Anti-aging serums are like Instagram accounts, everybody’s got one. But with so many out there (serums, that is), it can be kind of a nightmare to find the right one. “A serum is essentially a lightweight moisturizer with super-potent active ingredients that are small in size,” explains Neil Sadick, M.D, a dermatologist in New York City. “This allows serums to penetrate deeply into the skin so that ingredients are delivered straight to their target.”
The best anti-aging serums typically contain different vitamins, peptides, retinol, or extracts that are all designed to fight signs of aging, like fine lines and wrinkles, sagginess, discoloration, and more. They work best on clean, dry skin before your moisturizer and after your toner (if you use one). No matter your skin type, product preference, or the issue you most want to target, here’s a guide to help you find the best anti-aging serum for you.
1. Best Natural Option: Burt’s Bees Renewal Intensive Firming Serum
All-natural active ingredients derived from hibiscus and apples are super hydrating and plump up your skin, disguising the look of fine lines. Plus, it’s free of parabens, phthalates, and petrolatum.
2. Best For Dry Skin: CeraVe Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum
The fastest route to a smoother complexion is with a hyaluronic acid-based serum. The molecule, which is naturally occurring in your skin, draws in water and acts like a temporary filler.
3. Best Do-It-All: Clarins Double Serum Complete Age Control Concentrate
Want a smoother surface? How about a brighter, more even complexion? And what about a radiant glow? Well, look no further. This serum is packed with potent plant extracts (like turmeric, oat, and orthosiphon) that do all of the above.
4. Best For Oily Skin: Dior Capture Youth Matte Maximizer Age-Delay Mattifying Serum
A blend of antioxidants keep your skin strong and protected, while a combo of pink clay and zinc absorb excess oil throughout the day, so you can stop worrying about 3 p.m. blotting.
5. Best Nighttime Serum: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum
The combo of alpha and beta hydroxy acids will keep your skin smooth and diminish the appearance of aging marks. But keep in mind, these acids can also make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so it’s best to save this one for darker hours.
6. Best Retinol Alternative: Eminence Organic Skin Care Bamboo Firming Fluid
Intrigued by the collagen-boosting benefits of retinol but prefer to keep your routine on the natural side? Look no further than the chicory root and tara tree complex in this wrinkle fighting serum. The naturally derived duo will smooth the look of fine lines and wrinkles over time.
7. Best For Redness: La Mer The Concentrate
Known for its soothing and strengthening “miracle broth,” which is a blend of fermented sea kelp, vitamins, and ocean-derived nutrients, this luxury brand has brought out a souped up (no pun intended!) version. This serum contains a potent concentration of the active, so you get extra calming and repairing benefits.
8. Best Daytime Serum: L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Vitamin C Facial Treatment
Over time, damage from polluted air and the sun leave their mark on your skin in the form of discoloration and loss of firmness. Antioxidants like vitamin C help protect your skin from harmful damage to keep it in fighting shape.
9. Best Retinol: Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum
The true OG of anti-agers, retinol is proven to boost collagen production and increase the thickness of your dermis, which all lead to more youthful-looking skin. This version is gentle enough to use every day. Yes, even for retinol first-timers.
10. Best For Deep Wrinkles: No7 Line Correcting Booster Serum
Don’t let the syringe-shaped bottle fool you, this serum only looks like an injectable filler, but it has strong line-filling powers, too. It has a high concentration of the brand’s proprietary anti-wrinkle peptide technology, which has been shown to improve the look of wrinkles on the forehead, between the brows, and around the mouth and eyes in as little as six weeks.
11. Best For Sensitive Skin: Olay Regenerist Miracle Boost Concentrate
Reactive skin types don’t need to stay away from powerful anti-agers; just look for ones formulated with ingredients that are known to be gentle, like this niacinamide-packed serum (niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3) . Peptides firm skin while the vitamin B3 calms irritation and redness.
12. Best For Adult Acne: Renée Rouleau Pore + Wrinkle Perfecting Serum
You no longer need to chose between combating breakouts and wrinkles. This serum uses a blend of glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acids to leave you with a smoother, brighter, and breakout-free complexion.
13. Best For Dark Spots: Revision Skincare C+ Correcting Complex 30%
Discoloration is incredibly stubborn and hard to treat. But this lightweight serum delivers a powerful dose vitamin C while also helping boost your body’s natural production of vitamins C and E to break up the melanin that creates those dark marks and stop your skin from producing more.
14. Best Splurge: SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum
Before you let the price tag scare you, take note that this anti-ager is not messing around. It’s packed with a high concentration (93.6 percent) of growth factors. These potent proteins improve signs of aging and overall skin health after only one month of consistent use (twice a day).
15. Best Steal: The Ordinary “Buffet”
Don’t let the brand name fool you, this blend of peptides and hyaluronic acids are anything but ordinary. The peptides improve skin elasticity and firmness long-term while the hyaluronic acid plumps skin short-term.
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