Best face serums 2021: with Vitamin C, Hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, these are the best serums for great skin

Dry, dull, or dehydrated skin? The best skin serumsDry, dull, or dehydrated skin? The best skin serums
Dry, dull, or dehydrated skin? The best skin serums | Shutterstock

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Crammed with active ingredients, few skincare products will work to improve your skin tone as effectively as a good face serum. Here are nine of our favourites for 2021

An often overlooked part of a daily skincare routine, serums can provide an extra barrier to protect the skin against, among other things, the drying effects of the cold weather. Whether you’re looking for an anti ageing product, to reduce blemishes or simply inject a surge of moisture, there’s a serum out there that’ll work wonders. Here we take a look at a range of face serums, all available to buy online, to try this winter.

Do you have dry skin, or is it dehydrated?

One of the issues many of us face is not knowing precisely what skin complaint we are trying to combat. There are, however, simple ways to tell.

Dehydrated skin is skin that is lacking sufficient moisture, while dry skin is skin that lacks sufficient oil.

Does your skin appear slightly - forgive the term - wizened? Do you have many fine lines? Does your skin look it's best when you emerge from the shower, looking freshly (albeit temporarily) plump and full? Your skin is dehydrated, and requires added moisture. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid (great at delivering a wallop of moisture to the skin) and glycerin, a natural humectant. Of the products below, the SVR, Indeed Labs, Fenty, and Kiehls product will best bring freshness and fullness to your face.

By contrast, dry skin is prone to flaking, chapping, and roughness. It can often feel 'tight' if not thoroughly moisturised. A richer serum will help here - of the products below, we recommend the BareMinerals, L'Occitane, and La Mer.

When should I apply my serum?

A quick note for the uninitiated: serums are thinner and more viscous than creams. Apply to a freshly cleaned face, before you apply moisturiser on top, both morning and night. Serums will serve to treat the skin complaint, while the moisturiser will cosset and further hydrate. 

Indeed Labs Hydraluron Moisture Serum

This moisture boosting serum has Hyaluronic Acid is known for its plumping properties and Red Marine Algae, which stimulates cell cell turnover and circulation and promises soft, smooth and glowing skin.

 Absorbing easily into skin and without any stickiness, this serum really does deliver on its moisture boost - a must for the cold weather.

SVR Ampoule B3 serum

This serum is part of a range of ultra concentrated ampoules that focus on correction - from anti-ageing to smoothing. B3 is the repairing concentrate and has a combination of three Hyaluronic Acids that rehydrates and smooths skin. 

This is another serum that looks a bit clinical, and has no obvious fragrance making it good for sensitive skin. After about seven days of use, my skin felt much smoother and hydrated.

Algenist AA Barrier Serum

This serum is full of antioxidants that work to protect against environmental concerns such as pollution and ozone. 

Ingredients such as Alguronic Acid from algae is combined with nutrient-rich niacinamide (Vitamin B3) and the anti-oxidant Phloretin (from applewood) and Ergothioneine (from mushroom) offers intense protection. 

The gold hued bottle easily dispenses a very lightly fragranced gel-like serum and, within a few days, my skin does feel plumper and fresher. A good serum to use at night.

bareMinerals Skinlongevity

This new serum is ideal for this looking for adding moisture to skin while keeping it looking young.

 Formulated with patented Long Life Herb and potent botanical extracts such as antioxidant-rich California Poppy, this serum is a more natural approach to anti-aging. 

Unlike other anti-aging ingredients that promote cell turnover or offer topical protection, Long Life Herb helps skin cells better resist daily damage, which causes visible signs of aging. The zesty, floral scent of this serum makes it smell like summer in a bottle. 

Don’t worry about the water-like serum, it may be thin but it will calm irritated skin as well as giving much needed moisturisation.

Fenty Beauty Fat Water pore refining toner serum

Rihanna’s Fenty beauty range burst on to the skincare scene in 2020 and was always going to have fans thanks to the singer’s huge success and flawless looks. 

This two in one toner-serum combo fights shine, targets pores, improves the look of dark spots, brightens and smooths - all without stripping skin. This one is much thicker than you’d expect from a traditional serum but it is described as Rihanna’s fave step in her routine, and it’s easy to see why. 

Witch hazel helps refine pores and niacinamide, aloe, and hyaluronic acid improves skin’s moisture and texture. Those with sensitive skin watch out though as the fragrance here may not be for all.

L’Occitane Overnight Reset serum

Described as sleep in a bottle thanks to the ingredients such as acmella oleacera extract that helps smooth stress lines and marjoram extract, which helps awaken skin overnight. 

This serum has a lovely scent and bright yellow, gel-like consistency, and you really can see the smoothing properties in fine wrinkles quickly as well as enjoying softer skin even in the harsh, cold weather.

Kiehl’s Hydro-Plumping Re-Texturizing Serum Concentrate

This serum has plenty of fans, and promises  to plump skin, soothe dry skin as well as smooth fine lines. 

Glycerin is one of the key moisturising ingredients and those that love the properties of hyaluronic acid in a moisturiser will love this. 

After a few days, my skin felt softer and more plumped up, plus it works well with the brand’s popular Ultra Facial cream.

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

The simple, slightly clinical look of this serum’s packaging, name and design belies the affordable price tag. 

Don’t be put off by the name, it’s simply the ingredients that promise to reduce pores (thanks to niacinamide), combat blemishes and give a more even skin tone due to the Zinc. 

There’s no bells or whistles (or fragrance) with this serum but only a few drops used on cleansed skin day and night is enough to see a reduction in blemishes. During this cold weather, a heavier moisturiser will help keep skin glowing.

La Mer The Regenerating Serum

The La Mer skincare range has had a celebrity and cult following since Kate Moss endorsed it years ago. Their products contain a fermented ‘miracle broth’- a fermented kelp extract that was discovered by Aerospace Physicist Dr. Max Huber - and the key to amazing looking skin. 

The Regenerating serum is a  re-engineered formula to help reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles. The sleek packaging and luxurious feeling serum skins into skin, with a reduction in fine lines noticeable quickly. The only downside for most will be the prohibitive price tag.

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