Stock up on these skin doc–approved products.
Get Your Serum Fix
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Ask any dermatologist which skin-care product will give you the most anti-aging bang for your buck, and we're willing to bet they'll say a serum. Lighter than moisturizers, serums contain higher levels of active ingredients—the stuff that actually does the job to help keep your skin healthy and youthful by eliminating sunspots, fighting wrinkles (and/or preventing new ones from forming), keeping skin hydrated...you get the picture.
The good news? There's no shortage of serums out there. The bad news? There's no shortage of serums out there. So to help you sort through them all, we asked top dermatologists to share their personal favorites. Ahead, 11 of the best, derm-approved, anti-aging serums so good that the pros even use these themselves.
Photo: Kapustin Igor / Shutterstock
Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum
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"For women with melasma or dark spots after a breakout, this product works wonders," says Kristina Goldenberg, M.D., of Goldenberg Dermatology in New York City. Not only does it contain hydroquinone, one of the most effective skin-lightening and spot-fading ingredients out there, it also contains exfoliating glycolic acid, which improves the penetration of the hydroquinone. The combination of these two ingredients makes this very effective, she adds.
Photo: Wilshire Beauty
Neutrogena Hydroboost Hydrating Serum
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"Jam-packed with hyaluronic acid, this serum helps hydrate and plump dry skin," says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai in New York City. Hyaluronic acid is like a sponge that binds up to 1,000 times its weight in water, which means that not only does it leave your skin looking—and feeling—more hydrated, it also is a great way to temporarily plump up fine lines and smooth out your complexion.
Photo: Ulta Beauty
ISDIN Melatonik 3-in-1 Night Serum
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Retinol is Queen Bee of anti-aging ingredients, but it's not for everyone. "Many people are unable to tolerate topical retinoids due to irritation, dryness, or skin sensitivity. This nighttime serum is formulated with bakuchiol, a plant-derived ingredient that activates the same genes and pathways as topical retinols but without any irritation," explains Deanne Robinson, M.D., member of the Women's Dermatologic Society and cofounder and president at Modern Dermatology of Connecticut. Bonus: It also contains vitamin C and other potent topical antioxidants that help with anti-aging.
SkinMedica TNS Recovery Complex
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"I believe this to be one of the most powerful youth serums on the market," says Stacy Chimento, M.D., a dermatologist at Diane Walder Dermatology by Riverchase. Its combo of growth factors to help improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles, its hydrating hyaluronic acid spheres, and its protective antioxidants make this choice for improving your skin's texture, tone, and firmness. "I often recommend using this on the neck, chest, and hands, too," says Dr. Chimento.
Skinbetter Science Alto Defense Serum
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"Our skin endures a constant barrage of exposure from environmental pollutants and ultraviolet light that results in the formation of damaging free radicals," says Jeremy Green, M.D., of Skin Associates of South Florida. "You can combat this by applying this serum twice a day after cleansing. It feels light, is barely fragrant, and is loaded with 19 antioxidants to clean up those skin-aging free radicals."
Skinceuticals C E Ferulic
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The antioxidants in this bestselling SkinCeuticals serum protect against free oxygen radicals that lead to aging and skin cancer—and it's one of the few products that has been shown scientifically to prevent skin cancer progression, explains Jordan Carqueville, M.D., a dermatologist in Chicago. "The ferulic acid helps with pigmentation, and the tocopherol—vitamin E—helps to restore lipids and moisture in the skin," she adds. In other words, it's great for your skin health and aging, and it will keep your skin hydrated at the same time. Need more convincing? "I personally use this every day," says Dr. Carqueville.
Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum
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With the anchor ingredients of antioxidants vitamins C and E, this serum protects daily against things that can harm the skin, like UV rays and pollutants, and prevents further fine lines, discoloration, and dullness, says Mona Gohara, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine. "I also love that it has licorice root extract, one of my favorite ingredients to treat sun damage and melasma," she points out.
Senté Dermal Contour Pressed Serum
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"This product decreases fine lines and wrinkles, improves elasticity which makes the skin more firm, and helps with the appearance of hyperpigmentation by improving skin tone," says Jeanine Downie, M.D., director at Image Dermatology PC in Montclair, NJ. "It's excellent for even the most sensitive skin and doesn't clog pores. I use it daily and am happy with the improvement I see in my skin."
Photo: Practical Dermatology
PCA Skin ExLinea Peptide Smoothing Serum
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"As close as you can get to a topical Botox serum, ExLinea packs powerful anti-aging properties," Cynthia Price, M.D., a dermatologist at SkinScience in Phoenix. "With its Argireline peptide, it blurs the neurotransmitters leading to muscle movement, thereby relaxing the face and smoothing fine lines and wrinkles upon contact. This is a staple in our practice as it extends the life of our patients' Botox treatments." And if you don't want to get Botox? Using this on its own can have similar effects, admittedly on a slightly lesser and more temporary level.
Photo: PCA Skin
Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum
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"I really like that this product doesn't irritate like many other OTC retinol products and also has salicylic acid, which enhances penetration and makes a big difference," says Dhaval Bhanusali, M.D., a New York City–based dermatologist. "I truthfully haven't seen any of my patients have issues with it, and it still gives you the therapeutic benefits of retinol that you're looking for."
Revision Skincare DEJ Face Cream
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"This is an oil-free, daily corrective serum to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and brighten skin. I use it twice a day and love this product," says Deirdre Hooper, M.D., cofounder of Audubon Dermatology in New Orleans. The multitasker has ursolic acid and rosemary to help with redness, peptides to stimulate fibroblasts (cells that help with collagen production), hyaluronic acid, plus 11 antioxidants to boot.
Photo: Revision SkinCare