These serum/moisturizer hybrids are the hardest-working face creams in the game


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Yesterday, I washed my face in my gym’s locker room after a sweat sesh, then used a toner, and then reached into my skin-care bag only to practically scream with horror. The reason for the distress? I forgot to bring my serum.

Shaken, I applied my moisturizer to my freshly cleansed and toned face—but proceeded to feel weird about it for the rest of the day. Serums are my favorite beauty product, since they tend to pack a nutritious punch for your complexion, so without it, I felt like my skin would be starved for its typical antioxidants. While my situation was a lost cause, there generally is a way to counteract having to go serum-free with your routine: All you’ve gotta do is buy a moisturizer that has serum-like benefits.

“Serums are not a necessary component of your routine, but rather can boost your regular skin-care products,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. (Color me shook.) “The goal of a serum is to deliver high concentrations of a specific active ingredient to the skin. In some cases, though, that active is a moisturizer, but it may also be a retinol, a brightening ingredient, or even an exfoliator—for many people, the right day or night cream may be enough.”

So moisturizer-serum hybrids do exist (better known as “active moisturizers”), and do the coveted and all-important job of hydrating your complexion with hyaluronic acid or glycerin, for instance, on top of feeding it essential vitamins and nutrients, so it can also have ingredients like vitamin C, or green tea, or vitamin B3… the list goes on. So you don’t necessarily need to slather on an antioxidant-packed serum if your moisturizer already beat it to the job… which saves you time, money, and space in your beauty bag.

If your complexion’s on the more parched side, though, try one of these top-rated dry skin moisturizers. And here’s why you might want to consider micro-exfoliation for your skin‘s glow. 

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