People with dry skin can greatly benefit from using serums specifically formulated with their skin type in mind. Here is our guide to the best serums for dry skin.

Our Recommendations

1. Vitamin C Serum

Mad Hippie Serum for Anti-aging and brightening

Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum

This natural vitamin C serum contains sodium ascorbyl phosphate (a stable form of vitamin C) and other effective skincare ingredients to help brighten, hydrate, and provide anti-aging benefits.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Anti-aging and brightening
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply four to five drops of the serum onto the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with a moisturizer, and an SPF during the day.
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This effective yet affordable vitamin C serum contains antioxidant-rich vitamin E and ferulic acid, which have been shown to increase the efficacy of vitamin C. It is also packed with additional ingredients that help hydrate, soften, and smooth the skin, including konjac root and hyaluronic acid.

Pros

  • Natural
  • Fragrance-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • Some reviewers noted it felt sticky on the skin

In addition to the ingredients mentioned above, this vegan and cruelty-free vitamin C serum contains chamomile, grapefruit, and clary sage, which provide antioxidant protection and calm the skin.

Water Deionized, Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate), Alkyl Benzoate, Vegetable Glycerin, Water, Glycerin, Sodium Levulinate, Sodium Anisate, Clary Sage (Salvia Sclarea), Grapefruit (Citrus Grandis), Hyaluronic acid, Amorphophallus Konjac Root Powder, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf, Vitamin E (Tocotrienol), Ferulic acid, Chamomile Flower Extract (Recutita Matricaria), Sodium Phytate, Xanthan Gum, Hydroxyethylcellulose

  1. National Center for Biotechnology. "Vitamin C in dermatology"

    Accessed Nov. 11, 2021.

2. Power 10 Formula LI Effector with Licorice

It’s Skin Power 10 Formula

It’s Skin Serum for Brightening and Evening Skin Tone

It’s Skin Power 10 Formula LI Effector with Licorice

This affordable serum contains a high concentration of licorice extract, which works to brighten and promote a more even skin tone.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Brightening and Evening Skin Tone
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: After cleansing, apply two to three drops of the serum all over the face and neck. Follow up with a moisturizer.
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This Korean serum is perfect for those looking to even out their skin tone. Licorice (glycyrrhiza uralensi) extract is known to help fade hyperpigmentation and melasma, improve skin texture, soothe the skin, and reduce redness.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Gentle
  • Fragrance-free
  • Oil-free

Cons

  • None

This daily serum can also be combined with other It’s Skin Power 10 serums to target specific skin concerns you’re looking to address.

Water, Glycyrrhiza, Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin,Polyglutamic, Acid, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Methylparaben, Chlorphenesin, Disodium EDTA

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Cosmeceuticals for Hyperpigmentation: What is Available?"

    Accessed Nov. 10, 2021.

3. C E Ferulic with 15% L-Ascorbic Acid

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic with 15% L-Ascorbic Acid

SkinCeuticals Serum for Anti-aging and brightening

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic with 15% L-Ascorbic Acid

This brightening and anti-aging vitamin C serum is often considered one of the best of the best. It helps improve signs of aging while fighting environmental aggressors.

Skin types: Normal, Dry, Combination and Sensitive
Best for: Anti-aging and brightening
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: After cleansing, apply four to five drops of the serum onto the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with a moisturizer, and an SPF during the day.
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This fragrance-free vitamin C serum contains a potent 15% concentration of l-ascorbic acid, a form of vitamin C that helps neutralize free radicals, defend against oxidative stress, and brighten and fight signs of aging. It is formulated with antioxidant-rich vitamin E and ferulic acid, which both further protect against environmental stressors. These ingredients have also been shown to increase the efficacy of vitamin C.

Pros

  • Anti-aging
  • Brightening
  • Fragrance-free

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Some reviewers complain about the smell

This anti-aging serum remains effective for at least 72 hours after being absorbed into the skin. It also contains additional ingredients that help hydrate the skin, including glycerin and sodium hyaluronate.

Water, Ethoxydiglycol, L-Ascorbic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Laureth-23, Alpha Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol, Triethanolamine, Ferulic Acid, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate

  1. National Center for Biotechnology. "Vitamin C in dermatology"

    Accessed Nov. 9, 2021.

4. Hydrium Centella Aqua Soothing Ampoule

Hydrium Centella Aqua Soothing Ampoule

COSRX Serum for Soothing and hydrating

COSRX Hydrium Centella Aqua Soothing Ampoule

This soothing and hydrating serum is packed with effective yet gentle ingredients that help soothe the skin. It is even suitable for calming current breakouts.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Soothing and hydrating
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply a few drops of the serum to the face. Follow up with a moisturizer.
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One of the key ingredients in this gentle serum is centella asiatica extract. This plant extract has been shown to effectively treat wounds and soothe inflammation in the skin. It also contains vitamin B5 (AKA panthenol), an anti-inflammatory ingredient that improves hydration and elasticity while soothing the skin.

Pros

  • Lightweight and non-sticky
  • Gentle
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Fragrance-free

Cons

  • The lighter hydration may not be hydrating enough for very dry skin

In addition to the ingredients mentioned above, this Korean serum contains madecassoside, which has antioxidant benefits, and allantoin, which soothes.

Water, Centella Asiatica Extract, Dipropylene Glycol, Glycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Betaine, Chondrus Crispus Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugarcane) Extract, Pentylene Glycol, Octanediol, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Xanthan Gum, Ethylhexylglycerin, Allantoin, Madecassoside, Panthenol

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Centella asiatica in cosmetology"

    Accessed Nov. 9, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Skin moisturizing effects of panthenol-based formulations"

    Accessed Nov. 9, 2021.

5. Discoloration Correcting Serum

Good Molecules Discoloration_Correcting Serum

Good Molecules Serum for Lightening Dark Spots and Brightening

Good Molecules Discoloration Correcting Serum

This affordable serum is perfect for those looking to lighten discolored spots (like post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from acne or melasma) for a more even complexion.

Skin types: Normal, Oily, Dry and Combination
Best for: Lightening Dark Spots and Brightening
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply a few drops of the serum to affected areas. This serum can be used up to two times per day.
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This fragrance-free serum contains two star ingredients that help fade dark marks: tranexamic acid (AKA cetyl tranexamate mesylate) and niacinamide. Tranexamic acid is known to brighten and lighten dark spots, while niacinamide addresses uneven tone and texture.

Pros

  • Brightening
  • Affordable
  • Oil-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • May not be suitable for sensitive skin

In addition to the key ingredients mentioned above, this daily serum contains glycerin, which helps keep the skin hydrated.

Water, Butylene Glycol, Propanediol, Glycerin, Niacinamide, Cetyl Tranexamate Mesylate, Cetyl Alcohol, Ceratonia Siliqua (Carob) Gum, Tamarindus Indica Seed Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Caprylyl Glycol

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Tranexamic Acid for Melasma: Evaluating the Various Formulations"

    Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "New topical tranexamic acid derivative for the improvement of hyperpigmentation and inflammation in the sun-damaged skin"

    Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.
  3. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "How Much Do We Really Know About Our Favorite Cosmeceutical Ingredients?"

    Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.

6. Hyaluronic Acid Booster

Paula’s Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster

Paula's Choice Serum for Hydration

Paula’s Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster

This serum combines hyaluronic acid with ceramides and other deeply hydrating ingredients to give the skin an extra moisture boost.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Hydration
Tested on animals: No
How to use: Massage a pump of the serum into clean skin. Follow up with a moisturizer.
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Hyaluronic acid is a great skincare ingredient for all skin types, because it pulls moisture to the skin to help it maintain healthy hydration levels. The ceramides in this booster also help restore the moisture barrier and strengthen the skin.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • May irritate sensitive skin

In addition to the hydrating benefits, hyaluronic acid has been shown to help minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, making this booster a great choice for those looking for anti-aging benefits.

Water (Aqua), Glycerin (hydration/skin replenishing), Sodium Hyaluronate (hydration/skin replenishing), Hyaluronic Acid (hydration/skin replenishing), Ceramide NP (hydration/skin replenishing), Ceramide AP (hydration/skin replenishing), Ceramide EOP (hydration/skin replenishing), Phytosphingosine (hydration/skin replenishing), Yeast Extract (skin replenishing), Adenosine (skin-restoring), Cholesterol (skin replenishing), Panthenol (skin replenishing), Silanetriol (hydration), Butylene Glycol (hydration), Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate (hydration), Carbomer (texture-enhancing), Xanthan Gum (texture-enhancing), Citric Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Polysorbate 20 (texture-enhancing), Ethylhexylglycerin (preservative), Phenoxyethanol (preservative)

7. Moisture Renewal Oil Booster

Paula’s Choice Moisture Renewal Oil Booster

Paula's Choice Serum for Extra Moisture

Paula’s Choice Moisture Renewal Oil Booster

This oil booster contains a blend of nourishing plant oils and renewing ceramides to help moisturize and revitalize dry skin.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Extra Moisture
Tested on animals: No
How to use: Massage a few drops into clean skin. Follow up with a moisturizer.
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This customer favorite booster contains nine non-fragrant, antioxidant-rich plant oils that alleviate dryness and calm the skin. It also contains ceramides, which further help restore the moisture barrier of the skin.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Non-irritating

Cons

  • Some reviewers note it feels greasy on the skin

One of the key oils in this booster is jojoba oil, which is anti-inflammatory, can help restore the skin’s barrier, and has the ability to help fight the signs of aging. Another key ingredient in this blend is argan oil, a skin-softening oil that has been shown to improve elasticity and hydration.

Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil (non-fragrant oil/skin-soothing/antioxidant/emollient), Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil (non-fragrant oil/skin-soothing/antioxidant/emollient), Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil (non-fragrant oil/skin-soothing/antioxidant/emollient), Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil (non-fragrant oil/skin-soothing/antioxidant/emollient), Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil (non-fragrant oil/skin-soothing/antioxidant/emollient), Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil (non-fragrant oil/skin-soothing/antioxidant/emollient), Borago Officinalis (Borage) Seed Oil (non-fragrant oil/skin-soothing/antioxidant/emollient), Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil (non-fragrant oil/skin-soothing/antioxidant/emollient), Echium Plantagineum Seed Oil (non-fragrant oil/skin-soothing/antioxidant/emollient), Ceramide NS (hydration/skin replenishing), Cholesterol (hydration/skin replenishing)

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Skin hydration is significantly increased by a cream formulated to mimic the skin's own natural moisturizing systems"

    Accessed Jul. 30, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils"

    Accessed Jul. 30, 2021.

8. Omega+ Complex Serum

Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Serum

Paula's Choice Serum for Strengthening the Skin’s Barrier and Hydration

Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Serum

This award-winning serum contains omega fatty acids and other replenishing ingredients that strengthen the skin’s barrier while reviving and hydrating the skin.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Strengthening the Skin’s Barrier and Hydration
Tested on animals: No
How to use: Massage a pump of the serum into clean skin. Follow up with a moisturizer.
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This is one of the best Paula’s Choice serums for all skin types, as it is gentle on the skin and keeps it healthy, hydrated, and strong. It locks in hydration and plumps to minimize the appearance of fine lines while also protecting the skin against environmental damage.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Gentle

Cons

  • May not be suitable for acne-prone skin

This serum contains oils rich in omegas 3, 6, and 9, which strengthen and soothe the skin. It also contains ceramides to improve firmness and protect, as well as hyaluronic acid and shea butter to moisturize.

Water (Aqua), Glycerin (skin-replenishing ingredient), Diheptyl Succinate (emollient), Candelilla/Jojoba/Rice Bran Polyglyceryl-3 Esters (texture enhancer), Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil (flax seed; non-fragrant omega -3, -6, and -9 plant oil), Linoleic Acid (skin-restoring omega-6 fatty acid), Linolenic Acid (skin-restoring omega-3 fatty acid), Passiflora Edulis Seed Oil (non-fragrant omega-6 plant oil, Salvia Hispanica (Chia) Seed Oil (non-fragrant omega-3 plant oil), Ceramide EOP (skin-restoring/replenishing), Ceramide EOS (skin-restoring/replenishing), Ceramide NP (skin-restoring/replenishing), Ceramide NS (skin-restoring/replenishing), Caprooyl Sphingosine (skin-restoring/replenishing), Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil Unsaponifiables (skin-smoothing antioxidant fatty acid), Caprooyl Phytosphingosine (skin-restoring), Sodium Hyaluronate (skin-replenishing/hydration), Cholesterol (skin-replenishing), Ceramide AP (skin-restoring/replenishing), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter (antioxidant emollient), Tocopherol (vitamin E/antioxidant), Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer (texture enhancer/stabilizer), Prunus Domestica Seed Oil (non-fragrant antioxidant plant oil/omega-9 fatty acid), Lauryl Laurate (skin-softening opacifying agent), Glyceryl Behenate (emollient/emulsifier), Hydrogenated Lecithin (skin-restoring ingredient), Sodium Phytate (chelating agent), Trehalose (hydration), Isohexadecane (texture enhancer/solvent), Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate (emulsifier), Capryloyl Glycerin/Sebacic Acid Copolymer (film-forming agent), Xanthan Gum (texture enhancer), Cetyl Alcohol (hydration), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (vitamin C/antioxidant), Agar (binding agent), Glyceryl Stearate (emulsifier), Ceteareth-25 (solubilizer), Cetearyl Alcohol (hydration), Behenic Acid (opacifying agent), Glyceryl Rosinate (emollient), Citric Acid (pH adjuster), Benzyl Alcohol (preservative), Ethylhexylglycerin (preservative)

9. Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%

The Ordinary Serum for Fighting Acne and Evening Skin Tone

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%

This product from The Ordinary hosts an impressive variety of benefits. Azelaic acid is a brightening skincare ingredient known for minimizing acne, lightening hyperpigmentation, and reducing redness.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Fighting Acne and Evening Skin Tone
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply the product to the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with a moisturizer.
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This product contains a 10% concentration of azelaic acid, a gentle exfoliator that has antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. The lightweight gel-cream helps to improve and brighten skin tone, as well as unclog pores and reduce blemishes for clear, smooth skin.

Pros

  • Oil-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Alcohol-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • Some reviewers note that this product can be drying

In addition to its ability to fight acne, azelaic acid is often used to treat rosacea to promote a more even skin tone.

Aqua (Water), Isodecyl Neopentanoate, Dimethicone, Azelaic Acid, Dimethicone/Bis-Isobutyl PPG-20 Crosspolymer, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Polysilicone-11, Isohexadecane, Tocopherol, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Isoceteth-20, Polysorbate 60, Triethanolamine, Ethoxydiglycol, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Azelaic acid"

    Accessed Aug. 11, 2021.

10. Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion

Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion

The Ordinary Serum for Anti-Aging

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion

This is a cult-favorite The Ordinary product, and one of the best for preventing and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles without the irritation often associated with traditional retinol.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Anti-Aging
Tested on animals: No
How to use: At night, after cleansing, apply the product to the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with a moisturizer.
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The unique, next-generation retinoid actives in this serum makes it one of the best The Ordinary products for those who want to use a retinol but are worried about irritation. Retinoids (vitamin A derivatives) are well-known for preventing and reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging.

Pros

  • Oil-free
  • Alcohol-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Lightweight
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • Those with retinoid experience may prefer a stronger product

This product contains granactive retinoid, a complex of solubilized hydroxypinacolone retinoate (HPR). This form of retinoid offers anti-aging benefits without the irritation associated with retinol (which is also a vitamin A derivative). It also contains retinol that comes in a protective capsule to further prevent irritation, boost anti-aging benefits, and support the granactive retinoid.

Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ethyl Linoleate, Propanediol, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Cetearyl Isononanoate, Bisabolol, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Retinol, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Inulin Lauryl Carbamate, Glyceryl Stearate, Ceteareth-12, Ceteareth-20, Cetearyl Alcohol, Carrageenan, Xanthan Gum, Acacia Senegal Gum, Cetyl Palmitate, Sucrose Laurate, Polysorbate 20, Isoceteth-20, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Hydroxymethoxyphenyl Decanone, Behentrimonium Chloride, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Disodium EDTA, Dehydroacetic Acid, Benzoic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: An overview of clinical efficacy and safety"

    Accessed Aug. 11, 2021.

11. Retinol 1% in Squalane

Retinol 1% in Squalane

The Ordinary Serum for Fighting the Signs of Aging

The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane

This product is the highest-strength retinoid serum from The Ordinary, and the brand’s answer to more traditional retinol products. It’s excellent for preventing and minimizing the signs of aging.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Fighting the Signs of Aging
Tested on animals: No
How to use: At night, after cleansing, apply the product to the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with a moisturizer.
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Retinol is the gold-standard for minimizing wrinkles, fine lines, and hyperpigmentation. Those who are experienced with retinoid products may prefer the Retinol 1% in Squalane over the Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion, as it is more potent. However, with the higher strength comes a higher risk of irritation, so it is best suited for those who’ve used retinoid products in their routine.

Pros

  • Alcohol-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • High likelihood of irritation, especially as skin adapts to the product

This serum contains squalane and jojoba oil, two ingredients that hydrate and soothe the skin. They may help minimize the irritation caused by the retinol.

Squalane, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Retinol, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Fruit Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Hydroxymethoxyphenyl Decanone, BHT.

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: An overview of clinical efficacy and safety"

    Accessed Aug. 11, 2021.

12. 100% Plant-Derived Squalane

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane

The Ordinary Serum for Lightweight Hydration

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane

This squalane product looks, feels, and acts similarly to a light oil, but is actually oil-free. It is excellent for adding an extra boost of hydration to your skincare routine.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Lightweight Hydration
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing and applying serums, gently massage a few drops into the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with a moisturizer. This may also be used on top of a moisturizer to seal in hydration.
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This squalane hydrator is one of the best The Ordinary products for acne-prone skin, because it is non-comedogenic. Even those who aren’t prone to breakouts will benefit from extra hydration this gentle and lightweight plant-based product provides.

Pros

  • Oil-free
  • Alcohol-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Gentle
  • Fragrance-free

Cons

  • May not be hydrating enough for drier skin types

Squalene is naturally found in human sebum, which makes squalane (a derivative of squalene) well-tolerated by most. While this option is particularly great for those with normal to oily skin, all skin types can benefit from this gentle hydrator.

Squalane

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Moisturizers: The Slippery Road"

    Accessed Aug. 13, 2021.

13. Hyalu B5 Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum

La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum

La Roche-Posay Serum for Hydration

La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum

This serum combines pure hyaluronic acid with other hydrating ingredients that replenish the skin’s moisture barrier.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Hydration
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: Dispense three to four drops of the serum into your hands, and gently massage into the skin. This serum can be used morning and night.
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Hyaluronic acid pulls moisture to the skin to help it maintain healthy hydration levels. This serum also contains vitamin B5 (panthenol), which acts as both a humectant (meaning it binds to and holds water in the skin) and an emollient (soothing and sealing water in the skin). Additionally, madecassoside works to further repair the skin.

Pros

  • Hydrating
  • Oil-free
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Dermatologist tested

Cons

  • Contains fragrance

In addition to the hydrating benefits, hyaluronic acid has been shown to help minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, making this serum a great choice for those also looking for anti-aging benefits.

Aqua / Water, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., Propylene Glycol, Panthenol, Pentylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Peg-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Ppg-6-Decyltetradeceth-30, Glyceryl Isostearate, Madecassoside, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Disodium Edta, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Citric Acid, Xanathan Gum, Butylene Glycol, Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol, Parfum / Fragrance

14. Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

The Ordinary Serum for Hydration

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

This unique hyaluronic acid serum effectively attracts moisture to the skin to leave it feeling hydrated and plump.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Hydration
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, massage a few drops of the serum into the skin. Follow up with a moisturizer.
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This serum contains low-, medium-, and high-molecular weight hyaluronic acid, as well as a next-generation hyaluronic acid crosspolymer. This allows the serum to deliver much-needed hydration to all layers of the skin.

Pros

  • Alcohol-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Oil-free
  • Hydrating
  • Fragrance-free

Cons

  • Some reviewers complain the serum feels sticky

In addition to the multiple forms of hyaluronic acid, this serum contains vitamin B5, which is anti-inflammatory and further helps hydrate the skin.

Aqua (Water), Sodium Hyaluronate, Pentylene Glycol, Propanediol, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Panthenol, Ahnfeltia Concinna Extract, Glycerin, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Citric Acid, Isoceteth-20, Ethoxydiglycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol.

15. 1% Retinol Treatment

Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment

Paula's Choice Serum for Hyperpigmentation and Wrinkles

Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment

This treatment combines retinol, a powerful anti-aging ingredient, with hydrating and brightening ingredients for an even, smooth skin tone.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Hyperpigmentation and Wrinkles
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, massage a pea-sized amount of the treatment into the skin. Initially, limit usage to three times a week to allow the skin to adjust.
See on Amazon

Retinol is the gold-standard for fighting signs of aging, so this is an excellent choice for those with wrinkles, fine lines, and sun spots. The addition of soothing and hydrating ingredients helps counteract some of the potential irritating side effects of retinol.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Lightweight
  • Non-greasy

Cons

  • May irritate more sensitive skin types

This serum contains vitamin C, which brightens the skin, as well as licorice extract and oat extract, which soothe and calm redness.

Water (Aqua), Dimethicone (skin-softening), Glycerin (skin-replenishing), Butylene Glycol (hydrating), Isononyl Isononanoate (emollient), Castor Isostearate Succinate (skin-softening ), Glyceryl Stearate (texture enhancer), C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate (emollient), Dimethicone Crosspolymer (texture enhancer), PEG-33 (stabilizer), Polysorbate 20 (texture enhancer), Behenyl Alcohol (texture enhancer), PEG-100 Stearate (texture enhancer), Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate (stabilizer), Polymethylsilsesquioxane (texture enhancer), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (vitamin C/antioxidant), Retinol (skin-restoring), Ceramide NG (skin-replenishing) , Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 (skin-restoring), Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-12 (skin-restoring), Sodium Hyaluronate (skin-replenishing ), Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate (antioxidant plant extracts/skin-soothing), Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract (licorice extract/antioxidant/skin-soothing), Avena Sativa Kernel Extract (oat extract/antioxidant/skin-soothing), Arctium Lappa Root Extract (burdock extract/antioxidant/skin-soothing), Salix Alba Bark Extract (willow bark extract/antioxidant/skin-soothing), Glycine Soja Sterols (antioxidant/skin-softening ), Lecithin (skin-restoring), Allantoin (skin-soothing), Tocopheryl Acetate (vitamin E/antioxidant), Hydrolyzed Soy Protein (antioxidant/skin-softening), Sorbitan Laurate (texture enhancer), Acetyl Dipeptide-1 Cetyl Ester (skin-soothing), Disodium EDTA (stabilizer), Hydroxyethylcellulose (texture enhancer), Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 (skin-restoring), Sodium Hydroxide (pH adjuster), Tribehenin (emollient), Caprylyl Glycol (skin-softening), Ethylhexylglycerin (skin-softening), Pentylene Glycol (hydrating), PEG-75 Shea Butter Glycerides (emollient), PPG-12/SMDI Copolymer (stabilizer), PEG-10 Phytosterol (fatty acid-based emollient), PEG-8 Dimethicone (skin-softening), PEG-14 (texture enhancer), Magnesium Aluminum Silicate (texture enhancer), Arachidyl Glucoside (texture enhancer), Arachidyl Alcohol (texture enhancer), Sclerotium Gum (texture enhancer), Carbomer (gel-based texture enhancer), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Benzoic Acid (preservative)

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: An overview of clinical efficacy and safety"

    Accessed Jul. 30, 2021.

16. Redness Relief Repairing Serum

Paula’s Choice Calm Redness Relief Repairing Serum

Paula's Choice Serum for Redness

Paula’s Choice Calm Redness Relief Repairing Serum

This calming, lightweight serum helps to reduce redness while also hydrating and fighting the signs of aging.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Redness
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply the booster to the face. Follow up with a moisturizer.
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This is one of the best Paula’s Choice serums for soothing sensitive skin and reducing redness. It contains a potent blend of antioxidants and other skincare ingredients that hydrate and calm the skin. This serum is gentle on the skin, and even appropriate for skin prone to rosacea.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Gentle
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • May not be suitable for acne-prone skin

Some of the hydrating and soothing skincare ingredients in this serum include hyaluronic acid, sea whip extract, ceramides, licorice extract, and willow herb.

Water, Glycerin (skin replenishing), Hyaluronic Acid (hydration/skin replenishing), Beta-Glucan (skin-soothing/antioxidant), Sea Whip Extract (skin-soothing), Sodium Hyaluronate (hydration/skin replenishing), Ceramide NP (hydration/skin replenishing), Ceramide AP (hydration/skin replenishing), Ceramide EOP (hydration/skin replenishing), Cholesterol (skin replenishing), Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract (licorice extract/skin-soothing), Epilobium Angustifolium Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract (willow herb/skin-soothing), Phytosphingosine (skin-renewing), Sodium Cocoyl Amino Acids (skin replenishing), Chrysanthemum Parthenium Flower Extract (feverfew extracts/antioxidant/skin-soothing), Glycine Soja Seed Extract (soybean extract/skin-soothing), Ubiquinone (antioxidant), Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate (texture-enhancing), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (skin replenishing/emollient), Magnesium Aspartate (emollient), Potassium Aspartate (emollient), Sarcosine (emollient), Xanthan Gum (texture-enhancing), Carbomer (texture-enhancing), Polysorbate 20 (texture-enhancing), PEG/PPG-14/4 Dimethicone (texture-enhancing), Disodium EDTA (stabilizer), Ethylhexylglycerin (preservative), Phenoxyethanol (preservative)

17. 10% Azelaic Acid Booster

Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster

Paula's Choice Serum for Evening Tone and Texture

Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster

This booster combines azelaic acid with other brightening ingredients that work together to fade post-acne marks, minimize blemishes, brighten, and even out tone and texture.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Evening Tone and Texture
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply the booster to affected areas or all over the skin. Follow up with a moisturizer.
See on Amazon

This is a great multi-purpose serum to have on hand. If you have hyperpigmentation, this is a particularly excellent product for you, as azelaic acid has been shown to help fade dark marks. It’s also great for smoothing the skin for a more even texture.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Oil-free
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • May irritate more sensitive skin types

This booster contains salicylic acid, a chemical exfoliator that further minimizes the appearance of blemishes and evens out skin texture and tone. It also contains licorice root, which calms redness and brightens.

Water (Aqua), Azelaic Acid (skin-brightening/tone-improving), C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate (emollient), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (skin-replenishing), Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate (emollient), Glycerin (skin-replenishing), Cetearyl Alcohol (texture enhancer), Glyceryl Stearate (texture enhancer), Dimethicone (hydration/texture enhancer), Salicylic Acid (exfoliant), Adenosine (skin-restoring), Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract (skin-soothing), Boerhavia Diffusa Root Extract (skin-soothing), Allantoin (skin-soothing), Bisabolol (skin-soothing), Cyclopentasiloxane (texture enhancer), Xanthan Gum (stabilizer), Sclerotium Gum (stabilizer), Propanediol (hydration), Butylene Glycol (hydration), Phenoxyethanol (preservative)

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Postinflammatory Hyperpigmentation"

    Accessed Jul. 30, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Over-the-counter Acne Treatments"

    Accessed Jul. 30, 2021.

18. 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum

Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum

Timeless Serum for Brightening and Anti-Aging

Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum

This affordable vitamin C serum contains a 20% concentration of vitamin C, which helps brighten and fight signs of aging.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Brightening and Anti-Aging
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply the serum onto the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with a moisturizer, and an SPF during the day.
See on Amazon

This lightweight serum contains a 20% concentration of l-ascorbic acid, a form of vitamin C that works to brighten and provide anti-aging benefits. It also contains vitamin E and ferulic acid, two skincare ingredients that protect the skin from environmental stressors and have also been shown to increase the efficacy of vitamin C.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Fragrance-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • Some reviewers complain about the pump

In addition to the ingredients mentioned above, this serum contains hyaluronic acid, which attracts moisture to the skin to keep it hydrated.

Water, Ethoxydiglycol, L-Ascorbic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Alpha Tocopherol, Polysorbate 80, Panthenol, Ferulic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Benzylalcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Vitamin C in Dermatology"

    Accessed Aug. 31, 2021.

19. Vitamin C Serum

TruSkin Vitamin C Serum

TruSkin Serum for Brightening and Anti-Aging

TruSkin Vitamin C Serum

This gentle and affordable serum contains vitamin C, which brightens and fights signs of aging, as well as other soothing and hydrating skincare ingredients.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Brightening and Anti-Aging
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply the serum onto the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with a moisturizer, and an SPF during the day.
See on Amazon

This vitamin C serum contains sodium ascorbyl phosphate, a stable form of vitamin C that helps brighten and provide anti-aging benefits. It also contains hyaluronic acid, which attracts moisture to the skin, and vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects against free radical damage to the skin.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Fragrance-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • Some acne-prone reviewers noted that it broke them out

In addition to the ingredients mentioned above, this serum contains jojoba oil, which moisturizes, and witch hazel, which soothes.

Organic Deionized Herbal Infusion, Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf (Aloe), Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), MSM, Botanical Hyaluronic Acid (Cassia Angustifolia Seed Polysaccharide), Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel), Vitamin E (d-alpha Tocopheryl Acetate), Carbomer, (2s)-2-Amino-5-guanidinopentanoic Acid, Organic Gotu Kola, Wildcrafted Horsetail (Equisetum Arvense), Wildcrafted Dandelion, Wildcrafted Geranium, Organic Jojoba Oil (Organic Simmondsia Chinensis), Phenoxyethanol, Ethyl Hexyl Glycerin.

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Sodium ascorbyl phosphate in topical microemulsions"

    Accessed Aug. 31, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils"

    Accessed Aug. 31, 2021.

20. Vitamin C Concentrated Serum

Derma E Vitamin C Concentrated Serum

Derma E Serum for Brightening and Anti-Aging

Derma E Vitamin C Concentrated Serum

This affordable vitamin C serum contains a stable and effective form of vitamin C, as well as additional ingredients that help hydrate and soothe the skin.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Brightening and Anti-Aging
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply the serum onto the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with a moisturizer, and an SPF during the day.
See on Amazon

Vitamin C – an antioxidant that fights free radicals that can damage the skin – is key for a rounded out skincare routine, and this option is affordable and effective. It contains sodium ascorbyl phosphate, a stable form of vitamin C that doesn’t deteriorate as easily as other forms. It is able to brighten the skin and fight signs of aging, including fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • Contains fragrance

In addition to vitamin C, this serum contains a blend of ingredients that hydrate, soothe, and nourish the skin, including hyaluronic acid, green tea leaf extract, rosehip oil, and aloe vera extract.

Purified Water, Glycerin (Vegetable Derived), Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C, Stay-C 50), Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic Acid), Organic Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract*, Microcrystalline Cellulose (Plant Derived), Cellulose Gum (Plant Derived), Alpha-Glucan Oligosaccharide (Vegetable Derived), Polymnia Sonchifolia (Yacon) Root Juice, Maltodextrin, Lactobacillus (Probiotic), Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Fruit Oil, Organic Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Extract *, Allantoin, Panthenol (Provitamin B5), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Plant Derived), Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Citrate, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Natural Fragrance Oils

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils"

    Accessed Aug. 31, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Pharmacological attribute of Aloe vera: Revalidation through experimental and clinical studies"

    Accessed Aug. 31, 2021.
  3. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Sodium ascorbyl phosphate in topical microemulsions"

    Accessed Aug. 31, 2021.

21. C15 Super Booster

Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster

Paula's Choice Serum for Brightening and Fighting Signs of Aging

Paula's Choice C15 Super Booster

The 15% concentration of pure vitamin C in this serum helps brighten the skin while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Brightening and Fighting Signs of Aging
Tested on animals: No
How to use: Massage two to three drops of the serum into clean skin. Follow up with a moisturizer.
See on Amazon

This lightweight serum is one of the best Paula’s Choice products, as it contains a powerful concentration of vitamin C, which evens out and brightens the skin tone while also minimizing fine lines and wrinkles. It also contains ingredients that hydrate and soothe the skin.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Lightweight
  • Non-greasy

Cons

  • May irritate more sensitive skin types

In addition to vitamin C, this serum contains ferulic acid and vitamin E. These antioxidants protect the skin, and are also known to increase the efficacy of vitamin C.

Water (Aqua), Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C/antioxidant), Butylene Glycol (solvent/texture enhancer), Ethoxydiglycol (solvent/texture enhancer), Glycerin (skin-replenishing), PPG-26-Buteth-26 (emulsifier/skin-softening), PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil (emulsifier/solubility enhancer), Pentylene Glycol (skin-softening slip agent), Tocopherol (vitamin E/stabilizing antioxidant), Sodium Hyaluronate (hydration), Hexanoyl Dipeptide-3 Norleucine Acetate (skin-restoring peptide), Lecithin (skin-restoring/hydration), Ferulic Acid (stabilizing antioxidant), Panthenol (vitamin B5/skin-softening, skin-soothing), Bisabolol (skin-soothing), Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract (skin-softening/chelating agent), Propyl Gallate (antioxidant), Sodium Gluconate (chelating agent), Sodium Hydroxide (pH adjuster), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Ethylhexylglycerin (preservative)

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Vitamin C in dermatology"

    Accessed Jul. 30, 2021.

FAQs

What is the best hydrating serum?

There’s a great selection of serums on this list that are excellent for hydrating the skin. Some of the best options includes the Paula’s Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster, the Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Serum, the The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane, the La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum, and the The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5.

What type of serum is best for dry, uneven skin?

If you have dry skin and are looking for a serum that addresses uneven skin tone, the Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster and the The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% are both great options for you. Azelaic acid is a gentle exfoliator that helps fade dark marks for a more even complexion.

Do I need both a serum and a moisturizer?

Regardless of skin type, everyone should be using a moisturizer everyday. A good moisturizer keeps the skin healthy and adequately hydrated so that it looks and feels its best. Serums, on the other hand, aren’t an absolute necessity if you’re looking to establish a simple skincare routine. However, they can be helpful if you want to address specific skin concerns, since they give your skin a concentrated boost of effective skincare ingredients. If you choose to use a serum in your routine, apply it first, after cleansing. Follow up with a moisturizer, and then sunscreen during the day.

The Bottom Line

If you have dry skin, there are many excellent serums that are great for your skin type and address a variety of concerns. Consider using one (or more!) of these serums to achieve a clear and glowing complexion.