21 Moisturisers That Won't Clog Your Pores, According to a Skincare Expert

For clear, breakout-free skin, you'll probably do anything to avoid clogged pores, which can lead to blackheads, whiteheads, and acne. Exfoliating regularly and using products that increase cellular turnover, like retinol, can help. You'll also want to avoid any products that could clog your pores even more. And yes, there are some "helpful" skincare products that can actually make the pore problem even worse. One of those products that could be tricky? A moisturiser.

That's right. Some moisturisers, which are supposed to keep your skin smooth and hydrated, can clog your pores. So if you have issues with congestion and breakouts, you'll want to choose your moisturisers wisely. That's where one important term comes into play: non-comedogenic.


(Image credit: @EGGCANVAS)

You've probably heard the term before and thought it sounded good for the most part but didn't really know much about it. "Simply put, a non-comedogenic product has been tested to not clog pores," explains board-certified dermatologist Ife Rodney, MD, FAAD, of Eternal Dermatology and Aesthetics. "That means it's less likely to cause acne. Though, this is not guaranteed. Dirt, dead skin cells, or sebum can clog the pores, causing acne. Comedogenic products—usually heavy or greasy—can also clog your pores. It's important to note that non-comedogenic products won't necessarily treat your breakouts. They just won't contribute to the problem."

While non-comedogenic products are helpful for just about anyone, those with oily, sensitive, or acne-prone skin will benefit the most from them, as these skin types can easily become clogged, which can lead to breakouts.

So what makes a product comedogenic? "Ingredients that are 'pore clogging' or comedogenic are found in many skincare products and makeup," says board-certified dermatologist Jeremy Brauer. "The list of pore-blocking ingredients is long and includes various oils, alcohols, acids, butters, propylene glycol, and lanolins. Non-comedogenic products often contain salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or sulfur but can also contain other oils such as grape seed."

Other non-comedogenic ingredients include glycerin, hyaluronic acid, mineral oil, and ceramides.


(Image credit: @IAMDODOS_STYLE)

When choosing a moisturiser, most products will specify that it's non-comedogenic, but you'll want to look at the label, too. "Do your research first. Before anything else, you want to narrow your search down to moisturisers that work with your skin type," Rodney says. "From there, check the label, which will state if the product is non-comedogenic. To be safe, aim for products that are oil-free and non-comedogenic. Next, check the ingredient list. Ingredient lists are usually listed in descending order in terms of concentration. If the product has some comedogenic qualities at the end of the list, it should be safe." Most non-comedogenic products generally avoid thick oils or emulsifiers.

Certain ingredients will work better depending on your skin type. If you have dry skin, Rodney suggests looking for glycerin, hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and squalane. Oily skin types will benefit from hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, niacinamide, and/or retinol. And overall, serums and gel-based or whipped moisturisers are best instead of thick creams.

While non-comedogenic moisturisers are so helpful for skin that's prone to clogged pores, there are a couple of drawbacks. Brauer says that products with benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and sulfur can be drying or irritating, so you'll want to be careful with those.

Another drawback is that some people will expect to have their breakout problems solved after using a non-comedogenic product. They can prevent clogged pores, but that doesn't mean they're going to target acne or blemishes. "Just because it's non-comedogenic does not guarantee that you won't get breakouts," Rodney explains. "If you're seeing unwanted blackheads or whiteheads, stop the moisturiser. Then, look for signs of improvement. Some products also have side effects like dryness, redness, or skin irritation. In both cases, make sure to first test the product on a small area of your skin before committing to it."

If you're ready to change up your moisturiser, take a look at these dermatologist- and editor-recommended picks below.

The 21 Best Non-Comedogenic Moisturisers:

1. CeraVe Moisturising Lotion

2. Chanel Hydra Beauty Gel Creme

3. Medik8 Balance Moisturiser

4. Fenty Skin Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer SPF 30

5. Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Mosituriser

6. EltaMD AM Therapy Facial Moisturizer

7. Paula's Choice Clear Moisturiser SPF 30

8. Pharmacy Daily Greens Oil-Free Gel Moisturizer

9. Neutrogena Refreshingly Clear Oil-Free Moisturiser

10. CeraVe SA Smoothing Moisturising Cream

11. Shani Darden Weightless Oil-Free Moisturizer

12. SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2

13. Origins Ginzing Gel

14. Tatcha The Water Cream

15. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Sensitive Creme

16. Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Pink Juice Moisturizer

17. Caudalie Vinoperfect Dark Spot Correcting Glycolic Night Cream

18. Cetaphil Daily Facial SPF50+ for Sensitive Skin

19. The Inkey List Omega Water Cream

20. Murad Clarifying Water Gel

21. BYOMA Moisturising Gel Cream

Next Up: These Moisturisers Are So Glowy That You Won't Even Need Any Highlight

Managing Editor

Hi, everyone. I’m Sarah! I was born and raised in Los Angeles, spent 12 years going to school and working in New York City (got my BA in journalism from NYU), and made the move back to L.A. to work at THE/THIRTY. I’ve had 10 years of experience covering lifestyle and wellness, with editor roles at Apartment Therapy, Real Simple, House Beautiful, Elle Decor, Veranda, and The Bump (sister site of The Knot). Most of my days are spent writing and editing stories about eating healthy, the latest wellness and self-care trends, the newest (and coolest) workouts, and the best fitness gear that will actually make you want to exercise. I love all the topics we cover at THE/THIRTY, but I especially love writing about mental health—I think that’s one of the most important topics right now and something I am passionate about (and also continuously working on myself!). As for self-care, I stick to these five things: a good workout, “me” time on the regular, a good book/podcast/playlist to unwind after a long day, naps, and decorating my apartment. When I’m not working, I love trying new restaurants with friends, listening to history and true crime podcasts, and enjoying an occasional Netflix binge.