- There’s nothing you can do about getting older, but you can delay the signs of aging.
- If you’re looking for a high-performance, multi-tasking serum that contains age-defying ingredients but won’t totally break the bank, the Clinique Smart Custom Repair Serum is the best you can buy.
Using a serum as part of your skincare routine is essential to keep your skin looking youthful and wrinkles at bay. Considered the superheroes of skincare, serums are packed with powerful ingredients that penetrate deep into the skin.
Anti-aging serums deal primarily with fine lines, wrinkles, and dehydration, but also tone, texture, and dark spots. There are a few ingredients to look out for when searching for an anti-aging product. Dr. Dendy Engelman, board-certified dermatologic surgeon and celebrity dermatologist, suggests looking for products that contain retinol, vitamin C, and hyaluronic Acid.
“Hyaluronic acid creates a barrier for the skin, locking in moisture and improving texture,” says Dr. Engelman, “Skin loses water and moisture as we age, so this ingredient will help store hydration.” As we age, she notes, our bodies also lose vitamin A.
“Retinol, the active form of vitamin A in the body, and especially retinoic acid work to increase cell turnover, build collagen, improve discoloration, treat wrinkles, hydrate skin and reduce acne by replenishing the body of vitamin A.”
You’ve probably heard the praises of adding antioxidants to everything from your diet to your skincare routine. Dr. Engelman explains, in more technical terms, their benefits.”An antioxidant helps protect skin against free radical assaults by neutralizing oxidative stress that can cause cell damage – and over time result in signs of aging.”
It’s important to choose a serum that suits your skin’s specific needs, and to bear in mind they do have a shelf life of around six months, so it’s best to store them in a cool, dark place.
Whichever serum you choose, there are a few things you can do to get the most out of the product. Dr. Engelman stresses the importance of layering your products correctly to maximize effectiveness. “A serum and a cream have different functions and therefore molecule size,” she says. “Start with the products with the lightest consistency like toning water, followed by serums and ampoules. Next are any prescription topical treatments, lotions, creams, and finally sunscreen.”
She also suggests adding other products to your routine that can improve the serum’s efficacy. A gua sha tool can help to stimulate circulation, lift, and massage muscles. It works to lessen wrinkles and fine lines along with your anti-aging serums. She also recommends an at-home micro-needling device. “The needles are used to puncture the skin to create a controlled skin injury and [trigger] healing. The slight injury stimulates the growth of collagen, the scaffolding under the skin, which then improves the appearance of some scars and wrinkles.”
To avoid you spending your hard-earned cash on an anti-aging serum only to find out it doesn’t work or isn’t right for you, we’ve tried and tested the best ones and consulted hundreds of buyer and expert reviews to come up with our top five recommendations.
Here are the best anti-aging serums you can buy:
- Best serum overall: Clinique Smart Custom-Repair Serum
- Best serum on a budget: Olay Regenerist Micro Sculpting Anti-aging Serum
- Best serum to splurge on: Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Serum
- Best all-natural serum: Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Anti-Wrinkle Booster Serum
- Best serum for acne-prone skin: Instanatural Age-defying Skin Clearing Serum
- You should also check out our guide to the best vitamin C serum.
The best anti-aging serum overall
The Clinique Smart Custom-Repair Serum is full of excellent anti-aging ingredients that will lessen the appearance of wrinkles and improve your skin.
You don’t have to spend your entire paycheck to get an effective all-in-one serum that targets the key signs of aging. Clinique’s multi-tasking serum is packed with powerful ingredients such as collagen-boosting peptides, plant-based antioxidants, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, caffeine, and salicylic acid.
These ingredients work to improve radiance, texture, firmness, and skin tone, while also smoothing fine lines and wrinkles.
The serum comes in a translucent gel formula that is thicker than other serums. In our testing, it felt silky, but not greasy. According to Clinique, it is clinically proven to reduce the major signs of aging by 50% in 12 weeks. We saw some effects ourselves in a short time. Hundreds of happy Macy’s customers also reported seeing visible results after only a few days.
It’s not just us at Business Insider who think the Clinique Smart Custom-Repair Serum is superb, it features on Rank and Style’s top 10 best serums under $100 list and is the top anti-aging serum according to Good Housekeeping.
Pros: Great all-round serum, good for all skin types, formulated without parabens, phthalates, or sulphates, oil and fragrance-free, non-acnegenic
Cons: Fairly expensive
The best anti-aging serum on a budget
For an effective anti-aging serum at an affordable price, the Olay Regenerist Micro Sculpting Serum is our top pick.
Most skin-saving serums usually come with a hefty price tag, but at less than $25, the Olay Regenerist Micro Sculpting Serum is an exception.
This lightweight, non-greasy serum is filled with amino-peptides to regenerate surface skin cells and other powerful ingredients such as niacinamide to brighten and hyaluronic acid to moisturize the skin.
We like that it smells great and absorbs quickly. It also comes in a fragrance-free version for those with sensitive skin. Olay claims users will see results in as little as two weeks.
Don’t just take our word for it, this serum is highly rated by Total Beauty and is an Allure Reader’s Choice Award winner. It is also popular with Amazon buyers who reported brighter, smoother, and healthier-looking skin. One happy customer said, “I am so stunned that this really works that I keep looking in the mirror!”
Pros: Inexpensive, non-comedogenic, non-greasy
Cons: Contains fragrance (although a fragrance-free version is available)
The best anti-aging serum to splurge on
If you’re going to splash out on a tried and tested serum that is super-effective and that dermatologists swear by, the Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Serum is it.
Skinceutical’s powerful anti-aging serum is a cult classic, popular with everyone from Hollywood celebrities and beauty editors to top dermatologists, who not only recommend it to their patients but use it themselves.
Considered the gold standard among serums, according to Dr. Engelman and a host of others, the Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Serum is designed to enhance your skin’s protection against free radicals, improve signs of aging and photodamage, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, while firming and brightening your skin. Potent ingredients include 15% vitamin C, vitamin E, and ferulic acid. It can’t be washed or rubbed off and remains effective for 72 hours.
In our testing, the serum felt slightly sticky, but it acts as an effective primer under makeup. You can even use it under sunscreen for better protection. Despite the strange smell, I was very impressed with the results, as it really made my skin glow and my wrinkles seemed less visible. Although it’s expensive, it’s very effective, and I think it’s well worth the investment if you can afford to splurge.
The serum is highly rated by Vogue and Total Beauty, and is an Allure Best of Beauty winner. On Dermstore alone this serum has more than 750 5-star reviews with buyers reporting bright, smooth, and glowing skin.
Pros: Suitable for all skin types including sensitive skin, treats various aging skin concerns
Cons: Expensive, strange smell
The best anti-aging serum that’s all natural
- Juice Beauty
If you prefer a serum that is filled with natural ingredients and doesn’t contain any chemicals, then the Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Anti-Wrinkle Booster Serum is it.
We’re obsessed with natural skincare brand, Juice Beauty. Under Gwyneth Paltrow’s creative leadership, its scientists have developed a collection of high-performance skincare products made with natural and certified organic ingredients. One of its bestsellers is the Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Anti-Wrinkle Booster Serum.
The ultra-light gel serum is designed to boost and enhance tone and texture and is especially beneficial for skin showing signs of aging, including fine lines, wrinkles, and sun damage.
The fabulous multi-tasker is packed with fruit stem cells and plant extracts that contain vitamins and antioxidants. The organic grapeseed formula is high in vitamin C to brighten the skin, vegetable hyaluronic acid to plump up the skin, and resveratrol to soften fine lines and prevent wrinkles.
I love that this serum contains ingredients that are actually good for your skin, without any potentially harmful chemicals such as parabens, sulfates, and phthalates.
Loved by beauty junkies and editors alike, the Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Anti-Wrinkle Booster Serum is highly rated by Allure, Forbes, and The Natural Beauty Blog. Ulta buyers give it rave reviews with one saying, “WOW! This is my Holy Grail! What’s most impressive is how quickly I started seeing improvement, about one week.”
Pros: Ideal for all skin types, contains natural and organic ingredients, made without parabens, sulfates, and phthalates, vegan, cruelty-free
The best anti-aging serum for acne-prone skin
Not only does the Instanatural Age-defying Skin Clearing Serum effectively target signs of aging, it also fights breakouts and doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals.
Just because you get breakouts, doesn’t mean you should avoid using an anti-aging serum. Instanatural’s very affordable, multi-tasking serum is formulated with a potent blend of 19 natural and organic antioxidant and anti-aging ingredients, including vitamin C and niacinamide to soothe and revitalize your skin.
It also has salicylic acid to treat breakouts and retinol, a form of vitamin A that does everything from target fine lines and wrinkles to shrink the size of your pores. Another big plus is that it’s made without any potentially harmful chemicals.
In our testing, we found that the serum is lightweight, doesn’t feel sticky, and you only need a small amount. It is for use at night and can be used as an effective spot treatment, too. While using it, you do need to wear sunscreen during the day for additional protection.
More than 6,500 Amazon shoppers have given it an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars, with many reporting a clearer, brighter, and more luminous complexion.
Pros: Addresses signs of anti-aging, good for acne-prone skin, inexpensive, cruelty-free, free of fillers, parabens, sulfates, and other potentially harmful chemicals.
Cons: Not recommended for sensitive skin, need to apply sunscreen daily when using retinol products
Check out our other great skincare guides
Whether you’re new to the exfoliation game or a seasoned skincare pro, Glossier’s Solution is a solid pick. Its powerful mix of acids dissolves dead skin cells and improves your complexion, giving your face a gorgeous glow.
If you’re looking for something a bit more specific (perhaps a budget exfoliator, or a product specially formulated for sensitive skin), here are the best exfoliators you can buy:
- Best exfoliator overall: Glossier Solution
- Best drugstore exfoliator: Simple Kind to Skin Smoothing Facial Scrub
- Best exfoliator for daily use: Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant
- Best exfoliator for sensitive skin: Juara Radiance Enzyme Scrub
- Best exfoliator for uneven skin tone: Ole Henriksen Transforming Walnut Scrub
Everyone wants healthy, smooth, and soft skin. The solution? A good moisturizer. Our favorite moisturizer for both face and body is CeraVe’s Moisturizing Cream – a wallet-friendly drugstore stand-by that’s frequently recommended by dermatologists.
Here are the best moisturizers you can buy:
- The best moisturizer overall: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
- The best facial moisturizer for under $25: Neutrogena Hydro Boost
- The best drugstore facial moisturizer for oily skin: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat
- The best inexpensive organic facial moisturizer: Pacifica Coconut Probiotic Water Rehab Cream
- The best drugstore body moisturizer for very dry skin: Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Unscented Lotion
- The best inexpensive moisturizer for very sensitive skin: Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream
- The best moisturizer with clean ingredients: Nécessaire Body Lotion
- The best anti-aging facial moisturizer for less than $25: Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream
- The best drugstore hand cream: Aveeno Active Naturals Skin Relief Hand Cream