Health and Fitness

10 Best Anti-Aging Serums of 2021

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With all the stellar work your skin does as a durable shield against the elements, it will inevitably develop wrinkles, lines, and blemishes over time — otherwise known as aging.

The weight of sun exposure and environmental damage wreaks havoc on skin cells. These stressors cause a decrease in collagen production, which eventually leads to the formation of fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin.

To fight back against these visible signs of aging, skin care products aim to fill out and plump the skin with moisture-rich ingredients, keeping it soft and hydrated. Not only does this improve the appearance of lines and wrinkles over time, but it also creates a smoother surface for makeup application.

Skin care routines are as varied as people’s complexions, but some general steps are widely recognized as good anti-aging (or as we like to say “pro-aging”) practices. Exfoliating, cleansing, hydrating, and moisturizing are skin care mainstays. But what about serums?

Now, if you’re new to the serum game, we can’t blame you if you’re hesitant to slap the first one you see onto your skin. That’s why we’ve done the research work for you to ID some of the best options out there for various skin types.

So, without further ado, let’s have a look at the 10 best anti-aging serums to keep your skin looking fresh.

We looked at various factors when compiling our list of the best anti-aging serums because, of course, you’re worth it. Here are the main things we considered:

  • Active ingredients. You need to know what’s in the serum so you know what you’re putting onto your skin, and what it took to make it.
  • Price point. You need a good option you can afford. And you need to know you’re getting good bang for your buck.
  • Reviews. You need to know that other users can vouch for the effects or make you aware of any red flags.

Plus, each of our picks has gone through a comprehensive vetting process. We wanted to ensure our chosen brands aren’t making unsupported health claims or engaging in anything dodgy!

  • Price: $
  • Highlights: lightweight formula packed with niacinamide, peach and mountain yam extract, hyaluronic acid, and peptides

The weightless formula of this serum soaks rapidly into the skin without leaving a greasy residue, so it’s a great option if your skin is already oily. People rave about their dewy, luminous skin after using the serum for a few weeks.

It’s a popular serum as it really packs a punch with versatile ingredients that hydrate, reduce inflammation, increase collagen production, and keeps free radical damage in check.

It’s cruelty-free and fragrance-free, so it’s suitable for anyone with sensitive skin. But be aware that niacinamide can trigger skin reactions in some people. So, it’s best to test a patch somewhere hidden before slathering it everywhere.

  • Price: $$
  • Highlights: silky, lightweight, combines reef-safe zinc oxide with prickly pear stem extract

There’s no need to worry about harmful chemicals in this sun-protecting serum, as it uses 25 percent zinc oxide to protect your skin against damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays. And, it’s transparent, doesn’t leave a powdery, white residue, and is suitable for all skin tones.

Protecting your skin from sun damage helps support collagen and elastin. It can also prevent and reduce pigmentation issues.

According to reviews, you can’t fault it as a sunscreen, but the dropper is infuriating to use and gets clogged easily.

  • Price: $$$
  • Highlights: hydrating formula with hyaluronic acid and niacinamide

Hydration is essential for dry skin, and PCA takes the top spot in this category, thanks to its star ingredient, hyaluronic acid.

This smoothing, long-lasting serum is a triple threat. It provides hydration on the skin’s surface, deep within its tissues, and boosts your own hyaluronic acid production.

Hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid (say that three times if you can) draws moisture into the skin, sending fine lines packing, while the niacinamide helps maintain your skin’s protective barrier.

The reviews generally sing its praises, but a few people weren’t impressed at the half-filled bottle that doesn’t last long.

  • Price: $$$
  • Highlights: brightening formula with vitamin C, vitamin E, and ferulic acid

Yes, it’s pricey, but it’s also unique. We chose Skin Ceuticals for our splurge serum because of its impressive, patented formula that banishes up to 41 percent of oxidative damage from the environment.

And if that’s not good enough, the vitamin C in this luxurious formula works its magic for up to 72 hours — brightening your complexion and helping the appearance of lines and wrinkles.

Users seem to agree that a little goes a long way, which helps them feel better about the price.

  • Price: $$
  • Highlights: gel-like cream formula with plant-derived retinol alternatives

Biossance uses sugarcane-derived squalane rather than the stuff from shark’s livers, thereby saving the lives of 2 million sharks every year. Coupled with being a vegan, sustainable brand, they took our cruelty-free top spot.

This serum also contains bakuchiol — a rational alternative to retinol that improves fine lines, wrinkles, and sun damage. Reviewers report that it’s lightweight and doesn’t irritate the skin. However, those with oily skin may find it slightly too greasy.

  • Price: $
  • Highlights: lightweight formula with 16 active ingredients

Is it a peel, or is it a serum? Mad Hippie doesn’t seem to know. That said, it’s our fave exfoliant choice, as it contains 10 percent alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) to gently remove dead skin cells and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. It also rejuvenates and nourishes the skin, leaving you looking smoother, brighter, and more glowy.

And by way of a bonus, Mad Hippie also blends the antioxidant properties of apple stem cells and a blend of alpine plants to balance your skin’s discoloration and help retain moisture.

  • Price: $$
  • Highlights: fluid texture that absorbs quickly containing 20 percent vitamin C and 10 percent AHA’s

We don’t have a category for the prettiest packaging, so instead, the Tatcha Violet-C is our top vitamin C choice, thanks to its high concentration of two types of this powerful antioxidant.

Vitamin C helps tackle the effects of damaging free radicals, which contribute to the aging process. Additional ingredients, including 10 percent fruit-derived AHA’s, act together to promote cell turnover, while hydrating and plumping the skin.

  • Price: $$
  • Highlights: smooth texture with 12.5 percent vitamin C and hyaluronic acid

This potent serum is our recommendation for fine lines because the vitamin C-rich formula combines with hyaluronic acid to boost radiance and visibly diminish fine lines, wrinkles, and pores. It’s also hydrating, as the hyaluronic acid attracts moisture, creating a plumping, smoothing effect.

However, some users do report having slight skin reactions to this serum — and it isn’t a cruelty-free choice.

  • Price: $
  • Highlights: weightless texture with 10 percent vitamin C, salicylic acid, and neurosensine

If you’re experiencing adult acne, this Pure Vitamin C face serum with salicylic acid helps clear up clogged pores while tackling lines and wrinkles with its vitamin C formula.

It’s suitable for sensitive skin and soothes inflamed acne patches with neurosensine — a compound naturally found in healthy skin.

  • Price: $$
  • Highlights: light formula with niacinamide

If your face has maskne, redness, irritation, or inflammation, reaching for this Stress Rescue Super Serum is a wise move.

Niacinamide is the hero here, waving a double-edged sword. Firstly, it soothes inflammation, then it works to improve the skin’s lipid barrier, reducing sensitivity.

And if that isn’t enough, the ashwagandha and goji help your skin adapt to stress, reduce free radical damage, minimize dark spots and fine lines, and calms your overall complexion.

There’s a slew of reviews from overjoyed peeps who can’t praise this serum’s skin-calming effects enough.

While we believe beauty exists even with wrinkles, we won’t dissuade you from wanting to stave them off. And anyone who values their skin could definitely benefit from an anti-aging serum, as they’re an effective, noninvasive way to help combat unwanted blemishes and address issues like inflammation and dryness.

Think of anti-aging serum as a super-concentrated magic moisturizer that you should weave into your skin care routine no matter your age or skin situation.

You may think that if you’re in your 20s, managing the signs of aging isn’t a top priority, but the truth is the earlier you start, the better. Prevention is better than cure. Although you may not realize, as soon as you join adulthood, the mechanisms that repair your skin begin to slow down, and early skin care practice lays the groundwork for great skin later on in life. And it’s never too late to start.

Many anti-aging serums make fantastic claims about their benefits, but do these products have any downsides? Here are some of the pros and cons of using anti-aging serums:

Got questions? We’ve got answers.

How long can I keep open serum?

If you’re using serum regularly (which, if you have some, you really should be), then it’s unlikely to last longer than 6 months. However, skin care products generally last between 6 months and 1 year before they begin to lose their potency. So aim to use your serum within the first 9 months.

How many different serums do I need?

It really comes down to personal taste. Some people like to use separate day and nighttime formulas. Typically, day formulas contain sunscreen, whereas night formulas have a thicker consistency. Although it’s recommended to use a serum with sunscreen during daytime hours, aside from that, there’s no real advantage in using different serums at different times of the day.

How do you apply serum?

It’s a little different from putting on lotion. You should cleanse and tone your skin before applying the serum and follow it up with a moisturizer. Check the ingredients on each of your products to ensure you won’t be using combinations that will irritate your skin.

Are basically all anti-aging serums effective?

Sort of, but it obviously depends on the product you buy. Your best bet is to find a quality serum containing proven active ingredients like vitamin C — a powerful antioxidant that removes toxins from your skin. Also, look for retinol that stimulates cells to create fresh new collagen.

Effectiveness also comes down to how regularly you apply the serum and adhere to your skin care routine.

Isn’t serum just a fancy moisturizer?

Nope, they aren’t the same thing. Serums are thinner and lighter than moisturizers, with smaller molecules that nourish the deeper layers of the skin. A moisturizer also hydrates skin and aims to prevent moisture loss with ingredients that stop it from evaporating, like lubes and oils.

If you’re looking for a serum to help manage signs of aging, there are some things to consider before purchasing:

  • Sunscreen. The absolute number one priority is choosing an option with sunscreen. Selecting a product that protects against UVA and UVB rays with an SPF of at least 30 can help prevent sun damage and skin cancer.
  • Skin type. Buying skin products tailored to your skin type can help keep your skin radiant by catering to its particular needs. You’ll manage signs of aging more effectively if you maintain healthy skin.
  • Ingredients. Although it may look impressive, products with multiple active ingredients can irritate your skin. More ingredients don’t necessarily boost the serum’s effectiveness, but the right ingredients can. Look for retinoids that stimulate collagen and antioxidants that help prevent cellular damage.

When in doubt, talk with a dermatologist about products they would recommend specifically for your skin. No matter how persuasive the marketing is, certain skin products may not be ideal for you. A medical professional can advise you on a tailored skin care regimen.

If you want to combat the signs of aging on your skin, an anti-aging serum may be just the ticket. There’s a vast range of serums at all price points, so look for one with youth-boosting ingredients proven to brighten your skin as well as reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and discoloration.

And don’t forget to opt for one that complements the other products in your skin care routine for optimal benefits.

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