What’s the Best Serum for Acne Prone Skin? 7 Perfect Picks

If you're on the hunt for the best serum for acne prone skin, you're ahead of the curve. While most of the population is still relying on moisturizers and creams, you know enough to go straight for the good stuff 'cause that's exactly what serums are bursting in.

Cream vs Serum for Acne Prone Skin

It's easy to see the perks of serums from the first time you put one on: serums feel as though you are indulging your skin in liquid silk. But while they feel light and delicate, serums are actually infusing your skin with powerful ingredients, and, since they are composed of smaller molecules than, say, lotions and creams, they are penetrating your skin more deeply and more quickly.

That means your skin is receiving a direct supply of highly concentrated ingredients, such as nutrients, ceramides, botanical extracts, glycerin and vitamins, in the most potent dosages available in nonprescription products.

More good news? Serums leave out the occlusive, airtight, moisturizing ingredients like petrolatum and mineral oil as well as contain fewer lubricating and thickening ingredients like nut or seed oils, which is a blessing when you're dealing with oily, acne prone skin. The last thing your skin needs is another layer of cream that makes it feel suffocated.

To top it off, most serums are water-based so you can avoid oils and occlusive ingredients altogether while giving your skin a huge dose of the good stuff.

The downside of serums? They can be costly. Serums are often the most expensive product in any skin care line, but you must remember how very concentrated (and super-efficient) they are. Serums can contain up to 70% active ingredients, while other products usually contain between 5 and 10 percent.

Plus, a one-ounce container of serum will last for months. Most serums come in pump or spray bottles, or include an eye-dropper applicator, so that you don't dispense more than the tiny amount that you need. It only takes around 3 ~ 4 drops of serum to cover your entire face so you can bet that "pricier" bottle is worth the extra buck.

What's the Best Serum for Acne Prone Skin?

When it comes to acne, you want to go for a serum that exfoliates, kills bacteria, diminishes scars, soothes and hydrates. Sounds like a big order but there are multi-tasking ingredients that are superb for covering your acne concerns. Look for serums that contain active ingredients like azelaic acid, beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) like salicylic acid, or alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic and mandelic acids. If they have a heap of helpful botanical extracts and vitamins, even better!

To receive optimum benefits from your serum, always make sure to first wash your hands well to remove oil and dirt. Then wash your face with warm water to open your pores. With one or two fingers (to avoid wasting serum), apply a tiny bit of serum to slightly damp skin. Wait a few minutes until the serum is completely absorbed and apply an oil-free moisturizer to lock in moisture and provide a protective barrier.

And of course, check out our selection of the 7 best serums for your acne prone skin!

Sesderma Azelac RU Liposomal Serum

azelaic acid pimple treatment

Sesderma Azelac RU Liposomal Serum, $46

Azelea RU is made with a liposome formula that boosts the delivery of the ingredients and stabilizes them. It also directs the ingredients to the cells that produce melanin to lighten the dark spots (hyperpigmentation) left behind by acne and to prevent new ones from occurring.

The main ingredient is azelaic acid. In its natural form, azelaic acid protects the cells of plants. In Azelac RU, it protects your pores by killing off the bacteria that breeds acne. It inhibits the production of keratin, the protein that binds dead skin cells together, lessening the risk of those cells clogging up your pores. Azaleic acid also reduces inflammation and hyperpigmentation and leaves the skin brighter and more luminous. Mandelic acid also fights bacteria and assists in regulating the oil glands to avoid the recurrence of acne and soothes your inflamed skin.

The Azelac RU formula is so effective that it is successful even in cases of cystic acne, making it one of our top picks for the best serum for acne.


Neutralyze Clearing Serum + Synergyzer

best serum for acne prone skin

Neutralyze Clearing Serum and Synergyzer, $30

This “tandem” product is the result of a science-inspired Nitrogen Boost Skincare Technology that uses natural ingredients to clear up acne quickly. It is an excellent over-the-counter treatment for moderate to severe acne - prescription strength while gentle enough for sensitive skin plagued with cystic acne, pimples, whiteheads, blackheads, and acne scars.

The Clearing Serum (Step 2) and Synergyzer (Step 3) is a unique combination that creates low levels of nitric oxide that gently increases the flow of blood through the afflicted tissues to hasten healing. Two root causes of acne are an overactive immune system and outside irritants. Nitric oxide works with the immune system to heal acne, while salicylic and mandelic acids are attacking it externally.

Salicylic acid is extracted from willow bark. Its strong anti-bacterial properties penetrate the pore lining to exfoliate inside the pore, allowing the built-up oil plugs to escape, and exfoliate the surface of the skin. Mandelic acid is extracted from bitter almonds and removes dead skin cells and acne-causing bacteria while it calms redness and skin irritation. The Nitrogen Boost formula also restores the skin to a balanced pH level, which reduces the time it takes for your skin to heal.

Apply a thin layer of the Clearing Serum (Step 2) to affected areas in the morning and evening. Allow it to dry completely. Then apply the Synergyzer (Step 3) directly on top of the Clearing Serum, and allow that to dry. (Step 1 is cleansing your face.)


Exposed Acne Treatment Serum

best serum for acne prone skin
best serum for acne prone skin

Exposed Skincare Acne Treatment Serum, $20

The Acne Treatment Serum formula contains micronized (pulverized) benzoyl peroxide, green tea and tea tree extracts, and glycerin to combat acne-causing bacteria trapped beneath the skin while protecting the skin and soothing it.

Benzoyl peroxide has been used as a very effective treatment for acne for more than 50 years. Surely, at some point in your life, you had to coat your skin with that thick paste, or you knew someone who did. It is at least as effective today for killing acne-causing bacteria, opening up blocked pores, and reducing inflammation.

The difference is, now that it is micronized, there is no longer a white blob on your face. Instead, the invisible microscopic particles are able to sink deep into your skin. Green tea and tea tree extracts are natural anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory ingredients. Glycerin nourishes the skin and keeps it hydrated.

Use in the morning and before you go to bed. Spread it gently. Rubbing may irritate your skin so don't do it! It takes a little longer than other serums to dry, 5 to 15 minutes. When left on overnight, the serum dissolves the hardened oils that have been plugging up your pores - but benzoyl peroxide can also be drying so make sure to moisturize!


Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Serum

best serum for acne prone skin

Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Serum, $29

Looking for a natural, gentle acne serum? This powerful Blemish Clearing Serum is packed with organic fruit acids, willow bark that contains natural salicylic acid., CoQ10, vitamins and aloe. It reduces the occurrence of acne outbreaks, unclogs pores, fights free radical damage and renews the tone and texture of your skin.

Willow bark (salicylic acid) and organic fruit acids reduce breakouts, unclog pores, and even your skin tone. Green tea, white tea and aloe clear the skin while hydrating it and reducing inflammation. CoQ10 is a substance similar to a vitamin that functions as an antioxidant. It leaves your skin looking and feeling smoother. Vitamin C renews the skin; Vitamins B5 and E fight free radical damage.

After cleansing your skin, you can use this serum to spot treat blemishes or apply it all over your face in the morning and evening followed by an oil-free moisturizer. Or you can apply it with wet fingertips and massage it in to form an emulsion, then rinse it off.


Eva Vitamin C Skin Clearing Serum

best serum for acne prone skin

Eva Naturals Vitamin C+ Skin Clearing Serum, $17

Got dry, acne-prone skin? Eva Naturals' Skin Clearing Serum is perfect for you since it treats both acne and dry skin. It contains vitamins, essential oils, and organic ingredients. Vitamin C is the main ingredient and loaded with antioxidants. It protects the skin from the toxins that cause acne, soothes the redness and inflammation, and rejuvenates your skin. It also increases the production of collagen and elastin to generate new skin to repair acne scars.

Salicylic acid gently exfoliates. Niacinamide assists in reducing redness and inflammation. Hyaluronic acid provides the hydration that even oily or acne-prone skin needs. Retinol deep cleans the pores to lessen the chances of future outbreaks and minimizes the appearance of pores.

In addition to using the serum to treat your whole face, you can spot treat a blemish. Dab it on at night; in the morning, the swelling is down and the blemish is healing.


Seventh Generation Clearing Skin Serum

best serum for acne prone skin

Seventh Generation Tea Tree Serum, $8

Seventh Generation Boosts serum is a 100% botanical formula that delivers concentrated antioxidants and vitamins directly to the skin to control the oil glands, clear impurities out of the pores, restore the pH level and preserve moisture content.

Tea tree oil is an antibacterial agent that kills the bacteria at the root of your acne. Rosemary and acai berry extracts clean and mattify your skin. Oat extract calms the inflammation and relieves the redness. Essences of jojoba, apricot, almond, and grape seed moisturize. Essence of baobab strengthens and tones your skin.

This serum keeps the skin feeling soft as it clears up blemishes. If used nightly, it prevents future acne outbreaks.


InstaNatural Skin Clearing Serum

best serum for acne prone skin
best serum for acne prone skin

InstaNatural Skin Clearing Serum, $21

Acne is a pain in the butt when it happens in our teenage years but when it strikes well into your 40s and 50s, it can be doubly annoying. Not only do you have wrinkles and sag to deal with but acne, too?!  

It's in moments like this - when you start cursing the unfair skin gods - that you should reach for InstaNatural’s Age-Defying Skin Clearing Serum, which does double duty to soothe troubled skin while targeting the signs of aging, such as sagging skin, fine lines, and dark circles, to give you a clear, smooth complexion.

Salicylic acid fights acne-causing bacteria, opens pores and controls the oil glands. Niacinamide soothes redness and inflammation and increases cell turnover. Vitamins B3 and C and tea tree oil rejuvenate the skin, boost its defenses, and reduce hyperpigmentation. Retinol smooths fine lines, firms the skin, and promotes new cell growth for a youthful, radiant complexion. Aloe vera and geranium and grape fruit oils repair damage due to free radicals.

Note: This serum is for oily skin. It is not suitable for sensitive skin or dry skin. Use on combination skin only in humid weather.


Picked the best serum for acne prone skin? Now go forth and fight those breakouts and prevent those pesky acne scars from ever forming on your precious skin!

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