The 5 Best Drugstore Face Serums for Lazy People Who Still Want Perfect Skin

It's basically an Instagram filter in a bottle.

Courtesy of Brands / Design by Sierra Piland

Yes, you need a face serum, no it's not a gimmick, and yes, they really do work. Did we answer all of your questions? Basically, serums are the result of blending the world's best skin-care ingredients together and compressing them into tiny drops of liquid gold, giving you the power to tighten wrinkles, soften lines, lighten dark spots, and basically give you the skin you want, all at once.

And though some formulas can get a little pricey, you don't actually need to shell out a hundred bucks to reap the benefits, as long as you know where to look (hint: right here). And to help you out, we broke down the five very best drugstore serums, ahead, to start adding to your routine today.

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1 Acure Seriously Glowing Facial Serum

WHAT IT DOES: The vegan formula (which is also USDA-certified organic) uses a mix of ultra-hydrating argan oil and anti-inflammatory borage oil to sooth irritated, acne-prone skin, while the added antioxidant-rich cranberry helps brighten dark spots and discoloration.

WHEN TO USE IT: Morning and/or night, after your other essences, serums, and lightweight moisturizers.

Acure Seriously Glowing Facial Serum, $13

BUY IT: amazon.com.

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2 L'Oréal Age Perfect Hydra-Nutrition Advanced Skin Repair Serum

WHAT IT DOES: Repeat after us: hydrolyzed soy protein and hydroxypalmitoyl sphinganine. Okay, fine, don't repeat after us, but those two tongue-twisters are the major players in this skin-strengthening and moisturizing serum, giving it the ability to truly amp up your skin's elasticity, tone, and brightness over time.

WHEN TO USE IT: On clean, dry skin, morning or night, before your moisturizer.

L'Oréal Age Perfect Hydra-Nutrition Advanced Skin Repair Serum, $20

BUY IT: ulta.com.

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3 Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum

WHAT IT DOES: This silky serum is filled with retinol—AKA the big kahuna of anti-aging ingredients—and glycerin to rev up collagen production and smooth out wrinkles, all without feeling drying out your skin.

WHEN TO USE IT: On clean, dry skin, at night only. Make sure to follow with a rich moisturizer, if you have dry or sensitive skin.

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum, $14

BUY IT: amazon.com.

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4 E.l.f. Beauty Shield Vitamin C Pollution Prevention Serum

WHAT IT DOES: You've definitely heard a trillion times before that you're "supposed" to be using vitamin C on your skin, and it's for good reason: The all-star ingredient is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes skin-damaging free radicals (yes, those are real, scientific things) and brightens dark spots and discoloration.

WHEN TO USE IT: In the morning (it acts as an all-day shield against free radicals) before your moisturizer

E.l.f. Beauty Shield Vitamin C Pollution Prevention Serum, $16

BUY IT: elf.com.

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5 Olay Regenerist Regenerating Serum

WHAT IT DOES: Everything it's supposed to, and nothing more. And we mean that in the best of ways, because unlike many cheap-thrills skin potions, which are filled with 70-percent trendy, blah ingredients, this airtight pump contains all of the collagen-building peptides and skin-protecting antioxidants you want in an anti-aging serum.

WHEN TO USE IT: Morning or night, on clean, dry skin. Layer on a moisturizer if you have ultra-dry skin.

Olay Regenerist Regenerating Serum, $20

BUY IT: amazon.com.

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