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The best serums for combination skin, according to dermatologists

Picking the right products for combination skin is a tricky business. With some areas prone to dryness and others with excess oil, it’s important to find the balance. The solution: Dermatologist-approved serums for combination skin that possess the ability to improve your overall look without aggravating the extremities of your skin.

“A serum is probably the third non-negotiable product in your skincare routine. The first being your sunscreen and the second, your moisturiser. A serum is usually a liquid or gel containing a high concentration of active ingredients. It is able to penetrate deeper than your moisturizer and other creams, thus providing more targeted and faster results,” says Mumbai-based dermatologist Dr Niketa Sonavane. Therefore, it is important to know which skin concern you’re hoping to target before you choose your serums.

Serums are a highly concentrated formula with active ingredients designed to penetrate your skin and are increasingly becoming an intrinsic part of our daily routines. However, serums for combination skin is still a difficult entity to navigate around. While your skin needs moisturisation, there are oily parts of it that need to control sebum production. Keeping the above in mind, serums for combination skin have to multi-task to deliver the right results.

Also, when it comes to picking products for your skin, the conversation isn’t simply limited to which product but also the type of product. In today’s age, there is a lot of confusion about picking between facial oils and serums, hence it’s important to understand the difference before picking one. Traditionally, serums are water-based although there is a growing trend towards oil-based serums.

The main difference now lies in the composition of serums and facial oils. Facial oils primarily have an emollient texture and thus help in hydration and boost nutrition. “Serums, on the other hand, are lightweight formulations and are perfect for combination skins. Combination skins can use lightweight hydrating serums as they are perfect for all skin types. If you have some dry areas on your face, you can choose to apply oil-based serums for extra hydration,” suggests Dr Ameesha Mahajan of RM Aesthetics.

When it comes to combination skin, the lighter formulation of serums along with the high concentration of active ingredients makes it a great choice. “Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid, Ferulic Acid, Alpha Arbutin, Retinol, Glycolic Acid, Salicylic Acid are some of the key ingredients. You can opt for individual serums or combination products to address a variety of skin concerns together,” shares Dr Mahajan.

For Dr Sonavane, it’s equally important to target the problem with the correct serums. “Ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides, peptides, and plant stem cells are great for applying on the drier areas or even all over your face. Whereas the oily t-zone can benefit from retinol, AHAs and niacinamide. Retinol and AHAs such as lactic acid can combat skin congestion as well as blackheads. Niacinamide can also gently reduce oiliness and shrink pores,” she recommends.


As a part of Pilgrim’s new range of their Secrets of Jeju Island, Korea range is the Alpha Arbutin and Vitamin C Brightening Serum (Rs 650). Formulated to brighten your complexion, this serum contains Alpha Arbutin, Vitamin C, and Blueberry that fades hyperpigmentation.

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The Pure Bubbles Niacinamide & Amino Acid Serum (Rs 999) is a fast-acting serum for combination skin that comes packed with 5% Niacinamide and Amino Acids to refine the appearance of pores and regulate sebum for healthier, resilient skin. The serum clears existing blemishes, calms skin, and boosts hydration. It also corrects the skin tone, and you can see visible differences in a few weeks span.

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This face serum by Kiehl’s (Rs 4,500) is formulated with 11kDa Hyaluronic Acid that penetrates 8 skin surface layers deep in order to nourish your skin. The serum is said to neutralise the effects of skin ageing stressors and plump it up for a youthful appearance.

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This is an ultra-light hydrating serum that is apt for a combination of Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid. The Prolixr Beauty Shield- Vitamin C Serum (Rs 899) brightens skin, fades dark spots, and reduces a task that is a must when it comes to serums for combination skin. Enriched with Aloe Vera, it gives you a natural glow.

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A gentle massage on your face and neck is the best way to apply serums, and the smoothening texture of the Perenne Glow Booster Radiance Serum (Rs 1,750) is perfect for that. Packed with arbutin, kiwi fruit, liquorice, and mulberry extracts amongst others helps reduce pigmentation and dark spots.

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Enriched with turmeric, sandalwood and saffron, The Ayurveda Co. Ubtan Face Serum (Rs 552) is a lightweight and non-greasy combination. It immediately gets absorbed into your skin, leaving it feeling moist and evens out a patchy complexion.

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The clarifying properties of Vitamin C combined with the cooling properties of Aloe Vera is always a great choice in our opinion. This quick-acting serum from Rejusure (Rs 249) helps to reduce flakiness or peeling skin spots. It replenishes water from the outside and holds water from inside to maintain the skin’s hydration and elasticity.

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Powered with traditional Korean medicine ingredients, the Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum (Rs 1,850) replenishes the skin like no other. The amber coloured serum for combination skin contains active ingredients like the JAUM Balancing Complex promote circulation and leave the skin soft and supple.

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Akshita Nahar Jain
Sr Associate Editor
Akshita Nahar Jain has worked with various publications, including Elle, Harper’s Bazaar Bride, and Time Out Delhi, and written extensively on fashion and lifestyle. A sucker for alliteration and stylish sitcoms, she enjoys scrolling the web for less travelled destinations.