I've Tried Hundreds of Serums—These Are the Best 15 for Every Skin Type and Concern

The cornerstones of a good skincare routine may be the basics of cleansing and moisturising, but if you really want to level things up and target your specific skin type, this is where serums come into play. "Serums are thinner topical skincare products that often contain more concentrated, targeted active ingredients,” explains consultant dermatologist Thivi Maruthappu. "You can tailor your serum to address your individual skin concern.” Packed with high-strength active ingredients, like retinoids, vitamin C, and niacinamide, serums are the powerhouses of your skincare routine. While moisturisers focus on hydration and cleansers help to ensure pores are clear, applying a serum is your opportunity to hone in on your unique skin concerns. Choose the right formula and a serum can help you to reduce sensitivity, prevent dehydration, clear breakouts, and even reduces the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and enlarged pores.

If you’re wondering when and where within your skincare routine to apply a serum, remember the key rule of skincare layering—thin textures first, building up by thickness. "Serums should be applied to cleansed skin before moisturising,” advises Maruthappu. "Leave for ten minutes or so before following with a moisturiser.” Most serums will need to be applied daily in order for you to see results within a few weeks and you may be able to apply some twice daily (just check the application instructions).


(Image credit: @THATGRACEGIRL)

The best way to introduce serums into your skincare routine is to think of your main skin goal or concern and choose a serum to help you address it. If you’re struggling to choose between two, then use one serum in your morning skincare routine and one in the evening—but be careful of layering multiple serums together at once, since not all ingredients may be compatible.

Over the years, my own skin concerns have ranged from oiliness and breakouts through to sensitivity, redness, and hyperpigmentation, and more recently, dryness and dehydration—so it’s fair to say I’ve tried my fair share of serums. Since it can be hard to choose the right one, I’ve rounded up some of my tried-and-tested favourites below, broken down by skin types and concerns, so you can easily find the best serum for you. Start scrolling.

1. Best Serum for Dry Skin

2. Best Serum for Oily Skin

3. Best Serum for Sensitive Skin

4. Best Serum for Combination Skin

5. Best Serum for Dehydrated Skin

6. Best Serum for Signs of Ageing

7. Best Serum for Acne-Prone Skin

8. Best Serum for Hyperpigmentation

9. Best Serum for Reducing Redness

10. Best Serum for Brightening Dull Skin

11. Best Serum for Firming Skin

12. Best Serum for Smoothing Skin Texture

13. Best Multitasking Serum

14. Best Luxury Serum

15. Best Vegan Serum

Next Up: Makeup Artists Say These 6 Moisturisers Will Tighten, Smooth and Firm Skin.

This story was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

Freelance Beauty Editor

Grace Day is a beauty editor and content creator. She has over 10 years of beauty-industry experience, spanning editorial, retail, and e-commerce, which gives her a unique understanding into how people shop for their beauty routines. While studying for a history degree (specialising in the history of beauty) and working as a beauty adviser in department stores, Grace started writing her own beauty blog in order to share the products she discovered while dealing with acne. After graduating, she moved to Beauty Bay as beauty editor and content manager. Grace is currently a beauty contributor to Who What Wear. She has also written for Hypebae and PopSugar and works as a brand consultant and copywriter.