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Best serums of 2021: The only five serums every skincare newbie needs. Look out for ones that have Niacinamide, Vitamin C, Retinol and more to maximise your skin health this year!

2021 skin is all about getting two things right – consistency in routine and effective formulations. And while discipline in application is important, what you put on your face needs adequate attention – because layering skincare is one thing but keeping it effective, addressing specific skincare problems and choosing the right products is another. If we had to pick a star product that your regime cannot do without, it’s the humble serum. Yes, it’s more important than your moisturiser, as needful as a sunscreen, way more significant than a toner or a face wash. The serum is also the one skincare item that needs homework – you need to know why you are choosing a certain formula and what it will deliver onto your skin. Serums usually are the shining stars of your regime and will be directly responsible for your skin health and upkeep, way more than any other product in your skincare shelf.

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What are serums?

Serums are specialised, topical products – they cost more than anything else in your routine and come in smaller bottles. They are thin in texture, absorb into the skin in seconds and then you can layer on more heavier formulas to protect the skin barrier. Their main job is to deliver high concentrations of active ingredients into your skin so they can deliver the best results. The ingredient list is all about skin health, so expect vitamins, antioxidants, acids, peptides, botanical extracts, potent formulations and more. Most of them are lightweight, water-based and can penetrate the skin quickly. They are also for targeted skincare issues and needs – if you want bright skin or want to work on the texture of your skin or you are looking at anti-ageing formulas – it’s about choosing the right serum for you infused with the correct ingredients. They can be layered on after a toner or an essence and followed up with a moisturizer, sunscreen and sometimes with a facial oil. 

Here are the five types of serums everyone needs in their beauty wardrobe. Well, they are for different needs but their performance is what makes them the best. Whether it’s brightening, fatigue, anti-ageing or hydrating – it’s about finding the right serum to correct and address your skin’s needs.

Top 5 serums to look out for 2021

Brightening: Vitamin C, Niacinamide, Alpha Arbutin, Kojic Acid

Neemli Hyaluronic & Vitamin C Serum, Rs 2,250

Nothing beats Vitamin C when it comes to brightening and you should be looking at this potent ingredient this year, if you haven’t already. Brightening serums are known to boost radiance, add a glow and afde dark spots and hyperpigmentation.

Antioxidant serums: Ferulic Acid, Green Tea, Niacinamide

Innisfree Black Tea Youth Enhancing Ampoule
Innisfree Black Tea Youth Enhancing Ampoule, Rs 2,780

Want to protect your skin from free radicals and pollution? Any serum with a good set of antioxidants will help do the job. They help protect your skin from air pollution and UV damage and add rejuvenation to your skin. They even help stressed out and skin dealing with fatigue.

Hydrating serums: Hyaluronic Acid, Aloe Vera, Snail Mucin

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex, Rs 5,900

This is for all skin types but mainly for dry and combination skin types that are in constant need of moisture, a boost of it perhaps. Hyaluronic acid, snail mucin, aloe vera and glycerin are the ingredients that help with hydration and making sure your skin stays plump.

Skin resurfacing serums or Exfoliating serums: Lactic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Salicylic Acid

Glow Tonic Serum Pixi
Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic Serum, Rs 2,550

Exfoliating treatment are interesting and are gaining a lot of popularity this year. Talk about AHAs, BHAs and even PHAs now – they help remove dead skin cell build-up, exfoliate evenly and give you a cleaned-up, more smooth and satin-y skin.

Anti-aging serums: Retinol, Bakuchiol

with blue light rescue- Serum Absolut
Bakuchiol Serum with blue light rescue- Serum Absolut by Daughter Earth, Rs 2195

This is specifically for ageing skin – that means fine lines, crows feet, loss of elasticity and firmness.When your skin needs hydration, collagen-boosting and plumping – these serums are the ones that help you achieve it. Whether it’s retinol, which is the gold standard of anti-ageing or Bakuchiol (bio-retinol), serums that contain peptides, it’s about adding that suppleness and glow to your skin.

Latha Sunadh
Deputy Editor
When she's not trying on a new serum, researching on yet another classic fragrance and sharing lip balms with her 5-year old daughter, Latha Sunadh keeps it reined in with a nice song and a good book. Special skills include obsessing over handmade, home-made and handcrafted luxuries.