A good anti-aging serum is like the unicorn of skincare. It’s so easy to find a serum that is just mediocre but to find one that really works? That’s a totally different story. So what are the best face serums out there? Here they are ranked in order of performance.
When I reviewed all the eye creams I’ve tried over the past year, I had no idea how much of a hit it would be! Eye creams, just like anti-aging serums, can be extremely hard to find. I’ve often purchased a new product only to feel like I totally wasted my money. The results overpromise and underdeliver most of the time. Frustrating, right? So here is my experience with the serums I’ve been testing (and I have more to come)!
Before we jump in, if you’re wondering what a serum is used for and when to use it in your routine, you can find my skincare routine here! Note that the serums below are ranked in order of performance. I personally would recommend #1 through #3 to those people who are most worried about anti-aging. For the most budget conscious, I’d recommend #2.
While this product is technically called a “peel”, you use it exactly the same way as a serum except you only need to use it 3-4 times a week because it’s THAT good. The Beautycounter resurfacing peel is hands down the best serum and best product in general for anti-aging that I’ve tried. On top of that? You see overnight results. I’m not kidding! I was amazed at how my skin was brighten, smoother, and tighter the next morning. After sampling so many serums that just didn’t cut it, my skin had gotten a little dull and it took one use of this peel to turn that around. Of course, the results have improved as I’ve continued using it! This is a professional grade product for under $70 and is significantly cheaper than a professional peel. This Resurfacing Peel and the Beautycounter No. 1 Face Oil are my 2 must have beauty products that I could not get through live without!
I’ve gotten a lot of use questions so here are some quick directions. Make sure you wait the full 5 minutes after applying the peel before putting on moisturizer. The directions say to avoid using face oil but I find that the peel leaves your skin a little drier – it’s a peel after all! I’ve tried both the No. 1 and the No. 3 face oils after applying the peel mixed into my face lotion (instructions here and also saved in my Instagram “skin” highlights!) and it’s totally fine. The No. 3 Face Oil is my preference because both the Resurfacing Peel and the No. 1 Face Oil contain citrus to brighten skin.
If you haven’t read my full post on Maelove, it’s worth a read for anyone looking for budget friendly skincare OR to use my technique of alternating for long term savings. This Nia 10 serum is an outstanding calming serum that I have incorporated into my routine permanently and the best part is that it’s only $27.95. It has also reduced redness for many of my readers! There is also a serum trio available at a discount if you wanted to try their other serums (read more about what they do and how to use them here). This serums is great for both morning and night use because it absorbs quickly!
Hylauronic Acid is a buzzword in the beauty industry and if you’re looking for it, this SkinCeuticals Hylauronic Acid (HA) Intensifier is for you. In short, this serum reduces signs of aging and serves to hydrate skin. The consistency is a little more viscous that the Maelove or Countertime (below) serums so I typically only use this serum at night. Like all the SkinCeuticals products, I have been really impressed with the formulas and if you haven’t heard me rave about the C E Ferulic yet, it’s a must have in my eyes.
This was my favorite serum ever until I tried #1 on this list. It was one of the only products that I’ve used that has gotten Matt to notice a difference in my skin. That says a lot! It made my skin look brighter (less dull) and more glowing just like a good serum should. One thing to note is that its floral scent is very strong. But unlike other products, I was able to get used to it especially after seeing the results. While this is still an amazing serum (and I will definitely use it again), it does take a little patience to see results. Compared to the Resurfacing Peel, it took me longer to see results with this serum but depending on where you like to shop, this might be more convenient for you!
Here’s why I love the Countertime Tetrapeptide Radiance Serum: it’s one of the best serums to use in the morning AND it contains an antioxidant. If you’re a fewer steps is better kind of person, this is a great option if you haven’t bought into the benefits of the antioxidant trend yet. It’s consistency is one of the best for the morning because it doesn’t seem to interact and pill with my makeup like almost every other serum does (Maelove above also does not do this!). It absorbs quickly into your skin and gives you that layer of protection for the day. This is another great option to alternate with.
Just like all products by The Ordinary, this Buffet serum is a great option for the girl on a budget. Almost all of The Ordinary’s products are under $20 which makes them incredibly affordable. They’re made without all the extra ingredients with the intent to keep costs down. While the products aren’t the best of the best, I think they’re all you need if you’re under 25 years old or if you’re on a budget. You can get by with all of them! Plus, they work a lot better than most of the higher priced serums which is why you’ll find this one near the top of my list!
Similar to the eye cream, Origins products are good. They’re average to slightly above, generally speaking. They’re great for sensitive skin and can easily be found at most common retailers. Mushrooms are supposed to have some of the best anti-aging powers so this Mega Mushroom Skin Relief serum is harnessing those powers!
Admittedly, I bought this Rose Gold Elixir more because of the packaging. It’s also slightly more affordable although you’re getting less product. This product was an average serum that didn’t really have many results (just like all of the ones below). It was more of a serum you would use to upkeep your skincare, not transform it. I don’t know about you but at this point in my life, I need something transformative!
Estee Lauder is such a common brand that this was one I tried first. While it’s not exactly a safe beauty brand, I had really high hopes for this Advanced Night Repair serum. However, I found that the application felt a little sugary (just a little!) and the results were more along the lines of maintaining what I already had going. It wasn’t turning back time for my skin so to speak!
I haven’t tried many beauty products from Clarins but I liked that this one is formulated without parabens. Since serums tend to be some of the most active (and therefore “toxic”) products we use, that was refreshing. I thought the consistency of the Clarins formula was good. It’s a little on the thinner side and has a faint smell. I also thought the made to measure function of the cap was interesting. Ultimately, I didn’t see much in the way of results though!
I sampled this serum by Algenist recently only to find out that the consistency and logistics presented a few challenges. The results weren’t as impressive as I’d hoped given there was the word collagen on the label. I also felt like the consistency of the product was a bit sticky – not something that felt great on my skin for an extended period of time. There is also a syringe-like tool to get the product out of the tube and it felt a little cheap. I found that I needed at least 3 pumps of the syringe to cover my face, mostly because it didn’t suck up and distribute the product well enough. All in all, not worth it.
This serum smelled so bad (kind of like snails) that I would have to hold my breath when I put it on. I used it for a few weeks and ultimately had to ditch it. I didn’t see any results and the smell was too terrible. Definitely not something you’d want to be smelling before you go to bed. I think this was the first product I didn’t actually finish. It was a struggle because it’s pretty expensive but it just wasn’t worth it!
Do you have a favorite anti-aging serum?