Best Moisturizer For Acne Prone Skin

Best Moisturizer For Acne Prone Skin In 2022

Anyone suffering from acne knows the struggle of finding products suitable for their sensitive skin. The wrong product can result in dryness, redness, irritation, or an increase in the number of breakouts.

​Although acne sufferers often believe it is unnecessary to moisturize their skin due to its oily tendencies, moisturizing is a key factor in promoting healthy, balanced skin. Since the wrong moisturizer can have a negative impact on the skin’s health and appearance, it is important to find one specifically suited to acne-prone skin types.

​Read on to learn about how to find the best moisturizer for acne prone skin as well as the top options to consider.

Benefits Of Using A Moisturizer

Providing your skin with a healthy dose of hydration will assist it in becoming more balanced, resilient, and radiant – all factors that will help the skin fight off future breakouts.​

Moisturizers specifically formulated for acne-prone skin are designed to provide hydration without causing clogged pores. Properly moisturizing skin can also help loosen built-up sebum within pores.

​Drawbacks Of Skipping A Moisturizer

Adding moisture to oily, acne-prone skin may seem counterproductive but allowing the skin to become dehydrated and flaky can decrease its ability to fight breakouts.

​Skipping a moisturizer or stripping the skin of moisture through the use of harsh cleansers or strong acne products can upset the skin’s natural barrier. Disrupting this delicate barrier can result in an overproduction of oil and an increase in inflammation, both of which can increase your chance of experiencing breakouts.

​What To Look For In A Moisturizer

​An effective moisturizer for acne-prone skin will be formulated with ingredients that soothe skin, help reduces inflammation, and prevent breakouts. Consider looking for a product that is developed to be non-comedogenic (meaning it will not clog pores), oil-free, soothing, and lightweight. Formulas that are gel-based, oil-free, or water-based all make excellent options to consider.

​Moisturizers such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid can help skin retain moisture without clogging pores. Glycerin and hyaluronic acid are both humectants that pull moisture from the air and lock it into the skin.

​In addition to lightweight hydrating ingredients, some moisturizers contain proven acne-fighting ingredients such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, AHA’s (alpha-hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid and lactic acid), or retinol.

It is important to be as gentle as possible when treating acne since overusing harsh topical ingredients can weaken the skin’s barrier and increase inflammation that will lead to additional breakouts.

​For additional tips on what to look for when considering acne products, check out this helpful video featuring a dermatologist describing some of her favorite drugstore items for her acne patients.

​The Importance Of Antioxidants

It can also be beneficial to look for a moisturizer that contains antioxidants such as green tea extract, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, white tea extract, and others. Topical antioxidants help fortify the skin and protect it against acne by fighting free radicals. Free radicals can cause oxidative damage and inflammation – a proven factor in the development of acne.​

In addition to using topical antioxidants on your skin, consuming antioxidants in your diet or supplements can serve as an effective method for decreasing the number of breakouts you experience.

Aim to focus your diet on wholesome, clean foods such as fruits, vegetables, and high-quality proteins that are full of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. These ingredients will help your body fight acne from the inside-out by controlling inflammation and supporting healthy cells.​

What To Avoid In A Moisturizer​

When choosing a moisturizer for acne-prone skin, it is crucial to avoid ingredients that are heavy or have the potential to irritate the skin or clog pores. The following ingredients are best avoided if you suffer from clogged pores and breakouts:

  • Shea butter
  • ​Coconut oil or butter
  • ​Waxes
  • Lanolin
  • ​Argan oil, mineral oil, and almost all other oils (except proven acne-fighting oils such as tea tree oil)
  • ​Petrolatum and other petroleum-based products
  • ​Alcohol (it not only dries out the skin which can lead to an overproduction of oil but it also promotes inflammation)

​It is also key to remember that just because an ingredient is natural or organic does not automatically make it safe for acne-prone skin. As mentioned above, even seemingly harmless ingredients such as coconut oil or shea butter can contribute to clogged pores and breakouts.

​How To Use Moisturizers

For acne-prone skin, it is important to use a moisturizer on a daily basis. This is especially important if you are using strong products to treat your acne or if weather conditions are dry, harsh, and cold.​

When applying a moisturizer, there is no need to slather on a thick, heavy layer since this method can backfire. Simply applying a thin, even layer will provide the skin with sufficient moisture.​

Moisturizer is most effective when it is applied immediately after cleansing and gently patting the skin dry. When using it in the morning, apply it before your foundation and other makeup. Also, during the day, it is important either to wear a moisturizer with a built-in SPF or layer a separate sunscreen over the top since sun exposure can make acne worse.​

At night, follow up any acne treatments you use with a thin layer of moisturizer. This will help offset the potential dryness caused by topical acne medications and support the skin’s protective barrier. Using a moisturizer before the application of acne treatments can prevent their active ingredients from being absorbed properly by the skin.

​Options For The Best Moisturizer For Acne-Prone Skin

The following products meet the criteria mentioned above (oil-free, non-comedogenic, lightweight in texture, with proven moisturizing ingredients) and have a high number of positive user reviews.​

Clean and Clear Essentials Dual Action Moisturizer

Clean and Clear Essentials Dual Action Moisturizer helps promote soft, acne-free skin. The lightweight formula contains salicylic acid to fight breakouts and oil-free conditioners that soften and hydrate skin. Clean and Clear’s Dual Action Moisturizer is formulated with non-pore clogging ingredients that help smooth skin while preventing breakouts.​


  • Contains glycerin, a proven hydrator
  • The fast-absorbing formula goes on smoothly
  • Provides effective moisture


  • The label on the bottle warns that the formula may cause dryness
  • Contains artificial fragrance which can be irritating to sensitive skin types and possibly lead to a disruption in hormones

Cerave PM Moisturizing Lotion

This nourishing, lightweight cream absorbs quickly and is packed with proven moisturizers such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and glycerin. Its straightforward formula is dermatologist-approved and clinically proven to provide effective, long-lasting hydration.​

Cerave PM Moisturizing Lotion, designed for daily use, is formulated to support a healthy skin barrier and increase the skin’s resiliency. Its addition of niacinamide (Vitamin B3) can also help prevent the dark spots that often occur following breakouts. Cerave also has the benefit of being beneficial for both acne-prone and aging skin – a tough combination to find.​


  • Boasts patented multivesicular emulsion (MVE) technology that continually releases beneficial ingredients
  • Helps repair damaged skin
  • Assists the skin in protecting itself


  • The formula contains parabens – synthetic compounds that opponents say can disrupt hormones and cause a negative impact on health

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Moisturizer Pink Grapefruit

The Pink Grapefruit Moisturizer from Neutrogena assists the skin in fighting breakouts due to its inclusion of salicylic acid. It also provides lightweight, oil-free moisture and naturally derived extracts from grapefruit. The non-greasy consistency helps soften skin and effectively target acne.​


  • Manufactured by the #1 Dermatologist recommended acne brand
  • Water-based formula
  • Absorbs quickly


  • Salicylic acid can be too harsh if used in conjunction with other topical acne treatments and may cause peeling and dryness
  • May not be ideal for sensitive skin types
  • Contains artificial fragrance

Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Moisturizer

Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Moisturizer claims to help prevent breakout and clear up current blemishes with salicylic acid. The company also states the formula is safe for sensitive skin.

The nourishing formula absorbs instantly and contains a natural soy complex that helps promote moisture and an even skin tone. This soy extract is especially important for battling the frustrating dark marks that often occur as a result of blemishes.


  • Gentle enough for everyday use
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Cruelty-free
  • Developed with Total Soy Complex


  • Since it contains salicylic acid, using any other topical medications at the same time can cause excessive dryness
  • Contains fragrance

Proactiv+ Green Tea Moisturizer

The Green Tea Moisturizer from Proactiv – a notorious brand name in the realm of acne treatments – helps address dryness and will not clog pores. The hydrating formula features a variety of ingredients such as minerals and emollients that hydrate and soothe acne-prone skin.

Since the formula is a serum, it is particularly lightweight. It also features green tea extract – a powerful antioxidant that is proven to help fight free radical damage – and Iris Florentina Root Extract.


  • Trusted, well-known brand
  • Rich in botanical extracts and minerals
  • Relieves dry, irritated skin
  • Contains glycerin


  • Higher in price than the other moisturizers mentioned
  • The driest skin types might require a slighter heavier moisturizer
  • Contains parabens and fragrance

Final Thoughts

Overall, if you struggle with acne, it is important to still include a moisturizer as part of your daily routine. The proper moisturizer will assist your skin in staying healthy and being better equipped against fighting acne.

Although all five of the products mentioned above are excellent choices to consider, Cerave’s PM Moisturizing Lotion is one of the top options when it comes to providing acne-prone skin with gentle, soothing, effective moisture that will not contribute to breakouts.

With its proven hydrating ingredients, lightweight texture, and the fact that it can also be used on aging skin, its formula is both unique and beneficial. The simple, fragrance-free formula is also free of topical acne ingredients that may cause dryness or irritation if you are already using other treatments.

Ultimately, each skin type is different and will respond in a unique way to treatments, so it is important to test products for yourself. Consider testing out Cerave’s PM Lotion or the other moisturizers mentioned above to see if one of them can revive your skin and have a positive impact on your acne.

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