I Tried Countless Drugstore Serums—These Were the 9 Best

Yes, affordable serums do exist.

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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

best-drugstore-serum-Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Serum

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 Derm Intensives 2.5% Hyaluronic Acid + Caffeine Eye Serum

best-drugstore-serum-LOreal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Hyaluronic Acid and Caffeine Eye Serum

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 Brightening Serum Capsules

best-drugstore-serum-Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Vitamin C Brightening Serum Capsules

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

best-drugstore-serum-Olay Regenerist MAX Wrinkle Serum

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 Pure Glycolic Acid Serum with Kojic Acid and Vitamin B5

best-drugstore-serum-La Roche-Posay Pure Glycolic Acid Serum with Kojic Acid and Vitamin B5

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 Mutlitasking Serum: Garnier Retinol-Berry Super Smoothing 3 in 1 Serum Cream with Retinol + Super Berry Blend

best-drugstore-serum-Garnier Retinol-Berry Super Smoothing 3 in 1 Serum Cream with Retinol and Super Berry Blend

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: Elf Hydrating Serum

best-drugstore-serum-Elf Hydrating Serum

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

best-drugstore-serum-CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum

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.

Best Drugstore Serum for Pigmentation: Eucerin Anti-Pigment Dual Serum

best-drugstore-serum-Eucerin Anti-Pigment Dual Serum

Seeing dark spots? Thiamidol is a quieter ingredient in the world of skincare, but studies show that it's comparable to hydroquinone at treating melasma and sun damage without the harmful side effects. (Think of it like a chemical peel, without the pain or downtime.) It's also moisturizing thanks to the dose of hyaluronic acid, but the texture remains lightweight so you can apply generously without worrying about stickiness.

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