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Beauty/Skin/Serums & Treatments/Blemish & Acne Treatments
Top 10 Serums For Acne

Not All Serums Are Good For Acne, But These Steal The Show

In the 2000s classic My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Toula awakes on her wedding day to an untimely zit. When Toula laments this misfortune to her groom on the way to their reception, he confesses that he also woke up with a pimple, but he cured it with Toula’s father’s cure-all: a spritz of Windex.

While we do not condone using Windex in any way on your body, there’s something so relatable about Toula’s ill-timed breakout. Acne flare-ups happen. And when they do, your day, an event, or a picture that’s meant to last a lifetime can feel ruined. Fortunately, there is a much healthier alternative to spraying yourself with window cleaner: face serums for acne.

Skincare serums are fast-absorbing, lightweight, and easy to work into a routine. Typically, serums are packed with nourishing ingredients that moisturize your skin and diminish signs of aging. But there’s a subcategory of these products that contain formulas specifically designed to target acne-causing bacteria, and we’re here to introduce you to them. So if you’re ready to achieve your clearest complexion to date, look no further than the roundup below of the best serums for acne-prone skin.

Why You Should Trust Our Top 10 Lists

User reviews, social media, bestseller lists, industry recognition—these are the sources we use to collect information on the products we feature in our Top 10 lists. But we couldn’t do it without our proprietary ranking algorithm, a tool that combs through the data in order to determine which products truly deserve the title of “best.” That’s what makes us so confident in our recommendations—they’re backed by extensive research. And when it comes to something as personal as your skin, you need suggestions with that kind of credibility behind them. So if you’re ready to find out which products our research determined are the 10 best serums for acne-prone skin, all that’s left to do is scroll down.

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November 10, 2022

Words:Sierra Rogers

Product Expert:Georgia Jones

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Top 10 Lists serve as unbiased shopping guides to the most trusted product recommendations on the internet. Products are scored and ranked using an algorithm backed by data consumers find most valuable when making a purchase. We are reader-supported and may earn a commission when you shop through our links.

The Rankings


Clinique Acne Solutions Acne + Line Correcting Serum

Our Score

4.4

Best Anti-Aging

WHAT IT DOES
There aren’t many serums out there for oily, acne-prone skin that also target fine lines and wrinkles. That’s why Clinique’s Acne Solutions Acne + Line Correcting Serum is a truly special product. It was formulated to clear acne without drying out the skin, as well as to diminish the appearance of signs of aging.

FORMULA FACT
The ingredient list behind this serum is free of fragrances, oils, denatured alcohol, synthetic colors, phthalates, and parabens. However, it does include salicylic acid, which is an exfoliating supplement frequently used in skincare products to treat acne and psoriasis.


Peace Out Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Serum

Our Score

4.45

Best Clean

WHAT IT DOES
Speaking of salicylic acid, that’s one of the key ingredients behind Peace Out’s Acne Treatment Serum, in addition to vitamin C and niacinamide. Ideal for those prone to frequent breakouts, this gentle serum can also be used to treat enlarged pores, blemishes, and oiliness.

WHAT ELSE TO KNOW
This gel moisturizer absorbs quickly, so you can comfortably apply it at any time of the day. However, keep in mind that salicylic acid can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun (so if you plan on using it in the morning, we suggest generously applying sunscreen afterward).

Cruelty Free

Cruelty Free


iS Clinical Active Serum

Our Score

4.45

Best Investment

WHAT IT DOES
Simply put, iS Clinical's Active Serum is made to help you achieve the clearest complexion possible. Through a combination of herbal supplements (such as willow and mushroom extracts) and salicylic acid, this serum for acne-prone skin helps reduce evidence of free radical damage and hyperpigmentation. Bonus: The addition of menthol causes a refreshing, tingly sensation.

USER REVIEW
“Feels like a dream to put on. The tingling sensation is something I really look forward to. It really brightens the skin, and with continued use, you can see major improvements in a matter of weeks. iS Clinical is a hit in my household!”

Cruelty Free

Cruelty Free


Avène Cleanance Concentrate Blemish Control Serum

Our Score

4.5

Best For Sensitive Skin

WHAT IT DOES
Blemishes, be gone! Cleanance Concentrate Blemish Control Serum was made for those with oily, acne-prone skin. Just apply it twice daily after washing your face for a flaw-free, matte finish.

FORMULA FACT
This serum has a non-comedogenic formula that was developed to minimize the risk of allergic reactions. The three main ingredients that make up this product are comedoclastin (a skin-soothing extract derived from milk thistle), silica (which helps absorb excess oil), and Avène’s hydrating thermal spring water.


Mario Badescu Anti Acne Serum

Our Score

4.5

Best For Hormonal Acne

WHAT IT DOES
An acne-busting serum that’s affordable and effective? Sign us up. Mario Badescu’s Anti Acne Serum features a blend of botanicals and salicylic acid that make it gentle enough for daily use, but it's still effective at cleansing your pores and exfoliating away dead skin cells.

USER REVIEW
This might be one of the best serums for hormonal acne according to reviewers. Here’s what one user had to say: “I had unbearable acne, and RX pills were not working for my cystic and hormonal acne. I stopped the pills and tried a new regimen, starting with MB Drying lotion. This worked well for my flare-ups, but I needed to prevent the 'underground' acne, which led me to the Anti Acne Serum. I no longer suffer from acne! My small pimples and cystic/hormonal acne have been eradicated. You only need to use a small amount at bedtime, and for such a little bottle, it lasts a long time.”

Cruelty Free

Cruelty Free


La Roche-Posay Acne Treatment Face Serum

Our Score

4.6

Best For Large Pores

WHAT IT DOES
La Roche Posay’s Acne Treatment Face Serum was made for those who are prone to breakouts. In addition to reducing the appearance of blemishes and acne scars, it works overtime to prevent flare-ups before they even happen. And apparently, it’s crushing it: in a clinical trial, participants saw a 45% reduction in pimples after four weeks of use.

HOW TO USE IT
First, cleanse your face. Then, give the bottle a gentle shake before using the dropper to distribute the serum onto your fingertips. Apply the serum to your face (avoid getting too close to your eyes) once a day at first, then increase to two or three applications per day if needed.


SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense

Our Score

4.65

Best For Mature Skin

FORMULA FACT
Dioic acid is the primary active ingredient behind SkinCeuticals’ Blemish + Age Defense serum for acne-prone skin. Commonly used in skincare products that target blemishes and acne, dioic acid is an organic compound that reduces the skin’s sebum production—which means you can kiss clogged pores goodbye.

WHO IT’S BEST FOR
Because this product is oil-free, it’s a great option for those with oily or combination skin. Bonus: It also works to diminish the appearance of dark spots, fine lines, and wrinkles, so those with maturing skin should see good results from it as well.


It Cosmetics Bye Bye Breakout Salicylic Acid Acne Serum

Our Score

4.65

Best For Acne Scars

FORMULA FACT
Some acne-busting products work by drying out the skin—Bye Bye Breakout is not one of those products. That’s because this lightweight serum contains postbiotic ferment, a nutrient-rich byproduct of probiotics that helps the complexion remain cool, calm, and clear.

WHO IT’S BEST FOR
The Bye Bye Breakout serum is best for those with acne-prone skin who are battling scars and blemishes. And because it’s non-comedogenic and fragrance-free, it’s also one of the best acne serums for sensitive skin.


Murad Deep Relief Acne Treatment With Salicylic Acid

Our Score

4.75

Best For Cystic Acne

WHAT IT DOES
Most of us have experienced the pain that can come from cystic acne. If you’re looking for respite, Murad’s Deep Relief Acne Treatment serum is here to give you just that. With 2% salicylic acid (the highest amount you can get in non-prescription skincare) and an amino acid blend behind it, this product is truly one of the best serums around for acne-prone skin.

USER REVIEW
Out of the nearly 400 5-star reviews for this product, this one felt like it was worth sharing: “I finally found something that helps my cystic acne! I have been seeing dermatologists for years and have tried plenty of prescriptions, but no topical treatment works better for my cystic acne than this.”

Cruelty Free

Cruelty Free


The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Our Score

4.85

Best Overall

FORMULA FACT
You might recognize this product from TikTok, where The Ordinary’s collection of skincare serums was making the rounds. This particular product is a water-based, mineral-rich serum for oily skin, but acne-prone individuals can benefit from it as well because it contains 1% zinc (which is known for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and skin-healing properties).

WHAT ELSE TO KNOW
This best-selling acne serum is also great for sensitive skin because it’s completely free of fragrances, alcohol, gluten, nuts, oil, silicone, parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, and other potentially harmful additions.

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