The Best Body Serums
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Sure, your average body lotion will help keep your skin moisturized, but the best body serums are formulated with higher concentrations of active ingredients to treat your skin in a more targeted way. Body serums can help with everything from smoothing rough skin to soothing irritation to treating body acne — it’s all about the ingredients. Generally, chemical exfoliants like salicylic acid and lactic acid will help gently eliminate the buildup of dead skin cells that can contribute to keratosis pilaris and acne. Antioxidant-rich nutrients like vitamins C, E, and B3 can offer extra protection against environmental aggressors, and ingredients like hyaluronic acid and peptides are great for promoting smoother, more hydrated skin in general.
Just like you would with a facial serum, apply your body serum on freshly washed skin (either while it's still damp or just after it's dried). Because serums are more lightweight than body lotions and creams, you can expect the product to absorb into your skin quickly without leaving behind a residue, so you should be able to get dressed immediately. Depending on your skin type (or how the season affects your skin), you may find that a body serum provides enough moisture on its own. But when you need an extra hit of hydration, layer your body lotion of choice on top of your serum, just like you would with the skin on your face.
Scroll on to shop five of the best body serums for every skin concern, whether you’re looking to treat KP, ingrown hairs, run-of-the-mill dryness, or something else entirely.
1. Editor's Pick: Best BHA Body Serum
"As someone with very dry skin, I can attest that this Paula’s Choice body serum works better than any of the (many) body lotions I've used before," says Elite Daily editor Caroline Goldstein. "My skin feels impossibly smooth and plush, it gets rid of stubborn keratosis pilaris patches with a single application, and it even makes my skin noticeably glowier. The miraculously lightweight formula truly feels like nothing on your skin — it dries instantly, without a hint of greasiness — so it's ideal for rushed mornings when you need to get dressed ASAP."
2. Best AHA Body Serum
Another exfoliating pick — this time featuring the AHA lactic acid (whereas the Paula’s Choice treatment contains the BHA salicylic acid) — REN’s Smart Renewal Body Serum aims to improve the overall texture and tone of your skin. A probiotic extract in the form of lactococcus helps to strengthen your skin's protective barrier, and both shea butter and xylitol work to keep skin hydrated. Don't forget that because this contains lactic acid, a chemical exfoliant, you'll want to be extra diligent about applying SPF before going outside, since the ingredient can increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun.
3. Best Firming Body Serum
Boscia's Peptide Youth-Restore Firming Body Serum harnesses the powers of tetrapeptide-3 to promote smoother, more elastic-feeling skin (by its purported ability to stimulate collagen production), while moisturizing ingredients like squalane, hyaluronic acid, and jojoba seed oil leave skin feeling silky and soft. Soothing botanicals like calendula and chamomile extracts have also been included in the formula, as has niacinamide, a nutrient that both calms inflammation and offers skin-protecting benefits.
4. Best Post-Shave Body Serum
If you tend to experience irritation after shaving or waxing, this Whish body serum is for you. The formula is loaded with soothing ingredients like aloe leaf juice, chamomile leaf extract, cucumber extract, oat kernel extract, and allantoin to calm and restore skin that's just been stripped of moisture. This serum also contains hyaluronic acid and panthenol to improve skin's hydration, as well as a botanical called chaparral extract, which the brand says can help moderate the rate at which hair grows back.
5. Best Splurge
This nourishing serum is the most expensive product on this list, but it also contains the most moisturizing ingredients — plus, it dispenses via a fine mist that eliminates the risk of spills while traveling, and is quick and easy to apply. In here, hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 work to improve skin’s hydration levels, but this body serum, which comes from spa-favorite brand iS Clinical, also contains several antioxidant-rich ingredients like blue micro-algae extract, watermelon extract, and aloe leaf extract to soothe, protect, and nourish your skin. If you’re not ready to make the splurge, note that you can also buy this serum in a TSA-friendly half-ounce bottle for less than $30.
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Though not technically a body serum, Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Body Gel Cream has a similarly lightweight formula that absorbs quickly into skin sans greasiness. Keeping skin hydrated is the main focus of this product, which uses hyaluronic acid as its star ingredient to attract and seal in moisture (so this is one lotion you definitely want to apply on damp skin). It also happens to be a great, affordable pick for all skin types, and would layer beautifully on top of any of the serums featured above.