If you’re prone to redness or have a condition like rosacea, there are no shortage of phenomena that can trigger a reaction. Hidden irritants in your skin care or makeup, drinking wine, getting your eyebrows waxed, a change in temperature, doing something mortifying in a public forum — all fair game for reactive skin. Take a defensive stance against sudden reactions with one of the best serums for redness. These highly concentrated formulas contain a combination of anti-inflammatory, hydrating, and strengthening ingredients, which work together to tame bouts of redness as they occur, and help your skin defend itself from future flareups.
When you’re shopping for anti-redness serums — or any kind of skin care product that’s suitable for reactive skin, for that matter — it’s useful to know which ingredients are beneficial for skin like yours. For instance: Niacinamide, aloe, centella asiatica, oat kernel extract, green tea leaf, and zinc are all useful for cooling angry skin ASAP, while allantoin, madecassoside, glycerin, ceramides, certain plant oils, and hyaluronic acid can all help nourish dry, irritated skin both immediately and over time. Importantly, too, your serum should include ingredients that fortify your skin's natural protective barrier (like peptides, antioxidants, and proteins), since it’s likely experienced some damage from frequent flareups.
Just as important as what’s in redness serums is what’s not. So avoid things like fragrances, dyes, preservatives, alcohols, and other common additives that can irritate sensitive skin.
Even easier: Take your pick among the best serums for redness, listed ahead.
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1. Best Drugstore Serum
This La Roche-Posay serum is among the very few serums that are formulated specifically for neutralizing visible redness — let alone the few drugstore serums that do such a specific thing. The formula contains three key ingredients: ambophenol, a natural plant extract; neurosensine, a strengthening peptide; and the brand's signature Thermal Spring Water, which are all beneficial for rosacea patients, according to a clinical study conducted by La Roche-Posay. You can use it AM and PM if you’re hoping to tame chronic redness, or on an as-needed basis to tone down a sudden, unexpected flush immediately.
2. Best Splurge
This iS Clinical serum is among the most effective skin care products a person with redness-prone skin could buy (as it should be, at $155). It gets almost-perfect reviews across the internet for calming, smoothing, and brightening hypersensitive skin (as it should, at $155). The formula is thoughtfully designed to reduce inflammation immediately, while a raft of antioxidants help repair and protect compromised skin over time. It’s effective on all manner of inflammation, from contact dermatitis to rosacea to insect bites. Note that this contains small concentrations of retinol and vitamin C for their powerful stores of antioxidants. So if you have very sensitive skin, avoid using these ingredients elsewhere in your skin care routine, since they can be irritating if you overuse them.
3. Best Ampoule
Ampoules are basically more intense versions of serums: They tend to be more concentrated, contain fewer ingredients, and they’re ultra specific in terms of their skin care benefits, whether that’s increasing elasticity, fighting breakouts, or reducing redness, like this one from Korean beauty brand COSRX does. The hero ingredient in here is centella asiatica, a “cure-all” plant extract that’s often found in Asian skin care products for its soothing and strengthening properties. Madecassoside and panthenol also help to calm and smooth dry, flaky skin, while improving its ability to retain moisture over time. It’s super powerful (but appropriately gentle) and almost universally beloved, so I have no idea why it only costs about $17. But I won’t argue with it.
4. Another Cult-Favorite Korean Serum
Korean skin care brands really nail the “redness-reducing serums at affordable price points” concept, as this one from Purito also demonstrates. Like the COSRX serum, this fan favorite features centella asiatica as its central ingredient, though it appears in a slightly higher concentration here (49%, versus COSRX’s 42.36%). Niacinamide, ceramides, peptides, and panthenol also work to strengthen your skin barrier, so it’s another good choice if you’re hoping for long-term relief. Reviewers say this is effective for everything from cystic acne to run-of-the-mill ruddiness, and it’s even gentle enough to use around your eyes.
5. Best Consistency
Let’s talk about tactility, baby. Where most serums have a fluid, viscous consistency, this one from Dermalogica is soft, creamy, and sort of sedating for angry skin, thanks to nourishing ingredients like oat kernel extract, evening primrose oil, and avocado oil. It’s the cashmere blanket of serums. This one can calm your skin immediately after it’s triggered, though it’s probably best if you’re seeking lasting results: The formula mainly features peptides and antioxidants, which work to fortify your skin's natural protective barrier — which, in turn, can help protect your skin from things like irritation and breakouts (and thus redness) over time.
6. Editor's Pick
Pretty much everything from REN is a go-to among beauty editors (including editors on Elite Daily’s affiliate team), especially those with sensitive skin. Their anti-redness serum in particular is a failsafe option. This contains lactic acid, a gentle AHA that can help rebalance your skin flora and improve its ability to retain moisture when it appears in lower concentrations (as it does here). Meanwhile, things like seaweed extract, arnica, and milk proteins help soothe inflamed skin. This works best in tandem with other products in REN’s Evercalm line, which was designed specifically with reactive skin types in mind.