The Best Drugstore Serums Dermatologists Actually Love

Photo Credits: Getty Images

Can a drugstore serum really be effective? According to these derms, yes. These nine under-$30 serums get the ultimate stamp of skincare approval without breaking the bank. Read on for the best in drugstore skincare and discover the dermatologist-approved serums to take your skin to its best.

You May Also Like: This $15 Hyaluronic Acid Serum Has More Than 10,000 Positive Reviews on Amazon

Top Hydrating Serums

Best Drugstore Serum Category: Hydration Station

Hydration is a simple way to keep your skin happy, and the good news is, you can get the best of the best without spending big. Powered by ingredients like hyaluronic acid and amino acid, these replenishing, nourishing serums are all top choices by dermatologists for their high-powered hydration and delicate balance of good-for-your-skin acid and work best for a dry skin type.

Moisture is critical for keeping your skin happy, as the right amount of moisture can treat both dry and oily skin. Keeping your skin out of those extremes will help reduce the likelihood of developing skin issues like acne. Skin that isn’t moisturized tends to show premature signs of aging that none of us like. That includes transepidermal water loss that can lead to skin sagging and texture issues. Moisture also helps keep your skin from being inflamed. Skin prone to inflammation tends to have a breakdown in collagen, leading to more visible signs of aging.

Hydrating serums like these drugstore picks are great for locking in moisture, as ingredients like hyaluronic acid are good at retaining water, preventing the water loss that happens throughout the day. Treat your face with the simple power of moisture for your best skin yet.

These are their most thirst-quenching picks for best drugstore serum.

1 / 4

La Roche Posay Hylu B5 Serum ($30)

Vero Beach, FL dermatologist Divya Haryani, MD counts La Roche Posay’s Hylu B5 Serum as a great drugstore buy. “It’s a hydrating hyaluronic acid serum, and [the addition of] vitamin B5 helps to replenish moisture in the skin. Additionally, it’s oil free, which makes it a great buy for acne-prone skin as well.”

Photo Credits: La Roche Posay
2 / 4

Vichy Minéral 89 Face Serum with Hyaluronic Acid ($20)

“I like the Vichy Mineral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Serum,” says Chicago dermatologist Jordan C. Carqueville, MD. “It moisturizes the skin using a hyaluronic acid, is fragrance free and acceptable for sensitive skin.”

Photo Credits: Vichy
3 / 4

Maelove Hydrator B5 Gel ($28)

“I recommend Maelove’s The Hydrator Serum,” says Portsmouth, NH dermatologist Brienne Cressey, MD. While not available in drugstores—find it online!—Dr. Cressey says, “it has hyaluronic acid, B5 and resveratrol. It’s very hydrating and has antioxidants—great for all skin types.”

Photo Credits: Maelove
4 / 4

Neutrogena HydroBoost Hydrating Serum ($24)

“Neutrogena hydroboost is a great hylauronic acid that is affordable and great for all skin types,” says Washington D.C. dermatologist Sarika Snell, MD. “HydroBoost would be my option,” agrees Fort Lauderdale, FL dermatologist Dr. Matthew Elias. “Patients love it and it is very cost effective,” he adds. New Orleans dermatologist Mary Lupo, MD gives the budget-friendly hydrator her stamp of approval, too.

Photo Credits: Neutrogena

Dark Spots Be Gone

Derms Talk Drugstore Picks for Best Serum for Dark Spots

When it’s dark spots that have you down, dermatologists recommend investing in a serum backed by Vitamin C and retinol to target pigmentation and increase skin cell turnover. That turnover produces healthy, new cells and reduces the risk of developing acne. This can also help reduce the look of large pores and other texture issues like wrinkles and fine lines. Though retinol starts to work on your cells right away, it will take a few weeks of using your product consistently to see major improvements. It’s also not uncommon for your skin to look worse briefly while it adjusts to a new regime.

Retinol is also well-known for causing irritation in people with a sensitive skin type. You can help mitigate that irritation by starting low and slow: keep your retinol dosage to a low percent and only use it once or twice a week at first.

Vitamin C is another big name ingredient when it comes to eliminating dark spots, that’s because Vitamin C reduces redness and inflammation, as well as inhibits melanin production. This leave’s your skin brighter and helps reduce the look of hyperpigmentation. Typically Vitamin C needs about two months of consistent use to show significant fade, but you can start to see noticeable results in as little as three weeks.

You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to erase dark spots, and you can likely find these hard working serums in a drugstore near you. With ingredients like retinol and Vitamin C, these certified skin saviors are great for tackling hyperpigmentation, dark spots and sun damage. Get the best in skincare without breaking the bank with a brightening serum approved by dermatologists to banish dark spots.

5 / 6

CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum ($20)

“CeraVe’s vitamin c serum is a great option for someone on a budget,” says New York dermatologist Robert Finney, MD. “[You] get the powerful antioxidant vitamin C that can help protect against sun damage, dark marks and fine lines, and it also contains hyaluronic acid and ceramides to improve the skin barrier.”

6 / 6

Versed Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum ($22)

“My new favorite well-priced product line is Versed. In particular, I love their retinol serum,” says West Hollywood dermatologist Nancy Samolitis, MD.

Best Pick for Best Anti-Aging Serum

Best Drugstore Buy for Wrinkles and Fine Lines

Anti-aging skincare can get pricey. Just take a quick trip down to Amazon and scope out their beauty section; it can get into the triple digits pretty quickly. But that doesn’t mean a drugstore serum can’t compete with the best of them.

Anti-aging skin treatments rely on some fairly standard ingredients like retinols and niacinamides in order to kick start skin cell turnover and chock your skin full of vital nutrients. By helping your skin to produce more collagen (which we start to slow down on in our 20s), anti-aging serums smooth skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines. Of course, major changes in wrinkles likely need in-office treatments or procedures, but a good skincare regime is paramount to ensuring the long term success of any anti-aging treatment.

This serum is a high-powered anti-wrinkle treatment made to help soothe the look of fine lines and wrinkles while working to brighten and even skin tone over time. Tackle dark spots while diminishing wrinkles all for under $20 with this beauty budgeting savior.

7 / 7

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Anti-Aging Serum ($18)

“I like the Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum, which has retinol and hyaluronic acid,” says East Greenwich, RI dermatologist Caroline Chang, MD. “This mild retinol is easy to tolerate and the HA helps to hydrate.”

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