Ever wish you could just copy/paste the virtual carts of the experts who really know what they’re doing when it comes to shopping for beauty products? Well, we leaned into that nosiness and started a series dedicated to the shopping lists of some of the country’s top beauty experts. Here, we’re focusing on the serums that’ll save your skin in the summertime.
Serums have long been the darling of skincare. And for good reason. They’re typically packed with cocktails of do-your-skin good ingredients that target a slew of issues from clogged pores to fine lines, dryness, excess pigmentation, and more. You name it and there’s a serum that promises to fix it!
So, what serums should you be shopping right now for the summer season? We asked NYC-based dermatologist Debra Jaliman to share the products that top her charts.
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Great for: Hydrating and Fading Hyperpigmentation
iS Clinical Hydra-Cool Serum
Dr. Jaliman calls out this serum because of its kojic acid, vitamin B5, and hyaluronic acid combination. “Kojic acid lessens hyperpigmentation, which is a skin issue many of my clients complain about,” the doctor says, “while hyaluronic acid binds one thousand times its weight in water within skin”—which means serious hydration for your skin—“and vitamin B5 is an anti-inflammatory that also helps maintain moisture.”
Her pro tip: Spray your skin with a hydrating mist, then apply this on top.
Great for: Hydrating and Smoothing Fine Lines
SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator
Although hyaluronic acid is a super popular hydrator found in many products, Dr. Jaliman points out that “this one stands out because it has five different forms of hyaluronic acid.” The result, she explains, is that this typically large molecule is sure to penetrate the superficial layer of your skin to hydrate from the inside out.
Another plus? It has an instant smoothing effect. “It really helps to fill in very fine lines,” she says. Also it’s great for all skin types. Dr. Jaliman points out that if you have dry skin, you can layer it under a cream. And if your skin is oily, it provides hydration without clogging pores.
Great for: Hydrating and Boosting Collagen
Revision Skincare Hydrating Serum
If your skin feels like it needs a moisture infusion but you’d rather not slather on a thick cream, this pick is a game-changer. Dr. Jaliman explains that the VIP hydrator, hyaluronic acid, “stimulates collagen production, while vitamin E works against free radical damage.”
Great for: Tackling Fine Lines
SkinMedica TNS Advanced+ Serum
“This is one product that patients often talk about and say that they really see the difference in terms of fine lines and skin texture,” notes Dr. Jaliman. It stimulates collagen because it has such a high concentration of peptides and growth factors, she explains, which helps to boost your skin’s natural collagen production.
Great for: Fading Fine Lines
Eminence Organic Skin Care Bamboo Firming Fluid
If you want to target fine lines without the risk of irritating your skin with more aggressive ingredients (think retinoids or peels), this one’s for you. The formula is packed with natural ingredients including bamboo, coconut oil, coconut water, and chicory root.
Bamboo contains antioxidants, proteins, vitamins and minerals, while coconut oil and water hydrate and plant stem cells help improve the appearance of fine lines.
Great for: Firming
Neocutis Bio Serum Firm Rejuvenating Growth Factor and Peptide Treatment
This high-tech serum contains synthetic growth factors and peptides, both of which stimulate collagen production. Hyaluronic acid hydrates and glucosamine helps maintain the skin’s barrier, which prevents water loss, says the doctor.
Great for: Brightening and Anti-Aging
SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic
“We always ask patients when they come into the office which products they are using at home,” Dr. Jaliman says. This is one of the tops, something she attributes to the fact that it contains 15 percent vitamin C, which helps brighten skin and is also anti-aging.
“Plus it has ferulic acid,” she says, “which you don’t see very often in products, and helps increase the effectiveness of the vitamin C along with hydrating glycerin and vitamin E.”
Great for: Resurfacing and Fading Hyperpigmentation
Allies of Skin Mandelic Pigmentation Corrector Night Serum
This acid-packed serum has mandelic acid, lactic acid, and salicylic acid, all of which treat hyperpigmentation and unclog pores by dissolving dead surface cells. “They’re mild so they won’t irritate your skin,” Dr. Jaliman says.
It also has bakuchiol, a plant derivative that may help with wrinkle reduction because it works similarly to retinol. A slew of other heavy-hitters have also been linked to helping visibly repair sun damaged skin: vitamin C, niacinamide, peptides, antioxidant resveratrol, and hyaluronic acid.
Great for: Brightening
Obagi Daily Hydro-Drops Facial Serum
This serum contains vitamin B3, which the doctor says is “brightening, and really helps with any pigment problems—like melasma, pigment from sun damage, even post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from acne.” Its omega-9 and omega-6 oils help to hydrate the skin as well, she says.
Great for: Gently Exfoliating
Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment
As the summer heats up, your complexion can turn super oily, leading to clogged pores and blackheads. But exfoliating treatments can be scary because if they are too harsh, they can turn your skin red or cause irritation.
The key, Dr. Jaliman explains, is to look for gentle acids combined with skin-soothing ingredients. “Lactic acid helps to gently unclog pores, while licorice extract decreases hyperpigmentation and aloe acts as an anti-inflammatory,” she says.
Great for: Calming Inflammation
PCA Skin Vitamin B3 Brightening Serum
“We use it so much in our practice with patients,” says Dr. Jaliman. Its anti-inflammatory niacinamide (aka vitamin B3) calms redness, and its green tea and plankton soothe irritation, she explains.
“I find that a lot of people need anti-inflammatory ingredients in their skincare because they tend towards having some amount of redness in their skin,” she explains, which makes the product ideal for those with rosacea or eczema.
Great for: A Wide Range of Skin Issues
iS Clinical Pro-Heal Serum Advance Plus
Need an all-in-one skin saver? Dr. Jaliman points to this popular product that boasts a combination of vitamin C, which she explains is great for brightening and stimulating collagen, anti-inflammatory olive leaf extract, and zinc sulfate. Plus, it has vitamin E—an ingredient that works against free radicals, molecules that are found in environmental pollution, UV light, and more, and damage your skin’s collagen and elastin tissue.
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