The best anti-aging serum

Ana Sanchez

Anti-aging serums are lightweight enough to be layered under moisturizer, sunscreen, and makeup.

Serums are a popular component of skincare routines. Unlike creams and moisturizers, serums are lightweight and have a liquid consistency that absorbs quickly into the skin. Because of their liquid texture, serums leave skin feeling soft and moisturized, but not greasy. They also pack a higher concentration of ingredients than other skincare products for a more potent potion. Anti-aging serums in particular offer many benefits to aging and mature skin.

We've created this shopping guide to help you learn all you need to know before making the right purchase for your skin. We've also included our top recommendations, like the Obagi Professional-C Serum, which contains 20% vitamin C.

Considerations when choosing anti-aging serums

Benefits of anti-aging serums

Improved skin texture: Many anti-aging serums even skin texture, often by stimulating cell turnover. If your skin is dull, dry, or rough, a serum containing certain acids (like AHA or BHA) works to gently exfoliate skin.

Diminished lines and wrinkles: An anti-aging serum wouldn't be doing its job if it didn't combat the telltale signs of aging: fine lines and wrinkles. Because serums are able to deeply penetrate skin (thanks to their high rate of absorption) they are more adept at dealing with these issues. Serums containing peptides and retinol smooth or plump skin, effectively diminishing lines. 

Skin brightening: For hyperpigmentation caused by aging or sun exposure, many anti-aging serums contain ingredients to brighten the complexion or even out blotchy skin tone. Vitamin C is the most popular ingredient found in these serums to give you a healthy glow.

Cell nourishment: Although serums may not appear to be as moisturizing as a thick night cream, they can offer serious hydration without being too thick or oily on the skin. No matter your skin type, having well-hydrated skin is essential to combat signs of aging.


Choose an anti-aging serum with one or more of the following ingredients that targets your specific needs:

Antioxidants: Antioxidants like vitamins E and C are widely used in anti-aging serums to even skin tone and nourish the skin.

Retinol: Another hugely popular ingredient, this derivative of vitamin A has long been used by dermatologists to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve skin texture and tone, and increase cell turnover for more radiant-looking skin.

Peptides: These amino acid compounds are the building blocks of collagen, the protein that's responsible for your skin's elasticity and structure. Serums containing peptides are thought to stimulate collagen production.

Ceramides: These lipids (fats) help skin retain moisture and act as a protective barrier against pollution. They help skin appear moist, soft, and supple.

Hyaluronic acid: Not a scary acid that makes your skin peel, hyaluronic acid actually helps your skin naturally retain moisture. It keeps your skin plump and moisturized, which in turn helps diminish fine lines.

Niacinamide: Also known as vitamin B3, this multipurpose skincare ingredient improves your skin's elasticity, diminishes the appearance of wrinkles, reduces the size of enlarged pores, strengthens weak skin, and combats uneven skin tone as well as dullness.

Plant extracts: Many serums and skincare products are turning to more natural compounds like botanical extracts as an alternative to synthetic ingredients. For example, Kojic acid is derived from a mushroom and works to brighten skin and minimize the appearance of age spots.


Expect to pay between $20 to upward of $75 for an anti-aging serum. For a high-performance serum -- one that targets multiple issues -- expect to shell out between $50 to $75.


Q. Can anti-aging serums address my acne as well?

A. Yes. Just because you have maturing skin doesn't mean you don't get the occasional breakout. Look for a serum containing salicylic acid if you've got acne-prone skin. This ingredient controls breakouts and treats pimples.

Q. I've noticed some anti-aging serums come with a dropper, while others have a pump dispenser. Which is better?

A. This is a matter of personal preference. Droppers can be a bit messier, but pump dispensers have a tendency to clog and/or break. We don't recommend buying a serum that doesn't include one of these applicators.

Anti-aging serums we recommend

Best of the best: Obagi Professional-C Serum

Our take: A luxury lightweight serum that delivers a youthful, radiant complexion.

What we like: Formulated to brighten skin and even out skin tone. Moisturizes. Skin appears smoother. Contains a generous amount of vitamin C.

What we dislike: Watery consistency can be messy to apply.

Best bang for your buck: Cosmedica Skincare Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Our take: A great value hyaluronic acid serum that erases fine lines and wrinkles.

What we like: Contains organic HA. Affordable anti-aging product. Plumps skin and evens skin tone.

What we dislike: Though hydrating for most, some users find it dries out skin.

Choice 3: Image Skincare Vital C Hydrating Anti-Aging Serum

Our take: An anti-aging serum that targets a multitude of skincare needs.

What we like: Contains vitamin C to brighten skin. Very lightweight while also moisturizing. Evens out skin tone. Tightens skin for a smoother appearance.

What we dislike: On the pricey side.

Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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