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The Best Face Serum Ingredients for Men

Katelyn Brenner FNP

Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Published 11/14/2021

Updated 11/15/2021

The world of face care products is surprisingly vast, making it hard to figure out what you really need for the care of your skin.

From moisturizers, to oils, mists, creams and serums, it’s far too easy to end up with a cabinet of products that you may not even end up using. 

Don’t forget, it’s best to keep your skin care routine simple so that you have a good idea of what works for your skin and what doesn’t.

Our strategy for choosing the best products is to focus on the ingredients. Knowing what's in your product and how it helps your skin is what makes the product the best anti-aging serum. In this piece, we’re going to tell you all about the ingredients that you should be looking for when you choose a face serum.

What Is a Face Serum?

A face serum is a topical skin care product that contains concentrated amounts of active ingredients that can have a variety of properties, including moisturization, anti-aging and sun protection.

The difference between serums and moisturizers is that serums are thinner than moisturizers and creams, making the ingredients in them easier to absorb so that your skin can reap the full benefits.

Our article on serum vs moisturizer goes more into detail on the differences between the two.

Serums only require a few drops of product upon application, and most are designed to be applied after cleansing, and before your moisturizer or sunscreen. 

Formulations exist to address a variety of common skin concerns including fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, acne, and sun damage. 

They’re also designed to suit a variety of skin types whether you have dry skin, oily skin, combination skin, or sensitive skin.

When choosing a serum for your face, you’ll want to look for one containing ingredients that are best suited to your skin’s unique needs.

What Ingredients Should You Look For in a Face Serum?

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Antioxidants: Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Caffeine

Antioxidants can be found in fruits and vegetables, and both serve to protect your skin from sun damage and reduce the effects of aging. 

In your day to day life, your skin is exposed to free radicals, which break down your collagen to cause wrinkles, fine lines and an overall shift in the appearance of your skin. 

As you age, your skin’s ability to protect itself from free radicals declines, making it important for us to maintain a good diet and skin care routine to ensure the health of your skin.

Vitamin C, vitamin E and caffeine all have antioxidant properties. Vitamin C in particular is the main ingredient in the hims Morning Glow Vitamin C Serum and serves to remove free radicals from the skin.


As you age, the constant flexing of your facial muscles as well as exposure to the sun and free radicals in your environment lead to wrinkles, fine lines and sagging skin.

Retinol, an active ingredient derived from vitamin A, stimulates collagen production to reduce and prevent fine lines and wrinkles, with the added benefit of unclogging pores as well.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is the ingredient you’ll want to look for to infuse your skin in moisture. It is naturally found in the skin of mammals, so your skin already produces it.

A 2021 study noted hyaluronic acid’s “excellent” moisturizing benefits. Alongside its hydrating effects, this ingredient also serves to plump the skin and reduce the effects of fine lines and wrinkles.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is a skin exfoliant that dissolves sebum, the oil naturally produced by your skin that is also responsible for plugging your pores to cause acne, making it easier to clear your pores of debris. 

It is naturally produced in willow bark, sweet birch and wintergreen leaves, and is also synthesized artificially,.

It is most commonly used to clear and prevent pimples and blemishes in people who have acne, but it can also be used to treat sun damage and dark spots that have resulted from acne, as well,,.

While salicylic acid is an effective ingredient for treating acne, you’ll want to be sure to use SPF protection since it’s chemical peeling properties can make your skin more prone to sun damage.


As your skin ages, it will progressively lose collagen and elasticity, causing your skin to loosen and become thinner.

Peptides are your friend in fighting these effects of aging, as they help your skin increase collagen and elastin production, which in turn firms up your skin.

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The Bottom Line

With the wide range of serums available on the market, you’ll want to narrow down to the ingredients that best suit your skin’s needs in order to find a product that is suitable for you.

If you feel overwhelmed by the range of options available, get in touch with your dermatology provider. They’ll be able to provide some hand-holding as you build a skincare routine that best suits your skin.

13 Sources

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  2. Do caffeinated skin care products work? (2021 October, 7). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved from
  3. Poljšak, B., & Dahmane, R. (2012). Free radicals and extrinsic skin aging. Dermatology research and practice, 2012, 135206. Retrieved from
  4. Crepey skin? a surprising cause — and 4 expert fixes. (2019, October 2). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved from
  5. Sumita, J. M., Leonardi, G. R., & Bagatin, E. (2017). Tretinoin peel: a critical view. Anais brasileiros de dermatologia, 92(3), 363–366. Retrieved from
  6. Act your age when it comes to skin care. (2016, Nov 1). American academy of dermatology association. Retrieved from
  7. Draelos, Z.D., Diaz, I., Namkoong, J. et al. Efficacy Evaluation of a Topical Hyaluronic Acid Serum in Facial Photoaging. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb) 11, 1385–1394 (2021). Retrieved from
  8. Kornhauser, A., Coelho, S. G., & Hearing, V. J. (2010, November 24). Applications of hydroxy acids: classification, mechanisms, and photoactivity. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, 3, 135-142. Retrieved from
  9. National Center for Biotechnology Information (2021). PubChem Compound Summary for CID 338, Salicylic acid. Retrieved from
  10. Beta Hydroxy Acids. (2020, August 24). U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved from
  11. Arif, T. (2015, August 26). Salicylic acid as a peeling agent: a comprehensive review. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, 8, 455-461. Retrieved from
  12. Davis, E. C., & Callender, V. D. (2010). Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation: a review of the epidemiology, clinical features, and treatment options in skin of color. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 3(7), 20–31. Retrieved from
  13. Understanding the ingredients in skin care products. (2019, October 10). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved from

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.