9 Super-Light Serums That Really Do Clear Oily Complexions

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Oily skin can be tough, but not when you've got a great serum in your arsenal. Believe it or not, serums aren't just for turbocharging your line-fighting regimen. With the right ingredients and texture, this beauty product can do wonders in helping to rebalance oily and spot-prone skin. If you find that moisturizing creams tend to clog your pores or feel too heavy (cue more breakouts), a lighter, thinner serum could be the answer to keeping your skin properly hydrated while encouraging lower sebum production (the main cause of constantly shiny, oil-flooded skin).

It's important to find the right formula to suit your skin type, however. The power of serums lies in the fact that they're loaded with higher concentrations of damage-repairing ingredients and contain more potent combinations of skin-healing molecules that conventional creams and lotions just don't have room for. But given that they're so power-packed, you need to make sure you've got the right fit for your skin to really reap the benefits.

A light, water-based version is best for oily or acne-prone skin, as too many rich plant oils can leave you feeling greasy and lead to clogging. Oily skin is often in need of moisture deep down to help regulate the skin's production of natural oils called sebum, so look for effective hydrators like hyaluronic acid and glycerin (a great alternative to oils), plus vitamins A, C, and E.

Now that you know what you're looking for, we've rounded up the best serums for oily and spot-prone skin to help you get started. Start scrolling to find your perfect match.

Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment

Best for Sensitive Skin: Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment

The lactic acid in Sunday Riley's serum makes for a brilliant exfoliator that helps regulate sebum control. It's also brilliant at improving skin tone, helping to fade any marks left over by dormant spots.

bareMinerals Blemish Remedy Serum

BareMinerals Blemish Remedy Serum

We're pretty obsessed with this serum. Why? Well, for spot-prone skin, it’s ideal, as it contains salicylic acid to help exfoliate any dead skin cells and give you a brightened complexion.

Salicylic acid (also known as beta-hydroxy acid) is both a soothing anti-irritant and an effective exfoliant, which can even help to clear bacteria from inside the skin's pore lining, as well as on the surface. Blackheads, whiteheads, fully formed spots—they don’t stand a chance.

Paula's Choice Resist Ultra-Light Antioxidant Serum

This is a great serum (that's super light and packed with vitamins) for oily skin that still tackles signs of aging, too.

Kypris Clearing Serum

Kypris Clearing Serum

An all-natural blend, this serum is great for hydrating reactive oily skin that's on the sensitive side while helping to rebalance sebum production and heal blemishes or breakouts.

Ren ClearCalm 3 Replenishing Gel Cream

Ren ClearCalm 3 Replenishing Gel Cream

Tackling the three key causes of breakouts—excess sebum, a buildup of dead skin cells and the subsequent buildup of bacteria—this serum teams alpha-linoleic acid with Japanese licorice extract to soothe irritation and bring oiliness under control.

It'S SKIN Power 10 Formula VB Effector

As it's so lightweight and watery, It's Skin Power's serum won't perpetuate your current shine issues but instead will hydrate deep below the surface. It also contains vitamin B6 to keep the skin's moisture balance on point.

Lixirskin Night Switch AHA/BHA 10%

Lixirskin Night Switch AHA/BHA 10%

The salicylic acid in Lixirskin's night serum will flush out pores and ensure that any extra oil doesn't turn into a patch of blackheads. It also contains azelaic acid to limit the amount of sebum that the skin creates.

Evolve Beauty Rainforest Rescue Blemish Serum

Evolve Beauty Rainforest Rescue Blemish Serum

Some members of the Byrdie team swear by Evolve Beauty's serum to clear up spots left behind by overzealous sebum glands, thanks to willow bark and açai.

Key Ingredients

Willow bark extract contains salicylic acid, a BHA that is a natural exfoliant and is used in many acne treatments.

Odacité Oily-Acne Prone Serum Concentrate

Odacité Oily-Acne Prone Serum Concentrate

If you prefer organic formulations, this is a blend of skin-regulating grapeseed oil, which is high in linoleic acid—known to help rebalance sebum levels and reduce breakouts—plus replenishing vitamin E.

Once you've decided on your chosen serum, be sure to use it every single day. While some will offer instant results, you'll probably need a good few weeks to see those changes you're after.

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