Skincare Products » Best Face Serums

12 Best Face Serums for 2023

The Glowsly editors independently test and choose the best products. We may receive commissions on purchases made from the affiliate links.

If skincare were like a video game, face serums are those supercharged boosts that you pick up to help your character improve their jumping, kicking, and fighting abilities. A good serum can aid in exfoliation, brightening, hydration, correcting hyperpigmentation, and even plumping your skin so it looks and feels healthier. 

As if that’s not enough, serums are easy to incorporate into your skincare routine and fall squarely between the toning and moisturizing steps. Whether you engage in an extensive 11-step routine or keep it simple with just four or five, you shouldn’t sleep on serums, as they’re a secret powerhouse ingredient to bring out the best in your visage. 

Best face serums overview

How we chose the best face serums

To compile this list, we researched manufacturer specifications, including skin type, key benefits, size, price, and more to create a short list of the top face serums. Then, we combed through detailed product descriptions, ratings, and reviews to find the best face serums for each category.

Our picks for the best face serums

1
Best overall
Sky Organics Youth Boost Antioxidant Day Serum
$15.54

What we love

  • Antioxidants to protect from environmental stressors
  • Contains bakuchiol as a gentler alternative to retinol
  • Brightens and corrects hyperpigmentation with vitamin C

What we don’t love

  • Requires SPF because of bakuchiol

Depending on the ingredients in your serum, not all formulations are designed for daily use. But that’s why we like the Youth Boost Antioxidant Day Serum from Sky Organics. This gentle formula contains bakuchiol (the gentler plant-based alternative to retinol), green tea, and vitamin C to help smooth, moisturize, and improve your skin’s radiance. Additionally, this pick is cruelty free and made from USDA organic ingredients.

Skin type: All | Key benefits: Brightening, moisturizing, hyperpigmentation correcting | Size: 1 fl oz

2
Best budget
Good Molecules Overnight Exfoliating Treatment
$11.68

What we love

  • Incredibly affordable
  • Works overnight to exfoliate
  • Also unclogs pores

What we don’t love

  • Inclusion of salicylic acid may be too strong for people with sensitive skin
  • May sting when applied

You might be surprised to learn that skincare routines can sometimes be more effective at night. So, if you’re ready to embrace a good nighttime program, consider adding Good Molecule’s Overnight Exfoliating Treatment to your lineup. 

This vegan, fragrance-free serum contains a 10% blend of alpha hydroxy (glycolic and lactic acid) and beta hydroxy acids (salicylic acid) to promote resurfacing. These ingredients will unclog pores and remove dead skin cells for a brighter, more youthful look. Note that this isn’t meant for daily use — just two to three times per week.

Skin type: All, acne-prone | Key benefits: Exfoliating, pore-clearing | Size: 1 fl oz

3
Best for hyperpigmentation
Beekman 1802 Golden Booster Amla Berry Vitamin C Brightening Serum
$35.44

What we love

  • Tackles common causes of hyperpigmentation
  • Fragrance-free
  • Moisturizing formula

What we don’t love

  • Vitamin C may interact with other skincare ingredients

Whether from blemishes or genetics, some of us struggle with hyperpigmentation. The Beekman 1802 Golden Booster Amla Berry Vitamin C Brightening Serum is a powerhouse solution designed to tackle common causes of lackluster tone: dark spots, unevenness, and dullness. While it can be used alone, this serum can also be paired with your favorite moisturizer for a luxe, almost mask-like experience. 

You’ll appreciate that this pick leverages amla berries to formulate a gentler plant-based vitamin C alternative that’s ideal for people with sensitive or dry skin. But remember that even a plant-based version of vitamin C is still an active ingredient. So be mindful of which other products in your skincare lineup also contain active ingredients that target cellular turnover to avoid harsh interactions.

Skin type: All | Key benefits: Brightening, hyperpigmentation correcting | Size: 0.5 fl oz

4
Best for acne
SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel
$65.75

What we love

  • Gentle formula to calm redness
  • Hyaluronic acid to boost moisture
  • Eucalyptus oil to purify

What we don’t love

  • Strong scent
  • Some reviews claimed product stains clothing

When you have acne, redness from irritation can mar your complexion. The SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel works to tackle this concern specifically. It’s formulated with cucumber and thyme to soothe your skin, while mulberry minimizes discoloration from blemishes. Meanwhile, eucalyptus leaf oil aids in purifying your skin. The gel texture is especially ideal as a moisturizer for acne-prone skin.

Skin type: All | Key benefits: Moisturizing, calming | Size: 1 fl oz

5
Best pore-refining
Philosophy Pore Minimizing Serum
$39

What we love

  • Unclogs and tightens pores
  • Controls oil production to prevent blackheads and whiteheads
  • Can minimize pore size by up to 29%

What we don’t love

  • May not be ideal for those without oily or acne-prone skin

Even though pore size is primarily determined by genetics, there are things you can do to somewhat shrink them. Philosophy’s Pore Minimizing Serum aims to do precisely that with the addition of salicylic acid to unclog your pores and lentil seed extract to tighten them.

The addition of lilac and lemon myrtle extract control oil production and oxidation, which aids in minimizing blackheads and whiteheads. This pick is clinically proven to improve the size of your pores by up to 29%, as discovered in a four-week consumer study.

Skin type: Oily, acne-prone | Key benefits: Pore-shrinking, pore-unclogging | Size: 1 fl oz

6
Best primer
Wet n Wild Prime Focus Hydrating Primer Serum
$7.39

What we love

  • 2-in-1 primer serum formula
  • Blurs imperfections
  • Hydrating and nongreasy

What we don’t love

  • Not everyone will like the glitter finish
  • Contains fragrance

If you’re looking for a serum that can pull double duty, allow us to introduce you to Wet n Wild’s Prime Focus Hydrating Primer Serum. This pick is a 2-in-1 solution that smooths your skin and evens out your complexion to create an adequately prepped canvas for your makeup applications. 

This formula blurs and softens imperfections, which is ideal if you prefer a lighter makeup look. The lightweight texture is incredibly hydrating, thanks to rose water, camellia leaf extract, and green tea extract. Note, though, that this serum has shimmer in it. So, while it can create a luminous glow effect for a barefaced look or under a tinted moisturizer, not everyone will like this addition.

Skin type: All | Key benefits: Moisturizing, priming | Size: 1 fl oz

7
Best anti-aging
DERMA E Anti-Wrinkle Treatment Oil
$27.15

What we love

  • Clinically proven to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Softens and smooths skin
  • Boosts skin’s glow

What we don’t love

  • Some people may experience a reaction to the retinol
  • Pair with SPF to avoid photosensitivity

It’s wonderful to grow old gracefully. And if you want to embrace aging, that’s great too. But if you’re not quite ready for that step, you don’t need to wait until you see wrinkles to begin using an anti-aging product. The DERMA E Anti-Wrinkle Treatment Oil is a lightweight, dermatologist-recommended oil that incorporates vitamin A (retinol) to soften and smooth your skin. 

It absorbs quickly to reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles while also providing a youthful glow and critical hydration — all factors that can age your skin if left untreated. In an independent six-week trial, respondents noticed a 97% improvement in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Other hero ingredients include rosehip oil, safflower seed oil, and seabuckthorn.

Skin type: Mature | Key benefits: Moisturizing, anti-wrinkle | Size: 2 fl oz

8
Best brightener
Lamel Hyaluronic Acid Serum With Vitamin C
$15.99

What we love

  • Hydrates and brightens
  • Gentle formula
  • Evens skin tone for more radiant skin

What we don’t love

  • Vitamin C may not be compatible with other active ingredients in your skincare routine

Bright skin can give you that lit-from-within effect that can’t always be duplicated with makeup. If you want to combine an effective brightener with hydration, consider the Lamel Hyaluronic Acid Serum. This combination serum gives you intense hydration, thanks to hyaluronic acid, while Vitamin C promotes cellular turnover to reveal fresh, healthy skin. 

The vitamin C also aids in improving skin elasticity by encouraging the production of elastin. More importantly, this is a great pick for sensitive skin, as it’s a water-based formula that’s designed to prevent the clogging of pores. And with sustained use, vitamin C works as a powerful natural antioxidant.

Skin type: All | Key benefits: Brightening, moisturizing | Size: 0.96 fl oz

9
Best splurge
Luxe Botanics Marula Hydrating Serum
$95

What we love

  • Restores skin’s natural barrier
  • Contains sustainably and ethically sourced marula oil
  • Boosts skin’s elasticity, firmness, and suppleness

What we don’t love

  • Expensive

Skincare can be self-care. And if you’re ready to indulge your senses while treating your skin to much-needed moisture, the Luxe Botanics Marula Hydrating Serum is a great place to start. Yes, it’s a splurge, but it’s specifically designed to tackle more challenging skin types, like dry and mature skin. 

The wild-harvested, cold-pressed marula oil provides serious hydration, thanks to the essential fatty acids. It works to reinforce your skin’s natural barrier but also absorbs easily into the skin for simple use. With continued applications, you’ll notice more supple, radiant skin.

Other key ingredients include jojoba, cranberry, blackcurrant, and rosehip oil. This is a pick you can feel good about, as a portion of every purchase of this oil is donated to a school child in Kenya.

Skin type: Dry, mature | Key benefits: Brightening, moisturizing | Size: 1 fl oz

10
Best overnight
Love, Indus Amrutini Luminosity Dewdrops Overnight Oasis Serum
$135

What we love

  • Hydrates and restores skin
  • Natural ingredients sourced from the Indus Valley
  • Also works as an exfoliating treatment

What we don’t love

  • Expensive
  • Not vegan

We can’t stress enough that we love a good overnight skincare treatment. That’s because when you’re resting, your skin can go into overdrive to repair itself. The Love, Indus Amrutini Luminosity Dewdrops Overnight Oasis Serum is a fantastic product that blends the potency of natural botanicals, like makaibari tea and liquified Muga silk, to heal and restore your skin. 

Meanwhile, hyaluronic acid improves your moisture retention, and ashwagandha works to strengthen and rejuvenate your skin. Note that this pick also incorporates copper for therapeutic benefits that aid in vitality. However, this won’t qualify as a vegan product since it includes silk byproducts and is encouraged to be used with the brand’s copper-crusted silk cocoons for an exfoliating routine. While suitable for all skin types, this serum is best for dull or dry skin.

Skin type: Dry, dull | Key benefits: Exfoliating, moisturizing | Size: 1 fl oz

11
Best hydrator
100% Pure Rose Hyaluronic Acid Serum
$52

What we love

  • Absorbs quickly into the skin
  • Minimizes redness
  • Can be used morning and night

What we don’t love

  • Some reviews cited dispenser pump as prone to malfunction

If you need to give your skin a little boost of hydration, you can’t go wrong with a hyaluronic acid serum. And to be fair, there are plenty of them on the market. But we like the Rose Hyaluronic Acid Serum from 100% Pure because this pick isn’t only vegan but also combines other skin-loving ingredients to help balance and soothe your skin. 

Key ingredients, like rose hydrosol and calendula, calm your skin and leave you feeling refreshed. The lightweight gel texture absorbs easily into the skin, adding a quick burst of moisture. This formula also works to control redness and protect your skin’s natural barrier, preventing further moisture loss. Apply before you moisturize to ensure your skin gets the most benefits.

Skin type: All | Key benefits: Hydrating, calming | Size: 1 fl oz

12
Best plumper
Aprilskin 40% Collagen Peptide Plumping Serum
$37

What we love

  • Anti-aging support for minimizing fine lines
  • Contains vegan collagen
  • Aids in boosting hydration

What we don’t love

  • May take time to see results for eliminating fine lines

If you’re familiar with Aprilskin, you know that the brand offers various collections, each centered around a specific hero ingredient. The brand’s 40% Collagen Peptide Plumping Serum is a great fit for those seeking a collagen boosting serum. It features vegan collagen at a 40% concentration to not only moisturize your skin but also fight signs of aging. 

Along with hydration, this product promises to revitalize dull complexions while plumping the skin to reduce the look of fine lines. It absorbs quickly into the skin with no sticky residue. This K-beauty find is also dermatologically tested and has been proven to tackle enlarged pores and dryness and even calm sensitive skin.

Skin type: Mature, sensitive, troubled | Key benefits: Moisturizing, plumping, brightening | Size: 1.18 fl oz

Discover your skincare routine’s secret ingredient

Serums are having a heyday right now in skincare, and we’re here for it. With densely packed formulas and textures that absorb quickly into the skin, a good serum can do the heavy lifting for your entire skincare routine. And more importantly, they don’t have to be complicated.

If you’re looking for a good starter serum to build a routine around, consider our best overall recommendation, the Sky Organics Youth Boost Antioxidant Day Serum. Blending bakuchiol and vitamin C along with other skin-friendly ingredients, this serum works to reveal fresh, healthy skin with a vibrant, radiant complexion. 

How to pick the right face serum for you

When shopping for a face serum, you’ll want to think about the specific skin concerns you’re attempting to tackle as well as the other products you’re using in your skincare routine. Also, consider how frequently you intend to use the serum and whether it contains active ingredients that might create unwanted interactions. 

Skin type

Vintage skincare beliefs focused on four skin types: normal, oily, combination, and dry. But today, you’ll find that this has expanded to include mature, acne-prone, and troubled. Mature skin refers to older skin, which tends to struggle with dryness, wrinkles, fine lines, and a loss of elasticity. Meanwhile, troubled skin can encompass a variety of concerns, such as redness, irritation, or even sensitive skin, which is more likely to react negatively to harsh ingredients. 

As you shop for a face serum, consider which category best fits your skin. And keep in mind that more than one category might apply. For example, you can have normal but mature skin. In this case, you’ll still want to prioritize moisture but may need a serum that minimizes fine lines or improves collagen levels. Likewise, if you have sensitive or dry skin, you’ll want to steer clear of serums with harsher ingredients that might exacerbate those issues. Those with oily or acne-prone skin will want to focus on products that improve redness, cleanse the pores, and control oil production. 

Benefits

Hydration is one of the most basic benefits that most serums will support. You’ll find that ingredients like hyaluronic acid, marula oil, or jojoba oil tend to be the most popular additives for this option. If you prefer brightening, options such as vitamin C and even retinol or bakuchiol can serve this purpose. However, both retinol and bakuchiol — along with niacinamide — can also promote cellular turnover, brighten, and correct hyperpigmentation. 

Routine

The easiest way to describe how to use a face serum is that it should be applied before your moisturizer. Depending on the complexity of your skincare routine, serums usually come after your toner but before your moisturizer. However, if you also apply face masks or treatments that must be removed, then serums will follow this step. 

More importantly, you need to realize that not all serums are designed for daily use, and some can’t be used interchangeably for a.m. and p.m. For example, you shouldn’t use an exfoliating serum daily because it’s too much chemical exposure for your skin. Meanwhile, retinol and even most bakuchiol serums aren’t intended for morning use unless the concentration is very low. Using these formulas before heading outside during the day can increase your skin’s photosensitivity and encourage sun damage. 

FAQs

Which brand has the best face serum? 

Skincare is personal and the right option is going to depend on your skin type, skin concerns, and whether or not you like the texture or scent of a product. But if you’re looking for a good starter option, our best overall pick, the Sky Organics Youth Boost Antioxidant Day Serum is safe for all skin types and targets key concerns such as brightening, hydration, and smoothing. 

How often should I use face serum?

This is going to depend on the serum you select. Some serums can be used both in the morning and evening each day. Meanwhile, other serums should only be used on alternate days or in the evening to prevent irritation. Always follow the directions provided with the serum or ask your dermatologist for best practices when in doubt. 

What serum should I use for aging skin?

Aging skin is a broad term since specific concerns can vary. You might have dryness, fine lines, or even hyperpigmentation. As such, your best option is to find a serum that targets the specific concerns you’re experiencing. DERMA E Anti-Wrinkle Treatment Oil is a great starting point to soften and soothe your skin for a more youthful glow.