Are you looking for a new drugstore serum to add to your oily skin skincare routine? Below, we’ve crafted a list of the best drugstore serums for oily skin.

Our Recommendations

1. 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.

2. 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.
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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.

3. 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.
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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.

4. 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.

5. 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

Are serums bad for oily skin?

No, serums are not bad for oily skin. In fact, they can help address a variety of concerns that people with oily skin may have, from evening skin tone to fighting breakouts to controlling sebum production. If you have oily skin and are looking for a new serum, be sure to look at products that are formulated with your skin type in mind for the best results.

Is hyaluronic acid bad for oily skin?

Hyaluronic acid is a skincare ingredient that helps attract moisture to the skin, but it doesn’t feel greasy or heavy. You’ll find it in plenty of skincare products, including a few of the serums on this list. Hyaluronic acid is typically well-tolerated by all skin types, including oily skin, and it’s excellent for keeping your skin balanced and hydrated (yes – oily skin still needs hydration!). When looking at ingredient labels, you may see the term “hyaluronic acid”, but you may also see “sodium hyaluronate”, which is derived from hyaluronic acid and serves a similar function.

How do I choose a serum?

If you’re considering adding a serum to your skincare routine, you’ll want to think about the skin issues you’re looking to address. Serums contain a high 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 want to even out skin tone and texture, you’ll want to look for a serum that targets those needs (like the Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster or the The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%).

The Bottom Line

If you have certain skin issues you want to target, consider adding one of the effective drugstore serums listed above to your routine. They’ll address your specific skin concerns to help you achieve a glowing complexion.