Teens looking to create an effective skincare routine should consider trying out a serum. Here are our recommendations for the best serums for teenage skin.

Our Recommendations

1. Niacinamide

The Inkey List Niacinamide

The Inkey List Serum for Large Pores, Excess Oil, and Redness

The Inkey List Niacinamide

This affordable serum from The Inkey List uses the power of niacinamide to control sebum production, minimize redness, and more.

Skin types: Normal, Oily and Combination
Best for: Large Pores, Excess Oil, and Redness
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply an even layer of the serum all over the face. Follow up with a moisturizer, and sunscreen during the day.
See on Amazon

This lightweight serum contains a 10% concentration of niacinamide (vitamin B3), a multi-tasking skincare ingredient. It has been shown to control excess oil and minimize the appearance of large pores, so it is particularly great for those with oilier skin. Niacinamide also helps minimize redness and control blemishes for a clear and even complexion.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Cruelty-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Non-toxic

Cons

  • Some people can have a niacinamide sensitivity, which may cause irritation (patch test before using)

In addition to the niacinamide, this daily serum contains a 1% concentration of hyaluronic acid, which helps keep the skin hydrated.

Water (Aqua/ Eau), Niacinamide, Glycerin, Propanediol, Butylene Glycol, Squalane, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Hyaluronic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Phospholipids, Xanthan Gum, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Extract, Allantoin, Disodium Edta, Polysorbate 60, Panthenol, Glycolipids, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Sterol, Disodium Phosphate, Citric Acid, Sodium Phosphate

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "How Much Do We Really Know About Our Favorite Cosmeceutical Ingredients?"

    Accessed Jan. 11, 2022.

2. Cicapair Tiger Grass Serum

Dr. Jart Cicapair Tiger Grass Serum

Dr. Jart Serum for Soothing and minimizing redness

Dr. Jart Cicapair Tiger Grass Serum

This soothing serum is packed with ingredients that calm and minimize redness while strengthening the skin so that it can better defend itself against damage and irritation.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Soothing and minimizing redness
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: After cleansing, apply an even layer of the serum all over the face. Follow up with a moisturizer, and sunscreen during the day.
See on Sephora

This is an excellent serum for those who need to calm and strengthen the skin while reducing redness. The formula is particularly great for sensitive and/or irritated skin. It is formulated with centella asiatica (AKA tiger grass) extract, which soothes inflammation and protects the skin. This gentle serum also contains Jartbiome, Dr. Jart’s microbiome complex that helps strengthen and balance while improving the skin’s ability to fight against irritation and damage. The company’s Cicabond blend (which contains proteins and minerals) repairs and rebuilds damaged skin.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Gentle
  • Paraben-free

Cons

  • Contains fragrant essential oils, which may irritate those with fragrance sensitivities

In addition to the ingredients mentioned above, this serum contains additional ingredients that calm, hydrate, and soothe redness, including niacinamide, glycerin, and panthenol.

Water/Eau, Dipropylene Glycol, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Propanediol, Eryngium Maritimum Callus Culture Filtrate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Niacinamide, Houttuynia Cordata Extract, Ilex Aquifolium (Holly) Leaf Extract, Achillea Millefolium Oil, Panthenol, Chondrus Crispus Extract, C12-14 Pareth-12, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugarcane) Extract/Extrait de canne à sucre, Streptococcus Thermophilus Ferment, Carbomer, Tromethamine, Madecassoside, Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract, Xanthan Gum, Ethylhexylglycerin, Adenosine, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, DNA, Disodium EDTA, Melia Azadirachta Flower Extract, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Asiaticoside, Dextrin, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Extract, Centella Asiatica Leaf Extract, Hedera Helix (Ivy) Extract, Asiatic Acid, Madecassic Acid, Calcium Chloride, Centella Asiatica Extract, Magnesium Sulfate.

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

    Accessed Jan. 11, 2022.

3. 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.
See on Amazon

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.

4. Resurfacing Retinol Serum

CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum

CeraVe Serum for Fading post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and minimizing large pores

CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum

This drugstore retinol serum is specifically formulated to tackle post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and large pores, and helps promote an overall even and clear complexion.

Skin types: Normal, Oily and Combination
Best for: Fading post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and minimizing large pores
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: After cleansing, apply a pump of the serum evenly all over the face, neck, and chest. Use once a day (or less frequently to prevent irritation).
See on Amazon

This is an excellent choice for those looking for an affordable retinol. This fragrance-free retinol serum not only helps with acne scars and large pores, but it can also help fight signs of aging and brighten the skin.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Fragrance-free
  • Developed with dermatologists

Cons

  • May cause irritation or dryness

This non-comedogenic retinol serum also contains ceramides and niacinamide, which work to calm and restore the skin while maintaining its barrier. Additionally, this formula contains licorice root extract, which gives a brightening boost. That extra benefit may further help lighten discolored scars.

Aqua/Water, Propanediol, Dimethicone, Cetearyl Ethylhexanoate, Niacinamide, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Potassium Phosphate, Ceramide Np, Ceramide Ap, Ceramide Eop, Carbomer, Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Dimethiconol, Lecithin, Sodium Citrate, Retinol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Cholesterol, Phenoxyethanol, Alcohol, Isopropyl Myristate, Caprylyl Glycol, Citric Acid, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Pentylene Glycol, Phytosphingosine, Xanthan Gum, Polysorbate 20, Ethylhexylglycerin

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Why Topical Retinoids Are Mainstay of Therapy for Acne"

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

    Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.
  3. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "The structure, function, and importance of ceramides in skin and their use as therapeutic agents in skin-care products"

    Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.

FAQs

Are vitamin C serums safe for teenage skin?

Yes, teenagers can safely use vitamin C serums. These types of serums are especially well-suited for teens looking to fade post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (dark marks caused by breakouts) for a more even skin tone.

Can a teenager use a niacinamide serum?

Yes, teens can absolutely use serums containing niacinamide, like the Niacinamide Serum from The Inkey List. This multi-tasking ingredient targets a variety of skin concerns, including large pores, redness, excess sebum, and blemishes.

Should a 13-year-old have a skincare routine?

It’s a great idea to establish a basic skincare routine in the tween or early teen years, particularly since this is when many people will start to develop acne. Start by picking a face wash, moisturizer, and sunscreen. After you’ve picked out those foundational items, you can consider adding treatments and/or serums to your routine to tackle specific skin needs (like acne, hyperpigmentation, redness, or excess oil).

The Bottom Line

It’s a great idea to develop a skincare routine in your teen years, and a serum can be incredibly beneficial if you’re looking to target specific concerns. If you’re a teen, consider adding one of these serums to your routine.