Concentrated yet lightweight, facial serums are the ultimate multi-taskers. They can help boost radiance, hydrate your skin, strengthen your skin’s natural moisture barrier, and even fight the visible signs of aging—it all comes down to choosing the right formula for your needs. Here, we’ll give you the rundown on our favorite Kiehl’s serums for every skin type (and concern), from dryness and dehydration to discolorations and more. Keep reading to discover our best face serum for your skin.
Are Serums Good For Your Skin?
Think of facial serums as a way to bolster your routine—you still need the staples (namely, cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen), but adding a serum can help give your skin more of what it needs. Though formulas vary immensely, the main way face serum benefits your skin is by addressing concerns (like fine lines and wrinkles or dullness) without leaving your skin feeling heavy or weighed-down. Of course, you’ll have the best results if you choose a facial serum tailored to your specific skin type and needs.
What Face Serum Should I Use?
As we mentioned, you should always seek to use a serum that’s aligned with your specific skincare needs and goals. Here, we’ll introduce you to our best facial serums for a range of skin types and concerns.
Best Skin-Strengthening Serum:
Vital Skin-Strengthening Hyaluronic Acid Super Serum
Fortify and help defend your skin against stressors with our Vital Skin-Strengthening Hyaluronic Acid Super Serum. Formulated with 11kDa hyaluronic acid and a blend of herbal adaptogens, this potent serum penetrates skin’s deeper layers and helps neutralize the effects of external skin-aging stressors. The lightweight formula is clinically-demonstrated to double skin’s strength and help boost resilience while visibly diminishing the appearance of fine lines and dullness over time.* It’s suitable for all skin types and can be used alone or layered underneath another facial serum for added skin benefits.
*Based on Strength Index = Composite, average score of clinically graded parameters after using the product for four weeks vs. one week of use.
How To Use: Apply our skin-strengthening serum to a clean face and neck, avoiding the eye area. For twice-daily use, morning and night, under your moisturizer or another facial serum.
Best Serum For Aging Skin:
Micro-Dose Anti-Aging Retinol Serum With Ceramides and Peptide
If fine lines and wrinkles are your main skin concern, reach for Micro-Dose Anti-Aging Retinol Serum with Ceramides and Peptide. The gentle yet highly-effective formula contains a precise daily dose of pure retinol and delivers visible anti-aging results with minimal redness, peeling, or dryness. It’s clinically-proven to visibly reduce wrinkles and firm the skin to reveal a smoother, more refined appearance over time.* It also helps minimize the appearance of enlarged pores and rough skin texture. We recommend using this anti-aging serum once daily for visibly more youthful-looking skin.
*Results based on expert grading in a clinical test for subjects showing improvement after 12 weeks of use.
How To Use: Apply a pea-sized amount of our retinol serum to your entire face after cleansing once per day, avoiding the eye area. If using during the daytime, follow with broad-spectrum sunscreen.
Best Serum For Wrinkles:
Retinol Fast Release Wrinkle-Reducing Night Serum
For those looking to target deeper-set wrinkles and other prominent signs of aging, we suggest Retinol Fast Release Wrinkle-Reducing Night Serum. The potent, fast-acting formula contains our highest concentration of pure retinol at 0.3%. It works quickly to help smooth the skin and visibly reduces the appearance of deep-set wrinkles in as little as two weeks. With consistent use over time, it also helps firm the skin and improves elasticity, giving way to a more refined, youthful appearance.
How To Use: Apply our maximum-strength retinol serum to clean, dry skin at night after cleansing and toning, avoiding your eye area. Once absorbed, follow with the moisturizer or night cream of your choice.
Best Vitamin C Serum:
Powerful-Strength Vitamin C Serum
If your skin looks duller than you’d like, we recommend incorporating Powerful-Strength Vitamin C Serum into your daily routine. This Kiehl’s customer favorite is made with 12.5% vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. It instantly boosts radiance and helps improve skin texture, diminishing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and enlarged pores over time. It’s dermatologist-tested and suitable for all skin types and can be used daily for visibly firmer, more radiant-looking skin.
How To Use: Cleanse skin thoroughly, then apply our vitamin C serum over your entire face, avoiding the eye area. (Note: As the formula blends into the skin, you may experience a feeling of warmth.) It can be used twice a day, morning and night.
Best Serum For Dry Skin:
Hydro-Plumping Hydrating Serum
Skin needs moisture in order to look (and feel) its best. If your skin is on the drier side, help replenish essential moisture with Hydro-Plumping Hydrating Serum, which contains glycerin and our unique epidermal hydration filler. The ultra-gentle hydrating face serum for dry skin provides deep hydration and visibly plumps the skin to help improve the appearance of fine lines. When used consistently, it also helps improve dullness and boosts skin’s elasticity for smoother, more even-looking skin.
How To Use: Dispense one pump of our serum for dry skin onto clean palms. Apply evenly to clean skin before moisturizer, morning and night.
Best Serum For Dark Spots:
Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Corrector
Dark spots can occur after any number of things, including breakouts and excessive sun exposure. Though anyone can experience dark spots and discolorations, they’re especially prevalent amongst those with darker skin tones. Help brighten the skin and diminish discolorations with Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Corrector, which contains activated vitamin C and peony root extract. It’s clinically-demonstrated to visibly reduce the appearance of a broad array of dark spots, including post-blemish marks and sun spots, and is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin.
How To Use: Apply our dark spot serum twice daily before applying moisturizer and sunscreen. It may be used as a spot treatment or applied to your entire face.
Best Night Serum:
Nightly Refining Micro-Peel Concentrate
Address dullness and unevenness while you sleep with Nightly Refining Micro-Peel Concentrate. Made with sustainably-sourced quinoa husk extract and phytic acid, this exfoliating face serum is clinically-demonstrated to accelerate cell turnover to reveal fresher, more even-looking skin.* When used nightly, it helps visibly improve skin tone and improves the feel of rough skin texture. It’s suitable for all skin types but is especially beneficial for those looking to help refresh their skin’s appearance.
*Based on instrumental test within surface layers.
How To Use: After your cleansing and toning steps, apply several drops of our skin-smoothing serum to your fingertips and gently press it onto the face until absorbed. Follow with a hydrating serum (if desired) and moisturizer.
Best Men’s Serum:
Age Defender Power Serum
All of our face serums are unisex, but for men who prefer using products specifically tailored to their skin, we have Age Defender Power Serum. The lightweight, fast-absorbing formula contains cypress extract, adenosine, and energizing caffeine. It helps reduce the visible signs of aging, including fine lines and wrinkles, and firms sagging skin to reveal a more resilient, youthful appearance over time.
How To Use: Twice daily, smooth one pump of our men’s face serum onto clean skin, avoiding the eye area. Follow with the men’s moisturizer of your choice.
Best Eye Serum:
Powerful-Strength Dark Circle-Reducing Vitamin C Eye Serum
While this is a roundup of our best facial serums, we’d be doing you a disservice if we didn’t mention Powerful-Strength Dark Circle-Reducing Vitamin C Eye Serum. Designed specifically for the delicate skin around your eyes, this targeted eye serum instantly hydrates the eye area to improve the appearance of tired-looking eyes. It’s clinically-demonstrated to help visibly reduce dark circles, puffiness, and crow’s feet and can be used daily for fresher, brighter-looking eyes.*
*Clinical grading of the full panel tested in an eight-week study.
How To Use: Use your ring finger to lightly tap a small amount of our vitamin C eye serum along your under-eye area, brow bone, and outer corners. Follow with a moisturizing eye cream for added hydration if desired.
Should You Use Skin Serum Every Day?
It depends on the formula, but generally speaking, yes—serum should be a part of your daily (and nightly) skincare routine. We usually recommend applying a single pump or a few drops of your chosen serum to clean, damp skin, then following with moisturizer (and sunscreen, for day). Make sure to read the instructions on your serum before applying it, though: Some formulas are designed to be used once daily, and others are best suited for nighttime use. Follow the instructions on your chosen formula (or formulas, if you’re using different serums during the day and at night) for the best results.