Finding the best drugstore face serum for you may be a great way to supplement your skincare routine. The lightest form of hydration, these skincare products are often hyped for treating a wide range of concerns. Antioxidant serums with vitamin C are especially popular for repairing existing skin damage like hyperpigmentation and wrinkles. Meanwhile, a hyaluronic acid serum may help you achieve glowy skin because they help your skin look plump and dewy. But which one is right for your unique skin concerns? Here are my reviews of high-quality face serums that won’t break the bank, ranked by value.
A hydrating serum with hyaluronic acid in the form of sodium hyaluronate, plus other lightly moisturizing ingredients like glycerin and allantoin. It’s a non-greasy, non-comedogenic formula — perfect for oily skin.
$7.70 for 3.3 oz ($2.33/oz) via Ulta
An affordable chemical exfoliating serum with AHA’s and BHA’s to help clear acne-prone skin. It has a hydrating formula that makes this good for dry to combination skin. Because it’s easy to overdo chemical exfoliation, I wouldn’t use this product daily — once or twice a week is plenty!
$12.00 for 1.76 oz ($6.82/oz) via Sephora
The best hyaluronic acid serum for the price, formulated with glycerin and butylene glycol for extra moisture. A great option for aging skin that will leave skin looking plump and hydrated.
$7.99 for 1 oz ($7.99/oz) via Sephora
The best vitamin C serum for the price, this serum gets its antioxidants from ethyl ascorbic acid. This is a great product to apply in the morning with your sunscreen to boost UV protection. It contains synthetic fragrance as the last ingredient, so you may want to avoid this one if you have sensitive skin.
$16.00 for 0.95 oz ($16.84/oz) via Target
Arguably the best drugstore vitamin C serum, this product has Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate — one of the most stable forms of ascorbic acid — plus other antioxidant ingredients. This non-comedogenic, fragrance free formula is lightly hydrating and suitable for all skin types.
$18.99 for 1 oz ($18.99/oz) via Target
This age-defying serum is fragrance-free and non-comedogenic with a simple formula that makes it ideal for sensitive skin. It’s one of the most potent hyaluronic acid serums, with sodium hyaluronate as the third ingredient. A good light moisturizer for plump, glowy skin!
$24.99 for 1 oz ($24.99/oz) via Ulta
If you’re looking for the best anti-aging serum, this one is made with a few ingredients that repair UV damage: vitamin C (in the form of ascorbyl glucoside) and niacinamide. It also contains some of my favorite moisturizing ingredients, including squalane, butylene glycol, and dimethicone. It’s a thicker serum that contains alcohol and fragrance, so this one isn’t the best for oily or sensitive skin.
$28.50 for 1 oz $28.50/oz Ulta
L’Oreal claims this serum is 10% vitamin C and gets its antioxidants from ascorbic acid, which is the third ingredient listed. It also contains hyaluronic acid, which may help reduce the visible appearance of wrinkles. This serum might look like it’s an undereye cream, but it can be used on any part of the face — great for spot treating problem areas or all-over light hydration.
$29.99 for 1 oz ($29.99/oz) Ulta
If you’re looking for the best anti-aging serum for sensitive skin, this age-defying product contains vitamin C (in the form of sodium ascorbyl phosphate) and hyaluronic acid (in the form of sodium hyaluronate), plus retinyl palmitate, which can also help with anti-aging concerns such as fine lines and dark spots.
$29.99 for 1 oz ($29.99/oz) Ulta
This booster was designed as a daily supplement to your skincare routine, and its ingredients can help with an array of skin concerns. In addition to vitamin C and hyaluronic acid, it also contains salicylic acid, which encourages exfoliation to help treat blocked bores. Unlike other face serums, this one is meant to be added to your existing moisturizer — using this product undistilled might be too intense.
$20.00 for 0.29 oz ($68.97/oz) via Ulta
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While vitamin C is known to have skin benefits, vitamin C ingredients are infamous in cosmetic chemistry for lacking stability. Some forms of vitamin C are too easily dissolved by water, and things like pH level also play a role. Many products will include added stabilizing ingredients, but there’s no scientific consensus on which ones work best (if they work at all). It can be tricky to find a good vitamin C serum, to say the least. The easiest solution is to use your serums up when they’re still fresh — don’t buy bulk! It may also be a good idea to choose serums with other good moisturizing ingredients known to plump the skin (like hyaluronic acid, a.k.a. sodium hyaluronate).
If over-the-counter products aren’t cutting it, you can try dermatologist-formulated skincare for free when you sign up for a free month of Curology (just pay $4.95 to cover the cost of shipping and handling + tax). Take the custom skincare quiz, snap a few selfies, and a medical provider will prescribe you a customized cream formulated for unique concerns such as acne or signs of aging. For no extra cost, you’ll get the Curology set, complete with our gentle cleanser and your choice of moisturizer, each designed with research-backed non-comedogenic ingredients. Start your #SkincareJourney and start achieving the skin of your dreams.