We all know that serums are a crucial step in skin-care routines. They provide the skin with highly concentrated doses of active ingredients that benefit the skin. From vitamin C for brightening to hyaluronic acid for moisturizing, serums are an essential product for skin-cares. But oftentimes there’s a direct correlation between potency and price. Serums that are likely to cost way over $30 is actually an investment to one product, therefore we’d understand why you’d want to skip that extra step between essence and moisturizer. However, we believe you shouldn’t have to blow your budget to get healthy, glowing skin. Before you invest in the latest luxury formula, we rounded up our favorite serums under $30, ahead.
1. Indeed Labs Hydraluron Moisture Boosting Facial Serum – Lookfantastic $27.40
Replenish thirsty complexions with this moisture-packed serum from Indeed. It is a lightweight, fast-absorbing formula that delivers long-lasting hydration to dry skin. Fortified with the purest form of Hyaluronic Acid and nutrient-dosed Red Marine Algae, the powerful serum helps prevent premature aging, whilst infusing wanting skin with intense moisture to combat flakiness and encourages circulation. Expect a smooth, youthful-looking complexion with a radiant glow.
‘This serum is simple, no-frills hydration in a tube. While I usually mix it with a bunch of other products – like an essence, vitamin C serum, and sometimes oil – I love that it doesn’t disrupt any of the actives. It’s an easy hit of moisture that melts into my skin almost on contact. This serum has a jelly consistency, which I appreciate because it doesn’t drip everywhere, and a little dab on cheeks, chin, and forehead lines are really all I need for a little plumping’, says Megan Decker, beauty writer.
2. Sweet Chef Ginger Vitamin C Serum Shot – Target $19.99
Sweet Chef mixes the perfect daily shot of vegetables and vitamins to freshly boost skin’s vitality and deliver a healthy radiance. This serum is a lightweight serum packed with antioxidant-rich ginger and potent vitamin C for a naturally hydrated and radiant complexion. Ginger helps to neutralize environmental aggressors and revive dull skin, while Vitamin C helps even skin tone and brighten for a radiant complexion.
‘I rarely ever get to the bottom of a bottle of serum, but I’ve used every last drop of this one. It’s packed with ginger and vitamin C to protect and brighten the skin – and it delivers. Two droplets of the liquid make my uneven skin look brighter instantly. It also absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave behind a tacky feeling’, says Aimee Simeon, beauty writer.
3. Versed Just Breathe Clarifying Serum – Revolve $20.00
Stress, diet, and hormones don’t stand a chance against VERSED’s Just Breathe Clarifying Serum, designed to clear out impurities and manage excess pore-clogging sebum. The dynamic trio of Willow Bark Extract, Niacinamide, and a Zinc blend brings balance back to the skin. They work together to calm inflammation, decongest pores, and soothe redness, keeping skin’s little freak-outs at bay. This skin-calming water-gel formula is also vegan, clean, and cruelty-free.
‘My skin can be temperamental, so when I saw that this serum was ‘made for problem skin,’ I felt seen. As someone with rosacea, I’ve noticed a difference in my redness since I’ve added this product into my routine, and my acne hasn’t stood a chance. But the best part is just how lightweight it is; I don’t feel it sitting under my moisturizer at all’, says Thatiana Diaz, beauty writer.
4. Aveeno MaxGlow Infusion Drops – Ulta $23.99
Enhance your skin’s natural radiance and give it a boost of moisture with this serum from Aveeno. This non-comedogenic moisturizing facial serum provides a lit-from-within glow while also helping to even your skin tone and texture. The hypoallergenic formula, infused with soy and kiwi complex, moisturizes for a full 48 hours.
‘This silky formula reminds me of my favorite prestige hyaluronic acid serum, but with the under-$25 price tag, I don’t have to be stingy with how much I use. As soon as I put this product on, my face drinks it up. What’s left behind is a healthy glow from the soy-kiwi complex and a light, fresh scent. If I’m wearing makeup, I also mix a few drops in with my matte or full-coverage foundation to get an all-over dewiness’, says Jessica Cruel, deputy beauty director.
5. COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence – Revolve $21.00
Enhance your skin for a natural glow with the nutrient-dense Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence from COSRx. This highly concentrated formula contains 96% snail mucin, a powerful ingredient known to aid in skin repair, hydration, and brightness. It contains nutrients to repair skin damage and boost elasticity, maintains skin’s moisture level and hydrates, brightens, and promotes anti-aging as well.
‘If you want a detailed, scientifically substantiated breakdown of why and how the slimy substance snails secrete when agitated benefits human skin, I’m not your girl. What I can tell you is that this completely scent-free gel – which has a viscous texture that’s definitely more serum-like than a traditional essence – is the best thing I’ve ever tried in terms of brightening, hydrating, clearing, and generally improving my skin, and I have tried everything. In addition to the 96% snail mucin (which is, like, a lot of snail mucin), the formula also works in soothing ingredients like panthenol and allantoin, making it clutch for sensitive skin like mine. It’s the first thing I put on my face every day after cleansing, and I go through it like water… so it’s a good thing it’s only $21′, says Rachel Krause, senior beauty editor.
6. The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% High Strength Vitamin and Mineral Blemish Formula – Lookfantastic $5.90
This skin-care product is a super-serum designed to simultaneously brighten skin tone and reduce the appearance of blemishes and congestion. Ordinary’s unique formulation of Zinc minimizes pore size and regulate oil production, while Niacinamide will diminish signs of hyperpigmentation and discoloration. Niacinamide is also known to boost the general health of your skin by improving water retention and preventing dehydration. Zinc will help to leave skin glowing and plumped due to its ability to repair skin that is damaged by encouraging the creation of collagen. The game-changing mineral blemish formula is also excellent for skin that is battling a breakout, as it combats imperfections, large pores and skin tone which is uneven.
‘Don’t let the watery texture or the fact that it’s literally $6 fool you; this potent serum is a formidable opponent against acne – past, present, and future. The zinc helps balance my oily skin, and niacinamide helps brighten any dark spots. As one reviewer put it, it’s the ‘miracle elixir of the gods.’ I’d even go so far as to say this is the best way to spend $6′, says Karina Hoshikawa, beauty and wellness market writer.