What Are The Best Antioxidant Serums?

by Gio
5 best antioxidant serums

What are the best antioxidant serums?

You better know because your skin is under attack. Every single day.

UV rays, pollution, a poor diet and smoking all send their armies of free radicals to wreak havoc on your skin and give you wrinkles and dark spots. How can you defend yourself against them?

Antioxidants. These little soldiers incessantly patrol your body every day looking for free radicals to destroy.

But which one to choose? You’ve probably heard that vitamin C + vitamin E + ferulic acid (CEF) is the way to go. I totally agree with that. That’s an essential weapon in any anti-aging arsenal.

But, on its own, it’s not enough. The sad truth is that every antioxidant can kill only one or two types of free radicals (ferulic acid kills three because it’s awesome like that).

So, the more antioxidants you add into your skincare routine, the  better. But, just to be clear, you don’t need to get all your antioxidants fix from one serum. If you want to keep your routine short, you can pick a hydrating serum and supplement with a moisturiser or toner full of antioxidants.

I love serums. They contain a higher concentration of antioxidants so they work better and faster. That’ why I’m dedicating this entire post to them. Without further ado, here are my fave antioxidant serums:

Best Antioxidant Serum For Sun Protection: Skinceuticals CE Ferulic ($166.00)

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic ($153.00) is one of the few outrageously expensive skincare products I’m happy to splurge on. It was the first serum to come out with CEF: it has  15% L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), 1% Alpha-Tocopherol (Vitamin E) and Ferulic Acid. They’re all powerful antioxidants on their own but together, they’re unstoppable. Studies show they boost collagen productionfight free radicals and enhance the sun protection of your sunscreen. Did I mention it brightens skin and fades away dark spots too?

Available at: Dermstore

Related: Skinceuticals CE Ferulic Dupe 1 and Skinceuticals CE Ferulic Dupe 2

Best Antioxidant Serum For Oily Skin: Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum With Retinol ($34.00)

With its lightweight, non-greasy texture, Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum With Retinol is ideal for oily and combo skin.  Plus, it’s loaded with antioxidants to the brim: it has tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (a form of Vitamin C that penetrates skin more deeply than L-Ascorbic Acid – the one in Skinceuticals) , vitamin E, green tea and grape seed extract (to name a few!). But the star ingredient is Retinol, a form of retinoids that can really reduce wrinkles.

Available at: Dermstore, Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice

Related: Is Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate The Best Form Of Vitamin C?

Best Antioxidant Serum For Dry Skin: Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum With Retinol

The formula is similar to that of the Skin Balancing Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum, so I’ll be brief. Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum With Retinol is just as loaded with antioxidants BUT it has less retinoids and MORE soothing ingredients to calm down redness and irritation. With this little tweaks, Paula’s Choice has created a formula that’s as beneficial but less irritating for dry skin.

Available at: Dermstore and Paula’s Choice

Related: The Complete Guide To Retinol: What It Is, What It Does And How To Use It

Best Natural Antioxidant Serum: FarmHouse Fresh Wine Down Overnight Super Antioxidant Recovery Serum ($56.00)

Ok, FarmHouse Fresh Wine Down Overnight Super Antioxidant Recovery Serum has just a drop of fragrance but hear me out. Not only it’s full of antioxidants but it also has its fair share of soothing agents – like chamomile and green tea – to calm down irritations and redness. Plus, they use some of the proceedings to support organisations that rescue abused animals. Don’t you wish more brands did that?

Available at: Dermstore

Related: 9 Soothing Ingredients That Calm Down Irritated Skin

Best Antioxidant Serum To Use As A Supplement: The Ordinary EUK 134 0.1% (£6.90)

The Ordinary EUK 134 0.1% is an anomaly. It has only ONE antioxidant. But that tiny little molecule packs a punch. EUK 134 is a mimetic of superoxide dismutase and catalase, a fancy way to call an antioxidants that destroys hydrogen peroxide (the worst type of free radical). Plus, it’s self-regenerating. While other antioxidants die after destroying a free radical, EUK 134 survives to destroy more little buggers. The problem? Very few antioxidant serums use it. That’s why I recommend you supplement one of the antioxidants serum above with this (just don’t use it with Vitamin C – that completely destroys it!).

Available at: Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Feel Unique

Related: Is Superoxide Dismutase The Most Powerful Antioxidant Of Them All?

What do you think are the best antioxidant serums? Share your picks in the comments below.



Makeup Morsels May 14, 2014 - 10:06 pm

Ohh yes I always hear such good things about the Skinceuticals serums! Love that you did an ingredient breakdown for each of these and YES antioxidants are amazing for your skin.

Gio May 15, 2014 - 8:33 pm

Makeup Morsels, the Skinceuticals serum is amazing! The only thing I don’t like about it is the price. 🙂

I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

Jonatan Funtowicz June 18, 2014 - 3:58 pm

Thank you for the mention! Our Vitamin C Serum (http://www.skinactives.com/Vitamin-C-Serum-Ascorbic-Acid-L.html) is a superior, and less expensive alternative, to the CE Ferulic serum. Gio – please send me your shipping address and I will send you a bottle as well as the new formulation of our Antioxidant Serum we are launching in July

Gio June 20, 2014 - 1:13 pm

Jonatan, you’re welcome. That is very generous of you, thank you! I will you email you now.

Maureen January 13, 2015 - 11:32 pm

Love your blog and how you carefully and understandably review products and cover all price ranges. Thank you!

I am 57 and still trying to figure out what to use and what not to-so much info out there and so many companies trying to play into our insecurities. I look forward to reading more of your blog!

I know you are young but please keep us older women in mind!

Gio January 14, 2015 - 7:50 pm

Maureen, thank you, I’m glad you enjoy my blog.

There is so much misinformation out there, unfortunately. It’s appalling the way companies are allowed to pray on people’s insecurities, rather than just focusing on creating products that really work.

I will. 🙂

Trin May 23, 2017 - 11:28 am

Really loving your website! I wanted to ask you a quick question, after reading a few of your articles.
I’m 30 and my skin has always been oily, I get acne if I don’t look after it. A little sensitive too, it gets marks very easily. Last year I got dark spots or melisma in the area above my cheeks/underneath my eyes. I want to get rid of it (as much as possible at least!) but also prevent it from happening again. I also have some wrinkles due a medication I was on years ago.
Skinceutical’s C E Ferulic looks great but expensive! I’ve seen you also recommend Timeless 20% Vit C + E Ferulic so I was thinking of trying it. I would then perhaps buy a retinol cream separately, do you have any recommendations? Or would it be better to buy Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Super Antioxidant Serum that you mention in this article? I feel like buying the Timeless + a separate retinol product might be better but I’m no expert!
Many thanks,

Gio May 27, 2017 - 7:09 pm

Trin, using the Timeless serum with a separate product would work faster indeed. The serum I mention here is a great place to start. Once your skin has gotten used to it, you can up its amount. Here are a few more suggestions on how to do that: http://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/strength-retinol-need/

trin May 30, 2017 - 2:54 pm

Thanks Gio, I’m going to give it a go!

Gio June 3, 2017 - 3:32 pm

My pleasure!

Fran December 15, 2017 - 12:34 am

How does the Drunk Elephant C Firma Day serum compare to Skin Ceuticals Vit C and Ferulic Acid serum? It’s half the price

Gio December 16, 2017 - 10:46 pm

Fran, that’s a wonderful dupe. It has the same combination of vitamin C, vitamin E and ferulic acid but with plenty more antioxidants!

Serena January 7, 2018 - 10:06 pm

Hello Gio,
Came across your blog while researching facial products. Your site is wonderfully written, informative and understandable. Thank you, thank you for the product recommendations and prices. Thanks also for addressing the needs of all skin types. Been using Paula’s Choice balanced foaming cleanser & 2% BHA liquid but still have clogged pores so use PC oil reducing cleanser in summer to reduce shine and Resist super light daily wrinkle defense w/ SPF 30. Had microdemablasion for the first time as I’m still not happy w/ how my skin looks. Should I add a retinol product or go all in and get a glycolic peel? Many thanks.

Gio January 19, 2018 - 3:03 pm

Serena, thank you so much for your kind words. So glad you find my blog useful. I’d definitely try with retinol first. Glycolic acid is more for hyperpigmentation and collagen boosting so won’t help much in your case. But if even the retinol won’t work, you can try a salicylic acid peel.

Victoria April 19, 2019 - 5:12 am

Retin – A is the “Gold Standard”

Gio April 20, 2019 - 3:41 pm

Victoria, I agree. But thats’ available by prescription only.

Meg April 25, 2018 - 7:42 pm

Hi Gio,

I always am interested in your posts. I was introduced to Skinactives antioxidant serum onyour blog and I love it- great value! But I have to disagree with your pick for sensitive skin. The Farmhouse Fresh serum might be great for someone without sensitive skin but seems like a poor choice for sensitive skin, even w it’s soothing ingredients.

As someone who struggled with sensitive skin for 20+ years, I’m always disappointed when a product w fragrance (natural or synthetic) or essential oils is recommended for or marketed to sensitive skin. Even “a drop” of fragrance can keep my skin at a low level of inflammation and sensitized to ingredients that I otherwise tolerate well. Everyone’s skin is different and can be sensitive in different ways. But fragrance is a common irritant and has no skincare benefit to balance the risk. Anyone who has noticed skin sensitivity should seriously assess if fragrance is contributing to their condition. Ironically, the recommendations in the other categories all seem more appropriate for someone with sensitive skin as long as they don’t have a particular intolerance to one of the ingredients (like retinol) or the higher levels of actives (like the vitamin c).

Well, that’s my sensitive skin rant … Thanks for all the work you put into your blog.

Gio April 27, 2018 - 10:24 am

Hi Meg, thanks for sharing your experience. I hear ya! Sensitive skin can be irritating so easily and it’s always best to avoid any form of fragrance at all if you can. However, I’ve recently talked to a couple of dermatologists who add just the smallest drop of fragrance in their lines just to mask the natural odour of the ingredients and said that, from the tests they carried out, even their patients with sensitive skin were able to tolerate it. But again, I guess it depends on just how sensitive your sensitive skin is so by all means, check the other options if they agree with your skin better.

So glad you like the Skin Actives serums and thanks so much for your support and remainder too! 🙂

CanadianinLondon June 17, 2018 - 9:58 am

Hey your blog is absolutely wonderful and informative. I get so much out of it. I had a question about the post above. You mention that EUK 134 is great to use with the serums above. Great, however you also mention that it’s best not to mix with vitamin C but the skinceuticals CEF formula has vitamin c in it. Should that one (or the Paula C15 version) be avoided with it? Is it best to use one at night and one in the morning then? I use the ordinary buffet before all of this in general.

Thanks again. I’m serious when I say I trust your blog and find it amazing!

Gio June 22, 2018 - 10:40 am

CanadianinLondon, oops, should have amended that to say use it with all the serums above but Skinceuticals! Sorry for the confusion! Yes, if you want to use both serums (Skinceuticals/Paula’s Choice) and EUK, I’d use vitamin C in the morning and EUK at night.

Thanks so much! Means a lot. 🙂

Vivien Pang August 30, 2018 - 1:37 pm

I’ve learnt so much from you, Gio. And I’ve started to understand better what skincare works effectively on my skin —aging skin which tends to be oily with breakouts??

Gio September 7, 2018 - 4:41 pm

Vivien, thank you for your kind words. So glad to hear my blog is helping you give your skin what it needs.

Vana January 17, 2019 - 6:52 am

Dear Gio, what do you think about using only serum without creme. For example, BioDerma HydraBio Serum is great (ingreadients) and when I wanted to buy it, pharmacist told me not to buy it if I will use it alone without creme. What’s your opinion? Thanx in advance

Gio January 19, 2019 - 6:20 pm

Vana, it’s ok to use serum alone if you have oily skin. Other skin types will probably need a moisturiser too.

Victoria April 19, 2019 - 5:11 am

For Vitamin C check out :Dr. Brenner Vitamin C serum ,
Dr. Brenner states that this serum contains 20% pure vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid), 1% vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), 1% hyaluronic acid (in the form of sodium hyaluronate), and 0.5% ferulic acid.

I use that in the AM and TO’s EUK at night…..love your sight!

Gio April 20, 2019 - 3:22 pm

Victoria, that’s a great find. 🙂

Elisa August 9, 2019 - 10:46 pm

what is the best antioxidant serum safe during pregnancy?

Gio September 15, 2019 - 6:52 pm

Elisa, try Paula’s Choice Resist Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum.


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