Slotting a serum into your routine can make a big difference to your skin in a (relatively) short amount of time – which explains why we’re serum addicts! If you’re wondering, “what makes them SO impactful?” Serums typically have a higher concentration of active ingredients and a smaller molecular structure, which allows them to penetrate the skin at a deeper level.
Think of serums as your opportunity to inject your routine with even more goodness. Whether it’s a serum packed with acne-busting ingredients or a formula bursting with anti-aging actives that’ll leave you with a youthful glow. Just be sure to apply them after you’ve cleansed and toned and before you apply your moisturizer or oils. And don’t be afraid to layer your serums or alternatively, trade-in different formulas for your morning and nighttime routine. Here are eight of our go-to serums that won’t let you down.
1. For All Skin Types: Sweet Chef Ginger Serum Trio, $56 (Or $20 each)
K-beauty brand Sweet Chef (the sister brand to cult-favorite Glow Recipe) gives not one but three amazing serums designed to be used separately or layered together to target an array of skin concerns. Our fave combo is two drops of the Ginger + Vitamin C Serum Shot and one drop of the Kale + Vitamin B Serum Shot, for a ultra-hydrating, glow-enhancing serum. Here’s how each formula differs:
Kale + Vitamin B Serum Shot, $20: This milky formula is fueled by all of kale’s best properties: it’s rich in nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants. Plus, the addition of vitamin B soothes, hydrates, and strengthens the skin barrier.
Ginger + Vitamin C Serum Shot, $20: Suitable for all skin types, this hydrating and protecting formula will help smooth and brighten the skin. It’s actually very similar to our fave Glow Recipe Pineapple-C Brightening Serum, $59.
Beet + Vitamin A Serum Shot, $20: Charged with antioxidant vitamin A (aka retinol) and beetroot extract, this pretty pore-refining serum will firm the skin while smoothing uneven texture.
2. For Dewy, Glass Skin: Alpyn Beauty Serum Plantgenuis Survival Serum, $68
We’ve been wearing this serum religiously during lockdown as it leaves our skin looking dewy, healthy, and hella-radiant thanks to its powerful combination of skin-brightening ingredients. Vitamin C, bearberry leaf, and licorice root extract work to boost radiance while soothing sage, arnica, and chamomile calm inflammation. All the while, gentle exfoliants lactic, azelaic, and glycolic acid get to work to refine and smooth skin texture. This formula is a true overachiever!
3. For Acne-Prone Skin: Versed Clarifying Serum, $20
Versed is one of our fave new drugstore brands as they offer simple formulas that deliver on their promises, and this serum is no exception. The ingredient list boasts willow bark extract (AKA salicylic acid) to minimize pores and combat acne, as well as niacinamide and zinc to control oil production and strengthen your skin’s barrier. This double-pronged approach soothes the skin and helps prevent and calm inflammation. If you’re oily or acne-prone, this is a no-brainer.
4. For Anti-Aging: The Inkey List Retinol Anti Aging Serum, $10.
Retinol is deemed by many skincare buffs as one of the best anti-aging ingredients on the shelves and is also well-known for improving skin tone and texture. This retinol does all of the above for a seriously affordable price! In fact, the formula combines two types of retinol; 1% stable retinol and 0.5% granactive retinoid (retinol’s more potent sibling) with squalane to hydrate and soothe the skin and avoid purging. We love the gel-like texture: it literally glides onto our skin without irritation. Although, read our retinol guide to learn how to seamlessly incorporate this potent ingredient into your daily regimen.
Posts You'll Love:
5. For Uneven Texture and Post-Inflammatory Pigmentation: Institut Esthederm E.V.E. Essential Vital Elements Serum, $119
While this serum may come with a price tag, it packs a serious punch. Helping the skin regenerate with a potent blend of fifty biomimetic ingredients that simultaneously restore the skin and enhance its metabolic strength. We love it as it has an immediate tightening effect, and with continual use, will work to improve skin texture, post-inflammatory pigmentation, and fine lines and wrinkles.
6. For Glowing Skin: Glow Recipe Pineapple-C Brightening Serum, $49
If you’re looking to achieve #glowyskingoals, you need to incorporate a vitamin C serum into your routine, and this serum contains not one, but three types of vitamin C! The brightening formula features 22% pure pineapple juice; a natural source of vitamin C, plus AHAs and bromelain enzymes. It’s also packed with plumping hyaluronic acid and soothing chamomile. After using this serum for just two weeks, our skin tone was more even, brighter, and felt more hydrated than ever before. One year on, it’s still the formula we rely on for glowing skin.
7. For Breakouts: Caudalie Vinopure Natural Salicylic Acid Pore Minimizing Serum, $49
This pore-busting gel serum features 100% natural salicylic acid to help take down breakouts and nix oil production, making it a must-have for oily or acne-prone skin. It also has antiseptic and calming properties to diminish blemishes and soothe redness.
8. For Pollution Defense: SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic with 15% L-Ascorbic Acid, $166
Before serums were a skincare staple, beauty fanatics relied on this brightening, anti-aging formula. And for good reason: the results are insane, consistent, and it works for most skin types. Formulated with antioxidant hero, vitamin C (15%), and amplified by Vitamin E (1%) and ferulic acid (0.5%), this serum works overtime to protect the skin against aging environmental damage caused by free radicals. The water-like serum also remains effective for a minimum of 72 hours, brightening and firming your skin throughout the day.
For more skincare recommendations, here are 5 drugstore moisturizers that deliver insane results.