Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Fact: Serums are among the most hardworking beauty products out there. Formulated with a high concentration of powerful ingredients, the best serums target anything from acne to dryness to signs of aging. But those benefits often come at a price; it’s fair to say that on a list of the most expensive skincare products, serums would sit somewhere close to the top. Not interested in taking out a loan for your face serum? We feel you.
But just because you have yet to find an effective face serum you don’t have to cut back on your lifestyle for, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. That’s where we come in to help. There are plenty of budget-friendly serums out there that work just as well as any. In fact, we can vouch for the ones below, all of which clock in at under $30.
Read on to discover our picks of the best facial serums under $30.
Best Overall: Olay Regenerist Regenerating Serum
Not only is this formula affordable, but it also brings forth results fast—like, really fast. As soon as day one, expect to see visibly smoother skin, thanks to powerful anti-aging ingredients and skin-plumping Amino-Peptide Complex II. And the results just keep getting better and better; after four weeks, expect to see healthier-looking skin and visibly diminished fine lines and wrinkles.
Best Exfoliating: The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA
Leave it to The Ordinary to create a serum (with a single-digit price tag) that doesn’t skimp on efficacy whatsoever. We’re big fans of the brand’s serum lot, but this one laced with high-strength lactic acid is a particular favorite. Because lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid, you can expect the formula to exfoliate away the dull, dry surface layer of skin to reveal new, healthier-looking skin underneath. As a bonus, the inclusion of purified Tasmanian pepperberry helps ensure that the skin stays radiant versus irritated or sensitive.
Best With Vitamin C: TruSkin Vitamin C
If you don’t have a vitamin C serum in your beauty stash, now’s the time to change that with this affordable (and super beloved!) pick from TruSkin. Along with vitamin C, the formula contains hyaluronic acid and vitamin E, all of which work together to target signs of aging (think fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots) and boost skin radiance. But don’t just take our word for it; there are thousands of positive reviews available for you to scroll through, and the general consensus is you should stop what you’re doing and add to cart.
For the best line of protection against premature aging, apply a vitamin C serum in tandem with broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher daily.
Runner-Up, Best With Vitamin C: OleHenriksen Truth Serum Mini
It’s true that only the mini version of this serum falls within our $30 and under price range, but it’s a standout serum and one we encourage you to try. Chances are you’ll want to graduate to the larger size on your own, but this pint-sized formula is a good way to test the formula out without putting down a sizable sum of cash.
It’s a vitamin C serum that’s boosted with collagen (the substance that gives skin its youthfulness and bounce), so you know it’ll help brighten and correct. Plus, it’s got this sweet, citrusy scent that makes applying a vitamin C serum daily all the more enjoyable.
Best With Hyaluronic Acid: Vichy Mineral 89
Got dry skin? Amp up your skin’s hydration levels with this Vichy serum. Hyaluronic acid, an ingredient known to hold up to 1000x its weight in water, is the major player in this serum capable of replenishing even the driest of skins. And because well-hydrated skin looks plumper and more youthful, there’s really no downside to using this serum, especially when it’s priced so well. The texture is super light and silky, and it dries quickly without leaving behind a sticky residue, so much so that you might forget you’re wearing anything on your face at all.
Runner-Up, Best With Hyaluronic Acid: Neutrogena Multivitamin Face Serum
Even though this serum is formulated with dry skin in mind, a generous dose of hydration and skin-loving vitamins will do any skin some good, so don’t be afraid of trying it if your skin isn’t parched year-round. Hyaluronic acid is the main ingredient here, but there’s also vitamin E and niacinamide to take the moisturization benefits to the next level. If you're more of a purist, Neutrogena also has a straightforward, and best selling, Hyaluronic Acid Serum that we also recommend highly.
Best With Retinol: The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion
Retinol is a powerful ingredient known to help improve the appearance of acne, wrinkles, dullness, uneven texture, and more. And while its strength is one of the reasons it’s used so often in skincare, there can sometimes be too much of a good thing to the point that it becomes a bad thing, especially if your skin is left feeling irritated and raw. That’s why this serum is a great pick for anyone looking to test the retinol waters; it’s formulated with a retinoid active that is less likely to irritate the skin as it acts to visibly reduce signs of aging.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Mario Badescu Anti-Acne Serum
Lightweight and fast-absorbing, this serum is made with salicylic acid, one of only three FDA approved acne-fighting ingredients (the other two are benzoyl peroxide and sulfur if you’re interested). Salicylic acid helps exfoliate and clear up skin congestion. With less of a pile-up of dead skin cells and pore-clogging sebum on the surface, the skin looks fresher and is better protected against future breakouts.
Best for Oily Skin: Evolve Beauty Rainforest Rescue Blemish Serum
This all-natural serum works to decrease sebum production, which is why we love it for oily skin. When your skin overproduces sebum, it can not only look shinier but also more congested. With the help of an Amazonian blend of acai and copaiba along with exfoliating willow bark, this serum helps balance out the skin and leave behind a clear, matte finish.
Best for Dry Skin: Pixi Hydrating Milky Serum
Whether you naturally have dry skin or it's the dead of winter and your skin is as dry as the Sahara as a result, this serum will jumpstart your journey back to supple and plump skin. It boasts serious hydrating power, thanks to the inclusion of rose flower extract, jojoba oil, aloe vera, and glycerin.
Best Brightening: Sweet Chef Ginger Vitamin C Serum Shot
With ingredients that sound like they belong in your juice more so than your face serum, we love everything about this serum. Packed with antioxidant-rich ginger and vitamin C, expect this serum to brighten your skin for a glow like never before. Since it’s made without dyes, parabens, oils, or fragrances, it’s a suitable pick for sensitive, dry, oily, and normal skin types alike.
Best for Wrinkles: RoC Retinol Correxion Anti-Aging Deep Wrinkle Serum
This anti-aging serum uses retinol, the tried-and-true multitasking ingredient, to help smooth out both the first signs of fine lines and deep wrinkles. The silky formula absorbs quickly and, over time, firms up skin and reduces signs of photodamage, crow's feet, and other signs of aging.
If you're new to retinol, start with a lower concentration and slowly work your way up as your skin builds a tolerance. Make sure to always wear a broad-spectrum SPF during daytime hours, and limit your retinol use to the evening hours to prevent sun sensitivity.
Best for Dark Spots: Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Drop
Lighten dark spots, even skin tone, and prevent pigmentation with the help of this vitamin C serum. This serum from K-Beauty brand Klairs is vegan, and fragrance-free, and features a 5% vitamin C concentration making it gentle enough to use on sensitive skin.
Best Under Makeup: Glossier Super Bounce
A product that needs no introduction, Super Bounce is a hyaluronic acid and vitamin b5 serum that acts as a perfect primer for a dewy makeup look. Whether you're using foundation and heavier makeup, or are going for a no-makeup makeup look, this is an excellent base to build on because it leaves the skin soft, smooth, and plumped with moisture.
Best for Nightime: Honest Beauty Resurfacing Serum
Exfoliate your skin overnight and wake up looking refreshed with this resurfacing serum from Honest Beauty. A blend of glycolic, lactic, citric, malic, and tartaric acids combine to gently exfoliate the skin while hyaluronic acid provides the hydration and nourishment you need for healthy-looking skin. This serum is made with vegan ingredients and promises to give you smooth, glowing skin without any irritation.
Best Natural: Burt's Bees Renewal Intensive Firming Serum with Bakuchiol
Boost your skin elasticity and firmness with this firming serum from Burt’s Bees. Made from 98.6% natural ingredients, this formula features bakuchiol, a gentler retinol alternative, to reduce the appearance of fine lines and reveal an even skin tone.