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The 9 Best Antioxidant Serums That Actually Work

Ashley Batz / Bustle
Updated: 

If cleansers and moisturizers are the bread and butter of the skincare world, the best antioxidant serums are like gourmet cheese and meats that pull the entire sandwich together. Questionable metaphors aside, antioxidants truly are the stars in your skincare regimen: they have the power to protect your skin from the harmful effects of pollution by neutralizing the free radicals in pollution that can cause skin damage. And, of course, serums with sunscreen shield your skin from the dangers of UVA and UVB rays, which can cause skin cancer, as well as hyperpigmentation and fine lines.

Antioxidant serums have concentrated active ingredients and are best to use in the morning, after your cleanser and toner and before moisturizer and sunscreen. Some even deliver a layer of protection that shields against infrared radiation, which penetrates even deeper than UV rays. To put it bluntly: the combination of a powerful antioxidant plus an additional sunscreen on top equals sun protection the likes of which you've probably never known.

The best antioxidant serums also contain hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, algae, and vitamins, while others help protect your skin from premature aging with stellar ingredients like CoQ10 and Alpha Lipoic Acid. There's, no doubt, an antioxidant serum out there that's perfect for your skin type and skin concern — and these nine are more than just hype.

1
Eva Naturals Vitamin C Plus Skin Clearing Serum

Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C) is a powerful antioxidant that protects skin from free radicals and helps even out skin tone so that your complexion appears more radiant. This C Plus Serum from Eva Naturals contains 20% Vitamin C, but it also has lots of other ingredients that are beneficial to skin, including smoothing and firming retinol, skin-restoring niacinamide, hydrating hyaluronic acid, and exfoliating salicylic acid. With more than 3,200 5-star reviews on Amazon, it's a clear winner.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: "I am a licensed esthetician who suffers from hormonal cystic acne that leaves horrible scarring on my sensitive skin, my skin has improved so much since i started using this product!!! :) :) for the first couple of weeks my skin purged out any underlying blemishes but afterwards was clearer + smoother than I’ve seen it in YEARS! I LOVE THIS PRODUCT!! I love that it not only target my acne scarring with the vitamin c but also soothes the redness with the niacinimide and has anti-aging properties from the retinol AND helps minimize my black heads and pore size with the salicylic acid [...] it is the perfect product for my sensitive oily acne prone skin!"

2
La Roche-Posay Anthelios AOX Antioxidant Serum With Sunscreen

If you're the type who loves to kill two birds with one stone, this powerful antioxidant serum with Vitamin E, Vitamin Cg, and Baicalin protects against free radicals while broad spectrum SPF 50 works to provide all of the sunscreen protection you need. The cherry on top: it's an oil-free formula that contains no parabens or fragrances and is non-comedogenic — oily, acne prone, and sensitive skin types needn't fear it will clog pores or cause irritation.

Enthusiastic Amazon reviews: "Hands down the best face serum with SPF I've ever tried. Absorbs quickly and completely. No greasy feeling or stinging. Makes your skin feel luxurious. It is a bit pricey but a little goes a long way!"

3
Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop

With 5 percent pure stabilized Vitamin C, this vegan and cruelty-free vitamin serum protects skin from UV damage and improves texture and skin tone. It's recommended for normal, combination, and oily skin types and reviewers say it can lighten acne scars and hyperpigmentation and makes your complexion look smoother.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: "This stuff is amazing!!! After using it for several weeks, my skin is bright, smooth and healthy. It evened out my skin tone and lessened the appearance of old acne scars. My skin has a really healthy glow to it. [...]"

4
Eau Thermale Avene A-Oxitive Antioxidant Defense Serum

In this French pharmacy serum, vitamins C and E help fight free radicals and reverse the effects of photo-damaged skin, while hyaluronic acid plumps, hydrates, and promotes an overall more radiant complexion. Like all of Avene's products, their A-Oxitive Antioxidant Defense Serum contains the brand's signature skin-soothing thermal spring water, and was made with sensitive skin in mind.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: "Product was recommended by my dermatologist. I’ve been using for a few months now, and have grown to LOVE this product! First, the smell is fantastic! Very pleasant. Second, the product is very light and absorbs quickly. It does not leave my already oily skin feeling greasy. But at the same time, it also hydrates my skin and leaves it feeling and looking great! I can not recommend this product more. I will always use."

5
Paula's Choice Skin Recovery Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum

If flaky, dry skin is the norm for you, there's a chance you live in mortal fear of retinol making contact with your sensitive skin. This antioxidant concentrate serum contains retinol that can smoothen and strengthen skin and strengthen it so that it's protected against free radicals and environmental damage, but it's also extremely forgiving on dry skin and has a slew of antioxidants that add a rich, hydrating layer of protection to your skin.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: "I have never written a review and I buy a lot from amazon! But this is the best serum for dry skin! I have never had that luminous look because my skin is so dry. This product makes my skin look luminous! I will continue to buy this! If you have oily skin it may not be good! But if you have dry skin this is for you! It has transformed my skin!! Well worth it!! [...]"

6
KYPRIS Natural Antioxidant Dew Facial Serum

Kypris' Natural Antioxidant Dew Facial Serum has a devoted fan base because of its all-natural, plant-based ingredients and seriously effective formula. Loaded with antioxidant-rich vitamins C, E, and ferulic acid, which help keep skin protected from environmental damage, it also contains sea algae extracts to promote softer, suppler skin. Then, temanu oil works to encourage cell turnover, which helps reduce blemish scars, while other botanicals soothe redness and hydrate. The immediate results? A dewy, healthy glow. Basically, this serum does it all.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: "Amazing! This stuff is gentle, hydrating and has totally changed the tone and texture of my skin. I've got combination acne-prone skin that definitely lends on the sensitive side. This stuff has helped balance my skin, reduce redness, regulate oil production, and wears beautifully with no irritation. I still wear a moisturizer over top of this because I still need the extra moisture, but it's awesome - worth every penny!"

7
Philosophy Turbo Booster C Powder

This powder booster is perfect for anyone who isn't quite sold on adding another layer to their skin care routine, but still wants their daily dose of Vitamin C. Simply blend a bit of this powder into your favorite toner or moisturizer and let your skin soak it up. Best of all, a little of this 99.8 percent Vitamin C powder goes a long way.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: "I have not used anything like this before to give me the results I've seen in just a few days. My face had acne scars that are now diminishing. This powder gives my face a great boost in the morning that is refreshing and awakens me, while making my skin look so much smoother. This product is amazing!"

8
Olay Regenerist Regenerating Serum

This lightweight, fragrance-free serum contains skin-plumping Amino-Peptide Complex II, Vitamin E, and carob extract to exfoliate and hydrate skin. This product's claim to fame is that it promises to deliver ingredients 10 layers deep into skin — and it works well on all skin types, even acne-prone skin.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: "I cannot rave enough about this product, I've only been using it for about a week and already it's been helping my skin so so much. while I regularly wash my face and apply lotion, I've always had some mild acne deep under the skin and other skin problems. But, just within a couple days of using this stuff, my acne started to clear and my face in general just looks so much better. I went into buying this product with a 'it can't hurt to try' kind of attitude and have been absolutely amazed by the results!"

9
Pura D'or 20% Vitamin C Serum

Providing one of the biggest "bangs for your buck," this 20 percent Vitamin C serum is enriched with hyaluronic acid, Vitamin E, argan oil, aloe vera, and one very special guest star: ferulic acid. Ferulic acid is an antioxidant that, when combined with Vitamin C, delivers a super powerful punch: it does an incredible job at protecting your skin against environmental damage.

Most reviewers are head over heels for this serum, saying it makes hyperpigmentation and even acne scars disappear, improves skin clarity, and leaves skin soft but never greasy.

Enthusiastic Amazon review: "This product has been MAGICAL. My acne scars have gone away within a week, and I've been using this for about two weeks now. My skin has never felt so smooth and hydrated since I was a kid. It's soothing, light, moisturizing, and feels so good on your skin. I love this product so much, and even my friends and family have noticed a difference. If you're debating on whether or not to get this, I say go for it and take the plunge. It's so worth it!"

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