The 6 Best Serums for Every Skin-Care Concern

If you’re looking to upgrade your skin-care regimen, you might want to consider adding a serum to the mix. With the highest concentration of active ingredients, the right formula can help troubleshoot any issues—from stubborn blemishes to the dark spots they leave behind. Need help narrowing down your selection? Right this way.

An Intro Guide to Serums (If You're Still Not Sure What They Are)

is clinical active serum

Best For Breakouts: Is Clinical Active Serum

We thought we had moved on from acne, but it turns out that’s not the case. With the recent addition of bangs, we ended up with a cluster of whiteheads all over our forehead. Thankfully, this serum is clearing things up quickly using a potent blend of exfoliating extracts like willow bark and bilberry. And though it’s definitely on the pricier side, we’ve found the thin, watery texture of the serum spreads easily so you get more mileage out of each bottle.

true botanicals vitamin c booster

Best For Dark Spots: True Botanicals Vitamin C Booster

If you’re struggling with hyperpigmentation and discoloration, we’d recommend adding some vitamin C to your routine—and not just any ol’ vitamin C, but a powder formula. The notoriously finicky ingredient is prone to destabilizing in water and sunlight, making it less effective overall. So for maximum brightening, we like to sprinkle equal parts of this powder into our oil or moisturizer to give it (and our complexion) a quick boost.

loreal paris revitalift serum

Best For Dryness: L'oréal Paris Revitalift Hyaluronic Acid Serum

By now, you’ve probably heard the mighty tales of hyaluronic acid; that it’s a magical ingredient able to hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water. What you might not know is that the molecular size of HA plays a significant part in how effective it will be. Which is what makes this formula so special. Using a blend of 0.5 percent high molecular weight and 1 percent low molecular weight HA, it absorbs quickly and delivers lasting hydration. (Tip: Apply it to slightly damp skin and seal everything in with moisturizer to maximize the benefits.) 

the ordinary buffet

Best For Wrinkles: The Ordinary 'buffet'

A key ingredient that will help firm skin? Peptides. This cult serum has multiple variants of it to target multiple signs of aging (like fine lines, wrinkles and uneven texture), as well as the aforementioned hyaluronic acid to keep your skin hydrated (which is like instant gratification for fine lines). Apply a few drops to cleansed skin every morning and evening and you’ll notice a gradual smoothness and glow. 

krave beauty great barrier relief
Krave Beauty

Best For Irritation: Krave Beauty Great Barrier Relief

Whether you’ve always been sensitive to most skin-care products or you recently overdid it with an aggressive acne treatment that’s left your face red and raw, this soothing serum can help. Packed with vitamin B3 and tamanu oil (which was traditionally used to heal wounds), it brings things back to happy equilibrium.

the organic pharmacy antioxidant face serum

Best For Dullness: The Organic Pharmacy Antioxidant Face Serum

Given the price we didn’t want to fall in love with this serum, but we did; we fell hard. For starters, the texture is similar to a very lightweight oil that melts beautifully into your skin. Then, there’s the subtle citrus scent that’s not too sweet or sticky, just uplifting. But the thing that sealed the deal for us was how it made our skin look and feel: brighter, softer, imperceptibly better somehow. 

Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...