My Favorite: Luzern Serum Absolut RC

Martha's Skincare Cabinet

Serums apply the specific active ingredients that treat your particular issue. I’m always looking for soothing, calming ingredients for my redness and rosacea. This serum is non-toxic, non-irritating, paraben-free and vegetarian, made with green tea and horse chestnut extracts to fight inflammation. And it just feels healing.

How to Choose Yours:
Serums can be expensive, so this is not a time for trial and error. “It’s silly to purchase a skincare treatment based on the outside packaging or smell,” says Alexiades. “You want to make sure the ingredient is attending to a need.” She suggests bisabolol (chamomile) to soothe redness or coffee and tea extracts, which can constrict blood vessels in the skin. Her 37 Extreme Actives creams incorporate green tea and Yerba mate extract as well as chamomile, in a completely USDA organic, plant-based formula.  

Wagner also recommends first determining what you want to change in your skin: acne, redness, pigmentation, wrinkles, sagging, or dullness. “Serums have smaller molecules than moisturizers. They’re like a vitamin for your skin.” She recently launched her own White Tiger Serum, in which she add tiger grass stems cells to firm, reduce redness and hydrate. “The tiger grass stem cells prevent the breakdown of hyaluronic acid in your skin, so it’s super hydrating,” she says. She also included turmeric as a brightening agent.

“Patients ask what really works,” says Humphrey. She tells them there have to be clinical studies to definitively know, which is why she recommends topical vitamin A (retinols or prescription retinoids such as Retin-A and Renova). She says the next ingredients to look for are growth factors, proteins that can stimulate collagen production. Humphrey says “the big one” is TNS Essential Serum from SkinMedica. “They’ve done clinical studies that show new collagen developing in skin after only 4 weeks,” she says. “That’s a compelling piece of evidence it’s actually working.”