It’s the most potent step in a skin-care routine (apply after cleansing, before moisturizing). These six serums fix fine lines, acne, and more.
Best Anti-Ager: Caudalie Premier Cru The Serum
Yes, it costs an arm and a leg, but this line- softening, skin-brightening gel-to-water formula was five years in the making and was developed with Harvard scientists. The powerful combo of betaine (an anti-inflammatory plant extract) and the company’s Vine Resveratrol (a firming ingredient from grapevine stalks) helps increase collagen production, resulting in a refreshed complexion.
To buy: $150; sephora.com.
Best Brightener: SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense
If brown spots bug you, try this triple-acid and enzyme cocktail, which helps break up melanin clusters so skin looks even. It works on acne scars too.
To buy: $98; dermstore.com.
Best Antioxidant: Vichy LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum
Derms agree that the best way to prevent brown spots and broken blood vessels is to layer an antioxidant under your SPF in the a.m. With 15 percent stabilized vitamin C, this one is a smart choice.
To buy: $28.50; target.com.
Best Hydrator: Skin Inc Hyaluronic Acid Serum
Dry, dehydrated skin will drink this hyaluronic acid gel right up, plumping your complexion. Wear alone or add a drop to moisturizer when your skin is extra thirsty.
To buy: $35; sephora.com.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Monastery Gold Healing Serum
Hand-blended in San Francisco, this mix of raspberry seed, evening primrose, and avocado oils soothes redness.
To buy: $136; monasterymade.com.
Best Acne Fighter: The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution
Don’t let the bargain price tag fool you. This serum exfoliates pores to help heal existing zits and stave off future ones. Spot-treat or apply all over for clearer skin.
To buy: $5; sephora.com.