These 15 Moisturizers Are the GOAT for Acne-Prone Skin
If you've ever struggled with acne, you know how frustrating it can be to find a moisturizer that works well for your skin. I've definitely been there and have only recently discovered what is best for my own complexion (like, "two months ago" recently). If you are struggling, don't worry. I've asked dermatologists to weigh in on the subject.
Of course, it's always a good idea to see your own dermatologist so they can help you find what's effective for your particular skin, but you can think of this as a helpful guidebook for choosing the best moisturizer for acne-prone skin. Those who are acne prone have skin that's more sensitive, so it's important to keep that in mind when looking. Read what derms had to say below. They're breaking down what ingredients to look for, which ones to avoid, and, of course, helpful recs. There's something for every budget. Keep scrolling.
How to Choose the Best Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin
If you have acne-prone skin, derms want you to know a few things before purchasing your next moisturizer. Board-certified dermatologist Azadeh Shirazi, MD, says, "Be cautious of over-layering too many products. Skin minimalism should be your go-to when it comes to skincare. Keep it to three steps: cleanse, treat, and protect." Shirazi also says that it's important to avoid certain pore-clogging ingredients that might trigger more breakouts. "It's best to avoid ingredients that form a film on your skin's surface, like silicone derivatives (dimethicone and cyclomethicone). Also, avoid fragrances, mineral oil, lanolin, shea butter, or comedogenic oils like coconut oil," she says.
As a quick note, I will say that not every potentially comedogenic ingredient will bother your skin. A product could be labeled as having one or two of these potentially comedogenic ingredients but could still be a noncomedogenic formula. Celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau taught me that it's all about the water-to-oil ratio in a formula. You really just have to find what works best for your particular skin. If your skin is extremely sensitive, however, you might want to go with a really simple moisturizer that includes no potential acne triggers whatsoever, like Vanicream, which board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick, MD, also recommended. I've used Vanicream personally and find it to be a great moisturizer for sensitive, acne-prone skin.
Garshick also has a bit more advice. When choosing the best moisturizer for acne-prone skin, you'll want to look for certain key elements. "Those with acne-prone skin should look for ingredients that support the skin barrier, such as ceramides, to minimize irritation as well as hyaluronic acid or glycerin, which are humectants to draw moisture in," she shares. "Niacinamide can also be helpful, as it helps to calm and soothe the skin, reducing redness and inflammation while also working to regulate sebum production and boost ceramide production. Some moisturizers may also have a mattifying effect and help to reduce the appearance of oil. Ingredients like salicylic acid may also be particularly helpful for those who are oily." Ceramides and niacinamide are important to include if you use strong acne fighters like benzoyl peroxide, retinoid, and BHAs. These will help mitigate any potential skin irritation.
The Best Moisturizers for Acne-Prone Skin
"This works as a daily moisturizer for oily or acne-prone skin, as it contains Sebulyse technology to target excess oil to help improve the appearance of pores while also mattifying the skin and reducing shine." — Garshick
"This is especially great for those who have oily skin or are acne prone. This moisturizer won't leave the skin looking or feeling greasy. This lightweight gel-cream helps hydrate the skin as well as helps breakouts, as it contains 0.5% salicylic acid. Additionally, it is soothing on the skin and leaves the skin with a natural matte finish." — Garshick
"This moisturizer contains ceramides and hyaluronic acid to help support the skin barrier and draw moisture in. It is lightweight, so it won't leave the skin feeling greasy, and as a bonus, it contains SPF." — Garshick
"This gentle daily face moisturizer contains both hyaluronic acid and ceramides to help draw moisture in and support the skin barrier. This lightweight formulation can be used all year, is oil-free, and is especially good for those with sensitive skin, as it is free of fragrance, parabens, formaldehyde, and other preservatives." — Garshick
"This oil-free moisturizer contains hyaluronic acid to help draw moisture in, aloe vera and cucumber extract to help soothe the skin, and grape-seed extract, which is rich in antioxidants, helping to fight free radical damage and promote collagen synthesis. It can be used by all skin types, as it is noncomedogenic, and it is free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates, paraffin, formaldehyde, mineral oil, synthetic fragrances, petrolatum, triclosan, and GMOs." — Garshick
"Containing niacinamide and ceramides, this oil-free moisturizer helps to boost hydration and reduces dry, flaky patches without clogging the pores." — Garshick
"This mineral sunscreen not only offers broad-spectrum protection but also provides a natural tint, helping to camouflage any marks or blemishes. It is oil-free and also contains a blend of hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, making it a great moisturizing sunscreen option for those with acne-prone skin and blemishes." — Garshick
"This moisturizer is lightweight and won't clog the pores while also providing broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection. It contains hyaluronic acid to boost moisture." — Garshick
"This easy-to-use moisturizer is a great option for those with acne-prone skin, as it helps to replenish moisture and repair the skin barrier to lock in hydration. At the same time, it's still lightweight and won't leave the skin feeling greasy." — Garshick
"This lightweight yet nourishing formula absorbs quickly. It's specially formulated to support and repair the skin barrier. Clinical ingredients reduce inflammation and redness, making it an ideal choice for those on exfoliants or retinol or for rosacea and acne-prone skin. It also contains ceramides, allantoin, phytosphingosine natural lipid, cactus, and yeast extracts." — Shirazi
"When it comes to moisturizers with sun protection, it's best to use a mineral-based formula without heavy oils. This one from EltaMD has hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to help calm inflammation associated with acne. The lightweight formula absorbs quickly and doesn't clog pores, so my acne-prone patients love it!" — Shirazi
I've been using this microbiome-balancing moisturizer from Cosmedix for a few weeks now, and I have say to it's my new favorite moisturizer. It's extremely hydrating but still helps balance out acne-prone with probiotics and ingredients like bisabolol. I love it—it's been an absolute gem for my dehydrated, barrier-damaged skin, and it has helped reduce breakouts after just a couple of weeks of use.
This cream from French luxury brand Biologique Recherche is definitely a spendy option, but I can tell you firsthand that it works. It features a blend of powerful botanicals with antibacterial properties to help keep your skin microbiome more balanced and hormonal breakouts at bay. I love it because it's gentle and hydrating and doesn't include oils that are too heavy for acne-prone skin.
This lipid-, ceramide-, and cholesterol-rich moisturizer is great for those who may be struggling with acne and barrier damage simultaneously. It helps restore the barrier with rich moisture but is also completely noncomedogenic—meaning it has no pore-clogging ingredients.
I'm a huge fan of Farmacy products (Honey Potion and Green Clean are two of my all-time favorites), and Honey Halo doesn't disappoint. With antioxidants, fig fruit extract to restore water levels in the skin, and a potent ceramide blend, it provides rich moisture and protection to the skin barrier without clogging pores.