Our cabinets and dressing tables are teeming with skin products. Some are straightforward – moisturisers, toners, and cleansers – all doing what they say on the tin but the ‘new kids on the block’ are the best face serums, and their role isn’t quite so clear-cut.
As you can read more about in our science of serums article, face serums target specific skin concerns – whether it’s dehydration, ageing, dull skin or more.
They’re packed full with a high concentration of potent ingredients that penetrate deeper into the skin than moisturiser, as an example, to get to the root of the problem.
When seeking out the best face serum, it’s crucial you know exactly what you want to achieve and choose a serum which contains ingredients that target those goals specifically.
With this in mind, we’ve handpicked the best face serums that cover a variety of skin types and goals, as well as budgets, below.
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£58 | Buy now from Clarins
Why we love it: Clarins’ Double Serum is the crème de la crème of anti-ageing skincare and one not to be without if wrinkles and fine lines are your main concern.
The Clarins Double Serum plumps skin, leaving it feeling softer and tighter after the first use. The anti-ageing treatment is enriched with plant extracts that use a hydrolipidic and biomimetic double formula to stimulate five vital functions for your skin: hydration, nutrition, oxygenation, regeneration and protection.
Designed for all skin ages, it offers complete age control, and from a brand name we can trust. The rotating push button delivers a made-to-measure dosage of serum ensuring it blends like a dream and works like one, too.
£5.90 | Buy now from Feelunique
Why we love it: As with the entire The Ordinary range, its Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Serum is cheap, cheerful and does the job.
Its formula uses three forms of hyaluronic acid with varying molecular weights, as well as a hyaluronic acid cross-polymer, to offer “multi-depth” hydration and visible plumping without drawing water out of the skin.
Hyaluronic Acid is found naturally in the skin but diminishes with age, and since it can attract up to 1,000 times its weight in water, The Ordinary’s concoction (combined with the addition of Vitamin B5) hydrates your skin to excess, leaving it feeling insanely soft and smooth.
£98 | Buy now from Cult Beauty
Why we love it: With all the beautiful weather of late, and summer waiting in the wings, having a rescue serum on hand for sun-damaged skin is the perfect way to maintain your sun-kissed glow.
Suitable for day and night, this formula works as a crucial line of defence to neutralise environmental toxins, provide advanced anti-ageing and brightening effects and to improve skin tone, texture and clarity.
The formula includes Soleil Toujours’ EcoSunComplex, composed of red algae, ascorbyl palmitate, Vitamin E, and bisabolol, among others.
Just two small pumps will lather to give great coverage over the neck and face, which is lucky given just how pricey this is. Elsewhere, it smells incredible and leaves your skin looking and feeling amazing.
We should note, that while its name would suggest it offers sun protection, the Soleil Toujours After Sun serum does not contain SPF so you’ll need to make sure another product in your skincare routine does. You can read more about why this is so important in our What is SPF? guide, or discover the best SPF products.
£60 | Buy now from Feelunique
Why we love it:Recently reviewed by our Editor, it’s clear this serum in Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic skincare range offers many benefits, but is equally variable based on your skin type.
Whilst our Editor found that her fine lines appeared to get worse, we found this was where we experienced the biggest improvement. Our ‘not so fine lines’ were noticeably less noticeable after just a few days.
Charlotte’s Magic Serum Crystal Elixir will leave you with hydrated, youthful-looking skin through potent ingredients, such as Replexium, Golden Vitamin C for a brighter-looking complexion, and hydration polyglutamic acid – a supercharged skincare ingredient that’s supposedly four times more hydrating than the hyaluronic acid found in the aforementioned products.
FURTHER READING: Charlotte Tilbury serum review
£32 | Buy now from Cult Beauty
Why we love it: This face serum smells divine – with a tinge of sun-cream scent (presumably the coconut water). You can almost imagine yourself on the beach supping Pina Coladas and it’s about as close as we can get right now!
While the Too Faced Hangover – Good in Bed Ultra-Replenishing Hydrating Serum did cause an initial breakout on my otherwise ‘spot-less’ face, after a few days use my skin was clearer and smoother.
This can be common when introducing a new product to your routine and in many cases, is a sign that your skin is purging any impurities and toxins. So is a good thing. You can read more in our Why is my skin breaking out? guide.
This serum is replenishing and hydrating, packed with ultra-nourishing ingredients to drench and moisturise thirsty skin with hyaluronic acid, coconut water, dragon fruit and Vitamin B5 to give a super healthy glow.
£45 | Buy now from Feelunique
Why we love it: This eye serum puts meaning to the term ‘beauty sleep’. If, like us, your eye bags look like they are in panic buying mode, then this is the serum for you.
This dedicated Overnight Reset Eye Serum works to reduce the appearance of puffiness and dark circles, helps to smooth fine lines and wrinkles and we saw visible results after just one night.
It’s full of essential oil immortelle, taken from plants in Corsica renowned for their anti-ageing properties, as well as extracts of Acmella Oleracea and Marjoram. These help smooth the skin and activate its recovery mechanisms. Additionally, it contains a complex of natural botanical extracts to help reduce signs of fatigue.
Suitable for all skin types, this serum is a good all-rounder for anyone looking to focus on the eye area. And just look at that bottle design!
If none of the serums do exactly what you want them to do, or there isn’t one that ticks all your skincare boxes, why not try a personalised, customisable serum?
Personalised beauty is a fast-growing trend in which companies use either online questionnaires or consultations – over Live Chat or Zoom during lockdown – machine learning and AI to deliver highly tailored products and regimes.
When it comes to skincare, we can highly recommend Dermatica. Following a 1-2-1 virtual consultation, via an online questionnaire, Dermatica’s consultants formulate a serum tailored to you and your skin concerns.
A bottle of serum is delivered each month (for £19) and as your skin changes and improves – tracked overtime via an online dashboard – so does your formula.
If you want to take things even further, Nomige creates DNA-based skincare based on your unique genetic makeup.
Developed by Belgian bioengineer Dr Barbara Geusens, Nomige uses a sample of your DNA to uncover your skin’s ageing process before developing serums and creams that target your very specific needs.
This doesn’t come cheap – as you’d imagine. A Nomige kit costs a whopping £439.
Alicia is a PR consultant and freelance journalist with more than a decade specialising in all things tech. In her free time, when not juggling three children, she writes beauty articles and can be found wining and dining writing food and drink reviews