11 Face Serums That Really Work

A crucial step in any skincare routine, face serums are the over-achievers of your skincare routine, going above and beyond to deliver a highly concentrated dose of ingredients formulated to target specific skin concerns, fast. 

Serums typically have a thin gel or cream consistency—thicker than a toner but lighter than a moisturiser, and should be applied after cleansing or toning and before moisturising. As a general rule, you should apply hydrating or protecting serums (think: antioxidants and hyaluronic acid) in the morning, and repairing serums (starring ingredients like retinoids or AHAs) at night. 

If you’ve already got the basics of your skincare routine covered—cleanser, moisturiser, and SPF, then serums are a great way to level up your routine in order to address your specific skin goals and concerns. Most serums are easy to integrate into a basic skincare routine, but if you’re wondering how to choose the right one for you, your best bet is to think about your skincare goals—whether that’s targeting fine lines, boosting hydration, brightening dull skin, or clearing blemishes. 

Below, we’ve shared TK tried-and-tested face serums that will deliver results based on your biggest skin concern. 

1. Best serum for oily skin

Niacinamide and zinc are a dream team if excess oil is causing your skin to freak out—which is why The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% has racked up over 1000 rave reviews. The lightweight formula absorbs quickly and the two ingredients work together to reduce and balance oil levels.  

2. Best serum for dryness

As its names suggests, The Inkey List’s Ceramide Serum is packed with ceramides—lipids which effectively act as the ‘cement’ that holds your cells together. Because ceramides strengthen your skin barrier and prevent moisture from escaping, they improve hydration levels which results in smoother, softer, healthier skin over time.

3. Best serum for breakout-prone skin

If you’re prone to breakouts and don’t feel like your regular masking routine is quite cutting it, CeraVe’s Resurfacing Retinol Serum fights breakouts on two fronts—preventing congestion with retinol while niacinamide controls sebum levels and heals post-breakout red marks. 

4. Best serum for dull skin

Skin looking a bit dull? By BEAUTY BAY’s Oil-Serum Hybrid has a potent formula will bring back the brightness and keep skin looking glowy and glass-like all day long. It feels intensely hydrating and brightens skin instantly with vitamin C-rich kakadu oil, so is a perfect addition to your morning routine. 

5. Best serum for redness

Cica (also known as centella asiatica or tiger grass) is renowned for its ability to help calm and heal skin—it soothes irritation and fast-forwards the skin’s repair process. Dr. Jart+’s Cicapair Repair Serum has a particularly potent formula which is perfect for patting onto angry and inflamed skin for immediate cooling relief. 

6. Best serum for enlarged pores and blackheads

Dr. Jart+’s Pore Remedy Serum is a mild exfoliating formula which uses a very gentle chemical exfoliant to address enlarged and obvious pores without causing any irritation. Clinical testing shows that within a week of use, excess oil, dead skin cells, and blackheads are significantly reduced.

7. Best serum for combination skin

if your skin experiences signs of both dryness and oiliness, then you’re dealing with combination skin. You’ll need a serum that will help to restore balance by providing water-based hydration while preventing excess oil production. Powered by niacinamide, bisabolol, and glycerin, the By BEAUTY BAY Refine + Soothe Serum does just that.

8. Best serum for dehydrated skin

When skin is dehydrated, it lacks water-based moisture, and while using barrier-strengthening products will help to prevent moisture loss, it’s important to feed skin with plenty of hydrating ingredients, too. Hyaluronic acid works by drawing moisture into the skin so serums like the Avène Hydrance Boost Serum are best applied by layering onto damp skin before you moisturise.

9. Best serum for acne scars

If you don’t wish to use retinoids or exfoliating acids to address your lingering post-inflammatory pigmentation, copper peptides can be a great alternative. They have impressive wound-healing benefits, so can quickly fade the appearance of scars and red marks. NIOD’s Copper Peptide Amino Isolate Lipid is gentle and soothing so works well for all skin types.

10. Best serum for sensitive skin

If you’re skin is prone to sensitivity and irritation then it’s always useful to have an aresenal of products that will help to soothe and calm any unexpected flare-ups. Wishtrend’s Cera-Barrier Soothing Ampoule does just that, using a blend of squalane, ceramides, and peptides to reduce and prevent sensitivity.

11. Best serum for general skin health

If you don’t have any major or specific skin concerns other than simply achieving and maintaining healthy skin, then a multitasking serum like Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair will be the eprfect addition to your skincare routine. Ingredients like hyaluronic acid, peptides, and squalane help to keeping skin hydrated, healthy, and radiant.