The 11 Best Serums for Acne Prone Skin in 2021

We’re sharing our favourite serums that are secret weapons against acne

Looking to venture into a new skin care serum but not sure what will help take control of acne and breakouts too?

Well our Adore Beauty skincare experts have picked out our favourite acne fighting serums to help you get the beautiful and clear skin you all deserve.

Read on to find the one that suits you—after all, acne shouldn't strictly define anyone’s skin.

SkinCeuticals Blemish Age Defense Serum - Best Products for Acne Prone Skin - hand pulling glass dropper out of product bottle - 700 x 467SkinCeuticals Blemish Age Defense Serum - Best Products for Acne Prone Skin - hand pulling glass dropper out of product bottle - 700 x 467

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The Best Serums for Acne Prone Skin:

"I never knew I needed this in my life until I tried it. I have a lot of acne scars and am using accutane right now. This has helped me heal a lot of my blemishes and reduce the redness in my skin from my treatment. A little goes a long way as I only need to use a couple drops and it covers my whole face. After buying this and doing more research, I haven't found any product that is as cheap and works as well. A lot of other brands include niacinamide but very few have as much as 10% and almost none contain zinc. My skin is looking a lot better and my pore look diminished compared to before. I'll be buying this again but I'm definitely getting the supersized version next time" - Vicky ★★★★★

Who says you have to spend a fortune to have beautiful skin? A favourite among trusted beauty bloggers and skincare gurus, The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% is a high-performance option that helps purify lacklustre, congested skin without breaking the bank. Naturally occurring Vitamin B3 eases inflammation while it balance sebum production. The result? This no-frills formula helps you see fewer breakouts, smaller-looking pores, less redness, and a brighter complexion overall. Just remember that if you’re using a Vitamin C product, alternate the two, as Vitamin C and Niacinamide cancel each other out.

Niacinamide For Your Skin: What Is It?

"This retinol serum works so well in reducing fine lines and making my skin appear clearer. Expect to purge for a couple of weeks, that just means the retinol is working! This product will always be a staple in my skincare regimen." - El ★★★★★

If you think you need to choose between anti-ageing and anti-acne, think again! Skinstitut Retinol is a multitasking serum that not only addresses your acne concerns but also does double duty as a potent weapon against the signs of skin ageing. This high-intensity gel–serum contains anti-ageing peptides and Retinol, a form of Vitamin A which promotes cell renewal and strengthens collagen and elastin fibers. A bonus? Skinstitut Retinol also helps regulate sebum production, making it an effective skin treatment option to minimise acne flare-ups and clogged pores. This luxe treatment will quickly become a favourite in your regimen. Use at night and make sure you are using SPF during the day.

Retinol Benefits for Skin - Tips from a Beauty Editor

"I’ve been wanting to incorporate a retinoid to my regime for a while now but having sensitive acne prone skin along with a lot of hyperpigmentation, I was afraid to use anything that could make it flare up or make my skin worse so I did some reading and came across this little gem! I was half expecting it to be a sticky serum that would feel uncomfortable on my face and maybe burn but it was actually the complete opposite. The emulsion is a light cream serum that is easy to smooth over the whole face and neck with only a small amount and it left my skin feeling really soft as if I’d applied a moisturiser and there was no burn or stinging at all! I use this every other night up to three times a week underneath a hyaluronic acid nighttime mask to aid any dryness that could come with using a retinoid. This is a perfect first step if you want to start adding retinoids to your skincare!" - Felix B ★★★★★

Sensitive skin types rejoice! There’s finally a retinoid for you. The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid Emulsion 2% is a water-free serum that offers all the anti-ageing and anti-acne benefits of Retinol, but without any irritation. This cruelty-free, gluten-free, vegan, lightweight solution is the perfect choice for fighting fine lines, wrinkles, and loss of firmness. Natural Tomato Extract and Jojoba Seed Oil help to balance oil production, making this night-time serum ideal for oily, acne-prone, and combination skin types. Plus, because this product is from The Ordinary, you get high performance without lowering your bank account.

"This spot-fighting gel from Alpha-H is a pretty solid staple in my skincare rotation. I love the fact that it's completely clear - if I'm having a no-makeup day I can dab this on and no one is the wiser. Extra points for the slightly medicinal yet equally soothing eucalyptus scent." - Katie ★★★★☆

If your skin is in need of healing and caring for acne scars, Alpha-H Clear Skin Blemish Control Gel is for you. This pampering gel can be applied as a spot treatment to heal past scars while preventing new acne breakouts from popping up. We love that there are naturally anti-inflammatory and antibacterial ingredients in this product, including Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, and Wild Oregano. Liquorice Root eases painful swelling and redness, leaving skin feeling calm and soothed. This treatment gel can be applied on its own or throughout the day over your makeup, so it’s a versatile option. Simply pat product onto the blemish and watch this gel work its magic.

"I love this serum, especially with the super B complex and vit A serums. My skin has been super glowy and clear ! A little goes a long way, especially if you're mixing two serums together. Can be expensive but my asap serums have lasted ages!" - Emily ★★★★★

If your skin has lost the lustre it once had, you can find that glow again thanks to asap radiance serum. Say goodbye to pimples and hello to radiance! This serum is quite effective because it contains both alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids, which work together to conquer multiple skin issues. Various alpha-hydroxy acids exfoliate, encouraging cell turnover and removing flakes and dullness. Salicylic Acid, a beta-hydroxy acid, penetrates pores to lift away the debris that results in acne breakouts. Anti-ageing peptides round out this serum, helping boost collagen, giving skin a healthier, plumper appearance with fewer lines and wrinkles.

"This product changed my life! I have normal skin, a bit sensitive with acne prone type. I tried everything to try to stop having spots and that's the only products that work for me. I use it morning and night while making sure my skin is well hydrated and since then, no more breakouts ! It's important to keep the skin well hydrated as it can be a bit irritating for the skin if not. Amazing products, the one I can't live without." - Laurie ★★★★★

It’s a common myth that acne breakouts only happen to teenagers. Hormonal fluctuations and chronological ageing create the perfect storm for producing adult acne. SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense Serum addresses both issues head-on with this acne serum for ageing skin. Salicylic Acid works to lift bacteria from the pores, while Glycolic Acid exfoliates skin cells and helps to minimise the look of fine lines and wrinkles. Especially beneficial to those with breakouts, 2% Dioic Acid targets pigmentation, working to improve clarity and give skin back a more even tone. This high-performance formula is the perfect choice for those of you who want to tackle both the signs of ageing and the effects of acne.

"I recently suffered cystic pimples and found that tea tree oil was drying my skin out. I opted to try this product which is gentle on the skin. I feel comfortable applying it over existing pimples and acne scars knowing it will not further aggravate the skin." - Trammie ★★★★☆

Why is the term ‘game changer’ frequently used to describe this product in online reviews? Quite frankly, because it’s so. This lightweight gel–cream feels cooling and soothing to the skin, and you can sense that it’s working right away. Zinc PCA helps reduce oiliness. Procerad minimises redness and swelling. Salicylic Acid helps unclog pores. And Mannose boosts skin-cell regeneration. Niacinamide is also in this serum and works to balance sebum production and acne marks. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo (+) Acne Moisturiser zeroes in on stubborn acne spots and persistent flare-up areas to help improve texture and tone. Prevent new breakouts while correcting existing imperfections with this state-of-the-art serum.

"This is a beautiful serum which glides on nicely before makeup. It is hydrating but effective at treating breakouts. It is not oily at all. Give it time to soak in before applying moisturiser on top." - Lachie ★★★★☆

Problematic skin? You’ll love this unique acne serum, which contains Açai, Copaiba Blossom, and other plant ingredients straight from the Amazon rainforest. If nothing has worked to keep your oilies away before, the Aspect Jungle Brew mattifying properties will immediately impress you. The ingredients in this chemical-free serum minimise sebum production and promote balance, doing so without causing excess dryness. The redness and irritation commonly associated with acne are soothed, and skin feels comforted. Recommended for mild-to-moderate acne, this serum also boasts Stay-C 50, a highly effective form of Vitamin C, which helps eliminate the visible skin imperfections that often occur as a result of acne.

"I wasn't sure about this product when I was first told about it, there don't seem to be many overnight clearing gels/creams that are that effective. I've found this gel to be the most effective option around. It's particularly good for any of those under the surface, painful breakouts as it's reduces the size and inflammation over night. Definitely a good option for small breakouts, not sure if it's as effective for acne prone skin but worth a try" - Asami ★★★★☆

Confront the triggers of teen and adult acne head-on with Dermalogica Overnight Clearing Gel . This cutting-edge formula gets to the root of the problem, so you can experience consistently clearer skin. This unique overnight treatment works to prevent breakouts and regulates sebum, minimise irritation, and keep skin free of harmful bacteria. You can wake up confident, with a blemish-free complexion. Formulated with a Vitamin B complex of Niacinamide and Biotin to soothe skin and reducing excess oil production in the sebaceous gland. PETA-accredited cruelty-free, this acne-treatment serum also contains Azelaic Acid to help correct hyperpigmentation and acne scars.

"This product is fantastic! I am prone to hormonal, cystic acne and have had WAY less breakouts and redness. You only need a small amount and it leaves my skin feeling hydrated and fresh, as well as less congested and oily. I don't wake up with a slick layer of oil on my face and find it is easy to apply makeup over during the day. Definitely one of the best moisturisers I have ever used." - Hannah ★★★★★

This cruelty-free, lightweight formula from PCA Skin Clearskin 48.2g is like a drink for thirsty, moisture-deprived complexions. Containing an effective 4% Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), this acne-fighting jar serum helps balance skin’s moisture levels to prevent excess dryness yet never feels heavy or greasy. You’ll find comfort in skin-soothing Marigold Extract, Lemongrass, and cooling Cucumber, which all work to alleviate redness and irritation. This anti-inflammatory formula is also free of synthetic colourants and fragrance. Pores are purified, thanks to naturally antibacterial ingredients that help prevent new breakouts from forming. Existing trouble spots are visibly reduced, resulting in an overall improvement in skin’s appearance.

"I have pretty good skin usually but felt that the signs of ageing were beginning to show. I purchased this serum after reading a review but was skeptical about whether it could deliver on the huge claims made by other reviewers. Well, I'm not skeptical anymore. Within a week I noticed that my skin tone was more even, and since then it's only improved. My skin glows - I'm obsessed with it! There's definitely less redness than I had before, my skin is hydrated and I don't need to wear as much makeup as before. I've just bought the eye serum and look forward to similarly positive outcomes. Huge fan. Can't recommend this highly enough." - Jacqui ★★★★★

Nourish and quench congested, thirsty skin with this protective skin serum. Pure, Australian Davidson Plum shields against harmful environmental aggressors. In fact, this ingredient packs a greater antioxidant punch than blueberries! We appreciate that this unique serum contains just two ingredients yet is bursting with skin-pampering benefits. Not only does this natural acne serum work to eliminate blackheads and clogged pores, but it also helps to improve skin clarity and texture, giving you a radiant, lit-from-within look. If your skin has become dull, tired-looking, and rebellious, try the Biologi Bd Luminosity Face Serum.

 Alpha-H Clear Skin Blemish Control Gel - close-up of forehead and eyes with fingers applying gel to a spot above eyebrows - 600 x 360 Alpha-H Clear Skin Blemish Control Gel - close-up of forehead and eyes with fingers applying gel to a spot above eyebrows - 600 x 360

Brand and product inclusions are at the sole discretion of Adore Beauty’s highly trained Customer Service team. We do not seek or accept payment from brands or individuals listed in our guides.

This article has been updated on 15/02 to replace discontinued products with our recent product recommendations. Gemma from our Customer Service team has helped to bring you our most recommended products and up-to-date information.

So, let's recap the 12 Best Serums for Acne Prone Skin

  1. The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

  2. Skinstitut Retinol

  3. The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid Emulsion 2%

  4. Alpha-H Clear Skin Blemish Control Gel

  5. asap radiance serum

  6. SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense Serum

  7. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo (+) Acne Moisturiser

  8. Aspect Jungle Brew

  9. Dermalogica MediBac Breakout Control

  10. PCA Skin Clearskin 48.2g

  11. Biologi Bd Luminosity Face Serum

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