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What Does Serum Do for Skin?

The most active step in any skin-care routine, serum drenches your skin in pure treatment: Botanical extracts, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, minerals, and other potent ingredients sink in easily and go to work. “Serums are real power tools when it comes to hydration and rejuvenation, so they should be a part of everyone’s routine,” says Dr. Barbara Sturm, founder of Dr. Barbara Sturm skin care. “The idea is to love and protect the skin while keeping it looking youthful.” The serum step delivers benefits—from visible glow to smoothed lines—for just about every skin type. And paired with skin devices, a serum can deliver even more powerful results.

  1. FOR NOTICEABLE GLOW

    Two skin-care powerhouses, L-ascorbic acid (proven in research to be the purest, best-for-skin form of the antioxidant vitamin C) and moisturizing hyaluronic acid come together in this daily glow serum. It helps brighten the appearance of the skin, significantly improving its firmness, tone, texture, and hydration and leaving it looking radiant, luminous, and healthy. And there are clinicals to back it up: Immediately, after one use, 100 percent of women showed a dramatic improvement in skin hydration. And after four weeks of twice-daily use, 90 percent said their skin looked and felt brighter.1

    goop Beauty GOOPGLOW 20% Vitamin C + Hyaluronic Glow Serum, goop, $125/$112 with subscription
    goop Beauty GOOPGLOW 20% Vitamin C +
    Hyaluronic Acid Glow Serum
    goop, $125/$112 with subscription
    SHOP NOW
  2. FOR OVERNIGHT RESULTS

    This hyaluronic night serum from Dr. Barbara Sturm is a bestseller in the goop shop: The practically weightless formula floods skin with moisture, and antioxidant purslane soothes and treats skin overnight, when our skin does the most work to repair. Cotton thistle extract is excellent for soothing dry and stressed skin, while Senna alata extract supports the skin’s natural restorative processes. Poria cocos extract and beta-glucan support skin barrier function, and plankton extract helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This superpowered serum layers nicely under richer creams.

    Dr. Barbara Sturm Night Serum, goop, $310
    Dr. Barbara Sturm Night Serum goop, $310
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  3. FOR WRINKLES, DRYNESS, AND MORE

    Powered by TFC8, a proprietary ingredient designed to restore skin, this multitasking serum from the legendary Dr. Augustinus Bader moisturizes, smooths fine lines, and calms skin with pomegranate seed concentrate, squalane, vitamin C, rice bran oil, and edelweiss extract. Bonus: It’s refillable, so once you’ve finished the last drop of serum, just pop out the canister and replace it with a new one.

    Augustinus Bader The Serum, goop, $375
    Augustinus Bader The Serum goop, $375
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    Augustinus Bader The Serum Nomad, goop, $350
    Augustinus Bader The Serum Nomad goop, $350
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  4. FOR EYES AND FACE

    This beautiful serum is made with active botanicals—including antioxidant Anchusa azurea and olive-leaf water—and works its magic on both the face and the delicate eye area. It also contains collagen-supporting chicory and vitamin E–packed asparagus, both of which (like everything in the serum) are hand-harvested on an 800-acre estate in Sicily. It feels incredible going on and leaves your skin smoother, softer, brighter, and ultranourished.

    Furtuna Skin Porte Per La Vitalità Face and Eye Serum, goop,  $185
    Furtuna Skin Porte Per La Vitalità Face and Eye Serum goop, $185
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  5. THE CULT FAVORITE

    Avid fans (of every skin type) rave about the results from this works-like-a-dream serum, which also happens to feel like the most luxurious face oil on earth. Infused with 22 active organic botanicals mixed with powerful essential oils, phytonutrients, minerals, phytoceramides, nourishing fatty acids, and antioxidants, the serum (and its results on skin) is legendary. The revolutionary formula—it’s a bestseller on goop—sinks in beautifully, leaving skin immediately smooth and glowy, with the benefits building over time.

    Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum, goop, $185
    Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum goop, $195
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  6. FOR SENSITIVE SKIN

    So effective that even people with “normal” skin types see incredible results with it, this gentle, silky serum—made with plant ceramides, a tri-algae complex, and a volcanic postbiotic complex—is a dream for anyone with sensitive, dry, or reactive skin. It delivers noticeably retexturized, radiant, and seriously soothed skin.

    Tata Harper Superkind Bio-Barrier Serum, goop, $130
    Tata Harper Superkind Bio-Barrier Serum goop, $130
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  7. FOR NECK AND DÉCOLLETAGE

    Apply this luxurious serum from top New York dermatologist Macrene Alexiades to help firm, plump, and even skin tone over the neck and décolletage. It’s rich in potent active ingredients to target elasticity and help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

    MACRENE actives Neck and Décolletage Serum, goop, $295
    MACRENE actives High Performance Neck & Décolletage Serum goop, $295
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  8. FOR BRIGHTER, NOURISHED SKIN

    Two different weights of hyaluronic acid combine with fruit and floral oils rich in nutrients and ellagic acid, plus phytosterols to help brighten, soothe, and nourish skin in this beautifully moisturizing cream-serum. It feels like pure heaven and leaves behind a subtle wildflower scent that could double as perfume.

    Monastery Made Flora Botanical Cream Serum, goop, $140
    Monastery Made Flora Botanical Cream Serum goop, $140
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  9. FOR SUPPLE, DEEPLY HYDRATED SKIN

    Smooth on a few drops of this 24-karat-gold-leaf-flecked serum for a megadose of antioxidants and hydration. Swirled with jojoba seed, macadamia nut, and sesame oils and rosemary and persimmon leaf extracts, it melts in beautifully, leaving behind soft, moisturized skin.

    MAKANI Skin Jewel Oil Serum, goop, $50
    MAKANAI Skin Jewel Oil Serum goop, $50
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  10. FOR SMOOTH, PLUMP, RADIANT SKIN

    Exquisitely textured and quick-absorbing, this superserum is made with high-performance antioxidants (like hydroxytyrosol) harvested from ancient olive trees on a luxurious estate in Italy. The powerful ingredients add up to incredible—moisturized, protected, and radiant—results on skin. Pat it on daily for smooth and supple skin all day long.

    Beauty Thinkers Antioxidant Boost Facial Oil, goop, $78
    Beauty Thinkers Antioxidant Boost Facial Oil goop, $78
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SERUM-INFUSED MASKS

The best treatment masks are soaked in pure serum—use them alone or in conjunction with the devices below. Alternatively, there’s a new, reusable silicone mask that works with any serum to create a custom mask.

  1. FOR EYES

    Created by top makeup artist Jillian Dempsey, these moisturizing, calming biocellulose eye masks are infused with a milky prebiotic serum made with hyaluronic acid and almond oil, which support the skin barrier around the delicate eye area and reduce dryness and the appearance of fine lines. Dempsey knows a thing or two about making the eyes look bright and youthful; when that area is supple and hydrated, your whole face looks better, instantly. (Use it with her vibrating gold bar face roller to supercharge your results.)

    Jillian Dempsey Hydrating Eye Mask, goop, $75
    Jillian Dempsey Hydrating Eye Mask goop, $75
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  2. FOR FACE

    For a brightening, ultranourishing pick-me-up, use this incredible biocellulose sheet mask once a week for up to 30 minutes. It’s packed with skin-loving actives like moisturizing hyaluronic acid, plumping marine collagen, and antioxidant edelweiss extract to give skin a beautiful, dewy radiance. The best part? Massage the excess serum that’s left on your skin after you remove the mask for a boost—it feels especially incredible after a long flight or before a big event.

    Dr. Nigma Treatment Mask No. 1, goop, $120
    Dr. Nigma Treatment Mask No. 1 goop, $120
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  3. MAKE A CUSTOM MASK

    Choose whatever serum works best for your skin and you can easily convert it into a powerful treatment mask with this reusable silicone sheet mask and eye mask set. Simply smooth on your favorite serum, then place the silicone mask or eye mask on top; leave on for 15 to 30 minutes. When you’re done, rinse off the mask and store for reuse—it’s beautifully sustainable.

    Province Apothecary Reusable Silicone Sheet Mask for Face + Eyes, goop, $36
    Province Apothecary Reusable Silicone Sheet Mask for Face + Eyes goop, $36
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    How to Supercharge Any Serum
  1. SCULPT AND LIFT

    Plated in 24-karat gold, this sleek roller uses subtle vibrations to lift and sculpt the face, and the results last for the better part of a day—or night. It also feels amazing, like a firm massage. Dempsey recommends using it for 10 to 15 minutes for optimum results. Pat in your favorite serum (you want to create enough slip with the serum that the roller glides easily), start rolling upward for maximum lifting, and know that the vibrations and pressure are also pushing the serum deeper into your skin than it could go on its own.

    Jillian Dempsey Gold Sculpting Bar, goop, $195
    Jillian Dempsey Gold Sculpting Bar goop, $195
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  2. BRIGHTEN AND PLUMP

    When you combine this tiny nanocurrent device with serum, you supercharge it, says ZIIP creator and legendary Los Angeles electrical aesthetician Melanie Simon. While the ZIIP comes with its own botanical-infused conductive gel, Simon recommends applying serum beforehand. “Look for one with hyaluronic acid,” she says. Then you’re ready to ZIIP: Choose from a menu of nine different electrical treatments, each targeting a particular skin concern, like sagging, dullness, or breakouts. You can do it day and night, weekly, or monthly—the results are incredible.

    ZIIP ZIIP Ox + Crystal Gel Kit, goop, $480
    ZIIP ZIIP Ox + Crystal Gel Kit goop, $480
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    Can I Layer over a Serum?

    Yes—layering is a brilliant way to enhance a serum and lock in moisture. The question is, in what order? “The general guideline is to layer starting with the thinnest and building to the thickest,” says New York dermatologist Whitney Tan. “It’s less about the exact products you use and more about their textures.” We, for instance, go back and forth on cream-before-oil—sometimes we switch the order with no ill effects.

  1. 1

    START WITH SERUM.

    To brighten, plump, and even tone:

    Tata Harper Elixir Vitae, goop, $475
    Tata Harper Elixir Vitae goop, $475
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    To firm, hydrate, and smooth:

    Dr. Barbara Sturm The Better B Niacinamide Serum, goop, $150
    Dr. Barbara Sturm The Better B Niacinamide Serum goop, $145
    SHOP NOW
  2. 2

    PAT ON EYE CREAM.

    Made with active ceramides and nourishing botanicals to help boost skin hydration for 72 hours, this clinically tested eye cream does it all—helps firm and smooth the appearance of crow’s-feet, fine lines, puffiness, and dark circles.2

    goop beauty GOOPGENES All-in-One Nourishing Eye Cream, goop, $55/$50 with subscription
    goop Beauty GOOPGENES All-in-One
    Nourishing Eye Cream
    goop, $55/$50 with subscription
    SHOP NOW
  3. 3

    FOLLOW WITH FACE OIL.

    This high-performance, results-driven face oil from goop doesn’t just moisturize; it supercharges skin with active concentrations of powerful botanical extracts, oils, nutrients, and the retinol alternative bakuchiol. After eight weeks of use, 100 percent of women showed highly significant improvement in the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles.3

    goop beauty GOOPGENES All-in-One Super Nutrient Face Oil, goop, $98/$89 with subscription
    goop Beauty GOOPGENES All-in-One Super Nutrient Face Oil goop, $98/$89 with subscription
    SHOP NOW
  4. 4

    ADD FACE CREAM FOR EXTRA MOISTURE.

    If your skin needs a little something extra, this luxuriously rich all-in-one supercream—which is made with a megadose of plant-based ceramides, squalane, and seven highly active botanicals—has a unique whipped texture that melts into skin; a single application leaves skin deeply nourished, firmer-looking, and moisturized for 48 hours.4

    goop beauty GOOPGENES All-in-One Nourishing Face Cream, goop, $95/$86 with subscription
    goop Beauty GOOPGENES All-in-One Nourishing Face Cream goop, $98/$86 with subscription
    SHOP NOW
  5. 5

    FINISH WITH SPF.

    A final and key last step: mineral sunscreen (which is better thought of as the ultimate youth-preserving treatment). This silky serum version is made with UVA- and UVB-blocking zinc oxide, as well as other powerful skin-nourishing ingredients.

    MARA Algae + Zinc Sea Kale Sunscreen Serum, goop,  $5
    MARA Algae + Zinc Sea Kale Sunscreen Serum goop, $52
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1Based on a four-week third-party consumer and clinical study of 55 women ages 27 to 50.

2Based on an eight-week third-party consumer-perception and clinical study of 33 women ages 35 to 65.

3Based on an eight-week third-party consumer-perception and clinical study of 33 women ages 35 to 65.

4Based on an eight-week third-party consumer-perception and clinical study of 33 women ages 35 to 65.