The Best Anti-Aging Serums on the Market
The most effective anti-aging products don't target just target one problem. After all, skin doesn't age in one uniform way: pores get larger, wrinkles become more defined, sagging becomes more prominent, and hyperpigmentation gets darker. So, when you're looking for a great anti-aging serum, you want one that can tackle several issues at once. "The more multitasking it is, the better benefit it has," says Dr. Deanne Robinson, a dermatologist based in Connecticut. "Read your label—the point of a serum is to be highly concentrated in active ingredients in order to penetrate the skin."
In particular, look for serums with glycolic and salicylic acids to help exfoliate and promote cell turnover. "The faster you shed old, dead skin cells, the sooner your new, nourished skin will rise to the top," she says. Antioxidants are also incredibly important for anti-aging, she adds. They defend against free radicals that our skin encounters in the environment (which speed up the aging process), and they provide reparative benefits such as reducing dyspigmentation, inflammation, and dullness. Ingredients with humectant properties, like hyaluronic acid, are also beneficial in an anti-aging serum, Dr. Robinson says, as they draw in moisture and plump skin. (Dehydration is another pesky side effect of aging.)
She also recommends anti-aging serums with peptides. "They are small proteins with very specific amino acid sequences, and proteins are essential to the skin's structure and function. They improve laxity (or firmness), texture, and overall appearance." Here, we've rounded up the best anti-aging serums to try now. Don't expect miracle results in just one application of these workhorse products. The skin is very resilient and will respond to what we give it, Dr. Robinson says, but sometimes it takes a little time and patience. So, don't give up too soon—it can take anywhere from two to four weeks to start seeing results.
Retinol is a proven anti-ager—it's a derivative of the antioxidant vitamin A that naturally occurs in our skin. It firms, evens tone, and speeds up cell turnover for faster skin renewal. Start using it every other day and then work your way up to daily use as your skin adjusts.
Shop Now: RoC Deep Wrinkle Serum, $15.89, amazon.com.
Blemishes aren't always replaced with fine lines and wrinkles: Sometimes, you can have both simultaneously. That's why SkinCeuticals' serum targets aging and adult acne, which requires different ingredients than teenage acne. (For starters, aging skin can't handle the harsh, drying agents that are often used to treat oily teenagers' complexions.) The multi-tasking ingredients in it are salicylic, glycolic, and citric acids, all of which help prevent both pesky problems at once.
Shop Now: SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense, $92, dermstore.com.
There is a catch with retinol, though. It can sometimes be irritating and drying—especially for those with sensitive skin—so the trick is finding one that won't replace wrinkles with redness and flakiness. Enter La Roche-Posay's retinol serum. It's potent enough to work well, but not so harsh that it will aggravate your skin. (One of its secret ingredients? The brand's signature thermal spring water, which is incredibly soothing.)
Shop Now: La Roche-Posay Redermic R Anti-Aging Retinol Serum, $56.99, amazon.com.
Vitamin C is a superstar ingredient when it comes to managing a myriad of skin issues, from large pores and hyperpigmentation to loss of collagen and dullness. This serum has the brightening agent in spades. A helpful tip: You can tell a good vitamin C serum from a bad one by the jar it's stored in. Vitamin C is incredibly unstable and can break down when exposed to light; whenever you're searching for a product with this ingredient, search for options, like this one, that are housed in dark jars (they won't be compromised by exposure to sunlight).
Shop Now: Pure BioDerm Antioxidant Super Serum, $59, amazon.com.
We're sure you've heard of turmeric when it comes to foods, smoothies, and supplements. The Indian spice is an anti-inflammatory antioxidant that prevents aging on a cellular level. It works topically in skincare, too, and is one of the main ingredients in this Neutrogena serum. It also contains a blend of alpha hydroxy acids to exfoliate, refine pores, and increase radiance, along with neoglucosamine, an amino sugar that resurfaces and brightens.
Shop Now: Neutrogena Bright Boost Illuminating Serum, $19.97, amazon.com.
This one contains a powerhouse cocktail of ingredients—amino acids, peptides, and antioxidants—to dramatically reverse the signs of aging and slow down the process in the future. (It's been winning beauty awards—and has been a beauty-insider favorite—for years!)
Shop Now: SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum, $281, amazon.com.
When your complexion is feeling dull or lackluster, sometimes you just need a concentrated alpha hydroxy acid serum to increase radiance, refine pores, reduce wrinkles, and even skin tone in one fell swoop. With 10 percent glycolic acid, this exfoliating serum will do the trick. But don't worry about it being super harsh—it also contains aloe, which calms and hydrates skin. Just make sure to wear sunscreen after, as acids can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
Shop Now: L'Oreal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 10% Pure Glycolic Acid Serum, $23.99, amazon.com.
Historically, hydroquinone has been the go-to ingredient for lightening hyperpigmentation. But it's also a controversial active, and can lead to itching and burning. SkinBetter Science's serum fades dark spots without it, thanks to a patented complex that works on a variety of hyperpigmentation types caused by hormones and sun damage.
Shop Now: SkinBetter Science Even Tone Correcting Serum, $140, skinbetter.com.
Vintner's Daughter takes a nutritional approach to skincare. Over 21 days and in a temperature-controlled environment, 60 plant-extracted nutrients are combined to create a potent—yet completely natural—serum that feeds skin from the inside out. (Evening primrose, rosehip, and carrot seed oils are just a few of the botanicals in the formulation that promote cellular renewal, radiance, hydration, and protection.) "The idea is that when your body is fed its best, it performs its best," says April Gargiulo, the company's founder. "That's what you want from an anti-aging product."
Shop Now: Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum, from $65, vintersdaughter.com.
The key ingredient in Alastin's emollient serum is niacinamide, which heals, reduces redness, and helps to volumize and lift aging skin. The result? A plump, moisturized, perfectly dewy complexion.
Shop Now: Alastin Skincare Restorative Skin Complex, $195, alastin.com.