I didn’t even know what face serum was until recently, but when I learned that they’re the quickest way to get active ingredients deep down into your pores, I was sold. You see, my skin has been acting up recently (I feel like I’m a teenager again), so I decided it was time to do some research on the best drugstore serums out there. We recently rounded up the serums that skin gurus always reach for, but this time we wanted to keep the price tag low—under $40—which is right in my budget.
When it comes to application, you can use this “miracle” product up to twice a day (skip it at night though if you’re using a topical retinoid to avoid irritation). Why use them? “Serums help give your skin a fresher, younger, and healthier appearance,” says celebrity makeup artist Kristofer Buckle. Do we want all that? Check, check, and check. Ahead, we spotlight the 10 best drugstore serums that provide maximum impact without putting a dent in your pocket.
This drugstore face serum for sensitive skin works to restore and redistribute moisture. One reviewer says that although it’s slightly “watery” in consistency, it hydrates like nothing else.
This serum actually contains age-defying retinol. This superhero of an ingredient melds with minerals like copper to give you an insane glow.
One customer raves: “No grease!” This gel serum contains retinol to target crow’s feet and age spots while also smoothing skin.
There’s a reason skin experts always recommend CeraVe products—each item is made by dermatologists. “This stuff changed my life,” confesses one user. “It got rid of the dark circles under my eyes and also worked for the folds around my mouth and nose.”
If you’re into natural products, Botanics relies on the power of alpha-hydroxy acids from the hibiscus plant and other flowers. Plus, it brightens up your complexion. “I wanted something that would wake up my dull skin, and this does it,” says one user.
Not just for the face: Bare Republic’s calming serum is meant to be used all over after sun exposure. It relies on the potency of manuka honey and soothing oat milk.
Looking to minimize pores? The key ingredient in this best drugstore serum is willow bark extract, which cleans skin and keeps oil at bay.
Reviewers say they like this product because it’s super hydrating, but it doesn’t make them break out. Plus, word on the street is that a little bit of the product goes pretty darn far.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Face Serum addresses oily skin with visibly enlarged pores, rough skin texture, dull complexion, and signs of aging. It has been rigorously formulated with LHA to provide micro-exfoliation and helps unblock and tighten the look of enlarged pores while refining skin s texture, and also contains an AHA-Glycolic Complex to help accelerate the skin's natural renewal process.
Reduce the look of deep lines and wrinkles with this double-action treatment. Derma-E's serum formula contains two of the most powerful and effective peptides that bio-science has to help smooth wrinkles and discourage the formation of new lines. Enriched with anti-aging antioxidants, vitamin C, and green tea, this moisturizing formula helps reduce the look of wrinkles, visibly improve skin’s resilience, and discourage future damage for a smoother, more youthful appearance.
Next up: Read about the best exfoliators for glowing skin.
This story was originally published on December 16, 2017, and has since been updated.