The Best Face Serums For Every Skin Type Imaginable
No matter your skin type or concern, serums are a crucial step in everyone's skincare routine. But with the many, many options on the market, it can be a tricky quest to locate your ideal match. This is where the pros come in. TZR spoke to dermatologists and well-known estheticians get the lowdown on the best face serums.
"Serums contain smaller molecules than creams, so since the molecules are smaller, the active ingredients tend to penetrate the skin more readily, thus making it more effective," Dr. Lian A. Mack, MD FAAD, a board certified dermatologist at GlamDerm in New York, tells TZR.
When choosing a serum, you might want to take the current season into account. "In the winter you may need a face serum that has more hydrating properties, like hyaluronic acid," Dr. Camille H-Verovic, a dermatologist in New York and founder of Girl + Hair, tells TZR. And in the summer, opt for a formula that's a bit lighter.
Additionally, some serums work better in the morning versus at night. "During the day you protect and at night you repair," Dr. Mack says. In the morning, pick an antioxidant serum with vitamin C or vitamin D that will protect your skin from all the free radicals in the environment. For repairing at night, you want to use something that will drive cellular turnover and also drive collagen production." The dermatologist says to look for serums with vitamin A derivative like retinoids in them.
So without further ado, below find the best face serums on the market, recommended by experts.
We only include products that have been independently selected by The Zoe Report's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
Best Face Serums For Dry Skin
Rachel Roff, a medical aesthetician and owner of Urban Skin Rx, recommends First Aid Beauty's Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum for dry skin. "This product not only provides hydration through hyaluronic acid, but it also features aloe leaf extract, green tea, and licorice extract which help improve redness and dullness that can accompany dry skin issues."
Dr. Zenovia Gabriel, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and hormonal skin care expert in Newport Beach, California, says Neutrogena's Hydro Boost Serum, which features hyaluronic acid, is great for dry skin.
Best Face Serums For Oily Skin
For those with oily skin, Sofie Pavvitt, an aesthetician and founder of Sofie Pavitt Skincare Studio in New York, suggests Holy Snails' Shark Sauce. "It contains niacinamide which has been shown to regulate oil production and reduces the appearance of pore size," she notes.
Sean Garrette, a licensed esthetician in New York, says Dr. Dennis Gross' Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting & Refining Serum is a lightweight serum that unclogs pores, regulates oil, and prevents future blackheads from forming.
Best Face Serums For Combination Skin
Garrette says Peach & Lily's Glass Skin Refining Serum is a peptide rich hydrating serum that aids in refining the pores, brightening complexion, helps control oil production, and plumps the skin. "Oftentimes, combo skin types are actually suffering from dehydrated skin, which can make certain ares of the face become oilier," he explains. "This serum hydrates the skin and helps regulate oil production with the inclusion of niacinamide."
Dr. H-Verovic says she likes to use a vitamin C serum on combination skin. "Combination skin can really go either way," the derm notes. "In certain areas you can be prone to breakouts, and certain areas you can be prone to dryness, so you can have a vitamin C serum that has quite a bit of humectant properties." Her go-to vitamin C serum is BeautyStat's Universal C Skin Refiner.
Dr. Mack suggests SkinBetter's Alto Defense Serum for combination skin. "It"s the right combination of not being too heavy, but not being too thin or drying."
Best Face Serums For Sensitive Skin
"This serum is effective for fighting the signs of aging and dull skin, yet gentle enough for sensitive skin," Roff says. "It features vitamin C derivatives, aloe leaf extract, green tea and collagen." And she says it's great for everyday use.
Roff recommends Biossance's Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum because it contains one of her favorite ingredients for sensitive skin — bakuchiol. "This is a plant-based retinol alternative that gives all the benefits of retinol without the irritating side effects," she states. "Combined with squalane and hyaluronic acid, this serum is perfect for someone with sensitive skin who is looking for correction and hydration."
For sensitive skin, Pavvitt recommends Dr. Jart's Cicapair Tiger Grass Serum. She says it contains copper, zinc, and selenium, which are great to soothe sensitive skin and reduce redness.
Best Face Serums For Acne-Prone Skin
Pavvitt loves The Ordinary's Mandelic Acid 10% + HA, and says hyaluronic acid is a great ingredient for acne-prone skin. "This AHA serum will exfoliate, brighten any residual post inflammatory pigment marks, and is anti-bacterial to prevent acne flare ups," the skin expert explains.
A face serum option for acne-prone skin is No7's Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Serum, according to Dr. Zenovia. "This serum contains salicylic acid to keep the skin clear and matrixyl 3000 as an anti-aging peptide," the dermatologist says.
In search of a miracle worker? This Miracle Serum from Mary Louise might be your best bet. Packed with organic ingredients like baobab oil, sunflower oil, and vitamin C, this product helps to reduce the appearance of acne scars, dark marks, and hyperpigmentation.
Best Face Serums For Rosacea
Hillian says Ren's Evercalm Anti-Redness Serum helps to preserve, strengthen, and soothe skin. "Milk polypeptide reduces redness while fortifying your skin's natural lipid barrier, and hyaluronic acid produces supple skin, locking in moisture for long-lasting hydration."
To combat rosacea, Dr. Zenovia recommends the PCA Skin Anti-Redness Serum. "It counteracts skin redness and helps reduce inflammation," she notes.
Joanna Czech, an esthetician in New York and Dallas, suggests Costa Brazil's Kaya Anti-Aging Face Oil for those who suffer from rosacea. "This lightweight oil has tea tree oil in it, which helps to keep bacteria at bay," she says. "Being that bacteria is one of the causes of rosacea, the Kaya oil can help calm mild rosacea flare ups while providing a lipidic barrier to protect fragile skin."
Best Face Serums For Hyperpigmentation
"I love this lightweight serum because it has 12 percent vitamin C and a superfruit complex including noni fruit and kakadu plum extract — high in ellagic acid, a potent antioxidant to help protect from UV rays and prevent future damage," Dr. Jessica Wu M.D., Los Angeles dermatologist and author of Feed Your Face, tells TZR. The dermatologist adds that it's ideal for treating sun damage and melasma.
"Addresses the appearance of stubborn discoloration using tranexamic acid, niacinamide, phenylethyl resorcinol, and tetrapeptide-30," Garrette says about SkinMedica's Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum.
"Some people are genetically prone to pigmentation as it develops from overactive melanin in the skin," Renée Rouleau, a celebrity esthetician and founder of Renée Rouleau skincare, tells TZR. "My Vitamin C&E Treatment offers stable, no-sting vitamin C to lighten brown sun spots and lift discoloration from blemish scarring to reveal brighter, even-toned skin."
Formulated with 15 percent vitamin C and vitamin E, this serum from Hyper Skin helps to brighten skin, improve fine lines and texture, and reduce the appearance of dark spots from hyperpigmentation.
Best Face Serums For Mature Skin
"CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol serum can help fight against fine lines and wrinkles," Dr. Zenovia says. "This product contains active retinol combined with ceramides for hydration and decreased irritation."
"Using high-quality serums and moisturizers with peptides can also help boost collagen production," Dr. Zenovia explains. "For a great over the counter option, I recommend Derma E’s Advanced Peptide & Collagen Serum."
Hillian says Mad Hippie's Exfoliating Serum contains apple stem cells that work to reduce appearance of fine lines, and glycolic acid which exfoliates and reduces noticeable discoloration and age spots. It's also formulated with lactic acid, which she says exfoliates while also hydrating and moisturizing. Plus, the goji berry extract is rich in amino acids, minerals, and vitamins C, E, B1, B2 & B6.
Best Face Serums For Brightening
Czech recommends Ubuna's Brighten Maximum Glow Serum to brighten up the skin. "This serum has moisturizing vitamin E as well brightening ingredients vitamin C and alpha arbutin, to impart a radiant glow."
Roff loves Sunday Riley's CEO 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum for brightening. She says it's formulated with 15 percent vitamin C and glycolic acid. "Vitamin C is a well known antioxidant that helps combat environmental stress on the skin, as well as brighten tone and reduce the appearance of dullness."
If you're looking to brighten your skin, Hillian suggests trying Tata Harper's Concentrated Brightening Serum. "The gallic acid combats uneven pigmentation, while encapsulated plankton helps preserve natural skin tone appearance and reduces the look of dark spots."