Anyone with acne-prone skin knows the struggle of finding a good moisturizer. It needs to be light enough not to clog pores but heavy enough to actually moisturize. Rather than go through yet another unimpressive moisturizer, let’s turn to the experts for their recommendations.
“For those with acne-prone skin, I think it’s really important they use lightweight moisturizers like lotions or gels over thicker creams, as sometimes creams can clog pores and increase acne,” suggested Samer Jaber, a dermatologist at Washington Square Dermatology in New York City.
He said those who are doing well on their acne medication don’t necessarily have to moisturize if they don’t need it, but this is often not the case. “Most acne medications contain ingredients that are drying, such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and retinoids, so it is important to keep your skin barrier healthy,” said dermatologist Marie Hayag of Fifth Avenue Aesthetics.
The experts we spoke to recommend looking for a moisturizer that specifically says “non-acnegenic,” “non-comedogenic,” “won’t cause breakouts” or “does not clog pores.”
So what moisturizers do dermatologists recommend for acne-prone skin? Check out their recommendations below.
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First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Oil-Free Mattifying Gel Moisturizer
First Aid Beauty
Lortscher recommends this moisturizer for combination skin. “This moisturizer hydrates and replenishes the skin with antioxidant-rich botanical extracts. It can also help to reduce the appearance of pores, which gives the skin a more matte appearance."
The gel moisturizer is lightweight on your skin while utilizing ingredients like FMLT SeboCure, “a proprietary blend to help absorb sebum, reduce greasy skin and discourage future blemishes from forming.”
Gel-based formulas tend to be lighter on the skin, which can be easier for acne-prone skin to handle. That’s why the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream is recommended by both Hayag and Jaber.
“[It’s] great for oily and dry skin. It contains a great trio of moisturizing ingredients: hyaluronic acid, glycerin and dimethicone,” Hayag said. It has great moisturizing properties for something so lightweight, Jaber said. It’s oil, dye and fragrance free, too.
Another affordable drugstore option is Cetaphil’s Moisturizing Lotion. “This is a classic dermatologist favorite. It’s lightweight, gentle on the skin. It’s formulated with B5 and Vitamin E, and is oil-free and non-comedogenic,” Jaber said. It comes in a huge 8-ounce bottle and can be used on the body, too.
This drugstore favorite is another moisturizer recommended by multiple dermatologists. “It’s super lightweight, formulated with ceramides, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid and is oil-free and non-comedogenic,” Jaber explained.
Aimee Paik, medical director at Apostrophe, also likes it— especially its budget-friendly price. It’s fragrance-free and hypoallergenic, too.
For those with relatively normal skin, Lortscher recommends this Aveeno moisturizer that contains salicylic acid to help clear and prevent blemishes. The Total Soy Complex works to even skin tone and texture, a common pesky partner to breakouts. It’s non-comedogenic, oil-free and hypoallergenic, so it won’t cause more problems.
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Soothing Repair Moisturizer
Multiple dermatologists suggested moisturizers from La Roche-Posay, including Paik. “La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane Ultra is a great option for acne-prone skin. It has a light feel but is quite moisturizing and does not clog pores,” she said. It uses key ingredients shea butter, thermal spring water and neurosensine to moisturize and support sensitive skin, relieving irritation and promoting healing.
If your skin is oilier, try the Effaclar Mat Daily Moisturizer from the same brand. Hayag likes it because it reduces shine and smoothes skin texture, and even helps makeup apply more easily.
The moisturizer from the French brand may be the priciest on the list, but it comes highly recommended. “This rebalancing cream helps regulate oil production, decreases inflammation, unclogs pores and hydrates your skin at the same time,” Hayag said. If you can get past the smell (it’s unfragranced and smells like yeast), your skin will appreciate the dose of ingredients, like centella asiatica and vitamin C.