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Even with the best of intentions and a well-honed routine, winter can leave your skin lackluster, hyper-pigmented, and bone dry. All hope is not lost though. With a hardworking brightening serum, skin can go from meh to yeah in a few short days or weeks. Whether it’s vitamin C–based or chock-full of tone-correcting ingredients, there is a solution via a serum. Ahead, we break down the best brightening serums according to your top priority, from imbuing your complexion with a megawatt glow to banishing dark spots. Here are the eight radiant-inducing elixirs we’re slathering on to bring life to our parched winter skin.

If your skin is looking dull…

Brightening Serum – Drops With Lid – Dr. Barbara Sturm
Brightening Serum, Dr. Sturm ($310)

Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Brightening Serum was created to combat dullness, uneven skin tone, and dryness. Thanks to a mix of ginseng extract, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and the unique “cress sprout extract,” skin looks visibly more radiant in as little as a few days.

If your under-eye skin is puffy…

Vitamin C Eye Brightener, Renee Rouleau ($60)

One of the most sensitive places on your face is the skin under your eyes, and winter can wreak havoc on them. Thankfully, dryness, puffiness, and visible dark circles don’t stand a chance next to this high-performing cream. The Renee Rouleau formula gets a boost from Haloxyl (a peptide that targets discoloration), licorice extract, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin C. With consistent usage, you can expect brighter under-eyes with fewer wrinkles and puffiness—praise be!


If you need results—stat…

Violet-C Brightening Serum, Tatcha ($88)

This serum contains a potent blend of 20 percent vitamin C and 10 percent AHA, which addresses dullness, uneven texture, fine lines, and dark spots at lightning speed. In clinical studies conducted by the brand, participants found a dramatic improvement in skin texture and appearance of fine lines in just eight weeks.

If dark spots are your nemesis…

NATURAL WONDERS Tata Harper Concentrated Brightening Serum
Concentrated Brightening Serum, Tata Harper ($235)

Meet your natural superhero treatment, which combats hyper-pigmentation in three different ways: First, it prevents melanin from reaching the surface, then it boosts the skin’s natural ability to minimize discoloration, and third, it fades dark spots. It also just so happens to plump and tighten skin too. Wow. What can’t it do?

If you prefer natural ingredients…

Botanical Brightening Serum, Naturopathica ($54)

Chock-full of nature’s powerhouse superstars, this serum gives you a whole lotta bang for your buck. Licorice root, wine extract, daisy flower, and lactic acid get to work addressing dull complexions, redness, and fine lines. After a few weeks, expect skin to glow and look brighter.

If you tend to break out…

Blanc Gardenia Brightening Essence, Chantecaille ($185)

The complex floral blend of high-performing ingredients will leave skin acne-free and looking more toned. White gardenia stem cell and water lily extracts focus on promoting brighter and firmer skin, while niacinamide and green decaffeinated coffee promote skin clarity. This is perfect for those who need skin brightening from previous acne scars and discoloration.


If your body needs some TLC too…

AHA Smart Renewal Body Serum, Ren ($42)

Who says serums are just for your face? Ren made a highly effective AHA serum for radiant skin too. Beyond the 10 percent AHA, it has probiotics to strengthen the skin barrier, xylitol for hydration, and lactic acid to slough off dry skin gently. Massage it in after you hop out of the shower in place of your daily moisturizer.

If you struggle with acne scars and age spots…

Lightening Serum, Marie Veronique ($110)

Created by one of the most heralded natural skincare experts around, this lightening serum is entirely clean and wildly effective. The combination of glucosamine, vitamin C, and B3 targets and lightens hyperpigmentation, acne scars, and age spots, all the while strengthening skin and preventing new spots from forming. Leave it to Marie Veronique to make a product as brilliant as this.

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