If you have acne-prone skin, you know how difficult it can be to find a good treatment for it. Blemishes seem to pop out of nowhere, and every day it seems that there’s a new facial cream or serum that will eliminate blemishes forever.
In reality, fighting acne is a drawn-out process that may not end until you’re 90 years old. In the meantime, the best you can do is find products that help to tame the oils on your skin and prevent clogging.
Facial moisturizers are a great place to start. Along with a good acne cleanser, a quality facial moisturizer is among the most important products to add to your skincare regimen. If you’re not using a face moisturizer, it’s time to start! We’ll help you choose the right product for you.
You might think that when you have oily, acne-prone skin, a moisturizer is the last thing you know. But this can’t be further from the truth. Often, acne is the product of your skin’s pH balance being off, so your sebaceous glands try to overproduce to moisturize areas that aren’t receiving enough water. We’ll go into more detail about this later, but for now, let’s look at some of the best face moisturizers for acne-prone skin.
We love Blu Atlas’s face moisturizer. It’s a revolutionary product in men’s skincare (although women can benefit from using it too). For starters, it’s all-natural, so your sensitive acne-prone skin doesn’t need to worry about artificial fragrances or ingredients. It’s also vegan, and you can get your money back if it doesn’t meet your needs.
But it’ll probably work pretty well for your acne-prone skin. It uses a blend of seaweed and mango seed butter to exfoliate, hydrate, and protect skin from stressors that might aggravate your acne further.
Seaweed is a powerful antioxidant, hydrating ingredient known to heal and replenish skin. One of its best traits for acne-prone skin is the fact that it helps regulate oil production, so it can balance out the oils that are causing acne.
It’s suitable for all skin types, so it’s excellent for combination and sensitive skin as well. And you can subscribe to monthly shipments so you’ll never run out!
2. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat
La Roche-Posay is a dermatologist-formed brand that brings the skincare world moisturizing products. Those struggling with acne will likely enjoy the protective, mattifying properties of this moisturizer.
Lip-hydroxy acid, a type of salicylic acid, will target any existing acne and help to prevent future breakouts. Then, glycerin and La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water trap moisture back into the skin to help calm your sebum production.
The results include visibly smaller pores and a mat texture to your complexion. It’s non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and dermatologist tested, so you can use it daily with confidence. All of this makes it our #2 pick for the best face moisturizer for acne prone skin.
3. Proactiv Green Tea Moisturizer
Proactiv is a premiere skincare brand for anyone suffering from acne and blemish-prone skin. It features a dermatologist-formulated cleansing and toning system that can control even the most extensive breakouts.
Their green tea moisturizer is an add-on product you can buy separately from their three-step systems. Green tea is antioxidant-rich to lighten and protect your skin. It also features caffeine to lift and brighten the skin. It’s oil-free and lightweight, so you can use it daily without clogging pores.
Since many medicated acne cleansers and treatments can be extremely drying, a quality moisturizer like this one is an essential step in the process. Our only complaint is that it doesn’t contain sunscreen. If you’re using a powerful acne treatment such as Proactiv to treat your oily skin, sunscreen is essential to protect you from the sun.
4. La Mer Crème de la Mer Moisturizing Cream
Transform your skin with this luxury moisturizing cream from Crème de la Mer. It uses marine botanicals to fight wrinkles and fine lines. Its ingredients also restore the skin’s hydration for a brighter complexion.
There’s a unique method of applying this ultra-rich cream so that it can offer the most benefits to your tired skin. You’ll scoop a small amount of the cream out of the tub and rub it between your fingers. As you massage it in circles, it will start to turn translucent, and you can apply it to your face. Massage it into your skin, paying close attention to the areas you want to treat, like breakouts and wrinkles.
Within one use, you should notice improvements in both the youthfulness of your skin and your breakouts. Your skin will feel firmer within a few weeks with fewer wrinkles and more elastin. It’s an expensive product, but if you stick with it, the fruits of your labor will become known.
5. RoC Multi Correxion 5 In 1 Daily Face Moisturizer SPF 30
Want one of the best face moisturizers for acne prone skin, but a more budget-friendly option? You can get RoC Multi Correxion moisturizing cream for just under $20, and those who have used it couldn’t be happier with the results.
It contains SPF 30 sunscreen, so your sensitive acne-prone skin won’t have to worry about dark spots and sunburns. It also features a non-greasy, non-comedogenic formula that’s great for oily, acne-prone skin.
This multi-action face cream will work to repair issues including puffiness, dark circles, wrinkles, and dullness, along with acne protection. It locks moisture into the top layers and balances oil production to reduce breakouts.
With hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, vitamin C, and a variety of other skin-boosting ingredients, you can rest assured that your skin will look tighter, healthier, and brighter within a few weeks.
6. Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer SPF 30
Enjoy daily sun protection in a cream that’s clinically proven to even your skin tone and texture. It’s also a dermatologist-recommended brand that you can trust. However, this moisturizer is on the more mild end of the spectrum, so if you need a heavy-duty moisturizer to combat breakouts and oily patches, this might not be for you.
Still, it uses high-quality ingredients, including a soy complex that locks moisture into the skin. It also fights signs of aging and helps to repair any damage. If you have dark spots from sun damage, this can also help to improve and prevent them.
If you have very oily skin, you’ll enjoy how lightweight this moisturizer is. It’s oil-free, and users report their skin feeling more radiant after a few uses.
7. CeraVe Ultra-Light Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30
CeraVe has a long list of great products for any skin problem. Their regular moisturizing lotion can be used anywhere on the body to help restore the protective layer and improve its appearance.
But if you need excellent sun protection and a super-light formula for sensitive skin, try this Ultra-Light Moisturizing Lotion. It’s ideal for those with oily skin prone to breakouts because it contains nothing that would increase oil production.
In fact, this formula is heavy in ceramides that have been known to repair the skin’s protective barrier. Your oil production might be high because your barrier isn’t doing its job, so this could be the perfect product for calming skin and reducing breakouts. It also has a mattifying effect, so you can minimize daily shine.
8. Skinceuticals Physical Matte UV Defense SPF 50
If the traditional SPF 15 or SPF 30 moisturizers just aren’t cutting it for your sensitive skin, take it a step further and try Skinceuticals Physical Matte UV Defense SPF. It’s a tinted moisturizer mousse that leaves a powder finish on your skin. This is how it mattifies your skin, but if you want to wear foundation or you’d rather not use a tinted moisturizer, this might not be the right product for you.
Otherwise, you can enjoy the age-defying benefits of this broad-spectrum project that protects from both UVA and UVB rays. It also helps to smooth out your skin and reduce the appearance of pores, so if you have combination skin or an uneven complexion, this might be perfect for you.
Our biggest complaint is that it has a significant amount of silicone, which can coat the skin. It’s a little heavier than most of the products on this list. If you need high-power sunscreen and protection, it might be worth a try, but not everyone will enjoy the texture and finish.
9. Cetaphil Oil Absorbing Moisturizer SPF 30
If your acne-prone skin stems from an overproduction of oil in combination or oily skin, a dermatologist might recommend using this oil-absorbing moisturizer from Cetaphil. Cetaphil is a potent hydrator that’s gentle on the skin and wears super lightweight for daily use.
This moisturizer has the unique ability to hydrate, soak up excess oil, and protect from the sun, all in one cream. It’s an ideal follow-up for those dealing with dry skin after acne treatment. It’s also been clinically tested for sensitive skin, so you can use it worry-free.
It’s also a highly-accessible drugstore option. So while we might recommend a more natural product with highly hydrating ingredients like seaweed, we’d recommend picking up this one if you need something in a pinch.
10. Val by MVH Clarifying Hydration
If you have a few pennies to burn, consider this luxury moisturizer from MVH. It contains no oils, anti-inflammatory ingredients, and antibacterials, so it’s perfect for oily skin prone to breakouts.
Bisabolol and green tea are key anti-inflammatory and soothing agents that will help target acne and bacteria. It’s a clarifying moisturizer, which means it has exfoliant ingredients in it to help clear out dead skin cells and purify pores. The result is smoother, calmer skin that’s less likely to develop acne.
We love the silky, soft texture of this moisturizer too. It goes on so light and transparent that you can put it on and forget it’s there.
Our biggest complaints are that it’s expensive, doesn’t contain sunscreen, and comes in a tiny tube. So if you love it, you’ll have to fork over another small fortune sooner than you’d like.
11. Tula Breakout Star Acne Moisturizer
To treat acne breakouts, try this acne moisturizer by Tula formulated to tackle acne. It uses salicylic acid, a BHA that’s considered one of the key ingredients for treating acne. It gently exfoliates the skin to remove bacteria, debris that clogs pores, and dead skin cells. It’s also an excellent anti-inflammatory to reduce the appearance and sensitivity of breakouts.
It also contains azelaic to help brighten your skin tone and minimize the appearance of dark spots. Then niacinamide, watermelon extracts, and aloe come in to soothe and hydrate the skin, boosting the skin’s protective layer.
Tula has a full line of acne-treating products, including cleansers, toners, and spot correctors. You can try all of them, but our favorite for acne-prone skin is this Breakout Star Acne Moisturizer because it targets pesky pimples without drying the skin.
12. Caudalie Vinopure Moisturizing Matifying Fluid
Those with oily skin often complain about having a shiny complexion, and this mattifying serum can help with that. Our favorite thing about it is that it uses squalene from olives to help balance out your skin’s oil production. It tells the skin that plenty of natural oil is present, and it doesn’t need to produce more.
Then, it absorbs any grease that sneaks through and offers long-lasting hydration. Java tea extract and grape seed polyphenols hydrate and even out the skin tone. It’s excellent for both oily and combination skin, but takes 12th place for the best face moisturizer for acne prone skin.
Why You Should Be Using a Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin
Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of using a moisturizer for acne-prone skin. You might have thought in the past that using a moisturizer for your skin that’s the opposite of dry would make oil production worse. But if you choose the right oil-free moisturizer, it produces the opposite effect.
There are a couple of reasons you’ll want to use moisturizers for acne-prone skin. First of all, your acne might be the product of over-productive sebaceous glands. There’s an imbalance in your facial skin tone that tells your sebaceous glands that it needs more sebum to be healthy. As a result, you get a lot of oil production that attracts pore-clogging materials and produces acne.
Many moisturizers can help to restore the balance of your acne-prone skin. They might contain squalene or other natural oils that can signal to the glands in your skin that there’s plenty of oil keeping your skin hydrated. It can effectively minimize blemishes as a result.
The second reason you might want a good moisturizer in your daily routine is to combat the dryness associated with your acne treatments. Cleansers, spot correctors, and other acne medications dry out the skin to counteract the oiliness causing the breakouts. It works, but it can leave your skin dry, sensitive, and prone to damage.
Moisturizers formulated for acne-prone skin can restore moisture without aggravating your acne-prone skin.
Which Hydrating Ingredients Help Blemish-Prone Skin?
It’s important to note that not every moisturizer will be good for your blemish-prone skin. Moisturizers that are heavy, full of oils, or formulated for dehydrated skin will likely have the wrong effect on your oily dermis.
Instead, look for lightweight moisturizers that go on clear and help balance out your skin’s protective barrier. Here are a few ingredients to look for in moisturizers for acne-prone skin.
These are ingredients that attract and absorb moisture. When used in moisturizers, they hold the moisture against the top layer of your skin and prevent it from releasing water already in its layers.
Aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, glycol, lactic acid, and sorbitols are all examples of humectants. Seaweed can also be an excellent humectant.
Those with acne-prone skin probably have a fair amount of scarring and unevenness in their skin tone. Emollients can help to soften and even out those rough patches. They contain vitamins that promote collagen production to restore the skin.
Exfoliants in moisturizers are ingredients that help to clear out pores and remove dead skin cells. While an exfoliant in a cleanser might mean microbeads that scrub away dead skin, a moisturizer is a chemical or all-natural exfoliant that doesn’t need friction to remove impurities.
Salicylic acid is one of the most common exfoliants in acne-prone moisturizers. Seaweed is an excellent all-natural exfoliant that helps to soften skin as well.
As you use cleansers and moisturizers to reduce oil production and normalize your skin tone, you’re leaving your epidermis vulnerable to the sun. Oily skin is often more protected from sun damage because the oil puts a layer between your skin and the UV rays, but it’s often more prone to sunburn when you remove that.
Greasy sunscreens are bad news for your acne-prone skin. Look for a product with sunscreen that’s lightweight and won’t sit heavily on your skin. You can also purchase a facial sunscreen separate from your moisturizer.
If you have acne scarring, seek natural oils like mango seed butter to help soften and minimize the appearance of scars. You want ingredients high in vitamin C to increase collagen production and regenerate cells. Not only will you reduce the appearance of scarring, but you’ll also fight aging signs.
Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)
Vitamin B3 is an essential nutrient in your skin that promotes health and vibrancy. It can help balance out your skin tone, improve the skin’s protective barrier, and regulate natural oil production. This version of vitamin B3 is a clean ingredient that’s excellent for moisturizing acne-prone skin.
Niacinamide has also been used to reduce redness and swelling from acne. It can minimize scarring as well.
Which Ingredients Aren’t Good for Acne-Prone Skin?
Knowing what works for your acne-prone skin is just as important as knowing what doesn’t work. Irritating your sensitive skin or using products that clog pores will lead to a breakout. Let’s take a look.
An occlusive is any ingredient that sits on top of the skin to keep moisture from escaping. It forms an additional barrier on top of your skin’s natural barrier. Petroleum jelly (like Vaseline or Aquaphor) is the most commonly used occlusive.
Using an occlusive on acne-prone skin usually means trapping your natural oils against your skin, clogging pores, and causing breakouts. Your acne-prone skin needs to breathe, and occlusives make that problematic.
Fragrances can be harmful to all skin types, especially to sensitive skin. Perfumes are unnecessary in facial products, and they can clog pores or aggravate the skin. They can cause inflammation and redness and increase oil production. Avoid them whenever possible.
Isopropyl or Ethyl Alcohol
Drying out the skin with the right products can be good for acne-prone skin, but you need a good moisturizer afterward. Any moisturizer containing isopropyl or ethyl alcohol will counteract the effects of a good moisturizer and aggravate any breakouts you already have.
Coconut oil is a common ingredient in many moisturizers because it’s so effective at locking in moisture, but avoid it if your face is prone to acne. It can be extremely comedogenic, meaning it will clog your pores and make acne worse.
Things to Consider When Buying a Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin
Understanding the ingredients in your moisturizer is the most important thing you can do before buying it. If you know which elements will most help your acne and which will make it worse, that’s basically all you need to know!
But there are a few other things you might consider while researching products. Here’s a quick rundown.
- Always check for the word non-comedogenic, which means it won’t clog pores.
- Find a good acne-fighting cleanser that goes with your moisturizer. If you don’t clean your skin properly first, your moisturizer could be trapping bacteria on your skin’s top
layer, leading to a breakout. Finding a complimentary cleanser with your moisturizer can help.
- Know what you’re sensitive to. Pay attention to ingredients and avoid those that seem to make your breakouts worse.
- Choose a hydrating cream that’s lightweight and never greasy. You should be able to wear it all day without feeling like it’s weighing down your skin.
This information should be enough to get you started on your journey to finding the best moisturizer out there. It can be tricky, but arming yourself with knowledge will help lead your way.