The quest to find the best serum for oily skin can be overwhelming because there are plenty of brands out there. Although our main concern is to reduce sebum and excess oil, we must also address other skin problems to maintain healthy-looking skin. A face serum can nourish and rejuvenate your face, giving it the glow it deserves.
They are full of active ingredients to target and manage specific skin concerns. However, given the different types of serums, choosing the right can be pretty challenging. To help you get started, you can check out our recommendations for the best serums for oily skin, and a buying guide with comments and tips from board certified dermatologist, Dr. Irene Gaile Robredo-Vitas.
Dr. Gaile Robredo-Vitas is a board-certified dermatologist from the Philippines. She enjoys teaching and gives lectures here and abroad. She is also very active in social media educating the public and correcting misinformation online. Her other special interests include aesthetic and procedural dermatology such as cosmeceuticals, injectables, lasers, and energy-based devices.
Our recommendation articles are carefully researched and crafted by the mybest Philippines team of writers and editors. To stay true to our company’s mission and vision to help users’ selection process easier, we also collaborate with experts from various fields to ensure that our content stays factual and useful.
The expert oversees the Buying Guide only, and does not determine the products and services featured.
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Serums have numerous benefits because it is all created with different purposes in mind. Some are made to fight aging and acne. There are serums formulated to renew, brighten, exfoliate, and hydrate the skin. Finally, a rising trend now is serums full of potent vitamins like vitamin C to promote collagen production.
More often than not, serums have a thin viscosity. They are lightweight and fast-absorbing, so they can easily be layered with different skincare products. This makes them a product that anyone with oily skin would love.
Aside from their consistency, they are full of concentrated active ingredients that focus on specific problem areas. This way, you get a potent serum without aggravating your skin's oiliness, so it's a win-win situation.
Serums contain a higher concentration of active ingredients, which is beneficial for those who want to get more out of a particular product, such as vitamin C, for example. And since there are less viscous than creams, they are perfect for layering or as an individual product applied after cleansing, especially in hot and humid countries like the Philippines.
If you have oily skin, then you’re all too familiar with the struggles of finding the right product. Well, never fear. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a serum for oily skin.
Serums are filled with active ingredients that are concentrated to help your problem areas. With so many active ingredients, it could be confusing to know which one to choose. We have listed the most common ingredients that you will usually find on serums in the market.
Niacinamide or vitamin B3 is known for shrinking pores and evening out the skin tone. It is an ingredient often used in serums because it can strengthen the skin barrier and protect it from sun damage.
It also restores skin moisture and prevents it from drying. Moreover, niacinamide is a stable ingredient that has anti-inflammatory properties, so it can also reduce redness and hyperpigmentation.
Niacinamide is a water-soluble derivative of Niacin or Vitamin B3. Studies have shown that it can improve epidermal barrier and hydration, has the potential to act as an antioxidant, decrease and improve skin hyperpigmentation, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, decrease redness and blotchiness, and skin yellowness (sallowness), and improve skin elasticity.
The beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) family is a group of acids that are best for oily and acne-prone skin. They deal with deeper skin concerns and clear up dirt in your pores. As a BHA, salicylic acid can dissolve dead skin cells and exfoliate the skin.
It's an ingredient that is oil soluble, which means it can penetrate deeper into the pores and breaks down the excess oil and sebum. It is also a helpful anti-acne ingredient, so if your skin struggles with extra oil and acne, you can use a lower dose of BHA of about 1% to 2% every day as part of your regimen to treat the skin concerns.
BHAs are oil-loving acids that loosen the bonds between skin cells. They can penetrate your pores, slough off dead skin cells, and dissolve sebum. BHAs are less irritating than AHAs and have anti-inflammatory properties. BHAs also have anti-bacterial effects, hence, are often recommended to those with acne-prone skin.
Hyaluronic acid is one ingredient that we always hear about. It's an all-around acid that can moisturize, soothe, and protect your skin. It's a great ingredient for oily skin because it maintains the proper balance of your skin's natural oils and water. As it regulates oil production, it also improves skin's texture and fine lines resulting in more hydrated and healthier skin.
Glycolic acid is an ingredient that can exfoliate to renew the skin surface. It is an effective acid that softens the skin and protects it from sun damage. Glycolic acid is also hydrating and comes from the same family as hyaluronic acid, alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). It also reduces excess oil and prevents clogging of your pores, which can lead to breakouts.
Hyaluronic acid is a humectant found in many skincare products. It binds water, which helps keep the skin hydrated, smooth, supple and makes fine lines less visible. Glycolic acid, on the other hand, is probably the most popular alpha hydroxy acid that not only helps to moisturize the skin, it is also an exfoliant that is excellent for aging skin, acne-prone skin, and uneven skin.
Vitamin C is a well-known antioxidant and one of the beneficial vitamins you can topically apply to your face. In a serum, vitamin C can help brighten your face and even out skin tone. It can also improve your skin texture and help with the signs of aging. For oily skin, it regulates the production of excess sebum because it protects the lipid barrier, which is responsible for controlling the skin's moisture.
When applied as a serum, it can deeply penetrate the skin for proper moisture without leaving a greasy feeling. You could also look for serums with a blend of vitamins C, E, and ferulic as these ingredients complement each other, increasing stability and anti-oxidant effects.
Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is the most abundant antioxidant found in the skin. The most effective way to experience its skin benefits is via the topical route. Vitamin c is a potent antioxidant that is at the same time photoprotective. Furthermore, it is also an anti-aging, pro-collagen, anti-pigmentary, and anti-inflammatory ingredient.
For thousands of years, people have used propolis as an antimicrobial agent because it contains high flavonoid content, which works both internally and topically on the skin by fighting bacteria and free radicals at a cellular level.
If you experience breakouts due to excess oil, propolis may help. The propolis extract and its key components can help cure scars after the inflammation subsides, improving skin texture and pigmentation. It's also a good moisturizing ingredient for those with oily skin as it can be easily absorbed by the skin.
Serums tend to have so many types that it can be hard to group. However, various categories can help them be easily identified. Generally, they are anti-aging, skin-brightening, acne-fighting and, hydrating.
Anti-aging serums are formulated to prevent premature aging and skin damage. It helps smoothen wrinkles, fine lines, and crows feet. These serums rejuvenate the skin for a youthful glow. Retinol is a common ingredient that you might come across because it stimulates collagen production.
Retinol or vitamin A is one of my favorite anti-aging ingredients. It is a type of retinoid that boasts anti-inflammatory properties, and it is an antioxidant that can regulate cell turnover, control oil production, and stimulate collagen production.
When used regularly and consistently, they help reduce fine lines and wrinkles, improve age spots and pigmentation and help control oil production.
Contrary to popular belief, skin-brightening serums aren't about whitening one's skin color. Mostly, it is about clearing up your complexion and evening out your skin tone. Skin-brightening serums give your face a radiant glow. Some examples of this type of serum are vitamin C and niacinamide serums.
Skin brightening is not merely having fair skin or a lighter complexion. Rather, it means having skin that is smooth, even-toned, radiant, and with less-visible pores. Antioxidants such as vitamin c, vitamin e, and niacinamide are known to contribute to skin brightening due to the benefits they do to the skin.
A lot of people with oily skin can suffer a breakout because of the excess oils on the face. Acne-fighting and clarifying serums contain active ingredients such as AHAs and BHAs, vitamin C, and niacinamide that get absorbed into the skin to fight acne.
They help exfoliate the dirt and oil buildup from your pores to prevent future breakouts. It also rebalances oil production to help reduce excess sebum on your face.
Two of my favorite acne-fighting and clarifying ingredients that can be found in serums are salicylic acid and niacinamide. Salicylic acid is oil-loving and can penetrate deep into the skin, sloughing off dead skin cells, and dissolving keratin plugs and sebum. It also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Niacinamide has been proven to regulate oil production, improve pigmentation, and is also an anti-inflammatory ingredient.
Hydrating serums are serums that contribute extra moisture to your face. It brings back the moisture that could have been stripped off your face during washing and toning.
Often, these are products that have humectants to effectively hydrate your skin. Some ingredients that you will often see are hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, snail mucin, and more.
Humectants attract water into the epidermis from two sourcesーthe dermis and humid conditions (environment). Humectants, when used alone, can be a double-edged sword because, in dry environments, they can draw water from the skin to the environment, hence it is recommended to be combined with other types of moisturizers such as occlusives.
We know that most skincare comes in different formulations. With serums, they can come in oil-based or water-based. Each formulation has advantages that make it more appealing. Some may even choose to include both in their skincare routine to reap their different benefits.
Oil-based serums contain essential oils that moisturize and repair the skin. These are often organic and natural plant-based essences that have skin benefits. They are more potent because it is not mixed or diluted with water.
However, when it comes to its consistency, oil-based are heavier than other formulations of serums but are highly concentrated. Those with oily skin don't need to worry as long as they find light and non-comedogenic oils like tea tree, argan, and rosehip oils.
Individuals with oily skin often avoid using products containing oils for fear of having breakouts and even acne. In truth, oil or sebum does help in keeping the skin hydrated by sealing in moisture, but having dry skin is about lack of water, not oil. It's just a matter of finding one that is right for you.
Water-based serums are serums that allow water-soluble ingredients to be absorbed by the skin. They are fast-absorbing and are less likely to clog pores. These serums are lightweight and hydrating on the skin. Those with oily skin would generally prefer these because they contain acids like hyaluronic and lactic acid.
Water-based serums are recommended to those with oily skin or those who live in a humid environment. Compared to oil-based serums, water-based serums are lighter on the skin, dry up, and are absorbed by the skin quickly. They are also ideal for delivering water-soluble active ingredients such as hyaluronic acid.
A gel serum is light and is absorbed by the skin quickly. This type of serum is formulated to moisturize and nourish the skin. Gel serums are ideal for all skin types, but they are especially beneficial for people with sensitive or aging skin because they can provide long-lasting hydration without clogging pores.
Aside from checking the beneficial ingredients that the serum contains, checking for comedogenic ingredients is equally important as these can aggravate oiliness and acne. Examples of these are natural (coconut oil and avocado oil) and synthetic oils, fatty acids, waxes, alcohols, and silicones.
Not all comedogenic ingredients are harmful to your skin as long as they are formulated within a certain threshold. But if you have a combination, oily and acne-prone skin, it is best to steer away from them.
If you haven't used serums in the past, we highly recommend going for one at a very low concentration. A high concentration doesn't mean that it's effectiveーyou are actually faced with a higher risk of skin irritation, especially if your skin is not yet acquainted with the active ingredients the serum contains.
For instance, for vitamin C serums, dermatologists suggest starting out with 5% or lower if you have sensitive skin. Meanwhile, if you have normal skin, anything lower than 20% might be tolerable for your skin. But as always, you must patch test first, to make sure that the serum won't have any adverse effects on your skin.
The packaging of the serum is also an important consideration that must not be skipped, as it can affect the potency and effectiveness of the product. Serums that come in dark glass bottles are one of the best choices as they can protect the formula from oxidation due to light exposure.
Secure, airtight packaging is also crucial to make the formula stable since the presence of air can oxidize the product and accelerate breakdown and loos of nutrients. Those that come with droppers are a plus for convenience in dispensing the product.
Click to purchase
10% Niacinamide + Hyaluronic High-Strength Formula Serum
Brighten Your Skin With Niacinamide Without Breaking the Bank
Niacinamide, Hyaluronic Acid, Snail Secretion Filtrate, Cucumber Extract, Aloe Vera Extract, and Allantoin
Bright Complete Vitamin C Serum
Unleash Your Skin's Radiance Through Vitamin C
Vitamin C and Niacinamide
3.5% Vitamin C
AC Collection Blemish Spot Clearing Serum
Infused With Propolis to Help You Achieve Glass Skin
CentellAC-Rx Complex, Niacinamide, EGF, Propolis Extract, and Ceramide NP
85% Propolis Extract and 4% Niacinamide
Calming Blemish Madecassoside Serum
Say Goodbye to Troubled Skin With This Natural Solution
Madecassoside and Tea Tree Leaf Extract
Madecassoside 1,000ppm, Tea Tree Leaf Extract 5,000ppm
Glycolic Bright Instant Glowing Face Serum
Reduce Dark Spots and Brighten Skin With 1% Glycolic Acid
Glycolic Acid and Niacinamide
1% Glycolic Acid
SOME BY MI
AHA・BHA・PHA 30 Days Miracle Serum
Gently Exfoliate Skin With this AHA, BHA, and PHA Serum
AHA, BHA, PHA, Nature Tea Tree, Centella Asiatica, Houttuynia Cordata, and Niacinamide
73% Nature Teatree, 15% Centella Asiatica, 10,000 ppm Houttuynia Cordata, and 2% Niacinamide
Beauty of Joseon
Glow Serum: Propolis + Niacinamide
Contains Propolis Extract to Hydrate and Improve Inflamed Skin
Propolis Extract, Niacinamide, and BHA
60% Propolis extract, 2% Niacinamide, and 0.5% BHA
The Inkey List
A Potent Yet Gentle Retinol Serum
Retinol and Granactive Retinoid
1% RetiStar-Stabilised Retinol
Age Miracle Ultimate Youth Essence
Embrace Youthful Radiance With Collagen and Hyaluronic Acid
Triple Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide, Red Algae, Fermented Bifida, Peptide Booster, and Activated Collagen
Green Tea Seed Serum
Contains Green Tea Extract That Can Hydrate the Skin
Green Tea Biome with Tri-biotics, Jeju Green Tea Extract, Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide, and Vitamin C
2% Niacinamide, 0.1-0.45% Camellia sinensis leaf extract
Dermorepubliq's 10% Niacinamide + Hyaluronic High-Strength Formula Serum is a skincare marvel designed to transform your skin. This affordable serum combines the power of niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and snail secretion filtrate to deliver brighter and more moisturized skin. You can say goodbye to visible pores and blemishes as this formula minimizes their appearance.
Free from sulfates, parabens, and silicones, it ensures a gentle and nourishing skincare routine. Customers also rave about its ability to shrink pores, leave skin soft, and fade acne scars. Because it is water-based, it is light enough for those with oily skin and is even suitable for all skin types!
|Net Weight||30 mL|
|Active Ingredients||Niacinamide, Hyaluronic Acid, Snail Secretion Filtrate, Cucumber Extract, Aloe Vera Extract, and Allantoin|
Garnier Bright Complete 30x Vitamin C Booster Serum is the ultimate solution for achieving radiant and flawless skin. Formulated with 30 times more vitamin C compared to other serums, this is specifically designed to fade and lighten dark spots because it helps skin produce 85% less melanin.
Furthermore, this serum hydrates the skin with its glycerin content, leaving it smoother and healthier-looking. It is also all-natural and dermatologically tested to be safe and effective, even for people with sensitive skin.
|Net Weight||30 mL|
|Active Ingredients||Vitamin C and Niacinamide|
|Concentration||3.5% Vitamin C|
|Net Weight||40 mL|
|Active Ingredients||CentellAC-Rx Complex, Niacinamide, EGF, Propolis Extract, and Ceramide NP|
|Concentration||85% Propolis Extract and 4% Niacinamide|
|Net Weight||45 mL|
|Active Ingredients||Madecassoside and Tea Tree Leaf Extract|
|Concentration||Madecassoside 1,000ppm, Tea Tree Leaf Extract 5,000ppm|
|Net Weight||30 mL|
|Active Ingredients||Glycolic Acid and Niacinamide|
|Concentration||1% Glycolic Acid|
This serum is chock-full of great ingredients, including AHAs and BHAs, to exfoliate your skin and leave it more radiant. It also has tea tree oil which has anti-inflammatory properties, and Centella Asiatica to soothe your skin. On top of that, it also promotes collagen production and the renewal of skin cells.
Many users say that it felt great on their faces and was able to improve their skin holistically. They also noted that even if it has exfoliating and cleansing properties, it still kept their skin hydrated. Because of its mild formulation, you likely won’t encounter any problems when using this product, even if you have combination skin.
|Net Weight||50 mL|
|Active Ingredients||AHA, BHA, PHA, Nature Tea Tree, Centella Asiatica, Houttuynia Cordata, and Niacinamide|
|Concentration||73% Nature Teatree, 15% Centella Asiatica, 10,000 ppm Houttuynia Cordata, and 2% Niacinamide|
|Net Weight||30 mL|
|Active Ingredients||Propolis Extract, Niacinamide, and BHA|
|Concentration||60% Propolis extract, 2% Niacinamide, and 0.5% BHA|
The Inkey List's Retinol Serum is a gentle, effective way to improve the appearance of your skin. It contains 1% RetiSTAR and 0.5% granactive retinoid in a slow-release formula, which makes it less irritating than other retinol forms. This serum can help to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and skin texture. It also contains squalane to hydrate and soothe the skin.
Even if it has a 1% concentration, users found that the formula is quite gentle on the skin, making this product a good option for those new to retinol or those with sensitive skin yet want to use a high-strength formula. The serum also has a lightweight, milky consistency that absorbs quickly into the skin. Additionally, it is fragrance-free and non-comedogenic, making it suitable for all skin types.
|Net Weight||30 mL|
|Active Ingredients||Retinol and Granactive Retinoid|
|Concentration||1% RetiStar-Stabilised Retinol|
|Net Weight||30 g|
|Active Ingredients||Triple Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide, Red Algae, Fermented Bifida, Peptide Booster, and Activated Collagen|
Innisfree's Green Tea Seed Serum is formulated with a new ingredient called green tea biome that contains tri-biotics: prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics. This gives your skin enough hydration while strengthening the skin's moisture barrier, resulting in a glowing, healthy complexion.
It is a nourishing serum that can remove the tightness and dryness from cleansers and toners. Made from Jeju green tea extract, it helps maintain oil balance to retain the skin's moisture without giving you an oily sheen. The serum also contains hyaluronic acid to soothe your skin and protect your skin barrier. It is the perfect hydrating serum for people who have a damaged skin barrier and those who are acne-prone.
|Net Weight||30 mL|
|Active Ingredients||Green Tea Biome with Tri-biotics, Jeju Green Tea Extract, Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide, and Vitamin C|
|Concentration||2% Niacinamide, 0.1-0.45% Camellia sinensis leaf extract|
Below are some of the most asked questions on the web answered by Dr. Gaile.
It all depends on the type of serum you have and the active ingredient it containsーsalicylic acid, retinol, or niacinamide. For instance, a serum containing retinol would be best applied at night, whereas one containing niacinamide or salicylic acid can be applied both in the morning and evening.
Increased sebum or oil production is part of the pathophysiologic process of acne formation, and because of this, most individuals with oily skin may be acne-prone, and most acne-prone patients will have oily skin (some have combination skin). But in terms of definition, for me, no, they are not the same.
Dehydrated skin is about lack of water, not oil. Most people with oily skin use products with ingredients that are drying or remove excess oil, stripping away sebum from the skin that leads to moisture loss. This ultimately leaves the skin dry, and the barrier disrupted.
If the skin's moisture loss is not replenished using the proper moisturizer, the skin may remain oily, dehydrated, and could even be sensitive and prone to irritation.
After applying serums, lock them in place using a moisturizer. Afterward, you can use a facial spray to boost its effects. Finally, apply sunscreen for maximum protection. Check out the links below for more skincare products catered to oily skin.
Our buying guide was carefully researched and crafted by the mybest team of writers and editors, in collaboration with the expert featured in this article. We used the buying guide as a basis for choosing and ranking the product recommendations, and we looked at reviews and ratings from different E-commerce sites like Lazada, Shopee, and more.
No. 1: Dermorepubliq | 10% Niacinamide + Hyaluronic High-Strength Formula Serum
No. 2: Garnier | Bright Complete Vitamin C Serum
No. 3: COSRX | AC Collection Blemish Spot Clearing Serum
No. 4: Face Republic | Calming Blemish Madecassoside Serum
No. 5: L’Oreal Paris | Glycolic Bright Instant Glowing Face Serum
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The descriptions of each product is referenced from the content available from the manufacturer, e-commerce sites etc.
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