Healthy Skin

12 hydrating face serums to upgrade your midlife skincare routine

Hydrating face serums can be a gamechanger for our midlife beauty routine, whether we’re looking to address a particular concern, or just wanting to get more out of our skincare products.

As we transition away from winter, along with its unforgiving weather and drying effects of central heating, we might notice our skin feeling a little more resilient. That being said, with the arrival of spring, the first touch of sunlight might bring some seasonal sensitivities. Inflammation and dryness may be more noticeable, while the increasing warmth and humidity can bring oiliness and blemishes for some.

Here’s where a serum can help. But, with so many products on the market, deciding what our skin actually needs can feel a little daunting. Here, we explain what to consider when it comes to adding hydrating face serums into our beauty arsenal.

What even is a serum?

Put simply, it’s a loose-textured product with the highest concentration of active ingredients. This is what makes a serum a targeted treatment for any skincare worry. In terms of consistency, it might be runny and liquid, gel-like, or maybe even a light cream. The key thing to know is that the texture of a serum relates to its active ingredients.

Whilst face serums will penetrate the skin more deeply than a moisturiser, they won’t offer the same long-term hydration and protection. So, think of face serums as an extra step in your skincare routine.

Understanding hyaluronic acid

Speaking of hydration, hyaluronic acid often features in moisture-promising products, but what actually is it? We can think of it almost as a drink of water for our skin. It’s actually a humectant, a moisture-preserving ingredient, meaning it will pull any available nearby water towards it.

Hyaluronic acid is naturally occurring in our epidermis, meaning it’s very suited for all skin types, even sensitive skin. It helps our skin stay hydrated and supple. It’s even been proven to heal wounds faster and reduce scarring.

But, as with even the most widely suited ingredients, there’s a knack to making sure we get the most out of hyaluronic acid.

As it attracts water (in quantities up to 1000 times its weight) we need to make sure there’s plenty of water available. If not, the hyaluronic acid may draw hydration back out of the skin. An easy way to get around this is to make sure our skin is damp before application. We can do this by pressing water to our skin after cleansing or with a spritz from a refreshing hydrating spray.

Likewise, remember that smaller-density varieties like sodium hyaluronate penetrate more deeply, potentially pulling other topical ingredients deeper into the skin. So, avoid using alcohol-based or exfoliating products like alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) at the same time, as it might increase sensitivity. And, always apply a moisturiser immediately afterwards to seal in all that hydration you’re aiming for.

Our pick of the best hyaluronic acid serums

SKINICIAN Hyaluronic Elixir £38, 30ml

Suitable for all skin types, this supercharged lightweight hyaluronic acid is fragrance-free and aims to intensely hydrate skin while also plumping fine lines and protecting the skin’s barrier.

VICHY – Minéral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum £28, 50ml

VICHY combines natural-origin hyaluronic acid with mineral-rich volcanic water in the new Minéral 89 range. This lightweight and non-sticky formula offers intense hydration in a streamlined formulation.

REN – Everhydrate Marine Moisture-Restore Serum £40, 30ml

British brand REN creates fuss-free skincare guided by bioactives. The Everhydrate range combines sustainably sourced freshwater and green caviar algae extract to quench thirsty skin. With combined vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, this serum is perfectly suited for even the most dry or sensitive skin types.

Grace & Stella – Hyaluronic Acid Serum £6.99, 30ml

A great budget option, this simple formulation packs a punch with both sodium hyaluronate and sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer for a generous hydration boost.

Environ – Hydro-Lipidic 3DSynerge Filler Crème £85, 30ml

Advanced peptide and phyto-antioxidant ingredients work in tandem with the skin’s natural ability to synthesise hyaluronic acid in this go-to product. Addressing fine lines, wrinkles and the loss of volume, it revives and protects the complexion and gives a 3D volumizing filler-like effect.

Other hydrating ingredients worth knowing


CeraVe Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum £23, 30ml

Known best for its gentle and effective formulas, CeraVe has created a serum with the addition of three ceramides to lock in moisture. With patented technology, this refreshing formula works to maintain optimal hydration levels, while also improving retention for up to 24 hours.


Decorte – Liposome Advanced Repair Face Serum £55, 30ml

Decorte’s award-winning serum uses liposome capsule technology to deliver its ingredients deep into the skin. With Bifidobacterium fermented extract for epidermal cell regeneration and HPA Yeast Culture to encourage collagen production, it combines ceramide NG and hyaluronic acid for long-lasting hydration.

Vitamin B5

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 £8.80, 30ml

Known for its refined but effective actives and build-your-own routine ethos, The Ordinary’s newly reformulated hyaluronic acid serum now sees the addition of vitamin B5, another skin-soothing humectant. This helpful skin hero works in unison with the formula’s five forms of hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture.

Salicylic acid

Clinique – Even Better Clinical Radical Dark Spot Corrector + Interrupter £55, 30ml

If you’re looking for hydration and some, look no further than this Clinique serum. With a complex cocktail of ingredients, it helps to improve the appearance of dark spots, including sun spots and post-blemish marks. Not only that, the addition of anti-inflammatory and antibacterial salicylic acid works to prevent further breakouts too, resurfacing the skin and unclogging pores.

Vitamin C

COSRX The Vitamin C 23 Serum £28, 20ml

With one of the highest percentages of vitamin C on the market, COSRX delivers a powerful boost in a tiny bottle to visibly brighten the skin. Plus, an antioxidant-rich vitamin E derivative helps to amplify the effects. Squalane and allantoin deliver extra hydrating and plumping while also giving the serum a little slip, meaning a little really does go a long way.

By Sarah Vitamin C+E Skin Booster £24, 10ml

By Sarah’s vitamin-rich serum combines olive squalane, grapeseed and jojoba with slow-release vitamin C and nourishing vitamin E to create a lightweight serum that’s perfect for a morning skin boost. This serum works to improve pigmentation and also helps to protect against free radical damage.

Psst… save 20% at By Sarah with LIZLOVES


Perricone MD High Potency Hyaluronic Intensive Serum £83, 59ml

This beautifully rich and smooth serum contains Perricone MD’s Hyaluronic 4 + 2 Complex, with four forms of hyaluronic acid of differing molecular weights and two natural building blocks of hyaluronic acid. It intensely hydrates and brightens skin. Plus, the addition of niacinamide works to reduce oil over-production and acne inflammation for a bright and smooth complexion.

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Words: Naomi Lake

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