Say hello to vibrant, glowing skin.
While no magic product exists to instantly make you look or feel younger (bummer), a good anti-aging serum is about as close as you’ll get to a fountain of youth for your skin. These highly-concentrated formulas call on a variety of key ingredients to smooth fine lines and wrinkles, even skin tone, repair environmental damage, brighten your complexion, and reduce inflammation. It’s no wonder dermatologists constantly recommend these multi-tasking skincare agents.
“Serums are more concentrated.” Debra Jaliman, MD, a dermatologist based in New York City, tells Health. “That’s what basically makes them more effective than a regular cream or moisturizer.”
Finding the best anti-aging serums on the market comes down to knowing which ingredients to look for—so we tapped three dermatologists to learn more. They all agreed that retinol, vitamin C, and hyaluronic acid are the trifecta of effective anti-aging ingredients—but they also had a few lesser-known suggestions.
While there are a myriad of ingredients out there that promise anti-aging benefits, Rachel Nazarian, MD, New York-based dermatologist and fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, recommends sticking to those that have the most scientific evidence behind them. “Look for [options] such a bakuchiol or retinol that stimulate youthful collagen and elastin, or those that protect against premature aging, such as vitamin C and E,” she said.
In addition to these powerful components, Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, suggests hyaluronic acid for dryness, soothing botanicals for redness, and hydroxy acids (like glycolic acid) to address a loss of radiance.
If you’re looking to tackle dehydration or puffiness, Dr. Jaliman points to squalane and caffeine. “Squalane is extremely moisturizing and keeps skin hydrated,” she explains, “[because] its molecular makeup is similar to the skin’s cell membrane, which allows the plant-based ingredient to quickly absorb into the skin.” As for de-puffing the skin, caffeine constricts blood vessels, which decreases puffiness, according to Dr. Jaliman.
Armed with this vital information, you’re ready to choose your new favorite skincare product to combat wrinkles, fine lines, and other signs of aging. Here, the 15 best anti-aging serums—made with powerful, dermatologist-trusted ingredients—for younger and brighter skin.
- Best Overall: Sunday Riley A+ High Dose Retinoid Serum
- Best for Wrinkles: Replenix All-Trans-Retinol Serum 1x
- Best for Radiance: L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Glycolic Acid Serum
- Best for Damaged Skin: Obagi Professional-C Serum
- Best for Brightening: Neutrogena Bright Boost Illuminating Serum
- Best for Sensitive Skin: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum
- Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II
- Best Overnight Repair Serum: Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Wrinkle Recovery Overnight Serum
- Best for Fine Lines: Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum
- Best for Dark Spots and Scarring: Tatcha Violet-C Brightening Serum
- Best for UV Protection: Skinceuticals C E Ferulic
- Best for Redness: Image Skincare Vital C Hydrating Anti-Aging Serum
- Best Splurge-Worthy: La Prairie Swiss Moisture Cellular Hydrating Serum
- Best for Hydration: Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Serum
- Best for Environmental Damage: Murad Advanced Active Radiance Serum
Best Overall: Sunday Riley A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum
In order to stimulate the production of collagen—a natural process that slows with age—you’ll need an anti-aging serum that contains retinol. It’s the most potent ingredient for improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, according to Dr. Zeichner, and this retinoid serum from Sunday Riley does just that. The effective-yet-gentle formula also boasts herbal extracts to soothe redness, hyaluronic acid for hydration, and antioxidants to repair existing damage and protect the skin from environmental stressors.
Best for Wrinkles: Replenix All-Trans-Retinol Serum 1x
This serum is chock-full of good-for-your-skin ingredients, including hyaluronic acid, retinol, caffeine, and green tea—so you can trust that it’ll get the job done. Hyaluronic acid hydrates and firms the skin, while retinol works to stimulate the renewal of skin cells. Finally, caffeine reduces the appearance of puffiness as it constricts blood vessels, according to Dr. Jaliman.
Best for Radiance: L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Glycolic Acid Serum
If you feel like your skin has lost some of its natural radiance with age, turn to this serum from L’Oreal Paris that’s packed with glycolic acid—an alpha hydroxy acid that works to rejuvenate your skin and stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. At just $24, it’s an affordable option that won’t disappoint. The 10 percent glycolic acid formula is lightweight and designed for daily use to reduce the look of dark spots and uneven skin tone.
Best for Damaged Skin: Obagi Professional-C Serum
With key ingredients like hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, and vitamin C, this anti-aging serum ticks all the boxes. It works on all skin types to improve hyperpigmentation, sun damage, and free radical damage, and the calming formula means it’s gentle enough to use on damaged skin. Since it’s such a highly concentrated formula, it only takes a few drops with each use to see results, so the bottle will last you a long time—making the luxury price tag more justified.
Best for Brightening: Neutrogena Bright Boost Illuminating Serum
For brighter, plump-looking skin, consider adding this under-$25 anti-aging serum from Neutrogena into your skincare routine. It contains an ingredient called neoglucosamine—which is a building block of hyaluronic acid that firms and plumps skin—but Dr. Zeichner specifically recommends this product because of the naturally-derived, calming turmeric extract included in the formula. It works to exfoliate, reduce inflammation and dark spots, and brighten skin, he says.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum
If you have sensitive skin, this is the night serum for you. Drunk Elephant boasts clean, non-toxic ingredients that are super effective without being too harsh on the skin—and this anti-aging serum from the trusted skincare brand is no different. With the help of glycolic acid that works to refine skin, you’ll wake up with a smooth, radiant, and clear complexion after applying the gel before bed.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II
This cult-favorite repair serum is a great option for all skin types, including those who are prone to acne. The oil-free formula won’t clog pores, and is packed with hyaluronic acid for moisture and antioxidants to fight free radical damage. It also includes chamomile, which can help ease symptoms from conditions that cause dry skin (like eczema) due to its anti-itch and anti-inflammatory properties, according to Dr. Jaliman.
Best Overnight Repair Serum: Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Wrinkle Recovery Overnight Serum
When it comes to overnight serums, this formula from Dr. Dennis Gross is one of the best. It contains star anti-aging components like ferulic acid—a plant-based antioxidant that protects skin from sun damage—and retinol, which reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The serum also contains niacinamide (otherwise known as vitamin B3), a potent antioxidant that repairs hyperpigmentation and supports the skin’s natural moisture barrier. The best part? It does all the work while you sleep soundly.
Best for Fine Lines: Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum
The key ingredients in this powerful anti-aging serum are bakuchiol, hyaluronic acid, and squalane. Bakuchiol is a plant extract that increases the skin’s natural collagen production—which improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles—but is a gentler alternative to retinol, so “it won’t dry out the skin or cause irritation like some more traditional retinol serums can”, Dr. Nazaran tells Health. While the bakuchiol is working its magic, the hyaluronic acid and squalane included in the formula work to hydrate the skin and lock in moisture.
Best for Dark Spots and Scarring: Tatcha Violet-C Brightening Serum
Reduce the look of dark spots and acne scars with this highly-rated brightening serum. Tatcha’s Violet-C serum contains 20 percent vitamin C and 10 percent AHA (a type of hydroxy acid that exfoliates the skin). These ingredients, along with Japanese Angelica root extract, help even the skin’s natural tone, diminish dark spots, and brighten complexion—no matter your skin type.
Best for UV Protection: Skinceuticals C E Ferulic
For those who spend a lot of time outside in the sun, this anti-aging serum works wonders for protecting the skin from further UV damage while repairing existing issues caused by environmental factors. It’s packed with antioxidants vitamin C and E, which brighten, reduce inflammation, and remove oxidizing agents that can damage the skin, Dr. Jaliman explains.
Best for Redness: Image Skincare Vital C Hydrating Anti-Aging Serum
This all-in-one serum is made with a potent antioxidant blend of vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E to brighten, hydrate, and calm red or inflamed skin. The anti-aging product also works to protect skin from environmental aggressors and even boasts soothing, natural botanicals like squalane oil, jojoba, aloe vera, and green tea.
Best Splurge-Worthy: La Prairie Cellular Hydrating Serum
If you’re willing to shell out the big bucks on an anti-aging serum, this is the one to splurge on. Although it costs a pretty penny, the serum is highly-concentrated, so you’ll only have to use a few drops with each use, and reviewers say it makes a huge difference in their skin. Standout ingredients include hyaluronic acid and ceramides to improve the skin’s ability to retain moisture—a function that typically decreases with age, according to Dr. Nazarian, so it’s smart to look for a formula that contains ceramides.
Best for Hydration: Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Serum
For serious hydration, turn to this Water Drench hyaluronic serum from Peter Thomas Roth. Dr. Zeichner, Dr. Nazarian, and Dr. Jaliman all agree that hyaluronic acid is key to helping skin retain moisture for a youthful glow, and this highly-concentrated formula is made of 75 percent hyaluronic acid. It works to moisturize dry skin while smoothing fine lines and improving texture.
Best for Environmental Damage: Murad Advanced Active Radiance Serum
This brightening formula uses a big dose of vitamin C to protect your skin from environmental damage caused by free radicals, and even reverse existing damage. It also includes hexapeptide-2 and Indian figs, which help boost the skin’s clarity and support the natural production of new skin cells. Finally, green tea extract aids the cellular defense system to protect skin from aggressors like UV exposure and chemical aggressors.