Washing, exfoliating and moisturizing your face goes a long way in protecting your skin’s barrier, retaining moisture and keeping your pores as unclogged as possible. It’s the bare minimum, and it’s important, but there are also limits to how much good it can do for you. That’s why more advanced skincare products exist, like toners, masks, retinols and perhaps our favorite: serums.
Broadly speaking, serums offer the quickest and surest results of any skincare product. That’s because unlike moisturizers, which sit on top of the skin, serums seep deep into the three layers of the dermis to help treat various concerns. In countering conditions ranging from wrinkles and dark spots to adult acne, these highly concentrated serums promote hydration, brightness, smoothness, firmness—sometimes focusing on one task, sometimes encompassing nearly all of them.
If you want to keep putting your best face forward, a good serum is as good as liquid gold. A few drops on freshly cleansed skin (day, night, or both) can yield drastic short- and long-term benefits. Below are our 10 favorites, and the skincare result each is designed to give you.
The editors of Robb Report scour the globe (and the Internet) for the best of the best and only endorse products we love—and think you’ll love, too. If you purchase a product or service through a link in this story, we may receive a small commission.
111Skin Y Theorem Repair Light Serum NAC Y²
For Repair and Overall Textural Improvement: 111Skin founder Dr. Yannis Alexandrides originally created this serum to repair skin after surgery. It utilizes his NAC Y² complex to expedite healing and boost antioxidants in the skin. This lightweight version of the serum is best for oily skin types or humid weather, whereas its companion serum is ideal for dry skin and environments. In addition to keeping skin resilient, both serums improve a roster of skin concerns, like fine lines, wrinkles, lost elasticity, roughness, dehydration and dullness.
SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Calming Gel Serum
For Calming and Hydration: Irritated, sensitive or exhausted skin reacts favorably to this recipe, which delivers ultimate hydration and a cooling, calming effect on contact. We love it after a day in the sun, when skin feels distressed and overexposed. It’s powered by a blend of thyme, cucumber, olive and eucalyptus to soothe and purify skin, while hyaluronic acid pulls in moisture to hydrate and rejuvenate.
Omorovicza Acid Fix Serum Treatment
For Acne-Prone Skin: Omorovicza has some profoundly potent serums in its roster, but for this roundup we’ve opted for a less obvious one from the prized pack: This serum for acne-prone skin contains both alpha and beta hydroxy acids to unclog pores and dissolve dead skin cells. It works as a twice-weekly nighttime peel to help promote clearer and brighter skin, and even deploys the brand’s proprietary healing concentrate to encourage resilience and recovery as you rest.
La Prairie Platinum Rare Cellular Night Elixir
For Firmness and Overnight Rejuvenation: If ever there was an overnight miracle, La Prairie is it. A small dose helps detoxify, fortify and nourish skin as you rest so that you wake looking like you out-snoozed Sleeping Beauty herself. For nearly a century, the Swiss scientists behind La Prairie have engineered their products with research into anti-aging cellular therapies. Pair the serum with a good night’s sleep to wake up with the brightest, tightest skin of your life.
La Mer The Regenerating Serum
For Firming and Youthfulness: La Mer’s serum uses the brand’s proprietary “Miracle Broth” to plump skin with algae extract, citrus oil, eucalyptus oil, sunflower seed cake, wheat proteins and alfalfa seed powder. This serum takes the brand’s notoriously nourishing powers one step further with antioxidant-rich lime tea concentrate. Together, these ingredients help give skin its most radiant, firming, plumping glow.
Guerlain Abeille Royale Double R Renew + Repair Serum
For Youthfulness and Radiance: Guerlain’s serum is ideal for use before bed, because of its gentle peeling and regenerative powers. It uses glycolic, lactic and citric acid to lift away any dead skin cells on the surface, thus improving texture and promoting brightness and radiance. Secondly, while you slumber, two active ingredients (Guerlain’s own Royal Jelly as well as black bee honey) work together to ‘lift’ and firm the skin. You’ll wake looking more rejuvenated, and by the time the bottle is gone, you may have erased a few years of aging and stress.
Eighth Day The Regenerative Serum
For Overall Vitality: There’s nothing that this serum can’t help restore: From plumping skin and reducing fine lines and wrinkles, to brightening your complexion to making your pores look smaller. It even helps counter damage caused by sun exposure. It harnesses Dr. Antony Nakhla’s proprietary Peptide-Rich Plasma (which uses 24 stimulating peptides, growth factors, and amino acids to give your skin a fresh, bright, firm start).
Sisley Paris Sisleÿa L’Integral Anti-Age Firming Concentrated Serum
For Firming and Youthfulness: Sisley uses sweet marjoram extract in its firming serum to help counter the skin’s loss of elastin as we age. It also gives skin a plump finish with each use. The brand’s Pro-Firm 7 complex then surges into the layers of skin to deliver a steady (and steadfast) lift and tautness with each use. The brand fully delivers on its promise of restoring the “curve” of more youthful skin.
Dr. Barbara Sturm The Good C Vitamin C Serum
For Brightness and Youthfulness: The name on everybody’s lips: Dr. Barbara Sturm. She’s known as the cell whisperer in the skincare world, and her serums are just some of the products that support the nickname. This brightening, radiance-inducing serum is one such example, since it nails the delicate balancing act of an effective and stable Vitamin C recipe. It’s supported with zinc to improve absorption of the vitamin (which itself is pumped into this serum in three different forms). The result is a more even complexion, reduced hyperpigmentation, defense against skin-aging free radicals and a noticeably youthful glow.
Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum
For Brighter, Firmer Skin Around the Eyes: The area around our eyes is especially prone to signs of aging, from crow’s feet to puffiness to dark circles. This highly concentrated eye serum can help combat and prevent all three: it features retinol for overall skin fortification and firmness, while ferulic acid fights toxins, licorice extract combats inflammation and promotes brightnessf and bearberry extract counters hyperpigmentation.