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The 16 Best Affordable Face Serums for Plump, Radiant Skin

You don't need to break the bank to have youthful, radiant skin. We found the best affordable anti-aging face serums.

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It’s never too late to start a good skin care routine, and you don’t have to shell out wads of cash just to get your hands on some quality products, either. Whether you want to treat sunspots, fine lines, or acne scarring, there’s an affordable solution. Adding a face serum to your twice-daily regimen of washing, moisturizing, and protecting skin with SPF can deliver noticeable anti-aging results in as little as a few months. And some of the most affordable face serums cost as little as $8—seriously.

What exactly is a face serum?

Unlike anti-aging face creams, face serums are thinner but pack a bigger skin care punch. Shari Marchbein, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at NYU School of Medicine, explains, “Serums are a liquid or gel topical with highly concentrated forms of certain ingredients known to improve skin issues. They can consist of a single ingredient or have a combination of ingredients with higher concentrations.”

Which is the best affordable face serum?

Some face serums have price tags in the triple digits, but according to Dr. Marchbein, there are many affordable face serums that deliver results with consistent use. Look for ingredients such as vitamin C, retinol, BHA, and niacinamide for treating everything from fine lines to hyperpigmentation to uneven skin tone and acne. She recommends sticking with a product consistently for three months to see results. “While we can’t completely remove sun damage and reverse aging skin, we can make really nice improvements with a good skin care routine that includes face serums.”

Ready to add the face serum step to your morning and evening cleansing routine, but don’t know the right order to apply your skincare products? Apply it after cleansing and before moisturizing, Dr. Marchbein advises. And don’t skip the sunscreen. “The sun is the largest contributing factor to aging skin,” she explains.

Read on for the best affordable face serums that will truly turn back the clock. And don’t forget to use these face serums on your hands and neck, too—two other spots that benefit from anti-aging skin care.

Cerave Vitamin C Serum With Hyaluronic Acid Ecomm Via AmazonVia Merchant

CeraVe Vitamin C Serum

Vitamin C is a powerful anti-aging weapon. Vitamin C not only fades sunspots and hyperpigmentation, but it also makes sunscreen more effective, according to Dr. Marchbein. Many skin care companies don’t advertise their product’s ingredient percentages, but CeraVe Vitamin C Serum is upfront about adding 10 percent L-Ascorbic acid (the purest form of vitamin C), making this one of the most potent face serums under $15.

The skin-brightening formula also includes good-for-you skin ingredients such as essential ceramides, moisturizing hyaluronic acid, and soothing vitamin B5. Another vitamin C pro tip: Vitamin C oxidizes quickly, so be sure to purchase it in an opaque container that protects it from light and extends its shelf life.

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Healing Bark Extract Serum

Say goodbye to dark spots, fine lines and wrinkles, and hello to newly hydrated and brightened skin, with Healing Bark Extract Serum. You can thank the raw Thanaka tree bark in this multi-corrective complex for its magical healing powers. The people of Myanmar (formerly Burma) have treated their faces with it for thousands of years to help maintain clear and radiant skin.

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bareMinerals Skinlongevity Long Life Herb Serum

If you’re looking for affordable face serums that also happen to be vegan and cruelty-free, then set your sights on bareMinerals Skinlongevity Long Life Herb Serum. It’s been clinically shown to strengthen the skin’s barrier by 45 percent, improve skin’s texture by 75 percent, and reduce fine lines by 25 percent. It has minerals and antioxidants to help combat free radical damage and smooth skin’s texture. It’s free from phthalates, parabens, formaldehyde, mineral oil, and microbeads, too.

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Teal Botanicals Night Repair Serum

Transform your bedtime routine by applying a few pumps of Teal Botanicals Night Repar Serum to your face and neck in a light, upward motion until it’s fully absorbed. This face serum is made in the United States, using such organic and natural ingredients as aloe leaf juice, hyaluronic acid, jojoba seed oil, white tea leaf extract, white willow bark extract, green tea leaf extract, and lemongrass oil. You’ll see in the morning just how much your skin loves the rich antioxidants and overnight boost of moisture.

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The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum

There aren’t many skin care ingredients out there that are truly universal for all skin types and tones, but hyaluronic acid is an exception. Don’t let the word “acid” mislead you. This is the best face ingredient for serious moisturizing results. According to Dr. Marchbein, hyaluronic acid molecules absorb 1,000 times their weight in water, drawing moisture into the skin. “Hyaluronic acid is a great moisturizing booster,” she says. “Aging skin can often be dry, so this is a key ingredient to look for, especially in the winter.”

The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum has 2 percent hyaluronic acid plus matrixyl peptides to boost collagen production. At just $8 an ounce, the product sells out regularly and for good reason. Be sure to apply it on damp skin to reap the most benefits.

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La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Pure Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum

Why choose a product that only addresses aging from one angle, when you could choose one with a triple anti-aging complex? The Hyalu B5 Hyaluronic Acid serum from beloved French brand La Roche-Posay helps visibly plump, hydrate, and reduce signs of fine lines through its formulation of pure hyaluronic acid, plus a booster (nourishing madecassoside) and a buffer (soothing vitamin B5) so that it’s gentle even on sensitive skin. It’s free of parabens and oils and dermatologist tested. Just three to four drops morning and evening is all it takes to reap the benefits.

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B Great Hemp Aftershave Serum

Serums aren’t only for women, which is why women-owned CBD wellness and skincare brand B Great created a unisex face serum designed to help minimize irritation after shaving. The brand’s Hemp Aftershave Serum includes calming aloe and chamomile and witch hazel to sooth skin. It can be applied to your face, legs, armpits, or bikini line as needed. Did we mention it also contains 100mg of CBD that also helps balance and calm your skin?

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Botavikos Beauty Anti-Stress Serum

When it comes to affordable face serums, we especially love the Botavikos Anti-Stress Serum because it uses niacinamide, seabuckthorn extract, and mint and tangerine oils to improve skin tone, reduce signs of fatigue, and calm your complexion. And at under $25 for an ounce, it’s a steal.

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The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid

A derivative of vitamin A, retinoids are the gold standard for skin renewal. Retinol, in its many forms, is the most powerful skin care ingredient available. It’s been proven to increase cell turnover, which minimizes fine lines, hyperpigmentation, acne scars, and acne. Apply The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid serum to your clean, dry face at night. Let the serum completely sink in before adding additional serums or moisturizers.

Dr. Marchbein advises, “You can get a prescription from your dermatologist for retinol if you don’t see results with a serum, but many patients benefit from over-the-counter serums.” Wearing daily sunscreen and moisturizer is a requirement for people using retinol—you need to protect your skin from UV exposure and keep it hydrated.

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Heritage Store Rosewater Serum

If it’s good enough for Jennifer Aniston, Ashley Graham, and Serena Williams, surely it’s worth a shot, right? Rosewater Serum from Heritage Store is lauded for its signature Damask rose oil, which refreshes and soothes, and its hyaluronic acid to help lock in moisture. For an extra dose of TLC, store this vegan and cruelty-free product it in the fridge and pair your application with a rose quartz facial roller.

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Undefined Beauty R&R Day Serum

If one of your goals when selecting affordable face serums is a formula to fade the appearance of dark spots and acne scars, then look no further than Undefined Beauty’s R&R Day Serum. There’s plenty of plant-based magic here to love, including tremella mushroom, Kakadu plum, licorice root, aloe, noni fruit and purslane, alongside such workhorses as vitamin C, niacinamide, and kojic acid.

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Belfiore Herbal Super Serum

There’s just something decadent about lavender, which is why all of Belfiore Herbal’s products are derived from only the finest lavender grown in northern California. The brand’s Super Serum contains a winning formula under the affordable face serums’ umbrella: vitamins A, C, and E, alongside hyaluronic acid and antioxidants. It’s the quickest way to ace your skincare routine!

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Olay Wrinkle Correction Serum with Vitamin B3+ Collagen Peptides

Niacinamide (also known as vitamin B3) is a three-for-one face serum ingredient. Niacinimide prevents breakouts by regulating oil production and pigment-making cells (goodbye dark spots), and soothing inflammation. Dr. Marchbein says the best face serums often contain niacinamide, so you get all the benefits without having to add another step to your skin care routine. Olay’s Wrinkle Correction Serum with Vitamin B3+ Collagen Peptides fits the bill, and also includes collagen-boosting peptides to increase cell turnover, boost moisture levels, and plump fine lines. Speaking of moisture levels, you can pair this serum with the best-selling Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 moisturizer for more hydrated, smoother and brighter skin.

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Too Faced Hangover Good in Bed Ultra-Replenishing Hydrating Serum

Sometimes, a name just says it all, and we appreciate the honesty. If your skin had a late night, there’s no need to fret. Simply reach for your Too Faced Hangover Good in Bed Hydrating Serum and let it work its magic. The vitamin B5, yogurt probiotics, hyaluronic acid, and dragon fruit help moisturize, plump, soothe, and replenish your skin so nobody will ever know just how little sleep you got.

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Follain Firming Serum Collagen Boost

Peptides are a buzzy skincare ingredient, and the specific one to look for is matrixyl, a peptide that has been widely studied and proven to last over time. Follain Firming Serum Collagen Boost features two percent matrixyl, which supports the production of collagen, a protein critical for keeping skin supple, as well as niacinamide and glycerin for moisture. The formula feels velvety and glides on smoothly before quickly sinking in. Over time, you should see firmer and tighter skin that’s noticeably more plump. No fillers needed.

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Oh It’s Natural Argan + Hemp Facial Oil

Some serums feel heavy on your face, making you wonder if your pores will be clogged by the end of the day. Not the case with the Argan + Hemp Facial Oil Hydrate + Glow Serum from Oh It’s Natural. This lightweight formula absorbs quickly yet locks in moisture that lasts all day long. That means it works well under makeup, which is a real plus. Aside from argan oil and hemp seed oil, it’s also cruelty-free and made with only organic ingredients.

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Additional reporting by Megan Wood

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Source: Dr. Shari Marchbein, board-certified dermatologist and Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology at NYU School of Medicine

Jill Schildhouse
As an editor-at-large for Reader's Digest, Jill Schildhouse regularly covers travel, wellness, food, beauty, consumer products and product reviews. She has more than 20 years of experience as an award-winning lifestyle writer and editor, and she frequently contributes to Travel + Leisure, Bride’s, Southern Living, Taste of Home and Insider. Jill has traveled to 36 countries and is always planning her next domestic or overseas adventure.