrated, but they also sink in quickly, since they're not weighed down by heavy emollients. That also makes them easy to layer underneath a cream, oil, sunscreen or foundation.

All you need to do is decide which one(s) will be best for your skin—and this guide can help.

Here's how to navigate the hundreds of serums out there, plus my top product picks for every skin concern and skin type.

What to Look for in a Face Serum

Best face serum

The best face serums from SkinCeuticals, Summer Fridays, COSRX, iS Clinical, The Inkey List and more.

While each formula will vary, face serums that are packed with beneficial actives—and are free of potentially irritating, comedogenic and unstable ingredients—are going to be the best for your skin.

Here's what I look for:

  • High in key ingredients: As you're reading labels, make sure the serum contains the key ingredients that will deliver the results you're after. For example, if it's hydration, you'll want to see humectants such as aloe, glycerin and hyaluronic acid. If it's brightening, there should be actives like vitamin C and niacinamide. Use my list below as a guide for which ingredients offer which benefits—and remember that the first five typically represent about 80% of a product.
  • Low in fragrance: It's the number one skin irritant, so it should be listed at the end of the ingredients list, or even better, not in the formula at all.
  • Low in silicone: As an occlusive, film-forming ingredient, silicone can impede the absorption of active ingredients from your serum. It can also trap acne-causing debris, slow down cell renewal and cause pilling under other products.
  • Low in oil: Rather than penetrating, oil tends to sit on top of your skin and form a barrier, which can prevent other ingredients from getting in. Plus, if it is unsaturated, it can oxidize quickly and generate free radicals that age your skin.
  • Has a preservative: All water-based products need a preservative system to prevent bacterial growth.

The Best Face Serums of 2021

For Hydrating and Plumping: ClarityRx Daily Dose of Water Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum

ClarityRx Daily Dose of Water Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum

ClarityRx Daily Dose of Water Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum

  • Details: ClarityRx Daily Dose of Water Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum is one of the best hyaluronic acid-based serums on the market. With only four ingredients—and no fragrance, oils or silicones—it binds moisture to your skin for instant plumping and hydration. The texture is light and fluid, and it feels completely weightless on your skin.
  • Key ingredient: Hyaluronic acid.
  • Best for: Hydrating, plumping.

For Hydrating: Consonant HydrExtreme

Consonant HydrExtreme

Consonant HydrExtreme

  • Details: Consonant HydrExtreme is another hydrating serum I recommend, and it's powered not by hyaluronic acid but a naturally-derived sugar. In a double-blind clinical study, it actually outperformed the leading hyaluronic acid serum both immediately and after 24 hours. It goes on light and watery, is made with just two ingredients, and is fragrance-free, oil-free and silicone-free. 
  • Key ingredients: Cassia angustifolia seed polysaccharide, glycerin. 
  • Best for: Hydrating.

For Antioxidant Protection, Anti-Aging and Brightening: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic

  • Details: