When you're prone to breakouts, adding moisture to your face can be a scary thing. Finding that perfect moisturizer might feel like a stroke of good luck, but luck has nothing to do with it. It's all about learning what's inside the best moisturizers for acne prone skin, and how they work so well.
So what makes a moisturizer great for acne? First off, let's clear up a couple of myths. You probably already know that everybody — regardless of skin type — should apply moisturizer after cleansing. And that means acne prone skin types, too! Contrary to what many people believe, drying out your skin most certainly does not help acne. Really, the exact opposite is true. Skipping moisturizer can leave skin vulnerable to irritation and, yep, more breakouts. In fact, keeping your skin hydrated is an important part of keeping it healthy and managing acne flare-ups.
Oil usually gets blamed for clogged pores and breakouts — and I don't mean the kind your face produces naturally, but the kind that's present in many moisturizers. But when it comes to preventing breakouts, being free of oils doesn't amount to much. While some oils, like mineral oil, can clog pores, many actually help bring down the redness and inflammation associated with acne, while others have antibacterial properties that aid in the healing process.
However, there are a couple of ingredients people prone to breakouts should avoid at all costs, and those are artificial fragrances and alcohol. If your skin is very sensitive, it's best to keep your moisturizer simple. Meaning, a short list of ingredients without the addition of botanical extracts or acids, like AHA or BHA, which can trigger reactive skin. If your breakout-prone skin is a bit more tolerant of active ingredients, you may want to seek out a moisturizer that covers more than just the basics. Tea tree oil, Centella Asiatica extract, and salicylic acid can help treat breakouts — if that's your primary concern. Or, if your acne is mostly under control, but you have lingering post-acne marks, a moisturizer with rosehip oil, birch sap, or other ingredients rich in Vitamin C can help fade these marks over time.
These nine moisturizers are the perfect thing to keep acne prone skin healthy and hydrated without making it go straight up nuts.
1A Light Gel Formula That's Perfect For Oily Skin
If your skin is on the oilier side, a gel formula might be just what you've been searching for. Gels are lighter than lotions and creams, and a great one will lock moisture into the skin without feeling greasy — which helps to fight shine throughout the day. However, many gel formulas contain alcohol, which, again, is pretty much our sworn enemy.
But this gel moisturizer from Paula's Choice is free of alcohol and other common irritants and acne triggers, and filled with antioxidants and soothing ingredients that help combat the redness, inflammation, and irritation associated with acne. A generous dose of niacinamide also helps fade hyperpigmentation and improve skin's barrier function over time.
2The Moisturizer Designed To Work Well With Acne Treatments
Some moisturizers feel too heavy when applied over acne treatment products, contain ingredients that will react negatively with their formulas, or even start pilling when the two layers meet. But, the Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion was designed specifically to work with COSRX's incredibly popular AHA and BHA liquids — or any other acne treatment you could think of.
Aside from wearing well with other products, this is an all around solid formula that contains 70 percent birch sap, which has natural healing properties that are amazing for acne prone skin. It's also formulated with anti-inflammatory tea tree oil as well as hyaluronic acid, to hydrate skin while retaining that "barely there" feeling.
3This French Pharmacy Favorite For Sensitive Skin
La Roche-Posay is a French pharmacy favorite brand that formulates their products using limited ingredients, all of which benefit the skin without triggering irritation or breakouts. The Daily Soothing Moisturizer from their Toleraine line is a lightweight cream that goes on smoothly and absorbs quickly.
4A Moisturizer That Reinforces Your Skin's Barrier, Making It More Resilient Against Acne
Everybody's skin has a natural barrier that helps protect it from irritants and bacteria, but people with acne or very reactive skin often have a weakened barrier that isn't quite doing its job. And harsh ingredients in many acne treatments can break down your barrier even further.
The LJH Dr's Cosmetic BIO+N Barrier Cream is a super gentle, buildable formula that's great for all skin types, but those with sensitive skin that needs a little extra protection will appreciate it most. While it contains ingredients (including Ceramide 3) that help improve barrier function over time, it also creates an extremely thin barrier on top of your skin when you apply it, to give you a little extra help in the meantime. And, it's free of alcohol, fragrance, and other common acne triggers.
5A Vegan Mattyfing Moisturizer With Soothing Aloe & Rosehip Extracts
This oil controlling moisturizer is a great option for those who prefer a matte look. The gentle formula contains aloe vera, to soothe irritated, inflamed skin, as well as rosehip oil to nourish and fade post-acne marks faster. And, this moisturizer is 100 percent vegan, cruelty-free, and contains no parabens.
6A Healing Overnight Mask With 85 Percent Propolis Extract
If you haven't yet tried a product that contains propolis extract, you are seriously missing out. Propolis is produced by bees, but it's not the same thing as honey — this nourishing substance is the glue they use to build their hive. It's known to have antibacterial properties that can help breakouts heal faster, and it can even reduce redness and inflammation, making your skin feel healthier and glowier.
This incredibly healing sleeping mask contains a whopping 85 percent propolis, which is more than enough to benefit from this amazing ingredient. Sleeping masks are designed to be applied in place of your moisturizer at night — and this one goes on clear, dries quickly, and won't leave marks on your pillow. The light gel texture won't clog your pores, but still manages to leave your skin soft and supple in the morning.
7A Non-Greasy Moisturizer With SPF 30
If you've been thinking of sunscreen as a necessary evil, this oil-free moisturizer with SPF might just get you excited about this important skin care step — or at least get you to stop skipping it! The light fluid formula goes on smooth and won't leave your face feeling greasy. And, it uses Zinc Oxide to protect you from the sun, a gentle, mineral sunscreen that's safe for even the most sensitive, acne prone skin types.
8A Lightweight Pore-Refining Moisturizer With Salicylic Acid
This oil-free moisturizer has the best of both worlds: light but deep hydration, and gentle chemical exfoliation to clear pores and reduce breakouts. Witch hazel helps to refine and minimize the appearance of pores, hyaluronic acid hydrates the skin on multiple levels, and salicylic acid and pomegranate enzymes dissolve dead skin cells, break down clogs in the pores, and encourage healthy skin cell turnover. It may be pricey, but for those who are not sensitive to salicylic acid, using this moisturizer can lead to smoother, more even, clearer skin over time.
9A Super-Gentle Lotion That Covers All Your Bases
This gentle hydrating lotion is just about as simple as it gets. There really aren't many fancy ingredients to call out, but, ironically, that's what makes it great. It's sole goal is to hydrate your skin without clogging your pores or causing irritation, and that it does, incredibly well. The light formula sinks in quickly. From there, ceramides get to work reinforcing your skin's barrier, squalane hydrates and seals in moisture, and a blend of antioxidants help protect your skin from environmental stressors.
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