What Is the Best Moisturizer for Acne Prone Skin?

A woman touching her face with the title "What Is the Best Moisturizer for Acne Prone Skin?"

The combination of moisturizers and acne can be a touchy subject. It took me years to figure out what worked well for my skin, and choosing the wrong moisturizer can make acne even worse. If you are in search of the best moisturizer for acne prone skin, you’re in the right place.

We’re going to cover how to find the right cream for your face, plus when and how to use it. Since high quality moisturizers can cost big bucks, it’s crucial that you do a little research before spending your hard-earned cash on a product that doesn’t live up to the hype.

My Skin Is Oily, Do I Still Need a Moisturizer?

If you have oily skin (which most of us with acne do, at least in patches) you may think you don’t need a moisturizer. That’s not necessarily the case.

Leaving a top-notch moisturizer out of your skin care regimen is not a good idea. Even oily skin needs to be moisturized. (source) In fact, if you’re using topical acne treatments, it may be even more important.

Common acne treatments like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide can cause excessive dryness, redness, and flaky skin. (source) Aside from making skin tight and uncomfortable, these skin afflictions can cause inflammation just like any other skin damage.

Since acne is linked with inflammation in the first place, it makes sense that eliminating additional inflammation caused by OTC and prescription topical medications may help your skin feel better. I wish I would have realized this when topical acne gel dried my face out but I was scared of extra moisture!

Product
Details
Our Rating
Our #1 Rated
Serumtologie Whipped Chiffon Cream

Serumtologie

Serumtologie Whipped Chiffon Cream

5 out of 5

In the Acne category

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  • LIGHTWEIGHT FORMULA: Our non comedogenic creams nourish skin without pore clogging ingredients
  • FOR SKIN TYPES: Normal, oily, combination, sensitive & acne prone will benefit from our moisturizers
  • SUPERFOOD FOR THE FACE: Certified organic ingredients include Green Tea, Aloe, Shea Butter & Vitamins
HealthAmbition Stamp

Our #1 Rated

5 out of 5

In the Acne category


Our #2 Rated
Cetaphil Dermacontrol Moisture

Cetaphil

Cetaphil Dermacontrol Moisture

4 out of 5

In the Acne category

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  • 3-in-1 formula to control oil, hydrate, and provide broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection
  • Micropearl technology provides a matte finish ; Lightweight, non-greasy, absorbs quickly
  • Formulated with Oleosome technology which uses fewer filters forl less irritation and greater hydration
HealthAmbition Stamp

Our #2 Rated

4 out of 5

In the Acne category


Our #3 Rated
Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture Sensitive Skin

Neutrogena

Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture Sensitive Skin

4 out of 5

In the Acne category

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  • Gentle formula is hypoallergenic, non comedogenic, fragrance free, oil free and alcohol free
  • Specially formulated for sensitive skin, this moisturizer is both lightweight, oil free and ultra gentle
  • Apply all over your face and neck. Can be used morning and night, alone or under makeup
HealthAmbition Stamp

Our #3 Rated

4 out of 5

In the Acne category


Our #4 Rated
Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Moisturizer

Aveeno

Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Moisturizer

4 out of 5

In the Acne category

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  • 4-fluid ounce bottle of Aveeno Clear Complexion acne-fighting daily facial moisturizer to help prevent breakouts and even...
  • Features the dermatologist recommended acne-fighting ingredient of salicylic acid to clear up existing blemishes and help...
  • Daily moisturizer features Total Soy Complex to improve the overall health of your complexion by evening skin tone and...
HealthAmbition Stamp

Our #4 Rated

4 out of 5

In the Acne category


Our #5 Rated
Foxbrim’s Vitamin C Lotion

Foxbrim

Foxbrim’s Vitamin C Lotion

3 out of 5

In the Acne category

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  • A VITAMIN C MOISTURIZER THAT CAN HELP BRIGHTEN AND SMOOTH SKIN - Our Vitamin C Face Moisturizer is a daily solution for your...
  • A NATURAL PLANT-BASED RENEWED FORMULA - Vitamin C and Green Tea provide skin with antioxidants that protect and fight free...
  • SATISFACTION GUARANTEED - Each and every Foxbrim product is backed by our amazing guarantee - We just know you will love this...
HealthAmbition Stamp

Our #5 Rated

3 out of 5

In the Acne category

Could Moisturizer Make Acne Worse?

If you don’t use a moisturizer made especially for acne prone skin, it just might. Many moisturizers contain ingredients that may clog pores, which is one of the causes of acne. Some moisturizers may also contain harsh ingredients that can do more harm than good if you have acne prone skin.If you choose wisely, though, a moisturizer will improve the look and feel of your skin, even if you suffer from acne.

How Do Moisturizers Work?

Moisturizers use a combination of different ingredients that are separated into classes by their function. We will discuss humectants and emollients here, as they are present in almost all moisturizers. Another other common components are occlusives, which create a protective barrier.

Humectants draw and help retain moisture in the stratum corneum (the outer layer of skin that contains moisture and protects the body from outside influences). Some examples of humectants include glycerin, alpha hydroxy acids, and sugars.

Emollients help to smooth skin by filling in the tiny crevasses in skin and helping removed flakes of skin, creating a softer, smoother surface. A moisturizer that balances these types of ingredients is ideal. (source)

Picking the Best Moisturizer for Acne Prone Skin

This is where things get tricky. Just because a moisturizer says that it’s oil-free or great for acne sufferers doesn’t mean that it is. Even the label non-comedogenic (which means does not cause acne) means very little.

This is because over the counter skincare products like moisturizers are not highly regulated. Any claims made by a health and beauty company are subject to suspicion. They can say almost anything they want about their product in order to market it, with little repercussion.

They are, however, required to list their ingredients. Knowing what moisturizer ingredients can help acne and which may hurt your skin is the best way to make sure you’re getting a quality product. I’ll cover some ingredients to avoid and some to look for when selecting a product next.

What Moisturizer Ingredients are Bad for Acne Prone Skin?

Here’s a link to a list of common moisturizer ingredients and their rating on the comedogenic scale. The comedogenic scale is a good guide to determine if an ingredient can cause or worsen acne. You might consider checking each ingredient against this scale when shopping for the perfect moisturizer.

One thing that should be mentioned is that the first ingredients on the label are contained in the highest quantities, while the last ingredients are likely contained in negligible amounts. The first several ingredients are the ones you should be paying closest attention to in this case.

Common ingredients to avoid include mineral oil, cocoa butter, lanolin, many pigments, and fragrances.

Moisturizing Ingredients Which are Good for Acne Sufferers

Glycerin and hyaluronic acid are both lightweight, non-comedogenic bases that are common in moisturizers made for people with acne. If you’re looking for a more natural alternative, lotions or creams containing jojoba oil and argan oil rate zero on the comedogenic scale.

A moisturizer with anti-inflammatory ingredients like aloe or green tea is ideal as well. Knocking down inflammation will not only help acne heal, but it can also help eliminate some of the unpleasant skin side effects common of acne medications.

Choosing a moisturizer with SPF (sun protection factor) is also a good idea. Many over the counter and prescription acne medications, both oral and topical, can cause photosensitivity. This sensitivity to light can cause you to sunburn easier, so always wear a moisturizer with SPF.

Our #1 Rated
Our pick our #1 rated

Serumtologie

Serumtologie Whipped Chiffon Cream

  • Quality
    Quality

  • Quality
    Price

  • Quality
    Our rating

While this product is quite a bit pricier than the others on my list, it also has a lot of great features that just might make it worth the investment. It is a cream rather than a lotion. Serumtologie takes a more natural approach to skin care, which is something I always watch for when shopping for products.

Pros
Pro Natural ingredients
Pro Vegan, just in case that’s what floats your boat
Pro No animal testing
Pro Non-greasy
Pro No unpleasant residue
Cons
Con Manufacturer admits it may not be ideal for dry skin
Con Strong fragrance for users with sensitive noses
Con Doesn’t absorb easily
Con May hinder makeup application
 

Our #2 Rated
Our pick our #2 rated

Cetaphil

Cetaphil Dermacontrol Moisture

  • Quality
    Quality

  • Quality
    Price

  • Quality
    Our rating

Cetaphil has long been a player in the acne skin care game, and their Dermacontrol moisturizer is one of the best moisturizers for acne prone skin on the market – at least for my skin care needs. This one even has ingredients to provide skin with a matte finish on the parts of my face prone to oiliness.

Pros
Pro Broad spectrum SPF 30 protects from sun damage
Pro Absorbs excess oil
Pro Soaks into the skin quickly
Pro Leaves skin feeling matte and not sticky
Pro Works great under makeup
Pro More natural than other mass produced products
Cons
Con May cause eye irritation
Con Causes a burning sensation in some users
Con May not eliminate all oil or shine
Con Oil absorbing barrier may be uncomfortable
 
 

Our #3 Rated
Our pick our #3 rated

Neutrogena

Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture Sensitive Skin

  • Quality
    Quality

  • Quality
    Price

  • Quality
    Our rating

This face lotion is an ideal option for an everyday moisturizer if you suffer from acne. It is available at most drug stores and big box stores. If you’re looking for an exceptional value, this product might be the one for you.

Pros
Pro Inexpensive
Pro Hypoallergenic
Pro Fragrance free
Pro Calls for use only once a day
Pro Lightweight moisture
Pro Contains SPF
Cons
Con Contains parabens (but most big name products do)
Con Contains some comedogenic ingredients
Con Inconsistent effects
Con Many users experienced an insufficient moisturizing effect
Con Contains many chemical ingredients
 

Our #4 Rated
Our pick our #4 rated

Aveeno

Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Moisturizer

  • Quality
    Quality

  • Quality
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  • Quality
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This lightweight moisturizer from Aveeno is the first on the list that contains a common topical acne fighting ingredient. It uses salicylic acid to treat acne while moisturizing and evening skin tone. Aveeno’s ‘Active Soy Complex’ acts as a firming and toning agent to improve the overall look of skin.

Pros
Pro Oil-free
Pro Lightweight
Pro Absorbs completely
Pro Contains actual acne fighting ingredients
Cons
Con Smell is unpleasant to some users
Con Can cause eye irritation
Con May cause skin irritation or redness
Con Might not improve acne

Our #5 Rated
Our pick our #5 rated

Foxbrim

Foxbrim’s Vitamin C Lotion

  • Quality
    Quality

  • Quality
    Price

  • Quality
    Our rating

This facial moisturizer is kind of like the craft beer of popular face moisturizers. While this product is not necessarily marketed towards acne sufferers, it has all the good characteristics we’re looking for and few of the comedogenic ingredients we want to avoid.

Pros
Pro Cruelty free; Foxbrim doesn’t test on animals
Pro Warranty that says ‘Love it or your money back’
Pro Silky textureLeaves skin dewy, not oily
Pro Contains antioxidants to help fight inflammation
Pro May help fade acne scars
Pro Crafted in small batches
Cons
Con High vitamin c content can irritate skin
Con May cause burning sensation on sensitive skin
Con Pump is flimsy
Con Lotion is thick, may not absorb well
 
 

The Last Word on Moisturizers for Acne

For me, the Serumtologie Whipped Chiffon moisturizer is the overall winner. As far as effectiveness and quality of ingredients go, it wins hands down. The product is effective for all skin types (great for those of us with combination skin) and doesn’t promote breakouts.

However, if you’re looking for something a little more reasonably priced as opposed to a more natural product, Cetaphil is a great pick. If you find it bothers your eyes, you might opt for a similar Cetaphil without sunscreen.

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