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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
26 Hours Researched
3 Experts Interviewed
175 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best hydrating super serums

Does the mirror tell you that you look older than your age? Is your skin tired, dry, taut, and wrinkled? Fast becoming the most powerful weapon in many women’s anti-aging arsenal, hydrating super serums are lightweight, ultra-moisturizing, healing serums formulated to absorb instantly into the skin, leaving no greasy residue behind.

Hydrating super serums provide intense hydrators, such as amino acids, essential fatty acids, and ceramides, to heal and strengthen skin. Protecting against fine lines and dryness, super serums replenish the skin’s lipids, enhance moisture retention, and provide a defensive barrier against environmental pollutants. No matter if you are male or female, young or old, a twice-daily application of hydrating super serum, targeted for your skin type, reduces blemishes and discolorations, brightens skin, hydrates, soothes and softens, and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

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Key considerations

As we age, our skin loses its elasticity, brightness, and dewy softness. Hydrating super serums replace lost fluids and fade scars and splotches, all while reducing fine lines and wrinkles. If you want to “put your best face forward,” hydrating super serums can reveal more youthful-looking skin.

Active ingredients

Pamper your skin with a skincare routine that offers targeted results. Because lightweight hydrating super serums leave out heavier ingredients used in traditional moisturizers, they provide highly concentrated active ingredients. While face lotions, creams, and potions typically contain less than 10% active ingredients, hydrating super serums can contain up to 70%. 

There is a diverse array of formulations, and the active ingredients vary from product to product. Choose a hydrating serum designed to address your unique skin issues. Concentrated active ingredients commonly found in hydrating super serums include the following:

  • Hyaluronic acid: Helps skin retain moisture
  • Hydroxytyrosol: Powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory; promotes healing
  • Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE): Anti-inflammatory; helps reduce skin redness
  • Glycolic acid: Exfoliates; unclogs pores; lightens skin discoloration  
  • Glycerin, xylitol, mannitol, and rhamnose: Humicants that lubricate, calm, and heal dry, irritated skin
  • Niacinamide: Increases ceramide levels in skin; promotes healing
  • Peptides: Help dryness and relieve redness; calm sensitive skin
  • Olive squalane: Locks in moisture to deeply hydrate skin
  • Ferulic acid: Hydrates; helps skin retain moisture; promotes cellular repair
  • Phloretin: Promotes moisture retention
  • Vitamin C: Reduces skin inflammation; encourages collagen production; promotes skin repair
  • Vitamin B5: Hydrates, softens, and soothes skin
  • Vitamin E: Antioxidant; protects against cell damage; reduces skin sensitivity
  • Retinol (Vitamin A): Powerful antioxidant; promotes skin healing; relieves irritation
  • Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA): Exfoliate; reduce pore size; brighten and lighten skin tone
  • Salicylic acid: Helps unclog and reduce the size of pores
  • Zinc: Regulates skin oil production; promotes healing
  • Kojic acid: Brightens and lightens skin; fades discolorations
  • Sodium polyacrylate: Locks in moisture
  • Soy protein: Traps moisture
  • CBD oil: Calms; heals; relieves redness; promotes collagen production
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Super serums are lightweight and offer no UV protection. After using a super serum and before going outdoors, apply moisturizer and sunscreen.

Skin types

Hydrating super serums are potent formulations specifically designed for your type of skin. The molecules in super serums are considerably smaller than those found in heavier lotions and creams, which allows active clinical ingredients to more easily penetrate the skin.

Oily skin: If you are prone to blemishes and breakouts, look for a super serum with glycolic acid to help keep pores clean and skin irritation-free. Noncomedogenic hydrating super serum helps balance the skin’s natural oils.

Hyperpigmented skin: If you wish to eliminate discoloration or hyperpigmentation, choose a hydrating super serum loaded with vitamin C.

Tired, wrinkled skin: If your skin is dry with fine wrinkles and a tautness about the eyes, hydration is the key to optimum skin health. Select a super serum rich in hyaluronic acid.

Hyaluronic acid absorbs up to 1,000 times its weight in water.

Sensitive skin: If rosacea ruins your otherwise lovely complexion, hydrating super serums formulated with anti-inflammatories such as aloe vera, pomegranate, zinc, yarrow, goldenseal, or arnica help relieve redness and reduce inflammatory cell damage.


Apply serum to clean, dry skin of décolletage, neck, and face following the manufacturer’s instructions. For best results, use the serum morning and night before applying sunscreen or night cream. Hydrating super serums are highly concentrated, so a little goes a long way. Apply sparingly, focusing on problem areas.


The powerful ingredients found in super serums can become unstable once the bottle is opened and they come in contact with the air. As an example, vitamin C can oxidize, losing efficacy over time. To help keep your super serum fresh and effective, store it in a cool, dry place for use within six months.



The majority of super serums are light as water, but some have more viscosity. While some hydrating super serums are a bit thicker than others, all super serums glide on the skin like silk: instantly penetrating with no residue.


Hydrating super serums are packaged in glass or plastic bottles of 1 ounce, 1.5 ounces, and 2 ounces. Most provide a handy dropper for ease in dispensing just a few drops at a time.


Look for a hydrating super serum that is free of parabens, phthalates, and sulfates. Consider the pH level of the product. A pH of 5.7 to 6.0 offers the best compatibility with all skin types. Choose a serum that is free of essential oils, fragrance, silicone, formaldehyde, and formaldehyde-releasing agents.

Hydrating super serum prices

Because the powerful active ingredients found in hydrating super serums are more expensive than the thickeners and fillers found in most skin lotions and creams, super serums tend to be the costliest product in most skincare lines. However, when applied correctly a 1-ounce container of hydrating super serum will last for several months.

Inexpensive: In the lowest price range, hydrating super serums typically only contain one or two active ingredients and sell for $12 to $26 for a 1-ounce bottle.

Mid-range: In the middle price range, you can find name-brand hydrating super serums, marketed as part of a complete line of the manufacturer’s facial care products. In this price range, you can expect to pay from $26 to $50.

Expensive: In the higher price range, hydrating super serums sell for $50 to $300 per ounce.


  • Do a patch test first. Persons with skin sensitivities should apply just a small drop of hydrating super serum to a specific area of their face as a patch test for skin reactions. Because super serums are highly concentrated, with a gel-like consistency, skin irritations may occur. Persons with extremely dry skin may obtain the best results with a heavier face cream with smaller concentrations of active ingredients.
  • Use the serum every day. Daily application of a hydrating super serum rich in antioxidants can help to reduce pores, clear discolorations, stimulate collagen production, and reduce fine wrinkles. Antioxidants fight the damage of environmental pollutants, sun damage, and free radicals.
  • Brighten your eyes. Hydrating super serum applied lightly around the eyes immediately makes eyes look brighter, younger, and less tired. The serum helps tighten skin and reduces swelling in puffy eyelids.
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Super serums containing vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, are useful in the treatment of discolored or hyperpigmented skin.


Q. What is the most powerful antioxidant found in super serums?
Recently discovered hydroxytyrosol is more powerful than beta-carotene, green tea, or vitamin C when it comes to its ability to absorb cell-damaging free radicals. Hydroxytyrosol has an oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) that is more than 15 times higher than green tea.

Q. My skin is oily in patches and prone to breakouts. Will a hydrating super serum make it more oily?
No, hydrating super serums will not make skin oily or clog pores. Hydrating super serums moisturize, soothe dry skin, and heal irritated skin, all without oil.

Q. I work outdoors and my face is always windburned and sore. Will a hydrating super serum calm the irritation?
Yes. Hydrating super serums penetrate on contact, soothing inflammation and relieving dryness. Skin feels hydrated, soft, and supple.

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