FOR THOSE WHO care about skin care — and I mean deeply care about new cult brands, launches, ingredients, even packaging — serums are the end-all. Though they may feel lightweight, the highly concentrated, often nutrient-packed formulations are the workhorses of most regimens. Serums offer a pure hit of hydration and protection, and the best of them prep the face beautifully for creams, sunscreen, and makeup. Packaged as they often are in sleek, slim bottles, they also tend to be the best-looking products in any line. My favorites tend to come in pretty glass containers; they are pleasingly slimy, and delicately, naturally fragrant, redolent of a meadow or a cliffside someplace far from my actual urban abode. These five standouts feel like the truest in self-care: They are not only made from a stellar, indeed fascinating array of organic and wild-foraged ingredients, but they also look sumptuous standing on the bathroom shelf. At this level, skin care is an art.
Monastery Attar Floral Repair Concentrate
There’s utilitarian moisturizing and then there’s nourishing, aromatic, anoint-me moisturizing. Attar Floral Repair Concentrate, from buzzy San Francisco–based Monastery, a small-batch beauty brand (and skin-care studio), is the latter. A rich balm made from rosehip and hazelnut oil and rose and jasmine wax, Attar is filled with essential fatty acids and vitamins A, B, C, and E. A luxurious, fine-line melting final step in any nighttime routine or for use at any moment when you feel parched, this nutrient-rich dose of moisture works on the face, elbows, knees, lips, even hair. And the transportive scent is as authentically floral as it gets. SHOP NOW
Royal Fern Phytoactive Serum
This radiance-boosting, gel-like serum boasts a veritable cornucopia of skin-friendly ingredients, from hyaluronic acid and acerola cherry–derived vitamin C to the company’s proprietary Royal Fern Complex, which includes sea buckthorn oil and oil from the seeds of the Voacanga africana tree. With the subtly bracing scent of a natural men’s grooming product, Phytoactive Serum, designed by German dermatologist Dr. Timm Golueke, is designed to regenerate skin and strengthen it against all forms of aging. It’s also vegan and free of parabens and mineral oil, so slather shamelessly. SHOP NOW
Furtuna Porte Per La Vitalità Face & Eye Serum
Following its launch in 2020, the Furtuna product line skyrocketed to the top of skin care “It” lists. At the heart of the Sicily-based natural beauty brand’s collection is this glorious serum. This instantly tightening, glow-inducing layer evens skin tone, protects from damage, and depuffs the delicate eye area. The all-organic ingredients, wild foraged on the company’s stunning estate, sound like they could also make a delicious salad: chicory, beet, olive leaf water, olive oil, and medicinal Anchusa azurea flower. But in this formulation, they’re blended into a light, clean, vegan serum with a natural-neutral scent, and packed with polyphenols, antioxidants, fatty acids, and vitamins to restore balance and brilliance to your skin. SHOP NOW
Irene Forte Hibiscus Serum
Irene Forte’s line of science-backed natural beauty formulations was inspired by the bounty of Italy, her family’s homeland, and created in partnership with a team of cosmetic scientists with decades of experience. Forte’s Hibiscus Serum, which promises visible wrinkle reduction, combines green-pea polypeptides with a tetrapeptide and Myoxinol, a hibiscus seed–derived compound that acts like a natural injectable. Olive oil and hyaluronic acid fill out the serum’s superpowers, taking its capacity to hydrate and protect to the next level. Forte initially sought to elevate the spa offerings in her family’s Rocco Forte Hotels, and many of the ingredients in her products come from the organic farm at their Verdura Resort in the seaside town of Sciacca, Sicily. SHOP NOW
Stella by Stella McCartney Alter-Care Serum
From fashion icon (and Beatles progeny) Stella McCartney comes a new line of skin-care products designed to go hard for skin health while light on the earth. The pretty mint-green serum has a fresh, marine scent, is at least 99% naturally derived, and comes in a refillable glass pump. It’s filled with thrillingly exotic-sounding ingredients like organic extracts of rock samphire, dulse algae, and biotechnological lingonberry (!), as well as hyaluronic acid and olive squalane. Each ingredient in the formulation was even graded by an external partner to review its sustainability standards. Alter-Care Serum, along with the other two products in McCartney’s line (a cleanser and a moisturizer) is proof that sustainability has gone fully luxe. SHOP NOW
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Nina Renata Aron Writer
Nina Renata Aron is a writer and editor based in Oakland, California. She is the author of “Good Morning, Destroyer of Men's Souls.” Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, the New Republic, Elle, Eater, and Jezebel.
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