The most basic skincare routine will likely include a cleanser and a moisturizer. But if you’re starting to see pesky dark spots or fine lines, those two products alone may not be delivering everything your skin needs. That’s where skin serum comes in. With their higher concentrations of active ingredients, serums let you customize your routine to address specific concerns. Do you want your skin to appear plumper or firmer? Look for serums featuring ingredients like ceramides and hyaluronic acid. Are dark spots or hyperpigmentation a concern? Try formulations with vitamin C. Looking to improve your skin’s overall texture? Try a serum with retinol, also known as vitamin A.
Many serums also promise hydrating effects, which might beg the question: What makes them different from a moisturizer? Serums, with their thinner formulas (common options might be in the form of an oil or gel), will absorb more readily into the skin, but they won’t offer all-day hydration. Moisturizers typically have larger molecules, so they won’t penetrate skin as deeply, but they will create a barrier over the skin to lock moisture in. In short, layer your moisturizer over your serum to use both products effectively.
Owing to their higher concentrations of active ingredients, serums are also typically more expensive than cleansers or moisturizers. And while you can splurge on a high-priced formula if it does the trick, you certainly don’t need to spend upwards of $100 for a good skin serum. Below, we’ve rounded up our picks for the best skin serums to address everything from hyperpigmentation to rosacea.
The Best Skin Serums for Men 2022
1. Dr. Jart Cicapair Tiger Grass Serum
Those dealing with sensitivity or redness caused by issues like rosacea will find relief with Dr. Jart’s Tiger Grass Serum. Part of the Korean brand’s soothing Cicapair line, the serum uses centella asiatica (the namesake tiger grass) to calm easily irritated skin.[$47; drjart.com]
2. Youth to the People 15% Vitamin C + Clean Caffeine Energy Serum
Vegan skincare brand Youth to the People pairs the brightening effects of vitamin C with caffeine derived from yerba mate for a serum that also helps reduce puffiness. Use it in the morning to shake off that just-woke-up look and protect your skin with vitamin C’s natural antioxidants; the serum also includes squalane to give your skin an extra dose of hydration.[$68; youthtothepeople.com]
3. Aesop Parsley Seed Antioxidant Intense Serum
The original Parsley Seed Antioxidant Serum has been a popular part of Aesop’s line for years now. Earlier this year, the Australian brand released a more potent version of the formula. It combines antioxidants like green tea and parsley seed with moisture-binding ingredients like niacinamide and vitamin E to create a protective barrier for the skin.nordstrom.com]
4. Ursa Major Brighten Up Vitamin C Serum
Certified B Corp skincare brand Ursa Major is beloved for its simple, natural formulations, and this serum is no different. The vitamin C formula can help fade dark spots over time, while ingredients like aspen bark provide a natural source of salicylic acid to gently exfoliate.[$54; ursamajorvt.com]
5. Kiehl’s Micro-Dose Anti-Aging Retinol Serum
Retinols can be somewhat intimidating for newbies, but Kiehl’s new skin serum, which launched this summer, offers an easy way to integrate retinol into your routine. The small dose of retinol helps promote skin cell turnover, but is gentle enough to be used daily, and the serum includes ceramides to improve the skin’s natural moisture barrier.[$60–$85; kiehls.com]
6. Grown Alchemist Power Couple Kit
The high cost of serums means it’s often a big commitment to integrate them into your routine. With the launch of its serum duo this summer, Grown Alchemist offers an easy way to try two serums at a (relatively) affordable price. The detox serum uses vitamin B3 to reduce age spots while the smoothing serum gives a boost of hydration with hyaluronic acid. Use them separately or together.grownalchemist.com]
7. The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Hydrating Serum
If the high costs and complex ingredients of serums are overwhelming, there’s one brand you need to turn to: The Ordinary. With straightforward formulations and price points largely under $15, The Ordinary lets you pinpoint exactly what your skin needs. Start with the hyaluronic acid skin serum for an easy dose of extra hydration.[$7–$12; sephora.com]
8. 27 Rosiers Here We Glow Again Protect & Revive Serum
Vegan skincare and supplement brand 27 Rosiers puts the spotlight on botanical ingredients in its serum, which promises to protect against outside pollutants. The formulation features soothing ingredients like calendula and aloe to promote soft, glowing skin.[$65; bergdorfgoodman.com]
9. Supergoop Daily Dose Vitamin C + SPF 40 Serum
Vitamin C is popular for its brightening and antioxidant properties, but if you integrate the ingredient into your routine, keep in mind that experts recommend pairing it with sunscreen for maximum effectiveness (it’s a good idea to use sunscreen daily anyway). Sun protection experts Supergoop have made the combo easy with a vitamin C serum that offers SPF 40 sun protection—it can eliminate a step from your routine.[$46; supergoop.com]
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