Face serums are beloved because they're so lightweight but pack a big punch when it comes to skincare benefits. They serve a variety of skin needs. Do you have totally dehydrated, flaky skin? There's a serum for that. Or what if you want something that has a little bit of exfoliating action to get rid of dead skin cells and dirt? There's one for that, too. And what about something with anti-ageing benefits? Oh, there's definitely an option for you.
So yeah, face serums can do so much and are a great skincare product, but there's a downside to them—they can get pretty pricey. I definitely splurge every few months on my favourite vitamin C serum that just so happens to cost £110, but to me, it's totally worth it because my skin always looks brighter and healthier when I use it. That doesn't mean I don't appreciate an affordable drugstore buy as well.
In fact, some of my favourite face serums are drugstore buys. They work just as hard as the expensive ones, but I don't feel guilty stocking up on them. It's a win-win situation here, right? Take a look at some of the best drugstore serums that I love plus other highly rated ones from readers and editors.
This is my favourite drugstore face serum, hands down. I'm so obsessed with Neutrogena's Hydro Boost Gel-Cream, and its sister product is just as hydrating and refreshing. On a beach vacation a few years ago, my skin was parched and red, so I bought this at a drugstore near my hotel, and it saved the day (or I guess you could say the trip). It calmed any redness and irritation, and the formula worked so quickly to hydrate my skin.
What a reviewer says: "Oh my word! If you're looking for a lightweight hydrating serum that helps hide those fine lines and gives your skin a glow boost, look no further! I love this serum. It's so lightweight, absorbs quickly, and it is the best serum I've used after a chemical peel! I switch my skin routines up every month but I'm always going to make sure I have this around."
2. L'Oréal Revitalift 1.5% Pure Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum
Packed with three essential ceramides, hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5, CeraVe's serum locks in moisture and smooths the skin like whoa. The formula provides 24 hours of hydration, which is a big plus since you won't have to reapply.
What a reviewer says: "The product itself is fantastic. Holy grail status. It's not a 'serum' the way we traditionally think of serum—more of a gel-like moisturiser. It's white and creamy, rather than watery and translucent/transparent. It doesn't break me out, so it's good for sensitive skin, and, as with most CeraVe products, it's fragrance-free. There basically is no scent, which is a huge bonus in my book. I finally found something to mix with my nightly high-end serum, and it’s cut my skincare spending in half."
I know a lot of things are described as having cult status, but when I say this is a cult favourite, I mean it 10000%. This vitamin C serum contains vitamin E and hyaluronic acid to hydrate, brighten and improve wrinkles and dark spots. And did I mention it has over 80,000 ratings and 4.5 out of five stars on Amazon?
What a reviewer says: "My search for an amazing serum is finally over. I just purchased my third bottle and I am hooked! My skin looks flawless and I have been getting so many compliments about how great I look. My skin glows as if I just walked out of a spa treatment. A little goes a long way, the bottle usually lasts me about three and a half months. I use it every morning and every night."
5. La Roche-Posay Glycolic B5 Serum Dark Spot Corrector
Aveeno is known for its gentle products that are formulated especially for sensitive skin. Its serum is perfect for skin that's irritated and dry since it works to strengthen and moisturise the skin barrier. It contains feverfew, which calms any redness and irritation.
What a reviewer says: "Really helped calm my redness on my cheeks. I used the serum after washing with Aveeno's Redness Reducing Facial Cleanser for two weeks. It noticeably reduced redness on my cheeks (more than the face wash alone) and provided enough moisture for my dry skin that I didn't use another nighttime lotion. Highly recommend the serum."
This is a great serum for protecting the skin against environmental stressors and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Key ingredients include hyaluronic acid to hydrate and Matrixyl 3000+ for anti-ageing benefits.
What a reviewer says: "I love the feel of this serum—[it's] rich and soothing for my dry skin. I use under my night cream and am noticing smoother skin and more refined pores."
If you're dealing with acne, try this clarifying serum to manage it. The formula contains willow bark extract, niacinamide and zinc to calm inflammation and unclog pores.
What a reviewer says: "I bought this serum because I did not want to go into SA (salicylic acid) right away. I wanted to take it slow since I know that SA can be very irritating if you push too hard. This serum is a great one for skincare novices that want to control their acne."
Olay's serum works to regenerate surface cells, restore the skin's elasticity and add hydration. It contains an Amino-Peptide Complex II, which moisturises into the skin 10 layers deep.
What a reviewer says: "It not only makes my 74-year-old skin look good for my age, it makes it feel even better. After a wash, it's smooth and creamy going on, but it soaks in quickly and keeps my skin soft and firm."
Made with 10% pure vitamin C, salicylic acid and neurosensine, this rich serum hydrates, softens and brightens the skin. You just need to add three to four drops to your face and neck in the mornings to see results.
What a reviewer says: "[It] instantly absorbs and has helped tremendously with age spots, trouble spots, uneven skin tone, etc. Very pleased with this product and will definitely purchase again!"
For a retinol formula, try this resurfacing serum that works to minimise the appearance of acne scars, marks and enlarged pores. It also contains three essential ceramides, licorice root extract and niacinamide to nourish the skin.
What a reviewer says: "This product has slightly reduced the visibility of my acne scarring. Surprisingly, since I started using it, my acne has cleared up completely. Adding this product at night is the only change I made to my routine. My face no longer feels dry during the day. Overall, this product has helped balance my skin far more than anticipated."
14. L'Oréal Revitalift Night Serum With Pure Retinol
This nighttime serum contains 0.3% pure retinol to reduce wrinkles and smooth texture. It also deeply hydrates the skin thanks to ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin.
What a reviewer says: "I love how easy this serum is to use—[it] absorbs quickly, feels soft on the skin, and didn't irritate my sensitive skin at all. The formula is milky unlike other clear serums I have used which adds to the ease of spreading. Also a great value. They recommend two drops—this bottle is going to last!"
15. Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Face Serum
Neutrogena's lightweight serum contains both retinol and hyaluronic acid for anti-aging and hydrating benefits. It targets fine lines and wrinkles, uneven texture and dull skin.
What a reviewer says: "Within days (yes, days), the deepest crease above one eye is gone, not diminished or better but gone. My forehead lines look like they did in my 30s, and my smile lines are diminishing daily. I cannot promise it will work for you (I have overall pretty good skin thanks to genetics—my mom did too), but I swear it has done wonders for me—at such a great price."