Oily Skin, Meet Your Serum Soulmates


Putting fewer products on oily skin is almost like reflex, an easy solution to avoid aggravating the daily grease fest we experience. When I started taking my skincare seriously, I first explored the world of sunscreens, masks, and cleansers. I was hesitant about getting into serums.  Would it be too thick for my skin? Would it cause allergies? Would it make me oilier? Don’t I have enough products?

Curious person that I am, however, I can’t help but gravitate toward them. After doing some research, I learned that serums would give me what I need. I can go after specific concerns aside from having a disco ball for a face come two in the afternoon. Serums, applied after cleansing, toning, and essence-ing (?) but before moisturizing, penetrates deeper into the skin because of its small molecules and therefore, delivers a higher concentration of active ingredients. This is what makes serums more apt in targeting more specific skin concerns like enlarged pores, pigmentation, signs of aging, dullness, and texture. This is also why I made it a mission to find serums that would agree with my oily skin.

Here’s what I found.

It’s already a given for us #oilyskinladies but serums can help manage acne-prone skin. A longtime go-to, the Effaclar Duo (+) from La Roche Posay helps clean clogged pores and manages excess oil production. As you know, clean pores lead to less irritation and blemishes. This product is also non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic, and it has no parabens. I always use this whenever I’m outdoors for too long and if I feel a pimple coming up. I also use this as a spot treatment.

You can also check out Glossier Super Pure, which contains niacinamide and zinc. These ingredients help calm blemishes and remove skin impurities that build up inside your pores.  With its lightweight formula, I apply it every morning before makeup, a feat because finding products that go great with makeup is a task in itself. You can also check out its cheaper alternative, The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum. Just note that serums that contain niacinamide cannot be applied with Vitamin C serums.

It was only when I got into skincare that I found out you can be oily and dehydrated at the same time. It panicked me – am I dehydrated? Yes. Do I slather oil? Depends. What do I use? I researched and researched. When I read that the Hydrate Facial Serum from Jordan Samuel Skin contains Hyaluronic acid, stabilized Vitamin C, and hexapeptides with cucumber, tamarind, and passionflower extracts, all hydrating properties, I was sold. I use this serum morning and night because I instantly noticed that my skin is less greasy in the afternoons and after I wake up after the first few days of use. My skin feels like it just drank eight glasses of water and my skin knows if I forget to use this.

Being in my early thirties, fine lines are also starting to show and my skin is not as taut as it was. No one would definitely mistake me for a college student. Even though I’m not aiming for that, I just want to age slowly and gracefully but don’t we all?

Many anti-aging products have a thick consistency, which is not good for those with oily skin like mine. Then I found Buffet from Deciem’s The Ordinary. This serum targets multiple signs of aging while retaining a consistency that’s light enough for oily skin. Best applied at night, Buffet contains a wide variety of ingredients –  Matrixyl, Peptide complex, Syn-Ake, and 11 amino acids to help keep those fine lines at bay. I love its texture; it’s silky but not too thick and it sinks in well on my skin, a perfect night serum that blends well with other products.

Another option is the Genius Liquid Collagen from Algenist. This vegan, collagen-based serum helps to restore the firmness of your skin. Like a tall drink of that much-needed water, this serum contains corn, soy, and wheat protein fibers to fight signs of aging. It has a fragrance though, but I didn’t mind because it smells very sophisticated. You know, the smell as if you’re doing something right in your life. The texture is smooth to the touch but a bit bubbly. This has become one of my go-to night serums because my skin feels bouncier and softer when I use this.

Vitamin C Serums are the biggest finds I had when I was looking for serums. They helped lighten post-blemish dark spots I had in my chin, brightened my skin, and managed my enlarged pores. For those with oily and sensitive skin, you can try the Freshly Juiced Vitamin Juice Drop from Klairs. Designed to be non-irritating and gentle, it’s a good start for those hesitant about piling on products with strong ingredients.

For those who are looking for something stronger, the C-Firma Day Serum from Drunk Elephant has 15% potent antioxidant complex of L-ascorbic, and ferulic acids, vitamin E to help neutralize environmental stressors and reduce the appearance of dark spots and wrinkles. This serum also has pumpkin ferment and pomegranate extracts that helps smoothen the skin texture. Just note that for Vitamin C serums, sunscreen every morning to avoid having skin irritation is a must. It is also best to not mix AHA and BHA products when using these.

An option for those looking for a multitasking serum is another product from Drunk Elephant – the TLC Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, which contains glycolic, lactic, tartaric, citric, and salicylic acids along with hydrators like raspberry extract and horse chestnut. An ingredient powerhouse which you can’t feel due to its gel-like texture, this helps lighten pigmentation, prevent acne, reduce dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, and improve uneven skin tones.

I know I have mentioned many great options but please do not pile everything on. Limit your face to three serums per routine. These products have powerful ingredients that may not agree with the others. They might not even agree with your skin. That is why you should also do your research. Look at the ingredients before buying and see what will work on your face. Serums are one of the most expensive products in skincare so proceed with caution. You can also test products in your hands first to see if there will be reactions.


*published in puropulence.com titled “Serums For Oily Skin.” last October 2017

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