The Top Skin Serum Ingredients: What to Look For

Top Skin Serum Ingredients Featured

Want to give your skin an extra boost? Just try a skin serum. These have a higher concentration of key ingredients than your standard facial moisturizer. But, which skin serum ingredients are best? It all depends on your skin issues.

Hyaluronic Acid

One of the most common skin serum ingredients is hyaluronic acid. It helps hydrate your skin, while also helping it retain moisture. As a result, it’s perfect for dull, dry skin and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. For extremely parched skin, a serum will help treat the issue much faster than a moisturizer alone.


If you’re looking to reduce redness, even out skin tone, and improve your skin’s texture, look for niacinamide in your serum. It’s vitamin B3 and works to decrease inflammation, giving your skin a smoother, more even texture.

Vitamin C

Top Skin Serum Ingredients Vitamin C
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You already know vitamin C is great for your health, but did you know it’s one of the best skin serum ingredients? It’s one of the top antioxidants to help you combat free radicals that lead to premature aging. Of course, it’s also beneficial for fighting sun damage and even helps brighten your skin. It’s a common ingredient in dark spot, scar, and brightening serums.


If the name sounds like a quick pick me up, you’re not wrong. Peptides are a type of amino acid that helps decrease fine lines and wrinkles. It can even slow down premature aging thanks to its collagen boosting properties. Apply this regularly and your skin naturally makes more collagen for a fuller, firmer face.

Vitamin E

Top Skin Serum Ingredients Vitamin E
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You’ll find vitamin E in numerous moisturizers and skin serums because it’s another highly powerful and effective antioxidant for boosting your skin’s look and health. Not only does it also fight free radicals, it’s both an emollient (prevents you from losing moisture) and a humectant (helps your skin absorb moisture). It’s a powerful hydrator your skin will love. If you don’t see it on your serum’s ingredient list, look for “tocopherol,” which is a form of vitamin E.


The word “ceramide” is popping up everywhere. From your favorite body lotion to face serums, it’s a must-have ingredient for healthy, hydrated skin. It works to heal and improve your skin’s natural barrier to better retain moisture.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

While AHAs can be too harsh for sensitive skin, they’re incredibly effective at improving your skin’s appearance. You’ll find this ingredient in many anti-aging serums. It exfoliates, boosts collagen production, improves your skin’s texture and tone, and aids in reducing those annoying wrinkles and fine lines.

The two most common types of AHAs are glycolic acid and lactic acid, which glycolic acid being the more powerful of the two.

Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)

Top Skin Serum Ingredients Bha
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For more sensitive skin, BHAs are best. They’re not as intense, but have a similar effect on your skin as AHAs. The most common type of salicylic acid. As you might know, salicylic acid is just one of the many ingredients that help fight acne too. BHAs absorb deeper into your pores than AHAs, helping exfoliate and cleanse acne and oil-prone skin. BHAs can be drying, so combine them with a hydrating ingredient for best results.


If dry skin is a problem, look for glycerin in your skin serum ingredients list. Much like ceramides, glycerin is a type of humectant that draws moisture to your skin and helps your skin retain it. Often, you’ll find vitamin E, ceramides, and glycerin together in serums and skin creams.


Retinol, also called vitamin A, is the top anti-aging ingredient available. It’s been clinically proven to reduce the look of aging by reducing wrinkles and fine lines, increase collagen production, and of course, even out your skin tone and texture. While similar to AHAs, retinols have a lower pH, making them slightly better for sensitive skin.

Kojic Acid

Top Skin Serum Ingredients Koji
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Kojic acid is a result of a compound formed by various types of fungi. It’s a popular skin lightener to get rid of dark spots and scars. It works by reducing your skin’s ability to produce melanin. For this reason, you’ll want to apply this as a spot treatment only to avoid any discoloration.

Azelaic Acid

If you have acne, azelaic acid may be your new best friend. It’s a commonly overlooked skin serum ingredient that not only helps unclog your pores, but evens out your skin tone. It’s ideal for getting rid of dark spots and scars left behind due to acne or as a result of any hyperpigmentation condition like melasma. It’s antibacterial properties also help heal and prevent acne.


Top Skin Serum Ingredients Babchi
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If you’ve ever used a retinol or AHA and found them way too irritating for your skin, don’t despair. You can still get powerful anti-aging benefits by using bakuchiol instead. It’s an all-natural plant based alternative to retinol. It comes from the babchi plant and has both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Just like a retinol, it increases your skin’s firmness, reduces the look of fine lines and wrinkles, and evens out your skin’s tone and texture.

If you love all natural ingredients, try using these common household items in your skincare routine.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know how my skin will react?

Since some of these serum ingredients can be a bit harsh, try just a little on a single spot on your face, or even your arm, to see what happens. If your skin reacts negatively, you know it’s not right for you. If you have sensitive skin, opt for less acidic ingredients.

Are serums the same as moisturizers?

Serums are targeted skin treatments. While some do help moisturize, they’re not the same thing as a dedicated facial moisturizer. Some serums don’t even moisturize at all.

Why do serums cost more?

At first glance, those tiny bottles of skin serum seem insanely expensive. But, a tiny little bit is all it takes for your whole face. Instead of a watered-down formula, you’re get a more concentrated dose. As a result, it’s a small bottle/container.

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Crystal Crowder

Crystal's spent over 15 years as a tech geek who writes about everything from gadgets to lifestyle and everything in between. She not only wants to live her best life, but help others do the same.