Best Hydrating Serum in 2022

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Everyone’s skin has different needs. But, there’s one product we can all benefit from adding to our skincare routine: hydrating serum. Hydrating serums are shots of carefully chosen ingredients that enhance the skin’s hydration and provide deep nourishment. They may have a single active ingredient, but often have many. In addition, they prevent the skin from drying out and improve its moisture retention.

Since there are so many options on the market, choosing the best hydrating serum for your skin can be challenging. This article will review 10 hydrating serums, list their pros and cons, and explain what to focus on when purchasing one.

Comparison Chart

41+leWTKgnL. SL500
CeraVe Anti Aging Retinol Serum | Cream Serum for Smoothing Fine Lines and Skin Brightening | With Retinol, Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide, and Ceramides | 1 Ounce
41bPH06MUFL. SL500
Olay Regenerist Regenerating Serum, Fragrance-Free Light Gel Face Moisturizer 1.7 fl oz
21ILHiWXBvL. SL500
La Roche-Posay Hydraphase Intense Hyaluronic Acid Serum, Plumping Daily Face Serum For Dry and Sensitive Skin
212f7J8KJOL. SL500
THE ORDINARY Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 30ml, 1 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)
41nLIi83lmL. SL500
Paula’s Choice BOOST Hyaluronic Acid Booster with Ceramides for Lightweight Deep Hydration, Concentrated Serum, 0.5 Ounce
41zmdcljCCL. SL500
Kiehls Midnight Recovery Concentrate 30ml/1.0 oz
31C+nivtHAL. SL500
Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment Face Serum
REN Clean Skincare – Evercalm Anti-Redness Serum – Sensitive Skin Comforting Treatment
31cHHIqcfGL. SL500
E. L. F. Eyes Lips Face Soothing Serum, 1 Fl Oz
41142rkchvL. SL500
Vichy Aqualia Thermal Hydrating Face Serum, Hyaluronic Acid Serum for Face with 97% Natural Origin Ingredients, Smooth Fine Lines and Wrinkles, Silicone and Mineral Oil Free

Best Hydrating Serum: Reviews

CeraVe Anti Aging Retinol Serum

41+leWTKgnL. SL500

If you’re looking for a hydrating serum with an anti-aging effect, this is the one. It contains numerous ingredients that can do wonders for your skin.

Product Highlights

This CeraVe serum contains hyaluronic acid, a sugar molecule naturally produced by our bodies. This acid attracts and retains water, thus maintaining our skin’s moisture balance. Since the skin’s hyaluronic acid production declines with age, it’s vital to help our skin stay hydrated by choosing serums with this ingredient.

Besides hyaluronic acid, this serum contains ceramides. Ceramides are lipids naturally found in our skin that keep its barrier intact and healthy. This serum features a combination of three essential ceramides (1, 3, and 6-II) identical to those in our skin. They help keep the moisture in and prevent elements from harming the skin’s barrier.

Although it has impressive hydrating properties, this serum is advertised as “skin-renewing” due to another powerful ingredient: retinol. Retinol is a form of vitamin A that can trigger collagen production and reduce fine wrinkles. It therefore produces much softer and smoother skin texture. In addition, it promotes the skin’s exfoliation process, thus refining its surface. This ingredient is recommended to anyone who wants to improve the skin’s texture and tone.

What I Like

This serum contains everything you need to keep your skin hydrated and smooth. Although the emphasis is more on the anti-aging effect, the serum gives your skin a hydrating boost. Another plus is that the formula was developed by dermatologists. As a result, it’s non-comedogenic and doesn’t contain fragrances or harsh ingredients that could disrupt the skin’s barrier.

What I Don’t Like

Retinol can cause slight irritation if your skin isn’t used to it. In that case, it’s best to slowly introduce this serum to your routine. You may also experience a slight tingling sensation, but don’t let that scare you. It’s a sign that the product is working. If the sensation lasts for a prolonged period, stop using the product. Remember that retinol makes your skin more sensitive to the sun, so it’s best to apply it in the evenings.

If you have extremely sensitive skin, this serum may not be suitable for you.

Pros

  • Provides hydration and has an anti-aging effect
  • Affordable price
  • No harsh ingredients
  • Developed with dermatologists

Cons

Can irritate sensitive skin

Olay Regenerist Regenerating Serum

41bPH06MUFL. SL500

This lightweight, fast-absorbing serum features ingredients that penetrate deep into the skin’s surface for intense hydration and renewal.

Product Highlights

This gel-like serum can make your skin firmer and smoother in four weeks. It restores the skin’s surface cells while simultaneously penetrating deep into the skin for exceptional hydration. This is possible thanks to ingredients like niacinamide, panthenol, and glycerine.

The star of this serum is amino-peptide complex II. Peptides are amino acids that make up proteins such as collagen and elastin. They are vital for elastic skin, reduced wrinkles, and skin tone. Unfortunately, our bodies don’t produce as much collagen and elastin as we age, which affects our skin’s texture and appearance. Using products with ingredients that stimulate their products can help your skin regenerate.

What I Like

The serum has a light texture and absorbs quickly without leaving a greasy trace. Thanks to this, you can use it as a primer for your makeup. Another thing we love about this serum is that it’s fragrance-free. In addition, the formula doesn’t contain harsh ingredients, and it’s dermatologically tested.

Moreover, this serum can be used with or without moisturizer as the final step of your routine. If you’re looking for extra hydration, it’s best to use moisturizer to lock in the moisture.

Olay highlights the importance of high-quality packaging that keeps the products fresh and protected from contaminants. In addition, the serum comes in an air-tight, hygienic pump. Although the pump may cause problems, the packaging is practical and elegant.

What I Don’t Like

Although it features several beneficial ingredients, the serum lacks powerful humectants such as hyaluronic acid, hydrolyzed wheat/rice proteins, or aloe vera. Moreover, the serum resembles moisturizers in its texture. This isn’t necessarily a flaw, but you may not enjoy the feel if you prefer fluid-like textures.

Pros

  • Contains peptides
  • Makes the skin firmer and smoother
  • High-quality packaging
  • Can be used as a moisturizer

Cons

  • More focused on skin renewal
  • Doesn’t have a typical serum texture

La Roche-Posay Hydraphase Intense Hyaluronic Acid Serum

21ILHiWXBvL. SL500

The La Roche-Posay Hydraphase Intense Hyaluronic Acid Serum may be the best hydrating serum for people with dry, sensitive, or dehydrated skin. It contains everything you need for plumping and soothing your skin.

Product Highlights

The serum contains some of the best humectants on the market. The first is hyaluronic acid, which acts like a sponge and retains water to keep your skin moisturized. The second is vegetable-derived glycerin, which draws water from the environment to hydrate and refresh the skin. Finally, like most La Roche-Posay products, this serum contains soothing thermal spring water rich in antioxidants and selenium.

Due to its gentle formula, this product is recommended for dry and sensitive skin. Of course, this doesn’t mean those with oily skin can’t use it. Anyone who wants a shot of extra skin hydration can benefit from this serum.

What I Like

Nowadays, we can find numerous all-in-one skin products. Many serums promise hydration, anti-aging effects, skin radiance, regeneration, etc. We like that La Roche-Posay didn’t try to give this serum multiple purposes. Instead, they focused solely on hydration. For this reason, the serum is perfect for all ages and skin types. High concentrations of humectants can improve your skin’s condition in only a few weeks. The formula is non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic, and contains no parabens.

What I Don’t Like

The third ingredient on the list is alcohol. Although it enables active ingredients to penetrate the skin and preserves the product, alcohol can irritate. If you don’t tolerate alcohol in skincare products, this serum may not be the right choice. Moreover, the serum contains perfume, which can cause redness and itching, depending on your skin type.

Pros

  • Contains effective humectants
  • Ideal for dry and sensitive skin
  • Contains thermal spring water
  • No parabens

Cons

  • Alcohol high on the ingredients list
  • Contains perfume

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 30ml

212f7J8KJOL. SL500

This serum contains different molecular weights of hyaluronic acid and vitamin B to provide superior hydration. All skin types can use it.

Product Highlights

The Ordinary strives to create exceptional products at affordable prices, and this serum is no exception. It’s designed to provide multi-depth hydration and plumping without costing a fortune.

According to The Ordinary, the molecular size of hyaluronic acid determines whether it penetrates our skin deeply enough to provide hydration. They state that many brands claim their products with hyaluronic acid have hydrating benefits, but in fact, the molecules are too large. Instead of penetrating the skin, such molecules sit on its surface and draw the moisture out.

The Ordinary adds hyaluronic acid with low, medium, and high molecular weights to this serum to ensure superb hydration. Plus, the product contains sodium hyaluronate, a modified form of hyaluronic acid that enhances hydration.

What I Like

With this product, all eyes are on the packaging. Unlike many brands, The Ordinary highlights the ordinary. The serum comes in a simple, apothecary-style glass bottle with a pipette for convenient and hygienic dosing. Thanks to the plain packaging, the brand’s prices are affordable. The recyclable glass bottle also makes this product more environmentally friendly than others on the list. The fact that it contains such a high concentration of Vitamin B5 is a big bonus too. It’s a truly fantastic product for anybody who has excessively thirsty skin. 

You only need to apply a few drops of the product in the morning and evening, meaning the serum will last for months.

What I Don’t Like

While this product doesn’t contain fragrance, it has a smell some people may find slightly unpleasant. Moreover, the serum isn’t very fast-absorbing, and it can leave a sticky trace on the skin. However, bearing in mind that this product is one of the most affordable hydrating serums, it’s a great entry point.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Combines different molecular sizes of hyaluronic acid
  • Contains sodium hyaluronate
  • A few drops are enough

Cons

  • Leaves a sticky trace
  • Slightly unpleasant smell

Paula’s Choice BOOST Hyaluronic Acid Booster

41nLIi83lmL. SL500

If you want to plump your skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, this serum is a great choice. It contains a blend of hydrating ingredients that penetrate the skin’s surface and lock in the moisture.

Product Highlights

The serum features several humectants that quench our skin’s thirst. Firstly, we have hyaluronic acid, which attracts and retains moisture. Then, skin-replenishing ceramides strengthen the skin’s barrier and contribute to hydration. Finally, panthenol penetrates deep into the skin, keeps it hydrated, and reduces inflammation.

This serum has a gel-like texture that won’t leave a sticky feel on your skin. Since it doesn’t contain parabens, fragrances, or artificial dyes, all skin types can use this product.

What I Like

A little of this product goes a long way, meaning it takes months to use it up. If you want extra hydration, Paula’s Choice recommends adding a few drops of the serum to your favorite moisturizer or serum. The serum is definitely one of the best hydrating serums in terms of ingredients. In addition, powerful humectants will feed your skin and make it more radiant.

This is perhaps one of the best products out there to improve and maintain skin health. It is also one of the most beneficial products for people with sensitive skin types. 

What I Don’t Like

A potential drawback of this product is its price. However, since it features highly efficient ingredients and lasts long, many people disregard it.

Pros

  • Excellent formula
  • Provides deep hydration
  • Appropriate for every skin type

Cons

Expensive

Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate

41zmdcljCCL. SL500

This concentrate contributes to a smooth and radiant complexion thanks to its formula. It contains oils that penetrate the skin and replenish it from inside.

Product Highlights

Although it hydrates the skin, this concentrate contains ingredients that aren’t typical of hydrating serums. The main components are lavender and evening primrose oils, and squalane. Other ingredients you’ll find here are jojoba, coriander seed and rosemary oils, cucumber and jasmine extracts, and more. All these components contribute to the skin’s elasticity and hydration.

The product is applied at night, hence its name’s “midnight” part.

What I Like

The concentrate contains naturally derived oils that have multiple benefits for our skin. Lavender oil fights free radicals and regenerates the skin, evening primrose oil reduces inflammation, and squalane provides hydration. Although it contains so many oils, the product isn’t greasy. It has a drier finish to it and absorbs very quickly. Contrary to popular belief, people with greasy skin shouldn’t avoid products with oils. Using this concentrate can trick your skin into believing it’s already produced enough oil.

What I Don’t Like

The product features a hefty price tag. Fortunately, you can get it in a smaller size and test it to ensure it suits your skin. Although this isn’t necessarily a flaw, we need to point out that the product isn’t suitable for people with very sensitive skin. The essential oils can cause irritation or trigger allergies.

Pros

  • Contains naturally derived oils
  • Non-greasy formula
  • Fast-absorbing
  • Comes in various sizes

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Not suitable for sensitive skin

Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment Face Serum

31C+nivtHAL. SL500

This all-in-one treatment exfoliates, hydrates, and smooths the skin. In addition, due to its ingredients, the product fades dark circles and lines.

Product Highlights

The star of this treatment is lactic acid, one of the alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs). It gently exfoliates the skin, thus removing dead cells and revealing smoother, brighter, and younger-looking layers. Lactic acid also plays a vital role in regulating sebum, which can cause skin bumps, blackheads, and acne.

Aloe is in charge of hydrating and soothing the skin. Other valuable components like arnica, lemongrass, and licorice refresh and brighten the skin, giving it a radiant and toned complexion.

What I Like

This creamy white serum absorbs quickly, leaving the skin instantly plump and smooth. Thanks to the plant-derived ingredients, the treatment doesn’t contain artificial fragrances but still has a delightful citrusy smell. In addition, the product is vegan, cruelty-free, and comes in a hygienic pump dispenser.

What I Don’t Like

While lactic acid is considered gentle, it can increase sun sensitivity. So if you’re often spending time outside, it may be better to use this treatment at night. Moreover, if you have sensitive skin, the brand recommends using the product as a 15-minute mask rather than a leave-in treatment.

Another factor to consider is the product’s high price. Although many agree it’s worth it, there are other more affordable and equally efficient options.

Pros

  • Exfoliates and hydrates the skin
  • Contributes to an even complexion
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • Increases sun sensitivity
  • On the expensive side

REN Clean Skincare – Evercalm Redness Relief Serum

Those with sensitive skin prone to redness will love this serum. It contains ingredients that target dryness, itchiness, discomfort, and burning sensations and leaves your skin even-toned and hydrated.

Product Highlights

Many aren’t aware of the benefits mushrooms have on our skin. They help shrink breakouts, strengthen the skin’s defense system, and improve its healing capacities. REN infused white mushroom extract into this serum to help those with sensitive, breakout-prone skin.

What I Like

We love the serum’s ingredients. Besides white mushroom extract, the serum is packed with beta-carotene and saccharide. This powerful duo fights off free radicals and strengthens the skin’s barrier. In addition, its lightweight and fast-absorbing texture won’t leave a greasy finish on your skin. The recommended usage is further evidence REN did its best to create a well-rounded product for those with sensitive skin. Instead of massaging the product into the skin, you should pat it in until it’s absorbed. That way, you’ll reduce friction and sensitivity.

What I Don’t Like

The product has an instant cooling sensation. Although some could see this as an advantage, many people with sensitive skin tend to avoid products with a similar effect.

Pros

  • Contains mushroom extract
  • Prevents redness and reduces skin sensitivity
  • No harsh ingredients
  • Ideal for sensitive skin

Cons

Cooling sensation

E. L. F. Eyes Lips Face Soothing Serum

31cHHIqcfGL. SL500

This serum is ideal for anyone who wants to soothe and protect their skin because it is infused with different ingredients for exceptional nourishment. In addition, the product doesn’t contain parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and other potentially harmful components.

Product Highlights

E. L. F. used a combo of powerful humectants to create this hydrating serum. The serum is designed to lock in the moisture, smooth out fine lines, and contribute to healthy-looking skin. This is possible thanks to ingredients such as purified water, glycerin, aloe, shea butter, jojoba and grape seed oil, and aloe and green tea leaf extract. All these ingredients work together and yield results after only a few uses.

What I Like

This product is vegan and cruelty-free. Its ingredients are gentle and suitable for every skin type. Since it doesn’t contain any sun-sensitive components, you can use it in the morning without being afraid it will cause irritation. Although it contains exceptional ingredients, the product comes at an affordable price.

What I Don’t Like

The serum isn’t very fast-absorbing. So you’ll need to wait a few minutes before continuing your skin care routine.

Pros

  • Contains nourishing Ingredients
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Affordable
  • Focused on hydration

Cons

Doesn’t absorb quickly

Vichy Aqualia Thermal Hydrating Face Serum

41142rkchvL. SL500

This light, moisturizing serum keeps the skin smooth and soft. It absorbs quickly and features a blend of thermal water, hyaluronic acid, and plant sugar, all of which do an excellent job at keeping the skin hydrated.

Product Highlights

As soon as you apply this serum to your skin, you can feel the effect. Thanks to the extra dose of hydration, your skin becomes smoother and more luminous. In addition, this serum has several hero ingredients. The first is pure hyaluronic acid, a component well known to attract and lock in moisture. The second key ingredient is plant sugar, which strengthens the skin’s barrier and prevents water loss. Finally, Vichy volcanic water protects the skin from potentially harmful elements.

What I Like

Ninety-seven percent of the serum’s ingredients are natural. The formula is non-comedogenic and doesn’t contain parabens or other potentially harmful ingredients. It also contains one of the best types of hyaluronic acid out there, a true hero ingredient. Since it doesn’t contain oils, the texture is lightweight and refreshing, and it doesn’t leave a sticky feeling. The hygienic packaging that protects the serum from pollutants is another bonus.

What I Don’t Like

The product has a stronger smell. If you enjoy fragrance-free products, this may not be the right choice.

Pros

  • Contains hyaluronic acid
  • Lightweight
  • 97% natural ingredients
  • High-quality packaging

Cons

Strong smell

Buyer’s Guide

Not every hydration serum is suitable for every skin type. If you’re on the market for the best hydrating serum for your skin, you need to consider numerous factors to help you make an informed decision. Here are the most important ones:

Key Serum Ingredients

The ingredients are the first criteria you need to focus on when choosing a hydrating serum. Nowadays, serums feature components that have different purposes. For example, if your focus is hydration, choose ingredients like hyaluronic acid, panthenol, aloe, or glycerin. These are four of the best substances out there to help increase and maintain skin moisture levels. 

Of course, you can choose a serum with multiple functions. For example, if you want a product that hydrates your skin and has an anti-aging effect, choose a serum that contains humectants combined with retinol or peptides.

If you’re looking for hydration and exfoliation, select products with AHA or BHA acids, jojoba beads, or fruit enzymes.

Skin Type

The serum you choose should be suited to your skin type. If you have issues like redness, itching, acne, or blackheads, look for serums that will combat those problems. Many hydrating serums feature ingredients suitable for every skin type. However, some contain oils, retinol, alcohol, and other components not all skin types will love. If you have acne-prone skin, those ingredients are best avoided.

Learning more about your skin will help you choose the right ingredients and fully utilize skincare products.

Free of Harsh Chemicals

Many brands use harsh chemicals to preserve the product, prevent bacterial growth, or improve texture. Such chemicals are parabens, sulfates, and phthalates. Although not everyone will react to these chemicals the same way, it’s best to avoid them, especially if you have sensitive or dry skin.

Low in Oil

Oil is one of the most misunderstood skincare ingredients. Many people with oily skin believe serums with oils will only worsen the problem. However, oily skin doesn’t necessarily mean hydrated skin. Using serums with oils can reduce the amount of oil your skin produces. The key is finding the oil that matches your skin type and condition.

Best Hydrating Serum

FAQ

When to Use a Hydrating Serum?

The answer depends on the serum’s ingredients. Typically, hydrating serums should be used twice a day, in the morning and evening. However, if your serum contains sun-sensitive ingredients like retinol, lactic acid, or vitamin C, you should consider using it only in the evening. Vitamin C serums especially, although they have great benefits, those benefits will be greatly reduced if exposed to the sun.

Those that use such serums in the morning should pay special attention to applying SPF regularly and generously.

How to Use a Hydrating Serum?

Hydrating serums are used after cleansing. Put several drops of your serum in your hands and warm them up, then press them gently into your skin. Don’t rub your skin excessively as this could cause irritation. Instead, let the serum absorb completely before continuing your skincare routine for the best effect. This is especially the case if you have various skin concerns, such as sensitivity to sunlight. 

Can You Use a Hydrating Serum Instead of a Moisturizer?

The primary purpose of a hydrating serum is to enhance your skin’s hydration and prevent it from drying out. Moisturizers help lock in the moisture and the serum’s ingredients. Although most dermatologists and skincare brands recommend using both for the best results, you can often use only the serum. But, of course, this isn’t universal for every serum and skin type.

Some serums are more nourishing than others and don’t require moisturizers. Moreover, people with oily skin often don’t use a moisturizer after a hydrating serum. The best way to know whether you need a moisturizer after a hydrating serum is to listen to your skin. If you feel your skin is nourished after the serum, there’s no need to apply a moisturizer. Instead, we recommend trying both to establish which way works better for you.

What you do however need to consider is that hydrating serums likely will not provide as much of a skin barrier for protection as some moisturizers. 

Is a Hydrating Serum Good For Oily Skin?

It’s a common misconception that people with oily skin shouldn’t use hydrating serums. Hydration is essential for keeping our skin in excellent condition and smoothing fine lines and wrinkles. Many people tend to forget that dehydration doesn’t happen due to a lack of oil but lack of water. All skin can suffer from dehydration, regardless of the type.

Hydrating serums with humectants can be beneficial for oily skin and even reduce sebum production. Choose serums with hyaluronic acid, squalane, ceramides, or niacinamide. Stay away from harsh chemicals and alcohol.

Final Verdict

Choosing the best hydrating serum can be challenging, especially if you haven’t used them before. The abundance of ingredients, formulas and contradicting ads can overwhelm anyone.

If you’re new to the hydrating serum world, we recommend starting with The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 30ml. The product is effective, contains plenty of humectants, comes in attractive packaging, and is affordable.

Those that want to try oily serums shouldn’t hesitate to buy Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate. This nighttime serum will replenish and hydrate your skin, giving it a healthy glow.

Finally, if you have sensitive, dry, or dehydrated skin, our recommendation is La Roche-Posay Hydraphase Intense Hyaluronic Acid Serum.

We hope this article taught you more about hydrating serums and finding a perfect fit for your skin.

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