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Hydrating super serums

We all want to look as fresh and youthful as we can, but as we age, our skin starts to lose moisture. Dry skin is more prone to fine lines, wrinkles, and dullness, which is why it can make you look older.

With a hydrating super serum, you can deliver intense hydration to heal and nourish your skin. Serums help your skin hang onto the moisture it has and protect it from environmental pollutants that can age it. Fine lines and wrinkles look less noticeable, and your skin can take on an overall brighter, smoother appearance.

Our buying guide contains all the tips you need to find the best hydrating super serum for your vanity. We’ve included several specific product recommendations, too, including our top choice from Caudalie, which provides a significant dose of hydration to the skin but leaves behind no oily residue.

Considerations when choosing hydrating super serums

Active ingredients

A high-quality hydrating super serum should contain active ingredients that boost moisture, fade hyperpigmentation, and smooth fine lines and wrinkles. Because these formulas are meant to provide significant anti-aging benefits, they can feature up to 70% active ingredients, compared to the less than 10% found in traditional skincare products.

Following are some excellent active ingredients to look for in a hydrating super serum:

  • Hyaluronic acid helps the skin attract and hold onto moisture.
  • Glycerin and other humectants like xylitol, mannitol, and rhamnose help hydrate the outer layer of the skin, strengthen the skin barrier, and soothe irritation.
  • Ferulic acid is an antioxidant that helps moisturize and encourage cellular repair to reduce the signs of premature aging.
  • Olive squalene helps hydrate and lubricate the skin while also fighting environmental damage.
  • Vitamin A (retinol) is an antioxidant that helps promote cell turnover to smooth fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Niacinamide can help minimize the look of pores, even skin tone, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Hydroxytyrosol is an antioxidant that helps the skin heal and reduces inflammation.
  • Kojic acid helps fade discolorations and brighten the skin.
  • Glycolic acid and other AHAs exfoliate the skin for a brighter, clearer, smoother complexion.

Skin type

Take your skin type into account when choosing a hydrating super serum. Those with oily skin should opt for a non-comedogenic formula with ingredients that help keep the pores clean like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, niacinamide, and zinc.

People with uneven skin should choose a formula with brightening ingredients like vitamin C, kojic acid, and glycolic acid.

Those with aging skin should go with a formula with intensive hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, as well as ingredients that can smooth fine lines and wrinkles like vitamin A, vitamin C, and glycolic acid.

People with sensitive skin should look for a formula with anti-inflammatory ingredients like vitamin E, zinc, DMAE, and hydroxytyrosol to soothe irritation.


The active ingredients in a hydrating super serum are incredibly potent, but they usually start to degrade when they come into contact with air or light. Many serums feature packaging that helps prevent the formula from becoming unstable, including air-tight pump bottles made of opaque plastic or dark glass that doesn’t allow the light to break down the ingredients.

Hydrating super serum features


Most hydrating super serums have a thin, lightweight texture that’s similar to water, but some formulas are slightly thicker to provide more intense hydration. No matter what texture you choose, the serum should penetrate your skin quickly without leaving behind any oily residue.

Container size

You can usually find hydrating super serums in bottles that contain 1 to 2 ounces of product. You don’t need much serum to cover your face — typically only a few drops for each application — which means a bottle can last quite a while. Larger bottles generally provide a better value.


To ensure that a hydrating super serum is as good as possible for your skin, look for a formula without any parabens, sulfates, or phthalates, which are potentially harmful to not only the skin but the body as well. You may want an option without fragrance, silicone, and/or essential oils, which can possibly irritate the skin. It’s also important to choose a serum with a pH between 5.7 and 6.0 to make sure it works for most skin types.

Hydrating super serum price

You can expect to pay between $12 and $300 for a hydrating super serum. Formulas with one to two active ingredients can go for $12 to $26, while higher-end brands typically sell serums with three or more active ingredients for $26 to $50. For a luxury brand hydrating super serum packed with active ingredients, expect to pay $50 to $300.

Hydrating super serum FAQ

Q. What are the benefits of a hydrating super serum?

A. The main benefit of a hydrating super serum is that it delivers intense moisture to the skin in a lightweight formula. It usually contains other ingredients that are designed to target specific skin issues, such as fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, clogged pores, redness, and inflammation, which allows you to treat multiple skin issues at once.

Q. How often should I use a hydrating super serum?

A. You should check the manufacturer’s recommendations on the packaging regarding usage, but in most cases, it’s best to apply the serum daily to see results.

Hydrating super serums we recommend

Best of the best

Caudalie’s Vinosource SOS Thirst Quenching Serum

Caudalie’s Vinosource SOS Thirst Quenching Serum

Our take: A favorite thanks to its thin, lightweight texture that glides over the skin like silk and doesn’t leave behind any residue.

What we like: Formula is extremely effective for super dry or sensitive skin. Provides an intense dose of hydration. Can help heal chapped, irritated skin.

What we dislike: May need to be used with another moisturizer to fully hydrate the skin.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best bang for your buck

Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Hydrating Serum

Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Hydrating Serum

Our take: Features many of the same ingredients as higher-end formulas at a more affordable price point.

What we like: Includes hyaluronic acid to help boost skin’s moisture. Absorbs quickly and easily, so it works well under makeup. Doesn’t contain any oil, which makes it suitable for all skin types.

What we dislike: Has a somewhat strong scent, so it may not be a good option if you’re sensitive to fragrance.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Clinique’s Smart Custom-Repair Serum

Clinique’s Smart Custom-Repair Serum

Our take: A highly effective serum for hydrating the skin and addressing the signs of aging.

What we like: Provides impressive hydration for dry skin that helps it look fresher and brighter. Lightweight consistency sinks into the skin easily. Can help soften the look of fine lines and wrinkles in as little as night.

What we dislike: Has a somewhat steep price tag considering the size of the bottle.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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