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How do I Choose the Right Facial Serum for Oily Skin or Acne Prone Skin?

How do I Choose the Right Facial Serum for Oily Skin or Acne Prone Skin? - Syll Botanics

Experiencing oily skin can be a bit of a conundrum. While skin that contains a rich amount of lipids actually helps with skin elasticity and "plumpness", excess oil production can lead to concerns like enlarged pores and acne.

Often, people think that having oily skin means they should use strong cleansers, choose drying products, skip the moisturizer or use only oil-free skincare. These were once commonly held beliefs, and are still approaches used by some aestheticians, dermatologists and brands — and ones that we fundamentally disagree with. 


How Should I Take Care of my Oily or Acne-Prone Skin?

Having oily skin does not mean you should treat it harshly.

Too much cleansing, strong cleansers, alcohol (found in many toners), or drying acne treatments can strip skin of its natural oils and disrupt your microbiome and/or acid mantle. This leaves the skin barrier vulnerable and uncomfortable. It may also lead to counterproductive results: if skin lipids become stripped, it may trigger the sebaceous to produce more oil. And since excess oil feeds acne causing bacteria and can more easily penetrate damaged skin, this cycle may actually contribute to conditions like acne.

On the other hand, nourishing the skin with the correct fatty acid profile from skin-loving plant oils can actually help to rebalance skin sebum and minimize related issues like acne. Research shows that acne prone skin is typically actually lacking in linoleic acid. Further, certain plant oils are particularly biocompatible because they have chemical structures that are very similar to skin sebum. Others are considered “dry” oils because they absorb very quickly and do not leave a greasy after feel. Finally, many virgin (unrefined) plant oils and fat-soluble vitamins and actives offer antioxidant protection for skin, which can help improve acne.

All skin types, even oily, needs to be moisturized -- it's just that you need to find the right oils for a replenishing moisturizer. It's also important to strengthen the skin barrier with nourishing ingredients, including lipids, to help it fight acne causing bacteria and bring sebum production to equilibrium. By utilizing formulations with optimal ratios of the right ingredients, an oil-based product may in fact be exactly what your oily and/or acne prone skin needs to self-regulate and become healthier (and, thus, more clear and less oily!).


Facial Serums for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin

We’ve established why oily and/or acne-prone skin should not be afraid of using oils to moisturize their skin. They just need to find well formulated products that feature the right mix of antioxidant-rich, biocompatible, fatty-acid appropriate plant oils to rebalance and replenish.

But if you want to level things up, this is where facial serums come in. As opposed to more simple face oils or moisturizers, facial serums typically include generous concentrations of active ingredients to help transform your skin. These actives include vitamins, antioxidants and specialized extracts that should have clinical studies showing benefits beyond moisturization.

The best facial serums for oily skin are lightweight, absorb easily, and can balance skin’s natural oils while providing nourishment. Facial serums for oily or acne-prone skin can also feature active ingredients that have been clinically shown to help reduce breakouts.

Here are just a few oil-based ingredients that we love featuring in our multi-tasking facial serum, which is amazing for all skin types, including oily and acne-prone skin:

  • Vitamin C, CoQ10, sea buckthorn and Bakuchiol can all help to brighten, firm and provide anti-inflammatory action and anti-oxidant protection, helping to minimize acne.
  • Squalane and jojoba oil are extremely biocompatible, making them excellent emollients for all skin types.
  • Rosehip oil features many bioactive components, and is an excellent choice for oily skin.  Both rosehip and black currant seed oils are nutrient rich, soothing, and high in linoleic fatty acid.

Achieving skin that you feel confident and comfortable in is entirely possible with the right skincare routine and by taking care of your body with a healthy diet and exercise. By incorporating a well-formulated facial serum for oily or acne-prone skin into your routine, you can nourish, balance, and minimize frustrating skin issues- the approach may just be a bit counterintuitive to what you may have previously thought to do.



Downing DT, Stewart ME, Wertz PW, Strauss JS. Essential fatty acids and acne. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1986 Feb;14(2 Pt 1):221–5. doi: 10.1016/s0190–9622(86)70025-x. PMID: 2936775.

Bowe WP, Patel N, Logan AC. Acne vulgaris: the role of oxidative stress and the potential therapeutic value of local and systemic antioxidants. J Drugs Dermatol. 2012 Jun;11(6):742–6. PMID: 22648222.


Please note this information is not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease. If you have a specific medical concern, please consult with a licensed medical professional for personalized care.


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