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If you’re going to splurge on just one skincare item, make it a serum. Dermatologists would agree: they’re the workhorses of the skincare world, especially when it comes to anti-aging. Sure, moisturizers are crucial too, but serums have a lighter formula and are specifically designed to penetrate deeper into the skin barrier to deliver the active ingredients, making them much more effective. A solid serum is quite the multitasker: it can tackle everything from dullness to firmness, fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, redness, texture, and dryness.
To get the most out of an anti-aging skincare routine, a serum should be applied immediately after cleansing, followed by a moisturizing cream. And to really keep time away, be sure to wear a sunscreen on your face every single day, no matter the weather or season. Investing in a good serum has the potential to truly change your skin. Our picks for the top anti-aging serums are a great place to start.
Best Overall: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic
The gold standard of vitamin C serums, it tops practically every dermatologist’s list. Packed with the power of antioxidants—and 0.5% ferulic acid to make them even more effective—it has pure vitamins E and C to guard your skin against environmental damage and free radicals. This serum also contains 15% L-ascorbic acid to brighten, fight fine lines and wrinkles, and protect from oxidative stress. The potent formula boosts firmness and evens skin tone.
Best Budget: No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Serum
When this serum launched in the UK a decade ago, it almost instantly sold out of stores when a BBC documentary aired and said that independent researchers found it to be the only skincare product on the market that truly had proven anti-aging benefits. It became so popular that it had to be rationed in stores. And dermatologists have said that this budget serum is more effective than many of its prestige competitors. The serum has been clinically proven to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, protect from future signs of aging, and make skin look younger overall.
Best Drugstore Option: Olay Regenerist Regenerating Serum
Don’t let the price tag fool you—this potent serum can firm, fight lines, and plump just as well as some of its much more expensive competitors. From the first day you use it, you’ll see visibly younger, smoother skin, and after four weeks of regular use, skin looks firmer and fine lines and wrinkles are minimized. It contains an amino-peptide complex to deliver its hydrating ingredients 10 layers deep into the skin’s surface. It’s fragrance-free, making it suitable for sensitive skin, and absorbs quickly.
Best for Dull Skin: Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment
The killer combo of AHA and BHA acids team up to gently exfoliate dead skin cells that can make your complexion look dull and clog pores, leaving you with fresh, smooth, younger-looking skin. The purified lactic acid also plumps skin to minimize fine lines and wrinkles and tackles hyperpigmentation, preventing dark spots from forming and evening out texture. Additionally, the formula has licorice for brightening.
Best for Acne: True Botanicals Cellular Repair Serum — Clear
Fight breakouts with nothing but nature. This multitasker turns back the clock while treating adult acne. The anti-inflammatory formula wards off bacteria with olive leaf extract to prevent blemishes while preventing free radical damage and wrinkles. It also contains black willow bark extract, which is nature’s version of salicylic acid, but it happens to be much more gentle. Hyaluronic acid keeps skin hydrated by retaining water, strengthening the barrier function.
Best Natural: Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum
Mother Nature can really help turn back the clock, as this anti-aging cocktail that does it all proves. The award-winning, super concentrated formula infuses skin with hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, and vitamins to firm, boost elasticity, moisturize, and smooth fine lines and wrinkles. Vitamin A from rosehip seed oil gives skin a youthful look, vitamin C from date palm extract boosts skin barrier protection, and jasmine essential oil provides its sweet floral fragrance.
Best for Eyes: Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester Brightening Eye Serum
No many how many hours of sleep you got last night, this eye serum will help you look wide awake. Your peepers will pop thanks to vitamin C and other antioxidants that boost collagen production and elasticity, brighten, and firm the delicate skin. To maximize the anti-aging results, apply this lightweight, quick absorbing serum before an eye cream.
Best for Dry Skin: Caudalie Premier Cru Serum
Talk about a French beauty secret: This powerhouse serum is an ace at boosting natural collagen while majorly hydrating skin. It activates skin cells to act younger, triggering them to work faster and harder, resulting in skin that’s more toned, firm, smooth, and bright, courtesy of resveratrol. Meanwhile, grape seed polyphenols guard against environmental aggressors, and niacinamide, aka vitamin B3, protects skin from UV damage, age spots, and hyperpigmentation.
Our writers spent 4 hours researching the most popular anti-aging serums on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 25 different serums overall, screened options from 15 different brands and manufacturers, read over 20 user reviews (both positive and negative) and tested 4 of the serums themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.