- Serums deliver concentrated active ingredients to your skin
- Combination skin can tolerate most common serum ingredients
- Many serums can be used both in the daytime and at night
- Some ingredients should be worn only at night and not in combination with others
Serums can be used in your daily skin care routine to deliver extra vitamins and antioxidants to your skin. They’re usually water-based, oil-free and formulated with small molecules so the active ingredients can easily be absorbed into the skin.
If you have combination skin, the best serum for you is one that can improve the overall look and feel of your skin without aggravating the extremes that your skin gravitates toward.
Combination skin is characterized by having an oily forehead, nose and chin but dryness on the cheeks and jawline. It’s often oilier in the summer and drier in the winter.
Combination skin is usually due to genetics, so serums can’t “treat” it specifically. However, serums can address many of the challenges you may encounter with this skin type.
If your combination skin is acne-prone, regular use of a serum can help control breakouts. Since you probably only experience breakouts on the oily parts of your face, an anti-acne serum should be strategically applied only to the areas requiring it.
Dryness often translates to dullness. A brightening serum can brighten dull, dehydrated skin and leave your combination skin with a healthy glow. It can also gradually lighten dark spots.
A skin-brightening serum can be used on the entire face as it shouldn’t have a negative effect on either oily or dry skin.
Hydration is key to skin health. A daily serum can hydrate your skin while actively encouraging the body’s product of acids and lipids to retain moisture in the long term, too.
Hydrating serums work well for combination skin because they can be used on the entire face to add moisture without causing blemishes.
Treat fine lines
Fine lines are usually the result of sun damage and the loss of collagen and elastin. Many anti-aging serums are formulated to reverse collagen loss and photoageing, the signs of aging due to sun exposure.
A serum that targets fine lines can be strategically applied to the areas that need it most, such as around the eyes and mouth.
Active Ingredients to Look for in Serums for Combination Skin
Combination skin can benefit from a wide number of active ingredients that promote your skin’s health.
Vitamin C can treat a long list of skin concerns and is safe for all skin types, making it one of the best overall ingredients to have in a skin care product.
This skin-firming antioxidant protects skin against free radical-induced skin damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. It increases collagen production and can treat fine lines and wrinkles.
Regular use of Vitamin C can brighten dark spots and skin discoloration without negatively affecting your natural skin tone—a concern in other skin-brightening products.
Its myriad uses make a Vitamin C serum an ideal place to start when incorporating serums into your skin care routine.
A close second on the list of most effective ingredients for combination skin is hyaluronic acid (HA).
HA naturally occurs in the body and is a humectant, meaning attracts and retains moisture. Its low molecular weight helps HA penetrate the skin to plump up fine lines and wrinkles.
A hyaluronic acid serum can be used in a serum every day. It’s ideal for combination skin because it locks moisture into the skin without adding excess oil.
Two B vitamins have been proven to benefit the skin when applied topically.
It can also reduce the appearance of large pores and reduce dryness—two common concerns of people with combination skin.
Vitamin B5, otherwise known as panthenol, has been demonstrated to deeply moisturize skin.
This AHA (alpha-hydroxy acid) regulates exfoliation, making it useful for both the dry and oily areas of your combination skin. As it sloughs off dead skin cells, it both prevents breakouts and brightens dull, dry skin.
Another AHA, salicylic acid is still useful for combination skin but may require more caution. Because it decreases sebum production, it should only be used on the oily areas of your face, and not necessarily every day.
Vitamin E is both an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. It smooths out skin texture, making it useful for combination skin that appears rough or uneven.
Not only is ferulic acid a powerful antioxidant, but it can boost the effectiveness of other antioxidants, too. It reduces the appearance of dark spots, fine lines and wrinkles.
Active Ingredients to Avoid
Because combination skin often has a wide range of concerns to address, there aren’t any ingredients you need to avoid altogether. Rather, it’s important to use certain ingredients sparingly and target your applications to the areas that need them most.
There are, however, some combinations of ingredients that should be avoided.
Vitamin C with retinol
On their own, both ingredients can be used on combination skin. But vitamin C and retinol work optimally in different pH environments. Used together, they won’t be as efficient at delivering their anti-aging effects.
However, there is a way to get the benefits of both. Simply wear vitamin C during the day and retinol at night, taking care to cleanse your face thoroughly in the morning
AHAs with other AHAs
Though glycolic acid, lactic acid and salicylic acid individually work well to improve skin texture and prevent blemishes, AHAs should not be used together. If applied at the same time, their compounded exfoliating abilities may leave you with dry, irritated skin.
How to Use Serums in Your Combination Skin Routine
As part of your skin care routine, a serum should be the first thing you apply after cleansing your face. That way, the active ingredients in the serum can penetrate the skin without being blocked by other products.
As a rule, skin care products should be applied starting with the product that’s thinnest in consistency to the thickest. When layering products, allow time for each layer to dry to prevent pilling.
Some serums are better suited for use at night than during the day. Any serum containing retinol, vitamin A or alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) should be used at night as they can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun.
If your combination skin is on the oily side, you may be able to use a hydrating serum during the day in lieu of moisturizer. But if you skip the moisturizer, you’ll still need to wear a sunscreen containing at least SPF 30.
Sensitive combination skin precautions
People with combination skin that’s also sensitive need to take extra care with what products they wear and when.
For instance, sensitive skin is more susceptible to sun damage during the day. So, while many people can tolerate wearing vitamin C during the day if it’s layered under sunscreen, if you have sensitive skin you may want to save vitamin C for nighttime use.
The high strength of serums may cause irritation in sensitive skin. One way to prevent this is by breaking the thin-to-thick product application rule and applying your serums after moisturizing. This allows your skin to receive a more toned-down version of the product’s benefits.
With their powerful active ingredients, the regular use of serums can improve the health of your combination skin.
The best results will be achieved by targeting your application of ingredients to the areas where they’re needed and avoiding certain combinations of ingredients, such as retinol with vitamin C.
Take special precautions if you have sensitive, easily-irritated skin.
You’ll soon find that the regular use of a serum improves the overall look and feel of your combination skin.