When you are prone to acne, it’s perfectly normal to feel intimidated by just about any product that promises moisture. After all, your skin already has a lot of oil.
But, guess what?
After spending more than 40 hours reviewing published studies in PubMed and examining thousands of reviews from Amazon and other online sellers, we found one surprising fact.
Moisturizing doesn’t really make pimples worse, but not moisturizing can.
So, to help you pick the right product that won’t make your acne worse, we went ahead and reviewed dozens of products to help you narrow down the list.
Having a hard time choosing? Here, we reveal the best moisturizers for acne-prone skin experts and thousands of customers swear by!
A Quick Glance At Our Top Picks
Before we go any further, here’s a quick rundown of our top choices.
How To Find The Best Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin
When you have acne-prone skin, applying a creams and lotions can seem like you’re looking for trouble.
I mean, why would you add more oil and moisture to your already greasy and oily skin?
To tell you the truth, it’s actually what your skin needs.
While it may sound ironic, a good moisturizer can help control your skin’s excessive oil production.
Let me explain.
When your skin is dry and dehydrated, it thinks that it doesn’t have enough moisture to protect itself and carry out its function.
So, what it does it produce more oil than what’s needed and this spells trouble for your oily skin.
Too much oil won’t only make your skin look dull but it can also cause clogged pores and acne.
Now, you’re probably wondering: How do you choose the right product for your skin type?
I’ll walk you through the whole process.
To begin with, you should know your skin first. It’s not enough that you know you’re prone to pimples.
For example, if you have acne-prone skin that’s also oily, you need to stay away from products that are thick, creamy and has oil in it.
Look for something that’s lightweight and water-based to avoid clogging your pores.
Apart from formula, you need to be careful about ingredients, too. It’s good if you can find a moisturizing product with acne-fighting ingredients and components that can protect your skin from further damage.
Here are some good examples:
This ingredient is so effective against acne that you can see it in so many products. You can find it in creams, cleansers and even toners.
But here’s the interesting thing.
Salicylic acid needs to be consistently used for it to be effective. If you suddenly stop applying it, there’s a big chance for your zits to come back.
This is one good reason why this ingredient is better in creams than in body washes and cleansers. Since creams and lotions stay on your skin longer, it means salicylic acid can continue working throughout your day.
Take note, however, that moisturizers with this ingredient aren’t always ideal to use. If you are using topical acne treatments, using them together can cause dryness.
This is another great ingredient when it comes to moisturizing acne-prone skin. What it basically does is help slough off dead skin cells.
It should be your choice if your skin is also dry, irritated and inflamed.
Getting a tan might sound like a good idea to hide your acne, but it’s not.
Although it can make your acne spots less noticeable, your skin can develop more problems once the tan fades.
You can end up with darker spots, dry skin and uneven complexion.
So, to make sure none of those nasty things happen, find a moisturizer with built-in sunscreen. Apply it every single day for protection.
If you can’t find a moisturizing product with SPF, you can invest in a separate sunscreen. Aim for SPF 30 or higher and make sure it’s oil-free and non-comedogenic.
Reviews of The Best Moisturizers for Acne-Prone Skin
Narrow down your choices for the best moisturizer for acne-prone skin with this list.
Why We Love It: Free from irritating ingredients
This product can work really well for your skin type.
And I kid you not.
Danish Skin Care Perfect Skin Moisturizer isn’t only effective against acne. It also has anti-aging benefits so you can also use it as a night cream or an eye cream.
And you know what else?
Apart from antioxidants, it also has healing and restorative ingredients. It can help your skin regain its balance so it produces less oil and reacts less to irritants.
Now, if you are wondering what it can do for your acne-prone skin, listen:
This product has zero fragrance and color. It doesn’t even contain dyes and parabens.
This, in essence, means that it has less chances of causing skin breakouts. And if you use it consistently, it can actually help reduce the appearance of acne scars and blemishes.
Seriously, how can you resist that?
Why We Love It: Has a light matte finish
Don’t you just hate it when your skin just can’t stop oiling up?
It seems that no matter how much setting powder you apply or how many blotting sheets you use, you just can’t keep your skin matte.
Frustrating, I know.
This is exactly why La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat Oil-Free Mattifying Moisturizer easily made it to this list. It doesn’t just keep excess oiliness at bay but it can also mattify the skin.
Surprisingly, it can tighten up your pores, too.
The product is also oil-free, making it a great makeup base. You won’t have to worry about your foundation and the rest of your makeup smudging or wearing off just a few hours after application.
And you know what else?
It’s formulated with Sebulyse technology and Lipo Hydroxy Acids. It also has Zinc Pidolate and vitamins C and E.
Together, these ingredients won’t just leave your skin hydrated but clearer, too.
One warning, though.
If you have really dry and sensitive skin, this isn’t the best product for you. Although it can moisturize, it may not be enough to satisfy your skin’s thirst for hydration and moisture.
Why We Love It: It’s a 3-in-1 moisturizer
Are you using topical acne treatments?
If you do, I’m pretty sure you’re dealing with some nasty dry patches, too. And using your regular creams won’t solve the issue.
This is where Cetaphil Dermacontrol Moisturizer fits in.
It’s a 3-in-1 moisturizer that promises to hydrate your skin, protect it from the sun and control excess shine. Apart from that, it can also help bring back your skin’s natural texture and tone.
It’s free from parabens and fragrance so you won’t have to feel guilty while applying it on your skin. It’s not even thick, making it easy to work with.
However, there’s just one small catch.
Despite its consistency, it’s not really that fast absorbing. It can take a while before the product gets absorbed.
Why We Love It: Great for sensitive, acne-prone skin
Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture Sensitive Skin is marketed for sensitive skin and it’s the exact reason why it can also work great for those with acne and oily skin. It’s lightweight, water-based and non-greasy- the exact things your skin type needs.
Plus, it’s alcohol-free and noncomedogenic, too.
Similar with Cetaphil Dermacontrol Moisturizer, this product can also work well in minimizing the negative effects of topical acne medications (read: dry patches on the skin). It won’t interfere with the treatment and it won’t worsen your skin’s condition.
It’s not greasy or sticky on the skin which means you can use it under your makeup without any problem.
Another thing you’ll love about this product is that it comes in a white plastic bottle with a pump. It makes dispensing less messy and more precise.
Considering that it’s plastic, you can take it with you when you travel, too.
Why We Love It: Has high SPF rating
Layering skin care products isn’t always that enjoyable. If you’re in a rush, waiting for each product to set can easily frustrate you.
I know how that feels.
Thankfully, we have products like EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46.
Yes, it’s a moisturizer. And yes, it has SPF.
In essence, using it means you can skip one step in your routine.
Apart from the high SPF, you’ll love that this product is lightweight, making it suitable for your skin type.
It’s oil-free and it’s not tacky or sticky. It doesn’t even leave any annoying white cast.
And the best part?
It actually has hyaluronic acid for hydration and lactic acid to make your skin a lot clearer.
Let me explain briefly.
Hyaluronic acid is a great humectant that makes the skin plumper and more supple. It’s able to hold 1,000 times its own weight in water.
Lactic acid, on the other hand, gently exfoliates the skin. By removing dead skin cells, it can help reveal newer and healthier cells.
Why We Love It: Contains salicylic acid
When it comes to acne, one of the easiest ways to prevent it is by making sure your pores are clog-free and your skin is properly hydrated. And this is where Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Control Moisturizer can help you.
You see, apart from being a moisturizer, it also has salicylic acid. It’s an ingredient that’s known to be effective in unclogging pores and resolving lesions.
But here’s the catch.
For salicylic acid to be actually effective, you have to make sure to use it every day.
Well, if you suddenly stop using it, your pores will clog up again and your skin will break out. And you wouldn’t want that to happen, right?
Now, if you think of it, having this ingredient in a moisturizer is actually convenient. Since you’ll be using it once or twice a day, you’ll practically be applying salicylic every day, too.
A word of caution:
While that seems like a great idea, you should still check with your dermatologist, particularly if you are using any topical acne medication. Adding a new medicated skin care product always have the potential to cause adverse reactions.
To use the product, you are supposed to apply a thin layer of it after cleansing your face. You can use it a couple of times each day but if you notice any peeling, you can reduce the frequency to once a day.
If you are heading outside, be sure to apply a good sunscreen to avoid sun damage and sunburn.
Why We Love It: Made from organic ingredients
If you are tired of using chemical-based products that don’t deliver any result, it’s probably the right time to switch to something organic.
Organic Facial Moisturizer by Christina Moss Naturals makes a great choice for your skin type. Apart from being organic, it’s also noncomedogenic and hypoallergenic.
It’s a light moisturizer that won’t trigger any breakouts. It has great oil control properties, too.
The product doesn’t leave any greasy feeling and gets absorbed into the skin right away. This is actually nice, especially if you’ll be putting on makeup or if you worry that it’ll transfer to your sheets at night.
Now, here is where things get more interesting.
The product claims to possess anti-aging properties.
Though, if you look at its ingredient list, you can’t technically find any anti-aging ingredients there. It’s probably the use of organic and non-chemical based ingredients which gives the moisturizer that property.
Why We Love It: Gets absorbed quickly
For someone who’s prone to acne, one of your priorities should be strengthening your skin’s barrier. It’s pretty obvious why if you think about it.
A strong barrier means having a higher resistance. It’s less likely to get damaged and invaded, particularly by acne-causing bacteria.
That is exactly what Lavo Daily Moisturizer Cream does.
Apart from that, the product also has a botanical-based formula that doesn’t have fragrance and parabens. It’s non-greasy and leaves a matte finish, too.
And you know what?
It also possesses anti-aging benefits. Your skin won’t only look clearer, but younger, too.
The product is slightly creamy. Despite that, it gets absorbed quickly to provide instant hydration to your skin.
You can use it both day and night.
Why We Love It: Has probiotics
Now, before you freak out with this one, listen.
Eminence Clear Skin Probiotic Moisturizer is a great product for problematic skin because of its unique set of ingredients.
Let’s start off with probiotics.
They are added to the formulation to help exfoliate and soothe your skin. They work like magic when it comes to your pores.
The moisturizer also has tea tree and cucumber extracts. Together, these two can help in reducing inflammation and in relieving redness.
Now, here’s the interesting part.
There are two ways you can reap the benefits of this moisturizer.
If you want a lighter application, you can add a few drops of water to emulsify it. If it's intense hydration you are looking for, you can apply it thickly on the skin.
It’s scented. Fragrances can potentially cause irritation, so make sure to keep this in mind if you have a really sensitive skin.
Why We Love It: Contains several ingredients against acne
This moisturizer has a great list of ingredients.
Don’t believe it?
It has cinnamon and peptides to soften your skin. For acne, it also has tea tree oil, salicylic acid and aloe.
You can also find witch hazel in the product, too.
Because of these ingredients, you can technically consider the product as an acne lotion. But, unlike other acne lotions, it isn’t drying so you won’t have to worry about getting dry patches on your face.
Honestly, it actually has great hydrating properties that won’t make your oily skin worse.
There’s just one caveat.
It can be a bit strong for those with sensitive skin.
When To Apply Moisturizer?
So, when do you apply your moisturizer?
The answer to this question is pretty basic but with so many skin care products these days, layering can be quite confusing. And if you are a beginner, just searching the internet for an answer can make you feel overwhelmed.
Don’t worry. I know the feeling.
For moisturizers, you have to keep in mind one thing: Its action.
Moisturizers are intended to lock in moisture and water to your skin. This means that the best time to apply it is not 5 minutes or an hour after you wash your face.
You should apply your moisturizer while it is still damp. Waiting for your skin to dry completely means you lose the chance to seal in the moisture.
Once your moisturizer has been completely absorbed by your skin, only then can you proceed with your other skin care products.
Now, here’s the thing:
If you’re using a vitamin C serum, an eye cream or an essence, they go first before your moisturizer. Remember that you should apply your products from the thinnest to the thickest consistency.
As to how you should apply your moisturizer?
Just keep it gentle. Use your ring fingers as they exert less pressure than the rest of your fingers.
Apply your moisturizer in gentle circular motions to stimulate blood flow to the skin. It will facilitate better absorption, too.
Finding the best moisturizer for your skin type is never easy. You may have to test out products after products just to find the right one.
This means investing not just money but time, too.
The good news is that you don’t have to go through that process anymore. By knowing exactly what to look for and with this guide, you’ll be one step closer to finding a solution to your acne.
Of course, not all skin will react the same way so you should still pay close attention to how a new product affects your skin. If you see any signs of irritation, stop using it.
Honestly, this is one of the reasons why Danish Skin Care Perfect Skin Moisturizer aced this review. Apart from its moisturizing properties, it has no dyes, parabens or even fragrance to make you worry.