The 8 Best Serums That Improve Skin, According to Top Dermatologists

Serums are to skin care as Whole 30 recipes are to Pinterest boards. Vital, but also overwhelming to absorb all at once. To make the serum-selection process easier, we tapped six top dermatologist and asked them which bottle is 100-percent worth adding to our carts. Their skin-transforming answers, below. 

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Best for: An All-in-One Serum 

"My favorite serum at the moment is by Isdin Flavo-C Serum ($84)," New York dermatologist Sapna Westley, MD says. "I like it because it is a combination of vitamin C and gingko biloba, both antioxidants in a very cosmetically elegant formulation and stable packaging. I've seen good results with skin brightening, hydration and smoothing of fine lines."


Best for: A Potent Protector

"A newer serum I’ve really enjoyed is SkinBetter Science Alto Defense Serum ($145)," says Norwalk, CT dermatologist Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD. "It is an antioxidant powerhouse containing 19 different antioxidants to provide broad-spectrum coverage that helps protect and repair against environmental, free-radical and oxidative stresses."


Best for: De-Aging Skin

"Alastin Restorative Skin Complex ($195) is a worthwhile purchase because it helps to promote new skin elastin and collagen, reduces appearance of fine lines and helps to even skin tone, all through potent antioxidants and peptides," explains New York dermatologist Ritu Saini, MD. "After sunscreen, it's a one stop shop for topical anti aging." West Palm Beach, FL dermatologist Kenneth Beer, MD agrees, adding that its formula helps restore elastin and collagen while boasting a high concentration of antioxidants. "My patients like that it goes on nicely and gets into the skin quickly. I like it so much, I invested in it myself."


Best for: An All-Around More Youthful Glow

According to New York dermatologist Sejal Shah, MDDrunk Elephant C-Firma Serum ($80) is a must for tackling multiple skin concerns—namely boosting your skin's radiance—at once. "It combines 15 percent vitamin C with ferulic acid and vitamin C, as well as hyaluronic acid to hydrate and plump, peptides, and fruit enzymes. It protects skin against free radicals, improves fine lines and wrinkles, and moisturizes the skin. The fruit enzymes remove dead skin cells and further improve texture and pores."


Best for: Immediate and Long-Term Benefits 

"Mod Skin NYC's Revolution Serum ($106) contains hyaluronic acid that penetrates very well and produces immediate plumping and smoothing results, plus an improvement in skin laxity," New York dermatologist Arash Akhavan, MD says. "You'll notice an immediate decrease in inflammation thanks to natural niacinamide that decreases redness even in sensitive and rosacea-prone skin. A combination of pea and bamboo extracts supports hyaluronic production; a CPL (copper-proline-lysine) complex boosts production of collagen and elastin."


Best for: Repairing Skin and Boosting Hydration 

“I love using and recommending SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum ($320)," says Fresno, CA dermatologist Kathleen Behr, MD.  "It combines growth factors, antioxidants and other naturally occurring elements to rejuvenate skin. I have personally been using it for more than 17 years. I try other serums but keep returning to my TNS Essential Serum."


Best for: Brightening Dull Skin

"I think the one serum everyone should use is a vitamin C antioxidant serum," explains Dr. Shah. "Vitamin C is one of the most potent antioxidants we have and has a number of skin benefits. Revision Vitamin C Lotion 30% ($115) is one of the strongest concentrations of vitamin C available. Combined with a number of other antioxidants, as well as squalene to moisturize the skin, it protects the skin against free radicals, improves fine lines and wrinkles, and moisturizes the skin."


Best for: Helping Your Filler Last 

“Hyaluronic acid is the hero ingredient in skin care right now. Whether it’s used in skin care products or in the office by your doctor, hyaluronic acid acts like a sponge that pulls hydration into the skin to offer both moisturizing and plumping benefits and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles," explains New York dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD. Whenever your doctor uses a hyaluronic acid filler like Restylane, make sure to use a serum that includes hyaluronic acid at home to help maintain improvements between visits. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Serum ($20) is an affordable option that does the job well.”


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