When your skin is dry and your eyes hollow, a quality collagen serum or cream can help your face become firmer and more hydrated. But experts are quick to point out that collagen serum doesn’t necessarily increase collagen—and it’s definitely not a quick fix for fine lines and wrinkles.
To maximize anti-aging benefits, look for collagen serums that include other important ingredients known to play a role in collagen production, namely vitamin C (also known as L-ascorbic acid) and retinol, which actually work to improve the strength and thickness of the skin, says Dr. Carolyn Jacob, a board-certified dermatologist in Chicago.
For best results, apply collagen serums containing vitamin C in the morning, since this ingredient works to quench free radicals and increase photoprotection when used with SPF, and if you have one with retinol in it, apply that at night. Retinol is designed to slow collagen breakdown, exfoliate dead skin cells, and improve skin tone, but it can be irritating and increase sun sensitivity.
Either way, to apply, simply wash your face with a quality cleanser, dab a few drops of serum (they’re very concentrated!), and wait about 30 to 60 seconds for it to penetrate before adding your favorite moisturizer, says Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
BEST FOR SENSITIVE SKIN
Advanced Peptide & Collagen Serum
This serum contains powerful peptides, like Argireline & Matrixyl synthe’6, known to to support healthy collagen production and promote a smoother skin surface, says Dr. Marie Hayag, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. It also contains green tea—one of the most potent free radical fighting antioxidants—to help redness.
VEGAN & CRUELTY FREE
Deep Sea Collagen Elixir Serum Plump and Refine
A clean beauty product rich in seaweed collagen, pullulan algae, and seaweed leaf to support collagen production, slow down cellular aging, and plump parched skin.
BEST DRUGSTORE PICK
Wrinkle Correction Serum
For a great bargain, consider this highly concentrated serum containing vitamin B3 and collagen peptides to improve skin barrier function. It also contains niacinamide—another B vitamin—that helps even skin tone and improve the appearance of enlarged pores, says Jaliman.
Aqua Veil Pure Hydration Serum
This water-based formula optimizes hydration by releasing droplets of pure H2O onto the skin to form a protective veil, says Dr. Craig Kraffert, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dermstore.com. It also includes eight different botanicals and antioxidants, like cucumber, mallow, elderberry, pellitory-of-the-wall, arnica, English ivy, lily flower and early purple orchid to brighten and refresh.
C + Collagen Brighten & Firm Serum
In addition to collagen peptides, this serum is full of antioxidants like vitamin C, as well as niacinamide to help restore skin barrier function, says Dr. Jennifer Chwalek, a board-certified dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City.
Hyaluronic acid works in tandem with antioxidant vitamins to moisturize and brighten skin, says Dr. Shari Sperling, a board-certified dermatologist in New Jersey.
This serum harnesses the power of vitamin C and other antioxidants to promote collagen synthesis, plus contains glycerin and hyaluronic acid for added hydration, says Jaliman.
BEST FOR GLOWING SKIN
Collagen Concentrate Ampoule Serum Concentrates
Concentrated ampoules contain a targeted dose of tripeptides to stimulate collagen production and lock in moisture to give skin a healthier and younger-looking glow, says Dr. Julio Gallo, a board-certified facial plastic surgeon in Miami.
BEST FOR DRY SKIN
Collagen Triple Boost Serum
If skin skews dry, this peptide- and vitamin C-infused serum is a worthy choice, especially since oil-based serums tend to have better absorption, says Dr. Fitzgeraldo Sanchez, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
Bye Bye Lines Serum
The peptides in this serum stimulate receptors in the skin, resulting in collagen synthesis, says Dr. Erum Ilyas, a board-certified dermatologist in Philadelphia. This, combined with the hydrating effects of the numerous oils and antioxidants, improve the overall appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
GENIUS Liquid Collagen
Essential fatty acids, collagen, microalgae oils, and vitamin E all work together to give skin a shiny, plump, radiant appearance while protecting it from oxidative stress, says Dr. Manish Shah, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Denver.
BEST FOR AGE SPOTS AND REDNESS
C&E Advanced With Hexylresorcinol and Silymarin
This product is unique, because it doesn’t contain any water, says Jacob. This ensures the efficacy of the vitamin C, which helps aid collagen synthesis, reduce discoloration, and fight free radical damage. As a bonus, this formula also contains ingredients that decrease redness and age spots.
BEST KOREAN BEAUTY
A beloved Korean beauty serum that contains about 90 percent marine collagen which is the more readily absorbed form (much more than most collagen containing products), says Blair Armstrong, a physicians assistant in dermatology and founder of GILDED.
PRO Strength Retinoid Peptide Serum
This serum contains collagen peptides, plus retinol to build thicker, more collagen-containing skin in the dermis layer—the skin’s strength layer, says Shah.
BEST FOR ANTI-AGING
C E Ferulic Serum
Potent antioxidants, plus vitamins C and E work to diminish fine lines and wrinkles and brighten skin, says Sperling.