Best Facial Serum: The 2023 List Beauty Awards

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It's always a good time to time to kick our skincare routines up a notch. If your daily regimen doesn't include a serum, it's time to add at least one to your collection of skincare. A serum is a mixture of active ingredients that aims to keep your skin healthy and address the myriad skin concerns that vary from person to person. Serums are typically applied between your cleanser and moisturizer, and they're becoming more popular as paying extra attention to caring for your skin becomes more common.

Which serum you should incorporate into your skincare regimen depends on your skin type and what you're looking for. While some people may be in search of a product that has a goal of diminishing wrinkles, for others this may not be a concern. Instead, they're looking for something that will keep their dry skin extra hydrated. Furthermore, some serums have specific goals that dictate how they should be used. For example, while certain serums should be applied before bed, others should be incorporated into your makeup routine. For these reasons, there's no one-size-fits-all approach to choosing the right serum. That's why for the 2023 List Beauty Awards, we tested lots of products and chose our top five serums to ensure that there's a perfect pick for every skincare routine. 

Read more about the 2023 List Beauty Awards methodology and all the top picks here.

Best overall: Pacifica Glow Baby Serum Booster

As we said, there's no one-size-fits-all serum solution. Yet, the Pacifica Glow Baby Booster Serum gets pretty close to being the ideal serum. This product feels and smells like summertime in liquid form, and it will make your skin look exactly how you'd want it to look on a summer afternoon in the sun. This serum is a great pick for anyone who wants their skin to look a bit brighter, healthier, and more glowing. And, that includes pretty much everyone. 

The serum includes vitamin C and glycolic acid, which helps to refresh your skin. These ingredients will give you a noticeable glow by unclogging pores and boosting dull, weighed-down skin. Incorporating this serum into your routine is an easy way to get your skin looking glowy and nourished. Yet, despite its quick results, this serum is gentle and safe for folks with sensitive skin. Basically, regardless of your skin type or what kind of results you're looking for in a serum, the Pacifica Glow Baby Serum Booster will be able to give your skin a bit of a boost.

And sure — this isn't the most important part, but this product comes in beautiful packaging and an equally beautiful bottle, and its fresh, fruity scent will make you feel happy whenever you're wearing it. While you can apply this straight to clean skin like other products, this one can also be added to your moisturizer or paired with your foundation to refresh your makeup look. 

Purchase the Pacifica Glow Baby Booster Serum at Amazon for $16.

Best to mix with makeup: Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops

With the 'clean-girl' beauty trend going viral on social media, everyone's looking for the best way to get glowy skin. You may recall the fruity skincare product that went viral on TikTok recently, which claimed to be the holy grail for beauty aficionados in search of the ultimate glow. When a product goes viral among beauty influencers, usually it's for a good reason, and the Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops are no exception. With a name like "dew drops," it's clear that this product aims to make your skin look like a well-hydrated blade of grass the morning after a rainstorm, and suffice it to say, it does its job. This product leaves your skin looking and feeling bright and hydrated. Even so, it feels light, rather than sticky, and the glow comes from within, unlike a shimmery highlighter that manufactures the effect. 

One feature that makes this serum stand out is the versatility of how it can be used. It can be applied to clean skin like a normal serum, or used as a foundation primer before applying your makeup. We tried all three recommended methods, and the favorite option was the third method: mixing it in with foundation helped the makeup blend into the skin and gave it an extra glow. This is definitely a unique use for a product like this, but it will leave your makeup looking fresh and more glowy than ever. 

Purchase the Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops at Sephora for $35.

Best overnight serum: Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum

While The Glow Recipe Dew Drops are one of the more popular options out there, they aren't the only serum that will leave your skin looking radiant and refreshed. The Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum is another favorite in terms of giving your skin that natural-looking glow that we're all after. Plus, this serum doesn't take long to have an effect; our skin looked completely renewed almost immediately and has improved even more after a week of use. In fact, of all the products that were tested, this one seemed to have the most immediate effects, making skin feel softer and calmer after just one use.

This is another product that has garnered a lot of hype and quite a devoted following, and once again, the hype is definitely justified. Alicia Yoon, the founder of Peach & Lily, explained a bit about the formula to Byrdie, saying, "Brightening ingredients are often used to help suppress overactive melanocytes. Many of our clients grew frustrated, because they were using brightening ingredients, yet their dark spots were not fading." She created a formula using hyaluronic acid and niacinamide among other ingredients to get to the root of the problem and hydrate the skin. The result is a safe and holistic serum that really does achieve the coveted "glass skin" effect. This product is a great one for bedtime; apply it after cleanser and before moisturizer at night for the ultimate beauty sleep. 

Purchase the Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum at Ulta for $39.

Best SPF: Rose Inc Solar Power Luminous SPF 30 Brightening Serum

We all know that it's important to get sunscreen into your routine, especially when it comes to your face. Even so, many of us don't consider how helpful it can be to add a product with SPF into our everyday skincare regimens. One reason for the mental block may be the way that many of us think about SPF, what it is, and what it does to our skin. Sure — we're aware of the effects of sun damage over time and what a big help SPF can be for keeping it at bay. Yet, for most of us, our skincare routine is more about getting quick, day-to-day results than planning for the future. This is why it can be difficult to remember our daily SPF when we're getting ready to head outside. But, why not snag a sunscreen that also makes your skin and your makeup look better?

Whether you're looking for a sunscreen for your face with tons of other benefits or a super hydrating serum that will also keep your skin safe from UV rays, our pick is the Rose Inc Solar Power Luminous SPF 30 Brightening Serum. This serum makes your skin feel softer to the touch instantly, all while feeling much lighter than most sunscreens. This serum is designed to be applied right before you start your makeup routine, and not only does it contain SPF 30, but it will also make your skin look and feel hydrated and help your makeup to lay better. 

Purchase the Rose Inc Solar Power Luminous SPF 30 Brightening Serum at Sephora for $18-$46.

Best first serum: Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum

If you're overwhelmed by the world of serums and aren't sure how to determine the best one to incorporate into your routine, the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum is a great pick. This serum is light, gentle, and has a refreshing citrusy scent that makes your skin feel clean and renewed. This product works for all skin types and can easily be popped into a simple skincare routine to add a little oomph.

Like using mouthwash after brushing your teeth makes your mouth feel extra refreshed and clean, the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum has the same effect after washing your face. The term "activating" in the name means that this serum makes any products that you follow it with more effective by helping your skin absorb more easily. Of course, it can be difficult to tell if it's actually helping your skin absorb products better. That said, since we first tried this serum, using it between a cleanser and an overnight mask as part of before-bed skincare has become a go-to, as it leaves the skin feeling extra fresh and cared for when you wake up. 

While it takes a while to fairly test a product's anti-aging properties (for obvious reasons), one of this serum's main draws is its ability to minimize fine lines and wrinkles. If this is one of your skincare concerns, simply adding this product between your normal cleanser and moisturizer in the morning and at night is likely to be a help. 

Purchase the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum at Sephora for $25.