Your Ultimate Guide To The Best Hydrating Serums For Dry Skin, According To Dermatologists

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by Lisa Fogarty
Originally Published: 

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.


The Overall Best Hydrating Serum For Dry Skin

Considering its $11 price tag, its thousands of rave reviews, and its pure, no-fuss formula, the Cosmedica Skincare Hyaluronic Acid Serum is one of the best hydrating serums 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 raved: "Works magically! I’ve been using it for 2 days and my skin feels so hydrated already! I’ve always had dry patches all over my t-zone and this works perfectly for my skin so far."


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.

One fan raved: "I love anything and everything Avene, so it didn't surprise me when I fell in love with this product. its sooo lightweight but it hydrates my skin so well. I am not left with breakouts, which I am prone to, and it gives me a nice glow. I am a huger fan mainly because its light enough to layer on a primer, sunscreen, or more moisturizer. It does come in a small container, so take into consideration that you might run out more quickly than you would with any other moisturizer."


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. It's made with five different types of ceramin, and well as other moisurizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and botanical extracts including algae, oat, and turmeric. With continued use, skin will become stronger, while immediate results include plumper, more radiant skin. It's highly concentrated, so a little bit goes a long way

One fan raved: "The ingredient profile is excellent: Ceramide NP, Ceramide AP, Ceramide AS, Ceramide NS, plus 2 forms of hyaluronic acid. Another moisturizing ingredient is panthenol. It also contains beta-glucan, ferments, oat and algae extract, and lots of bio-active botanical ingredients that have special properties for skin, like curcumin, artichoke, cocoa. This serum should have long-term skin building effects over time as well as an instantly moisturizing serum effect. It's a thin, gel-cream liquid that goes on easily & absorbs completely very quickly."


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.

One fan raved: "This is my second bottle. I use this in the morning and at night. Only under my eyes and out to the sides of my eyes. Keeps my eyes from having those tiny wrinkles. Don't feel like I need to use it all over yet, so I make it last and it does last, as I've had this same bottle for 6 months so far. Obviously if I used it all over, it wouldn't last that long. But it's expensive somewhat, so just under eyes for now."


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.

One fan raved: "This is a great serum to use under moisturizer. It makes my skin look smoother and more radiant. I can definitely tell the difference when I don't use it. This was the second bottle I ordered. I used the first for about 3 months. It only takes a small pump each day, so it lasts a while. It's kind of expensive, but worth it for the results."

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