Because of their smaller molecular makeup, which makes them better able to penetrate your skin, serums are the most effective beauty product to which you can treat your face. If you have dry skin, a incorporating a thirst-quenching serum into your routine is the best course of action if you're looking for tangible results. But not all serums work to hydrate your skin, which is why you have to do your research before splurging out on a new product. Ahead, find a guide to the best hydrating serums for dry skin, plus tips from two board-certified dermatologists.
According to Dr. Lily Talakoub of McLean Dermatology, "There are two ways to add moisture to the skin. There are moisturizers that add oils, and hydrators which increase the skin's ability to hold water. Serums with hyaluronic acid and ceramides hold water in the skin and hydrate the skin the best." Dr. Audrey Kunin, Board Certified Dermatologist and Founder of DERMAdoctor, echoes that sentiment, noting that hyaluronic acid serums are her top pick for dry skin. "They hold 1000 times their weight in water, and as they are lightweight, they work well for all skin types," she explains.
Moreover, Dr. Talakoub says that "Serums with hyaluronic acid are great for acne prone skin because they go on light, increase hydration without feeling greasy." For dry skin that's on the sensitive side, she recommends "serums with ceramides and fatty acids, which help inflamed skin and hydrate without irritation."
As for what ingredients dry skin types should avoid? "Dimethicone and silicones, which, according to Dr. Kunin, "smother pores." Dr. Talakoub also says that "Dry skin types should avoid fragrances, essential oils and acids because they can be irritating," especially if it's already sensitive. Keep in mind that this refers to exfoliating acids, like salicylic and glycolic — not hyaluronic acid, which our bodies naturally produce.
Another tip? Apply your serum (after cleansing and/or toning, and before moisturizing) on slightly damp skin. This provides it with even more moisture to hold on to, so it doesn't wind up sucking it from the deeper layers of your skin.
Without further ado, check out five must-try hydrating serums for dry and dehydrated skin.
1. The Overall Best Hydrating Serum For Dry Skin
Considering its $11 price tag, its thousands of rave reviews, and its pure, no-fuss formula, this is our top pick for the best hydrating serum on the market. It contains 100 percent pure hyaluronic acid, which provides dry, dehydrated skin with a serious boost of moisture. It also encourages smoother, softer, brighter skin, and wears gorgeously under makeup. The texture is super lightweight, so it absorbs into skin instantly, leaving no residue behind. You can even use it both morning and night. For the price, you simply can't beat it.
What's more, Cosmedica Skincare's Hyaluronic Acid Serum boasts over 5,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. Reviewers of all ages, with all skin types, can't say enough good things about this serum.
One fan raves, "This product has a gel-like appearance which feels slippery when applied to the skin. Once it's spread out, it is completely absorbed by your skin and actually refreshes and energizes me. No greasy residue that makes my face sticky to the touch. All I feel is cool and smooth skin." Another reviewer went as far as to call it the "best product [they've] ever tried."
2. A Soothing Gel-Serum With Hyaluronic Acid & Collagen
Sensitive skin types and anyone prone to dry, red skin will love this nourishing serum, which hydrates skin with hyaluronic acid and soothes inflammation with aloe leaf juice and colloidal oatmeal. This is a lightweight water-based gel that contains no artificial fragrances, colorants, parabens, sulfates, or other common irritants. It's even free of propylene glycol, one of the most common allergens for people with sensitive skin.
"Love this product," raves one fan. "I have very oily skin that is prone to breakouts. On the flip side I also suffer from dry flaky skin in the winter and after laying out in the sun. This serum is like nothing else! My skin soaks it up and loves the moisturizing effect without leaving me oily. Amazing product!!!"
3. A French Pharmacy Serum That Uses Thermal Spring Water To Hydrate Skin
You can't go wrong with this lightweight hydrating serum from French pharmacy band Avene. They make all of their products with sensitive skin in mind, so whether your skin is highly reactive or prone to acne, you can use this hypoallergenic serum safely. The formula is oil-free and noncomedogenic, so it blends into skin beautifully with a refreshing, watery texture that feels like nothing once absorbed.
Like all of the Avene's products, this serum uses their signature thermal spring water from its namesake town in France as its base ingredient, which has been used for centuries for its naturally restorative properties. The thermal water helps soothe and calm skin, while a blend of lipids in the formula reinforces a healthy protective barrier. What's more the serum works to prevent moisture loss and hydrate skin for up to 24 hours, making this an all-around great pick for dry skin.
4. A Ceramide-Rich Serum That Helps Strengthen Sensitive Skin
This serum from cult-favorite Korean brand Dr. Jart+ uses ceramides to reinforce a healthy protective barrier, which tends to be compromised in sensitive skin types. With continued use, skin will become stronger, while immediate results include plumper, more radiant skin. The formula also contains soothing ingredients like aloe vera and licorice extract, plus panthenol, which can help repair skin that's become dry and cracked. All of this makes Dr. Jart's Ceramidin Liquid a good choice for those dealing with rosacea or eczema, which is typically an indication of a weak barrier and is often accompanied by dry, flaky, irritated skin.
"Literally saved my skin when I compromised my moisture barrier!" raves one reviewer. "Seems pricey, but honestly, I use it everyday and it lasted me over a year!"
Another fan writes, "I use mostly Cerave products for my rosacea, but this liquid really traps that moisture better than anything I've ever used. Wash your face, put this on and then put on your regular moisturizer. Your face will never feel dry or windwhipped again."
5. A Derm-Developed Serum That Hydrates Skin On A Deeper Level
Made by Dr. Kunin herself, the DERMAdoctor Wrinkle Revenge Ultimate Hyaluronic Serum is a great choice for those looking for heavy-duty hydration. Though on the pricier side, it contains two different types of hyaluronic acid that are uniquely formulated to absorb into skin even deeper than traditional forms of the substance. The micronized hyaluronic acid in the formula holds up to five more time moisture than most, while calcium ketogluconate encourages the body to produce even more hyaluronic acid on its own.
What's more, this serum also contains vitamin C and other antioxidant-rich botanical extracts that can help brighten skin and protect it from environmental damage. The cruelty-free formula is also hypoallergenic, noncomedogenic, and free of fragrances, parabens, phthalates, and dyes, making it a safe choice for most skin types.
This post was originally published on 6/22/2017. It was updated and republished on 6/27/2019. Additional reporting by Adeline Duff.
Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle's editorial and sales departments.