The best serums for acne-prone skin, according to one writer well versed in breakouts



Serum, serum on the shelf.

As someone who’s battled acne since their teen years, sometimes the skincare world can feel pretty alienating. While skinfluencers show off their ‘Glossier glow’ and dewy, shimmering T-zones, I try to wade through the waters of beauty marketing to find something (anything) that will help my angry cystic acne. 

Thanks to product trial and error over the years, as well as listening to clever skincare content creators like Hannah English and Madeleine Edwards, I’m finally starting to see some results.

Looking for more beauty recommendations? Check out our growing directory of independent Australian beauty brands here.

While everyone’s skin is different, these five serums have changed my adult acne-filled complexion from dry and angry to bright and (almost!) clear. 

Aesthetics Rx C Serum 23%


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Starting off with a morning concoction, the C Serum 23% from Aesthetics Rx is liquid gold – and not just because of the way it looks. Featuring vitamin C, vitamin E and ferulic acid, which protects cells against environmental free radical damage, this mixture comes in a 30ml bottle and is said to repair the first signs of ageing due to the sun and harsh environmental factors.

I’m usually not into anti-ageing products (that needs a whole other article) but after turning 25 I guess I should be doing something to help future me. I use a few drops – liquid gold has to be rationed, you know – after I wash my face in the morning, followed by a healthy lathering of sunscreen. The result? A bright and more even complexion looking back at me in the mirror. 


Bopo Women Hormone Hero Face Oil


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I first spotted this brand when I was in a boutique in Brisbane. As a reformed fairy-obsessive, the gorgeous bottle caught my eye. It wasn’t until I picked it up that I realised it was made for hormonally-stressed skin. 

Made in Sydney, this 100 per cent vegan serum is crafted to restore oily skin types without further inflaming your face. I used to avoid all forms of serums and oils before this because I naively thought they would just cause more breakouts. This luxe (yet affordable) oil changed my mind. 

It’s made with blue tansy to help regulate hormones as well as camelia, jojoba and frankincense to moisturise. Of all of my skincare products this one definitely smells the most like a relaxing spa treatment. Would recommend for self-care Sundays. 


La Roche Posay Effaclar Serum

This was one of those products where I felt a little overwhelmed with the science of it all but decided to give it a shot. With low expectations I began using this serum each night before my moisturiser and in just three days I started to see a difference. 

The redness was the first thing it helped followed by the easing of hormonal congestion around my jawline. Containing glycolic and salicylic acid to help refine and unclog pores, paired with niacinamide to improve dehydrated skin, this clever serum is officially my new holy grail product. 

It also contains LHA which gently exfoliates and lifts dead skin cells for a smoother complexion. This product was designed for acne-prone adult skin which feels refreshing in a market full of dewy, pore-clogging serums. 


Fluff Face Oil #1

Melbourne-based skincare brand Fluff is known for its pared back approach to beauty. With just a handful of products on offer, I decided to try one of its face oils in last year’s sale. The Face Oil #1 is a rich jojoba oil serum but is the perfect product for when my skin feels dry and dehydrated (so every freezing Melbourne winter). 

Despite being non-comedogenic, this oil can sometimes feel a tad too heavy for my acne-prone skin so I use it sparingly and avoid on days where I feel super congested. But it’s a great mid-week pick me up to moisturise and smooth and is the serum I use with my gua sha massager. Bliss. 


The Ordinary Squalane Serum


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Cleverly extracted from plants, The Ordinary’s Squalane serum is a light-weight and affordable treatment for acne-prone skin. I was first taken in by the cult-like status of the brand and seeing the price tag ($13.90 AUD) made it accessible to try.

Squalane is usually found in the skin but decreases with age. By using this serum you can keep levels topped up and make sure your skin is extra hydrated. Similar to Fluff’s face oil, I use this when my skin needs a boost of hydration but it’s also helped ease some of my acne scars as well. An affordable double-whammy product and a win-win for us acne-prone folks. 


For more advice on treating acne-prone skin, try this.

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