I Tried Countless Drugstore Serums—These Were the 8 Best

Yes, affordable serums do exist.

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A collage of seven drugstore serums on a light colored background

Ulta Beauty

All you skincare fanatics, can we just take a moment to appreciate serums? Whatever your skincare concern or skin type may be, there's a serum for it—and that's pretty great because it makes skincare more straightforward for all of us. It's the one step in your skincare routine that I recommend even to minimalists because they're lightweight, fast-absorbing, and extremely potent. Translation: They're able to deliver concentrated actives to the skin that traditional moisturizers diluted with emollients cannot.

Due to its concentrated nature, these formulas tend to come with a hefty price tag, but fear not: You don't need to compromise half your rent for a tiny bottle. I scoured the shelves of drugstores to land this list of the best, affordable serums for anti-aging, hydration, pigmentation, and more.

Best Drugstore Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Courtesy of Amazon

This blue bottle is like a tall glass of water for your parched skin—and feels just as refreshing as it looks. Formulated with pro-vitamin B5, hyaluronic acid, and a unique blend of water-magnet humectants, this serum penetrates deep within the skin's surface to create a dewy, glass-like complexion.

Best Drugstore Eye Serum

L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Hyaluronic Acid and Caffeine Hydrating Eye Serum

L'Oreal Paris Revitalift Hyaluronic Acid and Caffeine Hydrating Eye Serum

Courtesy of Amazon

L'Oreal just added an eye serum rendition to its impressive Revitalift collection—and it's just as effective as the rest. ​​Formulated with hyaluronic acid and caffeine, it visibly plumps, brightens, and reduces crow's feet. Not to mention, the cooling (and depuffing!) 'triple roller' applicator feels heavenly when rolled under your eyes.

Best Vitamin C Drugstore Serum

Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair 20% Vitamin C Serum Capsules

Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair 20% Vitamin C Serum Capsules

Courtesy of Amazon

Despite its many benefits, the problem with vitamin C is that it's very sensitive to light, heat, and air—any exposure can cause it to degrade and become ineffective. That's why this Neutrogena pick contains a stabilized form of vitamin C in a single-use capsule to maintain potency until you're ready to use it. Plus, unlike other applications that might cause you to over-apply, it eliminates the guesswork by giving you the right amount to use for the full face.

Best Drugstore Serum for Anti-Aging

Olay Regenerist Max Wrinkle Serum

Olay Regenerist Max Wrinkle Serum

Courtesy of Ulta Beauty

Powered by peptides, this buffed serum (contains double the peptides compared to the brand's OG Wrinkle Correction Serum) works overtime to reduce wrinkles and brighten your complexion. I'd also like to call out its lovely finish—non-greasy and great to layer under makeup.

Best Drugstore Glycolic Acid Serum

La Roche-Posay Glycolic B5 10% Pure Glycolic Acid Serum

La Roche-Posay Glycolic B5 10% Pure Glycolic Acid Serum

Courtesy of Ulta Beauty

Of the alpha hydroxy acids, glycolic acid is the smallest molecule, which allows it to more easily penetrate the outer layers of the skin and get to work. This serum in particular was created to help improve dark spots, while targeting signs of aging for a clean, youthful glow.

Best Drugstore Multitasking Serum

Garnier Green Labs Retinol-Berry Super Smoothing Night Serum Cream

Garnier Green Labs Retinol-Berry Super Smoothing Night Serum Cream

Courtesy of Walmart

Perfect for minimalists and/or retinol newbies out there, this product boasts the moisture of a night cream, power of a retinol serum, and brightening powers of an eye cream, all in one fast-absorbing formula. Being part of Garnier's Green Labs collection means that it's approved by Cruelty Free International, vegan, and free of fragrance, mineral oils, or parabens.

Best Drugstore Hydrating Serum

e.l.f. cosmetics Hydrating Serum

e.l.f. Hydrating Serum

Courtesy of e.l.f

The most cost-effective pick of the bunch, Elf's formula doesn't disappoint. It's infused with all the hydrating ingredients your skin loves, including jojoba, aloe, vitamin E, grape, and shea butter to moisturize your face.

Best Drugstore Retinol Serum

CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum

CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum

Courtesy of Amazon

Retinol is infamous for being irritating, but this one is formulated with encapsulated retinol, which allows the product to absorb into the skin without surface irritation. Another plus for sensitive skin? It's buffed with ceramides to negate any negative side effects, plus niacinamide, another calming ingredient. With all these skin safety measures, it's the most failsafe way to apply retinol.

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