This is an objective, non-biased article. We base our product choices on various factors, such as product reviews, ratings, and overall reputation of brands. It does, however, contain affiliate links for featured products.
Let’s be honest – serums are something that can either make or totally break your skincare routine.
That’s because face serums contain a high amount of active ingredients that target specific concerns, so choosing the right one for your skin type is crucial. But during the summer months, you also have to take UV rays into consideration when planning your skincare routine.
In this article, we focus primarily on helping you choose the best serum for summer according to your skin type and building a season-appropriate routine. So, let’s get started!
How Do I Choose the Best Serum for Summer?
Serums are the most efficient way to upgrade your skin regimen. Their lightweight, liquid formulation penetrates much deeper than other skincare products can.
But during the summertime, things get a bit more complicated. You still want to achieve the benefits of active ingredients from the serum, but now there are additional challenges like keeping the skin protected from sun exposure, reducing oiliness, and preventing breakouts.
These issues need to be reflected in the ingredients you pick for your serum too. So, analyze your skin type, and think about the problems you want to mitigate so you can choose the best serum for summer – that covers your skin’s needs.
Here’s a quick rundown of which ingredients to focus on for each skin type.
Image source: Freepik
Best Serum for Dry Skin in Summer
For those with dry skin, the summer heat can exacerbate the problem, leading to flakiness and discomfort. Look for serums that provide intense hydration and help restore the skin’s moisture barrier.
The ingredients you should focus on are humectants like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, as well as ceramides and squalane. Here are some of our best serums for dry skin in summer product picks:
1. Tatcha The Dewy Serum
Dry and dehydrated skin often comes with a very pronounced skin texture. By hydrating it, your skin will recover its plumpness and the visibility of fine lines will be improved.
Tatcha’s The Dewy Serum contains ingredients like lactic acid, hyaluronic acid, and squalane – all of which work to make the skin smoother and dewier.
The plumping effect hyaluronic acid provides is complemented nicely by the moisture-locking benefits of squalane. On top of that, lactic acid, the gentlest AHA, helps exfoliate dead skin cells, alleviating dull complexion.
Together, these three ingredients return your skin to its supple, bouncy, and radiant look.
2. Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Serum
Omega fatty acids are essential nutrients that can regulate the skin’s oil production, improve balanced hydration, and keep breakouts under control. They have a soothing effect on irritation and help with skin restoration – which is exactly what dry skin needs in the summer.
Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Serum is a skin-nourishing serum that contains concentrated levels of omega fatty acids 3, 6, and 9 that help replenish dull and dehydrated skin. The replenishing serum also contains ceramides, and plant-based moisturizers shea butter and jojoba oil,l that revive a smooth, supple feeling.
3. Biossance Squalane and Copper Peptide Serum
Squalane is a powerhouse ingredient that delivers hydration and protects the skin at the same time. It’s commonly harvested from plants like olives, wheat germ oil, and rice bran. But the structure is very similar to the natural lipids your body produces.
This ingredient is also a natural antioxidant and a highly-effective emollient, which means it locks moisture into your skin and eases dry patches.
The Biossance Squalene and Copper Peptide Serum is a non-sticky, silky formulation that instantly and visibly plumps skin by drawing in moisture and encouraging collagen production.
Best Serum for Sensitive Skin in Summer
Sensitive skin requires extra care and attention, particularly during the summer months when skin is more likely to get irritated.
Serums with soothing ingredients like aloe vera, chamomile, and Centella Asiatica are great options for sensitive skin. Look for gentle formulas that help calm the inflammation and reduce redness.
Here’s a list of the best serums for sensitive skin in summer:
1. Kate Somerville DeliKate Recovery Serum
Sensitive skin can be hard to take care of in the summer, especially since the sun and harsh temperatures are increasing its sensitivity. This is why finding a serum that’ll help keep it protected and calm is essential.
Kate Somerville Recovery Serum is made for stressed and sensitized skin. It contains ceramides, peptides, and omegas which all help strengthen the protective skin barrier.
2. Eau Thermale Avène Hydrance Intense Serum
When it comes to sensitive skin, choosing the best serum for summer may be challenging. You still want to achieve the benefits without further irritating the skin. This is why you need to choose a serum that contains calming and soothing ingredients that can help reduce redness, inflammation, and irritation.
Avène’s Hydrance Intense Serum is a great option since it helps restore and strengthen the skin’s barrier while fighting dehydration. The serum is formulated to minimize the risk of allergic reactions and alleviate any sensations of tingling and tightness.
It’s lightweight and refreshing, and fast-absorbing so it can provide the skin with intense, immediate hydration for up to 24 hours.
3. EltaMD Skin Recovery Hydrating Serum
As we previously mentioned, people with sensitive skin should look for gentle formulas with simple ingredients that help restore the skin barrier that is being damaged daily.
EltaMD Skin Recovery Hydrating Serum offers exactly that – daily protection with ingredients like Centella Asiatica leaf extract and antioxidants that support the skin barrier. The brand even claims this product helps reduce risks of skin irritation by up to 53%.
Best Serum for Oily Skin in Summer
Oily skin types may be the hardest to maintain during the summer. Excess sebum production can often lead to blemishes like whiteheads and blackheads, breakouts, and a greasy appearance.
So, look for so-called oil-control serums that contain ingredients like niacinamide, salicylic acid, and tea tree oil. These ingredients help control sebum, minimize pores, and reduce blemishes. Lightweight, oil-free serums that balance oil production while providing hydration are ideal.
Here are our product picks for the best serum for oily skin in summer:
1. Neutrogena Hydroboost Hydrating Serum
Many people with oily and acne-prone skin types think they need to dry out the oil their skin produces. But in actuality, dry skin needs to be hydrated to help balance out the oil production because if your skin’s dehydrated, it can actually produce more oil to compensate for the lack of moisture.
By providing proper hydration, with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, you can help maintain the skin’s natural moisture balance and prevent excessive oil production.
So, a lightweight, non-comedogenic hydrating serum, such as Neutrogena Hydroboost Serum can be very helpful for oily skin types since it draws in water to hydrate and plump the outer skin layer.
2. The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Oil Control Serum
Niacinamide is great for oily skin because it helps control sebum production. Not only does it help reduce breakouts, but it also helps make your pores appear smaller and your skin smoother.
The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Oil Control Serum uses a potent concentration of this ingredient, and since it’s a water-based formula, it won’t add any additional shine or oil to your face!
3. Glow Recipe Strawberry Smooth BHA + AHA Salicylic Acid Serum
Increased sweating during the summer months can lead to clogged pores and breakouts – especially if your skin is already acne-prone.
This is why you need to exfoliate your skin regularly – but not too often. Over-exfoliation can lead to a damaged skin barrier and cause further complications.
Instead, opt for something like the Glow Recipe’s Strawberry Smooth Serum – a clarifying serum that curbs breakouts without drying or irritating skin. This product is actually helpful in soothing and calming down redness, while simultaneously brightening and clearing the complexion.
Best Face Serum for Combination Skin in Summer
If you have normal or combination skin, you may want a versatile serum that provides hydration without feeling heavy. Look for lightweight serums with a blend of hydrating and brightening ingredients.
Serums containing vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and antioxidants will help maintain your skin’s moisture balance while providing a radiant glow. Here’s a look at our top product choices:
1. Vichy Mineral 89 Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid is a great ingredient for combination skin as it provides hydration without being heavy or greasy. Combination skin typically has both oily and dry areas, so finding the right balance is important.
Vichy Mineral 89 Hyaluronic Acid is a lightweight gel serum that instantly plumps the skin and provides effective long-lasting hydration
2. Sunday Riley C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum
Vitamin C serum is an antioxidant, and antioxidants help protect the skin from oxidative damage caused by free radicals and environmental aggressors like UV damage and pollution. Plus, it makes your SPF more effective!
Look for a lightweight formula of Vitamin C serum, such as Sunday Riley C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum. This serum also has collagen-boosting and skin-brightening properties, so it helps fade dark spots and make your complexion glowy!
3. Naturium Niacinamide Face Serum
Niacinamide is great for regulating oil production, which is helpful for treating the T-zone that tends to get oilier than the rest of the face. But since this ingredient is multifunctional, you’ll also get other benefits like skin brightening and texture improvement.
The powerful formulation of the Naturium Niacinamide Face Serum is great if you’re struggling with oversized pores or skin texture. Plus, niacinamide helps lock moisture in and keep pollutants or other potential irritants out so you get pretty much all skincare benefits from only one product.
What About the Rest of Your Skincare Routine?
While serums are, arguably, the most important step in your skincare routine, you can’t disregard the rest of it.
Applying a serum can provide targeted treatment and deliver potent active ingredients to address specific skincare concerns, but you need to properly prep the skin before applying serum and follow it up with a suitable moisturizer to lock the active ingredients in.
To get the best possible results, you need to ensure the rest of your skincare is working together with the serum’s properties, not against it. So look for cleansers, toners, and moisturizers that are formulated for your specific skin type and include ingredients that complement each other.
We’ve covered this topic in our Summer Skincare Routine, where we provide recommendations for suitable ingredients and products based on different skin types.
It’s also crucial to choose an appropriate sunscreen for your skin, as SPF is a daily necessity that should also cater to your skin’s needs. Making the wrong choice in terms of formulation can result in breakouts or skin reactions.
So, if you need help picking out the best SPF for your skin type, check out our SPF Guide.
When Choosing the Best Serum for Summer Keep in Mind…
Serums are lightweight and have a high concentration of active ingredients, allowing them to penetrate deep into the skin.
They come in various formulations, targeting specific issues such as aging, hyperpigmentation, acne, hydration, or brightening.
Choosing the right serum according to your skin type is essential for maintaining healthy and glowing skin during the summer season.