Serums help address a variety of skincare issues, and many people rely on them to achieve a glowing complexion. For those who prefer to avoid oils in their skincare products, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best oil-free serums, which target a variety of skin concerns. 

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.
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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. Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

The Ordinary Serum for Treating Dark Circles and Puffiness

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG

This eye serum contains a high concentration of caffeine to reduce pigmentation and puffiness around the eyes.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Treating Dark Circles and Puffiness
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, gently tap the product around the eye contour. Use both morning and night.
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This is one of the best The Ordinary products for those looking to address two of the most common eye concerns: dark circles and puffiness. Caffeine has been shown to effectively reduce the appearance of dark circles and de-puff the eye area.

Pros

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

Cons

  • Some reviewers complained about the slightly greasy texture

In addition to caffeine, this eye product contains epigallocatechin gallatyl glucoside (EGCG) from green tea leaves. EGCG is high in antioxidants and can help increase skin hydration and decrease wrinkle formation.

Aqua (Water), Caffeine, Maltodextrin, Glycerin, Propanediol, Epigallocatechin Gallatyl Glucoside, Gallyl Glucoside, Hyaluronic Acid, Oxidized Glutathione, Melanin, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract, Pentylene Glycol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6, Xanthan gum, Lactic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Propyl Gallate, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Benzyl Alcohol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol.

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Infraorbital Dark Circles: A Review of the Pathogenesis, Evaluation and Treatment"

    Accessed Aug. 11, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Skin Protective Effect of Epigallocatechin Gallate"

    Accessed Aug. 11, 2021.

3. 100% Plant-Derived Squalane

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane

The Ordinary Serum for Lightweight Hydration

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane

This squalane product looks, feels, and acts similarly to a light oil, but is actually oil-free. It is excellent for adding an extra boost of hydration to your skincare routine.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Lightweight Hydration
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing and applying serums, gently massage a few drops into the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with a moisturizer. This may also be used on top of a moisturizer to seal in hydration.
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This squalane hydrator is one of the best The Ordinary products for acne-prone skin, because it is non-comedogenic. Even those who aren’t prone to breakouts will benefit from extra hydration this gentle and lightweight plant-based product provides.

Pros

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

Cons

  • May not be hydrating enough for drier skin types

Squalene is naturally found in human sebum, which makes squalane (a derivative of squalene) well-tolerated by most. While this option is particularly great for those with normal to oily skin, all skin types can benefit from this gentle hydrator.

Squalane

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Moisturizers: The Slippery Road"

    Accessed Aug. 13, 2021.

4. 10% Pure Vitamin C Serum

La Roche-Posay 10% Pure Vitamin C Serum

La Roche-Posay Serum for Hyperpigmentation and Wrinkles

La Roche-Posay 10% Pure Vitamin C Serum

This serum contains a potent concentration of vitamin C, which is known for its ability to brighten, diminish post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and even skin tone.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Hyperpigmentation and Wrinkles
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: After cleansing, apply the serum all over the face, neck, and chest.
See on Amazon

Vitamin C is an incredibly effective skincare ingredient that is known to boost collagen production, which in turn brightens, fades hyperpigmentation, and diminishes fine lines and wrinkles. This serum contains a potent 10% concentration of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which will help even overall skin tone and texture.

Pros

  • Oil-free
  • Dermatologist tested

Cons

  • Contains fragrance

In addition to ascorbic acid, this serum contains salicylic acid, which gently exfoliates, and hyaluronic acid and sodium hyaluronate, which draw moisture to the skin.

Aqua/Water/Eau, Ascorbic Acid, Cyclohexasiloxane, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., Potassium Hydroxide, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Polysilicone-11, Dimethicone, Propylene Glycol, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Tocopherol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Adenosine, Acetyl Dipeptide-1 Cetyl Ester, Peg-20 Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Poloxamer 338, Salicylic Acid, Polyacrylamide, Toluene Sulfonic Acid, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Xanthan Gum, Caprylyl Glycol, Disodium Edta, Bht, Laureth-7, Parfum/Fragrance.

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health"

    Accessed Aug. 16, 2021.

5. Pigmentclar Serum Visible Dark Spot Reducer

La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Serum Visible Dark Spot Reducer

La Roche-Posay Serum for Hyperpigmentation

La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Serum Visible Dark Spot Reducer

This dark spot corrector is one of the best La Roche-Posay products for acne scars, because it combines lipo-hydroxy acid with other brightening skincare ingredients that diminish dark spots.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Hyperpigmentation
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: After cleansing, apply the serum over affected areas.
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This serum is packed with ingredients that help lighten hyperpigmentation, including lipo-hydroxy acid, which gently exfoliates the skin to help brighten and even out tone and texture. It also contains phe-resorcinol and ferulic acid, which are both antioxidants that further brighten the skin.

Pros

  • Oil-free
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Dermatologist tested

Cons

  • Contains fragrance

In addition to the ingredients mentioned above, this serum also contains niacinamide, which has been shown to help lighten post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Aqua/water/eau, glycerin, dimethicone, alcohol denat, niacinamide, isopropyl lauroyl sarcosinate, octyldodecanol, peg-20 methyl glucose sesquistearate, dimethiconol, cetearyl ethylhexanoate, isohexadecane, sodium hyaluronate, ginkgo biloba extract/ ginkgo biloba leaf extract, phenylethyl resorcinol, poloxamer 338, ammonium polyacryldimethyltauramide/ammonium polyacryloyldimethyl taurate, disodium edta, isopropyl myristate, capryloyl, salicylic acid, xanthan gum, ferulic acid, polysorbate 80, acrylamide/sodium, acryloyldimethyl taurate copolymer, phenoxyethanol, ci 77891/titanium dioxide, mica, parfum/fragrance.

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

    Accessed Aug. 18, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation: A review of the epidemiology, clinical features, and treatment options in skin of color"

    Accessed Aug. 18, 2021.

6. 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.
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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

7. Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%

The Ordinary Serum for Evening Skin Tone and Fighting the Signs of Aging

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%

This is one of the best The Ordinary products to add to your skincare routine, because it contains a potent concentration of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which brightens and evens out overall skin tone while fighting the signs of aging.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Evening Skin Tone and Fighting the Signs of Aging
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

Those looking to brighten their skin tone while also fighting against the signs of aging should turn to this product, which has the highest concentration of antioxidant-rich vitamin C of any of the products the brand offers. Since vitamin C has been shown to help with hyperpigmentation, this option is also great for those looking to even out dark spots. In addition to vitamin C, this product contains sodium hyaluronate (the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid), which increases moisture in the skin.

Pros

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

Cons

  • May irritate sensitive skin

Since this product contains such a high percentage of vitamin C, some users may experience tingling as their skin adjusts, particularly if they’re newer to topical vitamin C.

Ascorbic Acid, Squalane, Isodecyl Neopentanoate, Isononyl Isononanoate, Coconut Alkanes, Ethylene/Propylene/Styrene Copolymer, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glucomannan, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Butylene/Ethylene/Styrene Copolymer, Acrylates/Ethylhexyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Trihydroxystearin, BHT.

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Vitamin C in dermatology"

    Accessed Aug. 11, 2021.

8. 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.

9. Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

The Ordinary Serum for Hydration

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

This unique hyaluronic acid serum effectively attracts moisture to the skin to leave it feeling hydrated and plump.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Hydration
Tested on animals: No
How to use: After cleansing, massage a few drops of the serum into the skin. Follow up with a moisturizer.
See on Amazon

This serum contains low-, medium-, and high-molecular weight hyaluronic acid, as well as a next-generation hyaluronic acid crosspolymer. This allows the serum to deliver much-needed hydration to all layers of the skin.

Pros

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

Cons

  • Some reviewers complain the serum feels sticky

In addition to the multiple forms of hyaluronic acid, this serum contains vitamin B5, which is anti-inflammatory and further helps hydrate the skin.

Aqua (Water), Sodium Hyaluronate, Pentylene Glycol, Propanediol, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Panthenol, Ahnfeltia Concinna Extract, Glycerin, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Citric Acid, Isoceteth-20, Ethoxydiglycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol.

10. 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.

11. 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.

12. C15 Super Booster

Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster

Paula's Choice Serum for Brightening and Fighting Signs of Aging

C15 Super Booster

The 15% concentration of pure vitamin C in this serum helps brighten the skin while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Brightening and Fighting Signs of Aging
Tested on animals: No
How to use: Massage two to three drops of the serum into clean skin. Follow up with a moisturizer.
See on Amazon

This lightweight serum is one of the best Paula’s Choice products, as it contains a powerful concentration of vitamin C, which evens out and brightens the skin tone while also minimizing fine lines and wrinkles. It also contains ingredients that hydrate and soothe the skin.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Lightweight
  • Non-greasy

Cons

  • May irritate more sensitive skin types

In addition to vitamin C, this serum contains ferulic acid and vitamin E. These antioxidants protect the skin, and are also known to increase the efficacy of vitamin C.

Water (Aqua), Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C/antioxidant), Butylene Glycol (solvent/texture enhancer), Ethoxydiglycol (solvent/texture enhancer), Glycerin (skin-replenishing), PPG-26-Buteth-26 (emulsifier/skin-softening), PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil (emulsifier/solubility enhancer), Pentylene Glycol (skin-softening slip agent), Tocopherol (vitamin E/stabilizing antioxidant), Sodium Hyaluronate (hydration), Hexanoyl Dipeptide-3 Norleucine Acetate (skin-restoring peptide), Lecithin (skin-restoring/hydration), Ferulic Acid (stabilizing antioxidant), Panthenol (vitamin B5/skin-softening, skin-soothing), Bisabolol (skin-soothing), Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract (skin-softening/chelating agent), Propyl Gallate (antioxidant), Sodium Gluconate (chelating agent), Sodium Hydroxide (pH adjuster), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Ethylhexylglycerin (preservative)

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Vitamin C in dermatology"

    Accessed Jul. 30, 2021.

FAQs

Which serum is best for oily skin?

If you have oily skin and are specifically looking to control oil production, The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% and Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster are both great options. These are two of the best oil-free serums for those who are looking to minimize shine by keeping sebum production in check. Additionally, all of the serums on this list are suitable for those with oily skin, depending on what other skin concerns you may have.

Do I need both serum and moisturizer?

Regardless of your skin type, you should be using a moisturizer daily to maintain the skin’s moisture barrier and keep your skin hydrated and supple. While a serum is not necessarily an essential, it’s a great way to give your skin a concentrated boost of ingredients that target certain skin issues.

Should you apply serum or moisturizer first?

You’ll want to apply your serum prior to applying your moisturizer. As a rule of thumb, you should apply thinner products first, and leave the thickest products for last.

The Bottom Line

Whether you’re looking to brighten the skin, boost hydration, control oil production, or something else, there’s a product on this list for you. Add one (or a few!) of the best oil-free serums to your skincare routine to help target your specific skin needs.