Medically reviewed by Vicky Davis, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 12/30/2021
We’ll give you the bad news first: the fountain of youth has still not been located. The good news? A solid skin care routine can help keep your skin looking youthful.
While everything you put on your face — from cleansers to moisturizers — is important, an anti-aging serum can really be your secret weapon when it comes to staying fresh-faced.
Find out more about serums — including what they are and what to look for in one — by reading on.
Serums are highly concentrated products created to address specific skin issues. So, an anti-aging serum is formulated to address things like wrinkles and dark spots (and other things that come with getting older).
They tend to be lighter and are generally either water or oil-based. They easily absorb into skin and you usually only need a little bit to go a long way.
Most often, they come in a small bottle with either a pump or dropper.
Usually, you’ll use serum as part of your nighttime routine, so that it has the most time to sink into your skin and do its thing.
Experts typically recommend that you apply your skin care products from lightest to heaviest.
That means you’ll want to apply your anti-aging serum after you wash your face, but before you put on your moisturizer.
If you have sensitive skin, you may want to consider testing any new product on a small patch before applying it all over.
For maximum effectiveness, you want your anti-aging serum to be packed with key ingredients meant to fight signs of aging — like wrinkles and dark spots. These active ingredients do just that.
This is a very common ingredient in skin care products because it has incredible moisturizing properties.
Hyaluronic acid binds over a thousand times its weight in water, so it can give your skin a major dose of hydration.
But how does this help with aging?
When you have dry skin, it can look even more wrinkly. But when skin is moisturized, it looks plumper — which means wrinkles may be less noticeable. That’s why a hyaluronic acid serum may help.
One small study of 24 women found serums with hyaluronic acid in them resulted in both short-term and long-term improvements in skin texture, as well as the appearance of fine lines.
It’s important to note that this study was small and performed on women.
Retinol is often used in anti-aging products and treatments. That’s because it is a cell regulator, may help with cell turnover and it also has antioxidant effects.
One of the ways a retinol serum minimizes signs of aging is by increasing collagen production, which can lead to plump skin and a reduction in wrinkles.
Collagen actually makes up about 75 percent of your skin and it works to prevent wrinkles (it essentially allows your skin to stretch and go back to the way it should).
But, as you age, production of collagen naturally decreases, which leads to more wrinkles.
If you have sensitive skin, you may find retinol causes irritation. So, again, test it on a small patch before applying it all over.
Vitamin C is thought by some to diminish signs of aging in the skin. Like retinol, it may help increase collagen production.
It also may reduce inflammation, which can help give your skin a more smooth and glowy appearance.
As you age, environmental stressors (like the time you spend in the sun over the years) can start to show on your face in the form of dark spots and an uneven skin tone.
Vitamin C may help reduce the appearance of these dark spots and make your complexion appear more even.
Hims’ vitamin C serum is a great place to start.
Antioxidants can prevent further damage to cells and tissues, both of which naturally occur with aging but also through things like environmental factors.
Tea polyphenols and resveratrol are two antioxidants commonly found in antioxidant serums meant to fight the aging process.
Free radicals are molecules that can damage skin cells and induce aging.
Resveratrol, another powerful antioxidant, can help reduce pigmentation issues (which can increase as you age).
Sometimes listed as vitamin B3 on labels, niacinamide may help with epidermal barrier function.
Keeping this skin barrier intact can help your skin lose less moisture so it stays looking more youthful and plump. Research suggests it may also help smooth out wrinkles.
Research also suggests it may be effective at brightening skin.
There are a lot of wonderful aspects of aging — you have more life experience and are likely a lot wiser than you were as a young person. One of the not-so-great aspects: skin that ages.
Skin care routines play an important role in combating mature skin and incorporating an anti-aging serum can help reduce signs of aging on your face and give you healthy skin.
Serums tend to be concentrated products that can deliver major benefits. It’s best to use them at night after washing your face (before you put on moisturizer).
Powerful ingredients to look for a potent serum include hyaluronic acid, retinol, vitamin C and more. These ingredients can do everything from reducing the appearance of wrinkles to help eliminate or reduce brown spots to boosting the protective barrier on your face (something sun exposure can wear away over time).
After using an effective anti-aging serum for a while, you will hopefully notice more radiant skin and less wrinkles and fine lines.
If you’d like a specific lightweight serum recommendation or more advice on what you can do to prevent or reverse skin aging, you can schedule a consultation with a healthcare professional to discuss your skin concerns.