If you have combination skin and are looking to build a skincare routine with products you can find at the drugstore, this guide is for you. Below, we’ve put together a list of the absolute best drugstore serums for combination skin.

Our Recommendations

1. Hyaluronic Acid Booster

Paula’s Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster

Paula's Choice Serum for Hydration

Paula’s Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster

This serum combines hyaluronic acid with ceramides and other deeply hydrating ingredients to give the skin an extra moisture boost.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Hydration
Tested on animals: No
How to use: Massage a pump of the serum into clean skin. Follow up with a moisturizer.
See on Amazon

Hyaluronic acid is a great skincare ingredient for all skin types, because it pulls moisture to the skin to help it maintain healthy hydration levels. The ceramides in this booster also help restore the moisture barrier and strengthen the skin.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • May irritate sensitive skin

In addition to the hydrating benefits, hyaluronic acid has been shown to help minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, making this booster a great choice for those looking for anti-aging benefits.

Water (Aqua), Glycerin (hydration/skin replenishing), Sodium Hyaluronate (hydration/skin replenishing), Hyaluronic Acid (hydration/skin replenishing), Ceramide NP (hydration/skin replenishing), Ceramide AP (hydration/skin replenishing), Ceramide EOP (hydration/skin replenishing), Phytosphingosine (hydration/skin replenishing), Yeast Extract (skin replenishing), Adenosine (skin-restoring), Cholesterol (skin replenishing), Panthenol (skin replenishing), Silanetriol (hydration), Butylene Glycol (hydration), Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate (hydration), Carbomer (texture-enhancing), Xanthan Gum (texture-enhancing), Citric Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Polysorbate 20 (texture-enhancing), Ethylhexylglycerin (preservative), Phenoxyethanol (preservative)

2. Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%

The Ordinary Serum for Fighting Acne and Evening Skin Tone

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%

This product from The Ordinary hosts an impressive variety of benefits. Azelaic acid is a brightening skincare ingredient known for minimizing acne, lightening hyperpigmentation, and reducing redness.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Fighting Acne and Evening Skin Tone
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply the product to the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with a moisturizer.
See on Amazon

This product contains a 10% concentration of azelaic acid, a gentle exfoliator that has antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. The lightweight gel-cream helps to improve and brighten skin tone, as well as unclog pores and reduce blemishes for clear, smooth skin.

Pros

  • Oil-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Alcohol-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • Some reviewers note that this product can be drying

In addition to its ability to fight acne, azelaic acid is often used to treat rosacea to promote a more even skin tone.

Aqua (Water), Isodecyl Neopentanoate, Dimethicone, Azelaic Acid, Dimethicone/Bis-Isobutyl PPG-20 Crosspolymer, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Polysilicone-11, Isohexadecane, Tocopherol, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Isoceteth-20, Polysorbate 60, Triethanolamine, Ethoxydiglycol, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Azelaic acid"

    Accessed Aug. 11, 2021.

3. Anti-Aging Pore Minimizer Face Serum

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Anti-Aging Pore Minimizer Face Serum

La Roche-Posay Serum for Minimizing Pores and Exfoliating

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Anti-Aging Pore Minimizer Face Serum

This serum is packed with chemical exfoliators and additional ingredients that help minimize the appearance of pores, while also smoothing the skin’s texture and reducing fine lines.

Skin types: Normal, Oily and Combination
Best for: Minimizing Pores and Exfoliating
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply two to three drops to the face. Follow up with a moisturizer.
See on Amazon

This serum is excellent for both minimizing the appearance of enlarged pores and reducing fine lines. Lipo-hydroxy acid (which is a derivative of salicylic acid) helps diminish the appearance of enlarged pores, while also brightening and evening tone and texture. Glycolic acid works on the surface of the skin to smooth texture and minimize lines.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Dermatologist tested

Cons

  • May irritate more sensitive skin

In addition to the chemical exfoliators mentioned above, this serum contains hyaluronic acid, which keeps the skin hydrated and helps counteract the potentially drying effects of the exfoliators.

Water, Alcohol Denat, Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Diisopopyl Adipate, Propylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Ppg-26-buteth-26, Peg-30 Glyceryl Cocoate, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, P-anisic Acid, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Capryloyl Salicylic Acid, Tetrasodium Edta, Polyquaternium-10.

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "The Use of Lipohydroxy Acid in Skin Care and Acne Treatment"

    Accessed Aug. 16, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "An antiaging skin care system containing alpha hydroxy acids and vitamins improves the biomechanical parameters of facial skin"

    Accessed Aug. 16, 2021.

4. Hyalu B5 Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum

La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum

La Roche-Posay Serum for Hydration

La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum

This serum combines pure hyaluronic acid with other hydrating ingredients that replenish the skin’s moisture barrier.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Hydration
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: Dispense three to four drops of the serum into your hands, and gently massage into the skin. This serum can be used morning and night.
See on Amazon

Hyaluronic acid pulls moisture to the skin to help it maintain healthy hydration levels. This serum also contains vitamin B5 (panthenol), which acts as both a humectant (meaning it binds to and holds water in the skin) and an emollient (soothing and sealing water in the skin). Additionally, madecassoside works to further repair the skin.

Pros

  • Hydrating
  • Oil-free
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Dermatologist tested

Cons

  • Contains fragrance

In addition to the hydrating benefits, hyaluronic acid has been shown to help minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, making this serum a great choice for those also looking for anti-aging benefits.

Aqua / Water, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., Propylene Glycol, Panthenol, Pentylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Peg-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Ppg-6-Decyltetradeceth-30, Glyceryl Isostearate, Madecassoside, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Disodium Edta, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Citric Acid, Xanathan Gum, Butylene Glycol, Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol, Parfum / Fragrance

5. Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

The Ordinary Serum for Minimizing Blemishes and Controlling Sebum Production

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

This multi-tasking product helps minimize blemishes and congestion while reducing redness and regulating the production of sebum.

Skin types: Normal, Oily and Combination
Best for: Minimizing Blemishes and Controlling Sebum Production
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply the serum to the face. Follow up with a moisturizer.
See on Amazon

Niacinamide is an excellent skincare ingredient that has been shown to control sebum production, reduce redness and inflammation, minimize fine lines, and even reduce hyperpigmentation. This product also contains zinc, which further balances sebum production and reduces inflammation.

Pros

  • Oil-free
  • Alcohol-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Fragrance-free

Cons

  • May cause flushing in those sensitive to niacinamide (patch test prior to using)

This product is an excellent choice for acne-prone skin. However, those currently fighting acne will also want to introduce other acne-fighting ingredients into their routine, as niacinamide on its own is not an effective treatment for minimizing breakouts.

Aqua (Water), Niacinamide, Pentylene Glycol, Zinc PCA, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Tamarindus Indica Seed Gum, Xanthan gum, Isoceteth-20, Ethoxydiglycol, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "The effect of 2% niacinamide on facial sebum production"

    Accessed Aug. 9, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "How Much Do We Really Know About Our Favorite Cosmeceutical Ingredients?"

    Accessed Aug. 9, 2021.
  3. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Zinc Therapy in Dermatology: A Review"

    Accessed Aug. 9, 2021.

6. Redness Relief Repairing Serum

Paula’s Choice Calm Redness Relief Repairing Serum

Paula's Choice Serum for Redness

Paula’s Choice Calm Redness Relief Repairing Serum

This calming, lightweight serum helps to reduce redness while also hydrating and fighting the signs of aging.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Redness
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply the booster to the face. Follow up with a moisturizer.
See on Amazon

This is one of the best Paula’s Choice serums for soothing sensitive skin and reducing redness. It contains a potent blend of antioxidants and other skincare ingredients that hydrate and calm the skin. This serum is gentle on the skin, and even appropriate for skin prone to rosacea.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Gentle
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • May not be suitable for acne-prone skin

Some of the hydrating and soothing skincare ingredients in this serum include hyaluronic acid, sea whip extract, ceramides, licorice extract, and willow herb.

Water, Glycerin (skin replenishing), Hyaluronic Acid (hydration/skin replenishing), Beta-Glucan (skin-soothing/antioxidant), Sea Whip Extract (skin-soothing), Sodium Hyaluronate (hydration/skin replenishing), Ceramide NP (hydration/skin replenishing), Ceramide AP (hydration/skin replenishing), Ceramide EOP (hydration/skin replenishing), Cholesterol (skin replenishing), Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract (licorice extract/skin-soothing), Epilobium Angustifolium Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract (willow herb/skin-soothing), Phytosphingosine (skin-renewing), Sodium Cocoyl Amino Acids (skin replenishing), Chrysanthemum Parthenium Flower Extract (feverfew extracts/antioxidant/skin-soothing), Glycine Soja Seed Extract (soybean extract/skin-soothing), Ubiquinone (antioxidant), Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate (texture-enhancing), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (skin replenishing/emollient), Magnesium Aspartate (emollient), Potassium Aspartate (emollient), Sarcosine (emollient), Xanthan Gum (texture-enhancing), Carbomer (texture-enhancing), Polysorbate 20 (texture-enhancing), PEG/PPG-14/4 Dimethicone (texture-enhancing), Disodium EDTA (stabilizer), Ethylhexylglycerin (preservative), Phenoxyethanol (preservative)

7. 10% Niacinamide Booster

Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster

Paula's Choice Serum for Refining Pore Size and Improving Skin Tone

Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster

This super light niacinamide product is one of the best Paula’s Choice serums. It delivers a multitude of benefits, including minimizing the appearance of pores, controlling sebum production, smoothing fine lines, reducing redness, and brightening.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Refining Pore Size and Improving Skin Tone
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply the booster to the face. Follow up with a moisturizer.
See on Amazon

Niacinamide is a powerful skincare ingredient that offers a wide variety of benefits, which makes this another great multipurpose serum. In addition to minimizing the appearance of pores, it has been shown to control sebum production, smooth fine lines, reduce redness, reduce hyperpigmentation, and brighten the skin.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Oil-free
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • May cause flushing in those sensitive to niacinamide (patch test prior to using)

In addition to the 10% concentration of niacinamide, this booster contains allantoin and licorice extract, which calm the skin. It also contains vitamin C, which brightens. It’s important to note that users should patch test niacinamide first, because some people are sensitive to it, and it may make acne or flushing worse.

Water (Aqua), Niacinamide (vitamin B3, skin-restoring ), Acetyl Glucosamine (skin replenishing/antioxidant), Ascorbyl Glucoside (vitamin C/antioxidant), Butylene Glycol (hydration), Phospholipids (skin replenishing), Sodium Hyaluronate (hydration/skin replenishing), Allantoin (skin-soothing), Boerhavia Diffusa Root Extract (skin-soothing), Glycerin (hydration/skin replenishing), Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate (skin-soothing), Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract (licorice extract/skin-soothing), Ubiquinone (antioxidant), Epigallocatechin Gallate (antioxidant), Beta-Glucan (skin-soothing/antioxidant), Panthenol (skin replenishing), Carnosine (antioxidant), Genistein (antioxidant), Citric Acid (pH balancing), Sodium Citrate (pH balancing), Sodium Hydroxide (pH balancing), Xanthan Gum (texture-enhancing), Disodium EDTA (stabilizer), Ethylhexylglycerin (preservative), Phenoxyethanol (preservative)

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "The effect of 2% niacinamide on facial sebum production"

    Accessed Jul. 30, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "How Much Do We Really Know About Our Favorite Cosmeceutical Ingredients?"

    Accessed Jul. 30, 2021.

8. 10% Azelaic Acid Booster

Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster

Paula's Choice Serum for Evening Tone and Texture

Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster

This booster combines azelaic acid with other brightening ingredients that work together to fade post-acne marks, minimize blemishes, brighten, and even out tone and texture.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Evening Tone and Texture
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, apply the booster to affected areas or all over the skin. Follow up with a moisturizer.
See on Amazon

This is a great multi-purpose serum to have on hand. If you have hyperpigmentation, this is a particularly excellent product for you, as azelaic acid has been shown to help fade dark marks. It’s also great for smoothing the skin for a more even texture.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Oil-free
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • May irritate more sensitive skin types

This booster contains salicylic acid, a chemical exfoliator that further minimizes the appearance of blemishes and evens out skin texture and tone. It also contains licorice root, which calms redness and brightens.

Water (Aqua), Azelaic Acid (skin-brightening/tone-improving), C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate (emollient), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (skin-replenishing), Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate (emollient), Glycerin (skin-replenishing), Cetearyl Alcohol (texture enhancer), Glyceryl Stearate (texture enhancer), Dimethicone (hydration/texture enhancer), Salicylic Acid (exfoliant), Adenosine (skin-restoring), Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract (skin-soothing), Boerhavia Diffusa Root Extract (skin-soothing), Allantoin (skin-soothing), Bisabolol (skin-soothing), Cyclopentasiloxane (texture enhancer), Xanthan Gum (stabilizer), Sclerotium Gum (stabilizer), Propanediol (hydration), Butylene Glycol (hydration), Phenoxyethanol (preservative)

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Postinflammatory Hyperpigmentation"

    Accessed Jul. 30, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Over-the-counter Acne Treatments"

    Accessed Jul. 30, 2021.

FAQs

Is a serum necessary for combination skin?

Regardless of your skin type, a serum isn’t necessarily an essential part of a skincare routine. For a solid routine, a cleanser, a moisturizer, and an SPF are the absolute necessities. However, serums are great tools to use if you are looking to target certain skin concerns. If there are certain issues you’d like to address, the concentrated boost of ingredients that you find in serums will help you achieve your skin goals.

Should you use a serum everyday?

Many serums can be used everyday, and using a serum on a daily basis may help you more quickly address your skin concerns. That said, some serums contain a higher concentration of ingredients that may not be suitable for daily use, and may cause irritation when used too frequently. For the best results, refer to the instructions on the product label to decide whether you should use that serum daily. You should also consider how your skin reacts when using that serum. If you’d like to use more than one serum in your routine, you may also consider alternating between those serums each day.

How do I choose a serum?

When picking out a serum to add to your skincare routine, you’ll want to think about your skin type and the specific skin issues you’d like to address. Serums contain a concentration of ingredients that work to target certain skin concerns, so you’ll want to look for a formula that was created with your skin’s needs in mind. For example, if you know that you’d like to give your skin some extra hydration, you’ll want to look for a hydrating serum that works for your skin type (like the Paula’s Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster or the La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum).

The Bottom Line

Serums are excellent for treating many different skin issues so that you can achieve a clear, glowing complexion. If you have combination skin, consider heading to the drugstore and adding one of the serums mentioned above to your skincare routine.