The Best Derm-Recommended Serum for Fall, Based on Your Specific Skin Concern

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Fall is a time of transition, not just for our schedules and wardrobes, but also for our skin. When the weather starts getting cooler, some people can experience changes in their skin, whether it’s dryness, flakiness, eczema, dullness, and even seasonal acne. If you’re wondering why exactly that happens, Mona Gohara, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Connecticut, says that as the autumn season arrives, temperatures and humidity will drop quickly, which causes our skin to work harder to maintain adequate moisture as the cold weather begins.

“With this change in temperature our skin can experience a loss in hydration, inflammation, and cracks in the skin—all of which can impact the overall health of the skin,” she explains.

Experts In This Article

The good news is that if you experience any of these changes during fall, a simple tweak in your skincare regimen could be just the fix, specifically a face serum.

“Serums contain actives that get into the skin more potently, and using one that is well suited to the type of issue you want to address can have numerous benefits,” says Gohara. “During the fall, using a serum that can help to replenish moisture and keep skin supple is important.”

What to look for in a fall-friendly serum

Of course, not all serums are the same, and some may contain ingredients that specifically target the issues you’re dealing with. When it comes to what to look for in a fall serum, Lindsay Zubritsky, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has a few suggestions, starting with hyaluronic acid. “This is a humectant that helps to draw moisture and water to the skin, resulting in plumpness,” she says. Another ingredient to keep an eye out for? “Ceramides,” Zubritsky says.

“This ingredient is key to improving, repairing and restoring the skin's moisture barrier, which can suffer during colder temperatures.” Niacinamide is another good ingredient for serums, as it helps to reduce inflammation, calm redness, and improve moisture in the skin, all things that can help with a variety of issues.

Gohara also recommends serums with vitamin C. “Many of us load up on this nutrient during the colder months, but it is also a great skin-care ingredient for this time of year,” she says. “Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that works hard to fight free radicals that can significantly damage our skin and it is great for correcting dark spots and having a more even skin tone.” Glycerin is another great choice, according to Gohara, because it “helps to draw moisture into the skin and can smooth the skin, which is especially important during the fall and winter months.”

Ahead, Gohara and Zubritsky give us their suggestions for the best fall serums according to skin type, whether your skin is dry, flaky, sensitive, or acne-prone.

Dry skin

SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator — $165.00

Mohara recommends this serum because it contains a proprietary mix of five types of hyaluronic acid that can help to hydrate and smooth the skin. “It’s one of my favorites for the fall as moisture becomes even more important during the colder months,” she notes. It also contains Vitis Flower Stem Cell Extract, a powerful, protective botanical that defends skin from damage and aging caused by UV exposure.

SkinCeuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier — $106.00

According to Zubritsky, this serum is a “thick, non-stick hyaluronic acid that delivers a serious dose of hydration to dry skin.” While it works for all skin types, she says it’s especially good for those with extra dry skin.

Vichy Mineral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum for Stronger Skin 2.5 oz — $40.00

Another favorite of Zubritsky, this hyaluronic acid serum is a savior for dry skin-sufferers because it hydrates and plumps by strengthening and repairing skin’s moisture barrier. “It also contains Vichy Volcanic Water, which has 15 essential minerals to strengthen and protect the skin,” she points out.

Flaky skin

Biossance Squalane + Lactic Acid Resurfacing Night Serum — $65.00

Zubritsky likes this night serum because of the presence of 10 percent lactic acid, which she says helps to gently exfoliate the skin, revealing more luminous, smoother skin the next day. “Lactic acid isn’t overly drying like other alpha hydroxy acids, so it’s great to utilize in the colder weather,” she says.

Peter Thomas Roth Even Smoother Glycolic Retinol Resurfacing Serum — $65.00

“This serum contains glycolic acid and 1.5 percent retinol; the ingredients work together to remove dead skin cells, aid in unclogging pores, and target fine lines,” says Mohara.


Another option from Zubritsky is this product from Naturium, which contains PHA, a very gentle exfoliator that helps to remove flaky, dead skin cells. “I also love that this product contains hyaluronic acid, so it helps to moisturize and hydrate,” she says.

Sensitive skin

Avene Hydrance Intense Rehydrating Serum — $39.00

“I love that this brand utilizes thermal spring water to help repair the skin barrier, which is so important for sensitive skin,” explains Zubritsky. “This product is great for cooler months because it hydrates, replenishes, and soothes tightness and discomfort associated with dehydrated skin.”

pca dual action
PCA Skin Dual Action Redness Relief — $120.00

Zubritsky co-signs this restorative treatment because it helps to reduce redness and irritation, a common issue seen in those with sensitive skin. “It contains niacinamide to reduce redness, bisabolol to calm skin, and ceramides to target hydration,” she says.

aveeno calm restore
Aveeno Calm + Restore Triple Oat Serum — $20.00

Oat is a commonly known calming ingredient in skincare, so this is a great option for sensitive and reactive skin types. “This serum is ideal for soothing sensitive and irritated, dry skin,” says Mohara. “The product instantly absorbs to soothe dry skin while strengthening its natural moisture barrier.”

Acne-prone skin

Cetaphil Gentle Clear Triple Action Acne Serum — $14.00

Zubritsky suggests this serum because it relies on a low-strength of salicylic acid that is effective but won’t dry out the skin. “It also contains succinic acid to help soothe and exfoliate,” she says, noting that its milky-gel consistency is soothing to the skin.”

Differin Dark Spot Correcting Serum — $14.00

Zubritsky likes this serum specifically for those who suffer from post-acne blemishes. “It contains 4 percent niacinamide, which not only reduces discoloration but improves skin hydration, so it’s perfect to use during colder weather,” she explains. “It also contains sea buckthorn berry oil and sunflower seed oil to further soothe and nourish the skin.”

is serum
iS Clinical Active Serum — $142.00

Mohara suggests the iS Clinical Active Serum for people who are prone to breakouts, but it does even more than that. “It helps with the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, visibly evens skin tone, and is excellent for blemish-prone skin,” she says. The serum contains a slew of skin-loving botanicals, such as bilberry, which moisturizes while sloughing off dead skin cells, and mushroom, which brightens the skin while providing microbial benefits.

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