Best Moisturizer for Sensitive Acne-Prone Skin

Our Picks

Finding the right moisturizer can be a challenge for everyone, especially for individuals who are dealing with acne-prone skin. Out of all the skincare myths regarding acne treatment, the biggest misconception is that moisturizers have the potential to make your skin situation worse. That’s certainly not the case.

Dermatologists agree that moisturizing is a crucial step in every skin-care routine to maintain a healthy skin barrier, prevent breakouts, and counteract the drying effect of acne treatment products – if it’s done correctly. Individuals who choose not to moisturize will be plagued with rough, flaky, and red skin, which will only exacerbate their breakouts. With all the exceptional moisturizers out there, it can be overwhelming trying to select the perfect product. That’s where we come in! Below is a breakdown of the best moisturizers for acne-prone skin on the market, separated by skin type and skin problem.

What Causes Acne?

If you are constantly dealing with irritable skin and angry zits, rest assured, you are in good company. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, impacting up to 50 million Americans every year. Around 85% of people between the ages of 12 and 24 experience mild to severe acne, however, acne can occur at any stage of life and can continue into late adulthood.

Acne is a skin condition that causes pimples or zits to appear on the face, chest, shoulders, and upper back. This widespread skin condition is caused when the pores of your skin get blocked by hair, sebum (facial oil), bacteria, and dead skin cells. These clogged pores produce blackheads, whiteheads, nodules, and other types of pimples. It can be hard to isolate what exactly causes acne on an individual basis, as many factors can contribute to producing these infuriating spots including genetics, fluctuating hormone levels, stress, humidity or heat, and greasy personal care products.

How To Choose The Best Moisturizers For Acne-Prone Skin?

best sensitive acne prone moisturizer

With all of the moisturizers out there to choose from, it’s especially important that you are finding the best moisturizer for your skin type. There is no one size fits all moisturizing solution for acne, but here are some tried and true tips to help you make the most appropriate selection.

Read the Fine Print

When scanning the internet or drugstore for moisturizers, read the labels carefully before making an impulse purchase. Two of the most important phrases to keep an eye out for are “oil-free” or “non-comedogenic.” If a moisturizer is advertised as either, then you can rest easy knowing that this formula will not make the clogging pores issue even worse.

While heavy oils like avocado, carrot seed, and coconut oil can clog your pores, lighter oils such as hemp seed and argan oil can help restore balance to troubled skin. Other beneficial ingredients to look out for include hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, vitamin C, and retinol.

Search for SPF

When it comes to acne, sun exposure is not your friend. Numerous moisturizers for acne-prone skin include mild sunscreens, which can help prevent the development of long-lasting blemishes that persist longer after breakouts have come and gone.

While SPF moisturizers are ideal for application in the AM, you won’t want to use these moisturizers at night. Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you invest in two different moisturizers, one with SPF for the morning and one without for the evening.

How We Chose The Best Moisturizers For Acne-Prone Skin

applying moisturizer for acne-prone skin

While many individuals who suffer from acne have oily skin, not all acne-prone skin is greasy or oily. People with dry skin, normal or combination skin, sensitive skin, or any skin type in between can also be prone to breakouts, depending on genetic, hormonal, or environmental determinants. Therefore, it was important for us to select a wide range of products for all skin types. For example, if your skin is on the dryer side, we searched for moisturizing creams, and for oily skin types, we opted for lightweight lotions.

We also wanted to ensure that these products were accessible and available. While these products vary in cost, you will certainly be able to find a product in your price range, whether you decide to purchase something online or at your local drugstore.

Our Picks Of Best Moisturizers For Acne

Best for Oily Skin: Kate Somerville Oil-Free Moisturizer

There are ways to keep your skin hydrated and healthy, while still keeping excess oil at bay. All it takes is finding the right moisturizer for you. When it comes to oil-free moisturizers, Kate Somerville’s Oil-Free Moisturizer is the cream of the crop.

Designed to hydrate your skin while keeping excess oil in check, this unique moisturizer leaves behind smooth, radiant, and shine-free skin. Additionally, this lightweight formula is also a noncomedogenic moisturizer, making it the perfect solution for those with acne-prone skin, as it won’t leave behind a greasy residue. Not only does this special formula provide instant hydration, limit essential water loss, and prevent excess oil production, but it also helps strengthen your skin, defending it against future external aggressors.

Best for Oily Skin: Kate Somerville Oil-Free Moisturizer
Why we love it:
  • Oil-free formula that also hydrates and moisturizes
  • Fragrance-free and fast-absorbing
  • Strengthens skin against impurities
What we don’t like:
  • Costly
  • No SPF

Use: Apply a thin, even layer over the face and neck. Use in the morning and evening.

Ingredients: Red marine algae and oil-absorbing spheres

Best for Dry Skin: TONYMOLY The Chok Chok Green Tea Watery Cream

TONYMOLY’s Chok Chok Green Tea Watery Cream is a gel-based cream that provides highly effective hydration without being sticky or too heavy on the face. This antioxidant-rich formula contains over 63% of a fermented Korean green tea called “ChungTaeJeon” which is fermented in the sun for over a year and provides gentle yet intense moisture and hydration. Once the formula is applied to the face it can retain moisture for hours on end, by forming a thick hydrating layer on dry skin.

Additional ingredients in this formula include lemon seed oil, which is packed with antibacterial and antifungal properties, and rosewood oil, which is both soothing and revitalizing. This 2-in-1 formula also doubles as a moisture mask.

Best for Dry Skin: TONYMOLY The Chok Chok Green Tea Watery Cream
Why we love it:
  • Peta certified, 100% cruelty-free
  • Packed with natural ingredients
What we don’t like:
  • No SPF
  • Online only

Use: Apply the desired amount to the face and neck. Use twice a day in the morning and evening. If using it as a mask, apply a generous amount of formula to the face and let it sit for five minutes. Rinse thoroughly.

Ingredients: Fermented green tea, lemon seed oil, and rosewood oil

Best for Combination Skin: Belif the True Cream Aqua Bomb

If your skin isn’t dry but it isn’t oily, then you most likely have a combination skin type. When it comes to moisturizers, you can’t go wrong with Belif’s True Cream Aqua Bomb, Belif’s bestselling moisturizer. This fan-favorite is a gel-based formula geared towards lightweight, oil-free hydration. When applied, this refreshing formula provides a cooling burst of hydration, protecting the skin from potential breakouts. This hydrating formula also absorbs quickly, making it great for combination or slightly oily skin types, as it won’t leave a feeling of heaviness or greasiness.

This lightweight formula features a blend of nourishing and hydrating herbs such as Lady’s Mantle, Chickweed, and Nettle, as well as ceramides and glycerin, which are both known to help maintain skin’s moisture levels. This dermatologically-tested moisturizer has also been clinically tested to boost skin’s hydration levels by 70%. This multi-purpose formula also doubles as a makeup primer and a 10-minute emergency moisture mask.

Best for Combination Skin: Belif the True Cream Aqua Bomb
Why we love it:
  • Dermatologically-tested and clinically-tested
  • Packed with natural ingredients
  • Paraben-free and sulfate-free
  • Doubles as a makeup primer and moisture mask
What we don’t like:
  • No SPF
  • Must avoid contact with the eyes

Use: Spread a coin size amount to face and neck, spread evenly. Can be used twice a day, in the morning and evening. If you need a midday top-up, tap gently onto dry areas of the skin. If you wish to use this as a moisture mask, apply the formula generously to your skin and let it sit for 10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly.

Ingredients: Lady’s mantle, squalene, panthenol, calendula extract, oat kernel extract, glycerin

Best Vegan: Mamonde Rose Water Gel Cream Face Moisturizer

If you are a fan of gel-based moisturizers, Mamonde’s Rose Water Gel Cream is a great hydrating and soothing solution for you. Perfect for dry, combination, and sensitive skin, this refreshing formula is infused with antioxidant-rich 68.7% Damask Rose Water that immediately absorbs into your skin once applied.

This effective moisturizer feels light on the skin without stickiness and creates a moisture barrier for long-lasting hydration and a soft and dewy complexion. This magical formula is a certified vegan product and is free of animal ingredients, mineral oil, polyacrylamide, imidazolidinyl urea, triethanolamine, tar pigment, and PEG surfactant.

Best Vegan: Mamonde Rose Water Gel Cream Face Moisturizer
Why we love it:
  • Certified vegan product
  • Perfect for a wide range of skin types
  • Aromatic
What we don’t like:
  • No SPF

Use: Apply from the center of the face outward.

Ingredients: Damask Rose

Best Splurge: Philosophy’s Renewed Hope in a Jar Water Cream Hyaluronic Glow Moisturizer

This moisturizer may air on the pricier side, but trust us, it’s worth every pretty penny. This weightless, fast-absorbing formula contains Norwegian glacial water, enhanced hyaluronic acid, and pineapple extract, increasing skin’s hydration level by up to 86%. Hyaluronic acid is a key ingredient in acne-fighting formulas, as it helps reduce redness and protect the skin from external impurities. Once applied, this clinically-tested formula will deliver an explosive cooling and refreshing burst of 72-hour hydration, and unleash a fresh and natural facial glow.

While this formula does not contain SPF, Philosophy has a slew of other moisturizers that incorporate SPF, which would all make perfect morning moisturizers.

Best Splurge: Philosophy’s Renewed Hope in a Jar Water Cream Hyaluronic Glow Moisturizer
Why we love it:
  • Hyaluronic-based formula
  • Clinically tested
  • Paraben-free and sulfate-free
What we don’t like:
  • Must avoid eye area
  • No SPF
  • Slightly costly

Use: Apply the desired amount to a clean face. Use in the morning and evening.

Ingredients: Norwegian glacial water, hyaluronic acid, pineapple extract

Best SPF Moisturizer for Oily Skin: Murad Oil and Pore Control Mattifier Broad Spectrum SPF 45

The problem with sunscreen is that it tends to leave your oily skin even more oily, which just won’t do. That’s where Murad’s Oil and Pore Control Mattifier comes in. Perfect for oily and sensitive skin, this lightweight formula offers oil-free, sun protection that won’t clog your pores and will help balance your oily skin. This clinically tested formula minimizes the appearance of pores by 54%, and 96% of candidates reported less oily skin after two weeks. African yellow wood bark and avocado extracts also help keep excess oil at bay.

A true multi-purpose formula, this magnifying primer controls oils, shine, and pores so that makeup won’t streak throughout the day. Take note: this SPF formula is perfect for morning use, but you will want to find another moisturizer to use at night.

Best SPF Moisturizer for Oily Skin: Murad Oil and Pore Control Mattifier Broad Spectrum SPF 45
Why we love it:
  • Cruelty-free
  • SPF 45
  • Paraben-free, oil-free, sulfate-free
  • Clinically-tested, multi-purpose formula
What we don’t like:
  • Slightly costly
  • Can only be used in the AM

Use: Apply generously to the face, neck, and chest. Use in the morning.

Ingredients: Avocado extract and African yellow wood bark extract

Best for Shiny Skin: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat Oil-Free Mattifying Moisturizer

Ready to rid yourself of shiny skin? La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Mat Daily Face Moisturizer targets and minimizes excess oil and improves the appearance of visible pores with its matte finish. Targeted towards oily and sensitive skin types, this oil-free face moisturizer utilizes Sebulyse technology to reduce facial shine, zinc picolinate to neutralize shine, and perlite and silica to help absorb excess oil.

Both dermatologist-tested and allergy-tested, this dual-action formula also includes La-Roche Posay Thermal Spring Water to soothe oily skin and lipo-hydroxy acid, which has skin renewing, exfoliating, and acne-treating properties. This versatile formula is also non-comedogenic and creates an excellent foundation for makeup.

Best for Shiny Skin: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat Oil-Free Mattifying Moisturizer
Why we love it:
  • Dermatologist and allergy-tested
  • Non-comedogenic and oil-free
  • Features lipo-hydroxy which has acne-treating properties
  • Fragrance-free and paraben-free
  • Suitable for sensitive skin
What we don’t like:
  • No SPF
  • Slightly costly

Use: Apply to clean skin. Use in the morning and/or evening.

Ingredients: Lipo-hydroxy acid, zinc picolinate, La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water

Best Drugstore: CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30

Regardless of skin type, you can’t go wrong with CeraVe’s AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion. Suitable for dry skin, sensitive skin, oily skin, and acne-prone skin, this broad-spectrum SPF 30 moisturizer absorbs quickly into the skin leaving a non-greasy finish. Packed with numerous active ingredients, this multi-purpose moisturizer helps restore the skin’s protective barrier with three essential ceramides, hydrate the skin with hyaluronic acid, and provide soothing benefits with niacinamide. To top that off, this oil-free and non-comedogenic formula was developed by dermatologists and recommended for daily use by the Skin Cancer Foundation.

As with all SPF moisturizers, this moisturizer should only be used in the morning, as the last step in your skincare routine. CeraVe has equally effective nighttime moisturizers that you can pair with this daily facial moisturizer.

Best Drugstore: CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30
Why we love it:
  • Dermatologist tested
  • Non-comedogenic and oil-free
  • Affordable
  • SPF 30
  • Skin Cancer Foundation recommendation
What we don’t like:
  • Can only be used in the AM

Use: Apply generously 15 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply at least every 2 hours during the daytime.

Ingredients: Ceramides, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide

Best Hydrating: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

If you have both dry and acne-prone skin, Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Water Gel is the budget-friendly moisturizer of your dreams. Neutrogena is the number one dermatologist-recommended brand, offering especially affordable products for skincare. This award-winning and best-selling water-gel formula delivers intense hydration and quenches dry skin, leaving your face feeling smooth and soft.

Formulated with hyaluronic acid, this fast-absorbing formula can attract and lock in moisture for 48 hours without clogging your pores. This oil-free and non-comedogenic formula also has a gel-like consistency, which means you can easily wear it under makeup as a primer.

Best Hydrating: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel
Why we love it:
  • #1 dermatologist-recommended brand
  • Non-comedogenic and oil-free
  • Affordable
What we don’t like:
  • Strong scent
  • No SPF

Use: Apply evenly to the neck and face after cleansing.

Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid

Best for Sensitive Skin: Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion

Cetaphil’s Moisturizing Lotion is proof that a solid moisturizer doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg. This budget-friendly moisturizer is recommended by dermatologists for users who have acne-prone and sensitive skin. This non-greasy and non-comedogenic lotion delivers lightweight, fast-absorbing moisture for the most sensitive skin types, including those with acne, eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea.

Featuring vitamin E, glycerin, and dimethicone, this daily moisturizer leaves the skin feeling naturally smooth, supple, and hydrated for 24 hours.

Best for Sensitive Skin: Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion
Why we love it:
  • Designed for sensitive skin types
  • Dermatologist favorite
  • Affordable
  • Non-greasy, fragrance-free, paraben-free
What we don’t like:
  • No SPF

Use: Apply as generously and frequently as directed by a physician. For best results, use directly after cleaning your face and body.

Ingredients: Glycerin, vitamin E, and dimethicone