While water is the only solution for staying hydrated from the inside out (supplemented by Lucozade as needed, should you find yourself suffering from a temporary condition that can only be cured by Berocca and a bacon, egg, and cheese), it is wrong to portray it as the
only route to dewy, gallon-a-day skin. That’s where a hydrating serum comes in.
Teamed with a moisturiser if your skin is especially dry and tight come winter, the best hydrating serums will act like a tall glass of water on a superficial level, giving you the extra assist you need to attain that much-desired, hardly-achieved glassy skin best paired with a glass straw, of course.
Ahead, find our pick of the best.
Refinery29’s selection is purely editorial and independently chosen we only feature items we love! As part of our business model we do work with affiliates; if you directly purchase something from a link on this article, we may earn a small amount of commission. Transparency is important to us at Refinery29, if you have any questions please reach out to us.
Bioderma Hydrabio Serum
From the French
pharmacie brand behind your favourite micellar water comes this lightweight serum, which eases dryness and irritation on contact and provides lasting hydration via a handful of humectants like glycerin. Laminaria ochroleuca extract better known as brown seaweed works to soothe and protect, and a super-absorbent polymer called sodium polyacrylate locks moisture into skin for the long haul. Bioderma Hydrabio Srum Moisturising Concentrate, $, available at FeelUnique
Allies Of Skin Triple Hyaluronic Antioxidant Hydration Serum
The name is a tongue-twister, but what’s inside this genius twist-top bottle is a hydrating serum at its finest, plain and simple. By pairing three different forms of hyaluronic acid with potent plant-based antioxidants and brightening, moisture-balancing niacinamide, you get a well-rounded formula that intensely hydrates, reduces inflammation, restores the skin’s natural barrier, and protects against environmental aggressors all in one fell swoop.
Allies Of Skin Triple Hyaluronic Antioxidant Hydration Serum, $, available at Cult Beauty
Aveeno Positively Radiant MaxGlow Hydrating Serum + Primer
Skip the morning moisturizer; opt for this serum-primer hybrid instead. The bi-phase formula combines an oil-based component with kiwi water and skin-strengthening soy protein extract (just give the bottle a good shake to combine the two), for a fast-absorbing finish that imparts major hydration and creates a dewy, non-greasy base for makeup.
Aveeno Positively Radiant MaxGlow Hydrating Serum + Primer, $, available at Target
Alpyn Beauty PlantGenius Survival Serum
Not just any plants can survive the unforgiving climate of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where the high altitude and dry air create extreme weather conditions that are difficult at best. The ones that
have learned to flourish get funneled (sustainably, of course) into this lotion-like serum, which uses the area’s hardest-working, highly-resilient botanicals like borage, calendula, sage, and licorice root to hydrate and brighten dry, lackluster skin. Alpyn Beauty PlantGenius Survival Serum, $, available at Credo
Supergoop! Anti-Aging City Sunscreen Serum Broad Spectrum SPF 30
Perhaps the only serum that can effectively be used in lieu of both your moisturiser
and your sunscreen in the colder months, this SPF 30 formula is lightweight yet hydrating, thanks to a dose of vitamin E and a proprietary complex that works in tandem with your skin’s natural moisture mechanisms. Because it absorbs both UVA and UVB rays, the physical sunscreen protects against fine lines and sunburn a full 360-degree coverage plan in one TSA-friendly bottle. Supergoop! City Sunscreen Serum SPF 30, $, available at Revolve
Saint Jane Luxury Beauty Serum
Now that we’ve all gotten used to the idea of CBD occupying space in our skin-care routines for the foreseeable future, are we ready to pay luxury prices for it, too? The answer is yes at least where this cannabidiol-infused serum is concerned. In addition to the 500 mg full-spectrum CBD for calming, the silky, omega-rich formula gets its deep hydrating properties from a range of plant oils, including rosehip, seabuckthorn, and grapeseed, and its balancing, brightening power from sandalwood, geranium, rose, and palmarosa.
Saint Jane Beauty Luxury Beauty Serum, $, available at Credo
Kate Somerville Kx Active Concentrates Ceramides + Omegas Serum
Inside this unassuming, vaguely clinical-looking bottle you’ll find a lightweight concentrated serum that punches far above its weight. Dryness vanishes on contact, irritation feels soothed in seconds all thanks to a potent yet calming blend of ceramides, fatty acids, and omega-rich plant oils, formulated without synthetic fragrance, for sensitive skin-friendly hydration that strengthens the natural moisture barrier over time.
Kate Somerville Active Concentrates Omegas + Ceramides Barrier Defense, $, available at Space NK
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum
This clear, fast-absorbing hydrating gel is basic in the best way: Instead of frills, fancy packaging, and fantastical claims, you get calm, plump, happy skin on contact courtesy of hyaluronic acid, collagen, and colloidal oatmeal.
First Aid Beauty Beauty Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum, $, available at FeelUnique
A dream team of hyaluronic acid and soothing vitamin B5 shuttles moisture to the areas you need it most, banishing that uncomfortable taut feeling. It leaves skin feeling dewy and plump.
Glossier Super Bounce, $, available at Glossier
Praised by beauty editors and influencers alike, not only does this serum smell divine, but it enlists an army of plant-based oils to keep moisture under lock and key in the skin. Add it to your moisturiser or use alone.
Vanderohe No.1 Nourishing Face Serum, $, available at Net-A-Porter
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