The 11 Best Summer Serums to Solve All Your Skin Problems
When the mercury rises, trade those heavy creams and even moisturizers for lightweight serums packed with concentrated active ingredients that target your specific complexion concerns.
Best serum for evening skin tone
shutterstock, Sunday Riley Via sephora.com
Vitamin C is one of the buzziest skin-care ingredients—and for good reason. According to board-certified dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi, this potent antioxidant absorbs and mitigates the effects of free radicals and oxidative stress on the skin—notably helping reduce inflammation and repair photodamage. As if that weren’t enough, it also plays a vital role in collagen synthesis, gives skin that radiant glow, and also diminishes the appearance of discoloration. Try: Sunday Riley C.E.O. Rapid Flash Brightening Serum and Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum.
Best serum for boosting hydration
shutterstock, via pestleandmortar.com
Parched skin? Slather on some hyaluronic acid (HA). Dubbed the “moisture molecule,” it can hold 1,000 times its weight in water. So what does that mean for your complexion? Its moisture-binding abilities lock in water, leaving skin plump and supple. But hyaluronic acid’s benefits go beyond hydration—it also promotes healing and restores elasticity (youthful skin is packed with HA). Try: Pestle & Mortar Pure Hyaluronic Serum and Youth To The People Age Prevention Superfood Serum.
Best serum for minimizing fine lines and wrinkles
shutterstock, via mynuface.com
You may have seen peptides listed on the ingredient labels of some of your anti-aging skin-care products, but do you know what they are or what they do? Peptides are formed by chains of amino acids, the building blocks of protein in the skin. When applied topically, peptides stimulate collagen production (loss of collagen contributes to sagging, fines lines, and wrinkles). They’re also a great team player, binding to active ingredients and helping them penetrate further into the skin. Try: NuFACE SMOOTHER Powerhouse Peptide Serum and PCA Skin ExLinea Peptide Smoothing Serum. These are the secrets to aging gracefully.
Best serum for double duty (aging and acne)
shutterstock, via reneerouleau.com
Acne isn’t just for teens. It’s estimated that 30 percent of women between the ages of 40 and 60 struggle with breakouts. But treating blemishes doesn’t have to mean giving up on your anti-aging routine. Niacinamide, a derivative of vitamin B3, is a multi-tasking miracle worker—delivering anti-inflammatory benefits, soothing redness, and helping fade discoloration (so you you can say ta ta to brown spots and acne scars). Try: Renée Rouleau Skin Correcting Serum and Eva Naturals Niacinamide Vitamin B3 5% Serum.
Best defense against DNA damage
shutterstock, via skinceuticals.com
Resveratrol—a powerful antioxidant found in red grapes—has chemopreventive protective properties, bolstering skin’s defenses against ultraviolet radiation and oxidative stress, which cause DNA damage and skin aging. (These are morning habits of people with great skin. Hint: Protecting skin from the environment is one of them.) Try: Caudalie Resveratrol Lift Firming Serum (Do you know the proper pronunciation of Caudalie?) and SkinCeuticals Resveratrol B E.
Best serum for cellular repair
shutterstock, via acomplete.com
A staple in any youth-boosting skin-care routine, stem cells boost cellular regeneration and encourage skin cell growth, thus repairing and minimizing the signs of aging. “Like a skeleton key that can open any lock, stem cells can develop into any type of cell,” explains board-certified dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD. Try: 3LAB Super H Serum, Ogee Seeds of Youth Serum and Rescue Serum Concentrate. Another youth-boosting ingredient is plankton extract, made from that organic stuff floating in the ocean. The fatty acids in plankton improve damaged cells, the enzymes brighten skin, and the vitamins remove the impurities including dark spots and blemishes. Try A Complete’s Youth Preserve Serum.
Best serum for banishing breakouts
shutterstock, via bareminerals.com
To keep blemishes at bay this summer, try a serum spiked with salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid (BHA), derived from willow bark. This magical acne-fighter works to slough off dead skin, increase cellular turnover, and unclog pores. Try: bareMinerals Blemish Remedy Anti-Imperfection Serum and Mario Badescu Anti Acne Serum. While gentler than its cousin alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), salicylic acid is shown to increase skin sensitivity, so be sure to slather on SPF. Have acne-prone skin? These are the sunscreen ingredients to avoid.
Best serum for exfoliation
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As we age, our skin’s natural shedding process slows down, which can lead to dullness. Perhaps, the most popular alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), glycolic acid penetrate deeper to promote and speed up the exfoliation process, revealing new skin. The result is smoother, more radiant, even skin. Try: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum and Pixi by Petra Overnight Glow Serum. Like salicylic acid, it can increase photosensitivity, making it even more imperative to use sun protection.
Best serum for sun protection
shutterstock, via supergoop.com
You already know that UVA/UVB rays contribute to photo-damage and skin cancer. “Sunscreen and safe sun habits are the best thing you can do to prevent skin anti-aging,” says Dr. Tanzi. For those who want to streamline their routine, a serum infused with SPF 30 or higher (according to the American Academy of Dermatology) is a great choice! Try: Supergoop! City Sunscreen Serum SPF 30 or La Roche-Posay Anthelios AOX Daily Antioxidant Serum with Sunscreen SPF 50. Looking for more SPF picks? These are the sunscreens dermatologists actually use on themselves.
Best serum for strengthening skin’s immunity
You’ve probably heard about the myriad benefits associated with oral probiotics, but what about topical? According to Dr. Engelman, probiotics optimize skin’s microflora to help strengthen its natural barrier and protect against other environmental assaults. Probiotic-infused topicals are also shown to have a soothing effect, making them particularly beneficial for those with inflammatory skin conditions, like acne, rosacea, and eczema. Try: Tula Illuminating Serum and Aurelia Revitalise & Glow Serum. Looking for more soothing product picks? Try these calming face masks.
Best serum for skin firming
shutterstock, via elemis.com
As we age, our skin loses collagen, which contributes to loss of firmness and sagging, as well as fine lines and wrinkles. Collagen-infused serums can smooth skin (aka help erase fine lines and wrinkles) and restore that youthful “snap.” Try: ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Super Serum and Skin Inc. Collagen Serum Elasticity & Suppleness.