Whether you have a beauty fridge packed with skincare products, or you prefer to keep your routine ~short and sweet~, I’m gonna go ahead and say that a good face serum is non-negotiable (like, almost on par with sunscreen). The beauty of a face serum? They typically have a high concentration of actives (i.e., the stuff in skincare products that *actually* do something to your skin, like acids, retinoids, hyaluronic acid, etc.) that help treat everything from acne and rosacea to dark spots and dryness. But lest you think the best face serums need to cost half of your rent, I’ve got news: Some of the most effective formulas out there are made by drugstore brands (really, I use them), which means you can be on a budget and still find a serum that really, truly works. And to get you started, I rounded up the 12 best drugstore face serums that really, truly work.
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Best Drugstore Face Serum for Sensitive Skin
Aveeno Calm + Restore Triple Oat Serum
Get all the soothing, calming benefits of anti-inflammatory oat and feverfew extracts with this drugstore face serum from Aveeno. The ultra-gentle formula is made without potential irritants (so no fragrance, dyes, or phthalates) making it ideal for sensitive skin types.
Sponsored: Best Drugstore Face Serum with Retinol
L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Night Serum with PURE Retinol
When it comes to anti-aging, there is no better ingredient than retinol, and I recommend this one from L’Oréal Paris. It’s made with 0.3 percent pure retinol—the most potent form of the ingredient—to help smooth wrinkles over time. (Yup, even the deep ones.) It also contains soothing and hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin to counteract any redness or flaking.
Best Drugstore Face and Neck Serum
No7 Restore & Renew Face & Neck Multiaction Serum
ICYMI, your neck needs the same TLC as your face–which is where this two-in-one drugstore serum from No7 comes in. It’s designed to be used twice daily on your face, neck, and chest to smooth lines, brighten your skin tone, give your skin a major glow.
Best Drugstore Face Serum for Fine Lines
Olay Wrinkle Correction Serum B3 + Peptides
This drugstore face serum combines two derm-loved anti-aging ingredients—vitamin b3 (aka niacinamide) and peptides—to help firm and smooth fine lines and wrinkles. And in case you missed the price tag, this bb is only $28 (so, a fraction of the cost of Botox).
Best Multitasking Drugstore Face Serum
Acure Radically Rejuvenating Dual Phase Bakuchiol Serum
This multitasking drugstore face serum literally does all the things: it helps smooth and tighten with bakuchoil, calms and balances with probiotics, and soothes redness with anti-inflammatory blue tansy extract.
Best Drugstore Face Serum for Dull Skin
SheaMoisture Papaya and Vitamin C Serum
This drugstore face serum from SheaMoisture is clutch for mornings when your skin is just looking meh (so, basically me every Monday). It’s equal parts hydrating and brightening thanks to a combo of papaya and vitamin C extracts.
Best Drugstore Face Serum for Acne
AcneFree Adapalene Gel
I recommend this drugstore face serum with adapalene to anyone who is dealing with blackheads, whiteheads, and/or cysts and doesn’t want to spend a ton of money on different products to clear them up. For just $12, it targets acne in two major ways: It reduces inflammation and increases cell turnover to prevent clogged pores.
Best Drugstore Face Serum for Dry Skin
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Serum
Proof that you don’t need to use heavy creams and goopy serums to get the dewy, hydrated skin of your dreams, this water-like drugstore face serum from Neutrogena is lightweight, non-sticky, and packed with hyaluronic acid to draw moisture from the air and into your skin to plump it up.
Best Drugstore Face Serum for Hyperpigmentation
Differin Dark Spot Correcting Serum
Yup, you really can fade your acne scars, dark spots, and melasma with this drugstore face serum from Differin. The hero ingredient is hydroquinone, a lightening agent that inhibits melanin production in the skin. Use it once daily to get all the skin-brightening benefits, but fair warning: It’s kinda strong, so skip this one if you have sensitive skin.
Best Drugstore Face Serum with Vitamin C
Vichy LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum
I’ve tried and tested a TON of vitamin C face serums throughout the years, but I always come back to this drugstore option from Vichy. It has a combo of 15 percent ascorbic acid (one of the most stable forms of vitamin C) and hyaluronic acid that works wonders on my dry, dull skin without irritating it.
Best All-Natural Drugstore Face Serum
Burt’’s Bees Intensive Renewal Firming Serum
You don’t need to shop at fancy boutiques to get in on the all-natural skincare craze. This drugstore face serum from Burt’s Bees is totally clean and contains plant-based bakuchiol (a natural retinol alternative that legit works almost as well) to help smooth your skin texture.
Best Drugstore Face Serum for Rosacea
La Roche-Posay Rosaliac AR Intense
If you’re dealing with rosacea, then it’s time to give this top-rated drugstore face serum a try. It contains soothing plant extracts and thermal spring water to reduce redness, both short and long term.
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