Last Updated: May 5, 2023 @ 1:41 pm.

What is the best face serum set? To find out, we first interviewed three board-certified dermatologists to get their expert insights. Then we tried a dozen different brands. Which is best for sensitive skin? As a gift? Budget-friendly? Here are the ones we recommend.

FYI: We've been reviewing and rating products for the home and families since 1994. We don't take money or freebies from the brands we review. Our work is 100% reader-supported!

Face Serum 101: Our Tips & Tests

Let’s talk face serum sets.

What exactly is face serum and how do you most effectively use it?

We spoke with three board-certified dermatologists for this article—each told us that face serum is designed to repair skin damage or other issues (brown spots). Face serum isn’t a moisturizer or lotion. 

Face serum is a concentrated oil or water-based solution that typically has vitamins plus acids (like glycolic acid), antioxidants and retinol (which is a from of Vitamin A). The ingredients vary depending on what skin issue you are targeting: brown spots (Vitamin C), inflammation (retinol, niacinamide) or wrinkles (resveratrol).

How to use face serum

The experts we spoke with suggest using face serum after you wash your face, but before you put on a moisturizer. And a little goes a long way—because face serums are concentrated, a few drops should work for an entire face.

Another tip: for dry skin, look for serums that have Vitamin E and glycolic acid—these are most effective for that issue.

Our Tests

To test face serum, we moved the serum to generic bottles so we could try it without being influenced by brand names or fancy packaging. We followed manufacturer instructions and used the face serums for two weeks of testing.

Here are the face serums we think did the best in our testing:

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Best For Sensitive SKin

Great gift idea
Love the results with this set, which made skin soft and reduced puffiness. A little went a long way.

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Best For Dry Skin

Green tea scent is pleasing
The retinol serum is the star feature here (to reduce inflammation), but we like how this set performed overall.

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Best Gift Idea

Pricey but effective
This set produced skin that was soft and smooth—and it absorbed well without any scent.

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Best Budget-Friendly

Skin felt like silk
You don't have to spend a fortune on face serum—this set performed as well as sets that cost several times more. No scent and great on sensitive skin.

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About the Authors

Denise & Alan Fields are consumer advocates and best-selling authors. The Fields have authored 12 books with three million copies in print, including the best-selling guide to baby gear, Baby Bargains.

The Fields have been featured and quoted in the New York TimesWall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times.

As consumer products experts, the Fields have been guests on the NBC Today Show, Good Morning America and ABC’s 20/20.

How We Pick Products To Recommend

We often turn to our readers (3 million strong!) to find products to recommend. We ask our parent readers for their favorites and consider their real-world experiences in our recommendations.

When we test a product, we always purchase it with our own monies. We do not take free samples, as we believe that compromises our independence.

We also fact check manufacturer information with our own measurements. If a maker claims a product weighs X pounds, we will weigh it to make sure. If the battery life is supposed to be six hours, we will see how it stands up in the real world.

In some cases, we will do interviews with experts in the field to get additional feedback on products.

To get hands-on time with products, we regularly meet one-on-one with gear companies and even tour manufacturing facilities. (When we do this, we pay our own travel expenses).

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing products for the home and families since 1994. We do extensive research, evaluating products with an eye toward quality, ease of use and affordability.

We make our living from affiliate commissions, but we always recommend what we think are the best bets for our readers (not the ones that are the most expensive). We are always looking for products that offer the best bang for the buck.

Our independence is a key reason why we have been doing this so long. As we mentioned above, when we purchase a product for hands-on testing, we do so with our own money.

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Our work is 100% reader-supported!

Baby Bargains: Your Baby Registry Cheat Sheet is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and its related sites. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.