If You Have Combination Skin, Read This Before Purchasing Your Next Serum


(Image credit: @cocobassey)

Having combination skin can be a pain in so many ways. Some days, your skin decides to be oily, others dry, or sometimes, it's both on the same day. Ugh. Luckily, though, if you have combination skin, there's an array of serums out there that can help. Board-certified dermatologist Azadeh Shirazi, MD, says that (funnily enough) the best way to treat combo skin is by combining a variety of active ingredients. Not sure where to start? Fear not—Shirazi gave us a cheat sheet that you'll want to take a look at below.

How to Shop for Serums for Combination Skin


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"Some of my personal favorite combinations are retinol with bakuchiol or niacinamide and hyaluronic acid with vitamin C, E, and ferulic acid," says Shirazi. "[I also like] copper peptides with niacinamide or azelaic acid with arbutin and hyaluronic acid." All of these ingredients help address multiple concerns from acne and discoloration to fine lines, dehydration, and uneven texture. Shirazi also has a few tips on what to look for and avoid in a serum if you have combination skin.

"Synthetic fragrances are sensitizing to the skin. Formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasers, along with polyethylene glycol are irritating and should be avoided. A class of ingredients called ethanolamines commonly listed as monoethanolamine (MEA) or diethanolamine (DEA) are known allergens and can lead to skin reactions. I also don't favor single ingredient serums such as hyaluronic acid or niacinamide on their own in a single serum as these ingredients are best formulated with other actives and not stand-alone products. So many products already use these ingredients so it becomes unnecessary and wasteful as a separate step in skincare." 

While I totally agree with Shirazi, I also think it's worth noting that if your combination skin has become incredibly dry and sensitive in certain areas, a hyaluronic acid–boosting serum with other hydrating ingredients in it could definitely be helpful. If you're also like me and have experienced skin irritation and extreme sensitivity, a simple hydrating serum might be all your skin can tolerate sometimes—other actives might be too harsh. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, keep scrolling. I've rounded up the best serums for different types of combination skin below.


(Image credit: @_marisamartins_)

Up Next: Okay, Here's How to Figure Out If You Have Combination Skin or Not

Shawna Hudson
Associate Beauty Editor

Shawna Hudson has worked in editorial for over six years, with experience covering entertainment, fashion, culture, celebrities, and her favorite topic of all, beauty. She graduated from California State University, Fullerton, with a degree in journalism and has written for other publications such as Bustle, The Zoe Report, Byrdie, Elite Daily, Mane Addicts, and more. She is currently an associate beauty editor at Who What Wear and hopes to continue feeding her (completely out-of-control) beauty obsession as long as she can. Stay up to date on her latest finds on Instagram @shawnasimonee.