The 25 Best Moisturizers for Acne-Prone Skin to Heal, Protect and Soothe Blemishes

·31 min read

Not all acne-prone skin is created equal. Skin that frequently has blemishes can come in a vast variety of skin types: oily, dry, sensitive, and even happily balanced. But one myth seems to follow those with acne-prone skin no matter the skin type — that they can skip moisturizers altogether. 

“Absolutely false,” says Dr. Rachel Maiman, the board-certified dermatologist at Marmur Medical. “In fact, failing to use a moisturizer can exacerbate the problem,” she says. “The reason for this is that the skin possesses feedback mechanisms to maintain homeostasis or balance. When the skin is dehydrated, which can happen to all skin types, even oily, because dehydration is a deficiency of water, not oil, this triggers sebaceous glands to increase their production of oil in an attempt to compensate. In turn, this triggers more acne.” 

More from WWD

The trick? Choosing the right moisturizer for your skin type and never skipping the step. 

Top Moisturizers for Acne-Prone Skin for 2022

What to Look for in the Best Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin

Acne-prone skin needs moisture. “This is especially true for anyone that has been using stronger active acne ingredients, medications or OTC preparations that can dehydrate the skin and leave it feeling tight and uncomfortable and can exacerbate acne conditions and sensitivity by destabilizing the skin’s natural moisture barrier,” says Heather Hickman, the senior director of education for Dermalogica

Here are a few key ingredients, labels and formulas to look for when finding the best moisturizer for you.

  • Oil-free and non-comedogenic: “Acne-prone skin types should always choose an oil-free, non-comedogenic brand, meaning the product is less likely to clog pores and, consequently, is less likely to cause a breakout,” says Dr. Maiman. Most products will even have these phrases labeled on the packaging. “Lightweight, oil-free moisturizers are particularly ideal for oily acne-prone skin types because they hydrate the skin, balance the barrier, and seal and protect against external irritants and dehydration,” says Hickman.

  • Gel-cream formulations: “Many acne-prone patients are also oily and gel-cream formulations often make excellent moisturizers because they provide hydration without making the skin feel slick and greasy,” says Dr. Maiman. If your skin is excessively oily with acne breakouts, Hickman suggests finding an oil-free, water-based moisturizer that’s also oil-controlling. “This type of weightless moisturizer will add hydration while wicking away excess oil to leave a matte appearance and eliminating oily shine throughout the day,” she says.

  • Hydrate carefully: Some moisturizers have hydrating ingredients that can be pore-clogging, so be sure to always check the label for common irritants for acne-prone skin, like vitamin E (also known as tocopherol or tocopheryl acetate in the ingredient list), shea butter, and high-molecular-weight oil, like mineral and coconut. Instead, Dr. Maiman suggests looking for hydrating ingredients, like squalane, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides, all of which she says hydrate and preserve the skin barrier. But when you’re first starting a routine with hyaluronic acid, pay close attention to how your skin reacts. “Hyaluronic acid can be super inflammatory to your skin,” cautions Dr. Shereene Idriss, the board-certified dermatologist and founder of Idriss Dermatology in New York City. She prefers using glycerin-based moisturizers, noting they provide longer-lasting hydration.

  • Look for calming ingredients: Most moisturizers can be divided into two general camps: Anti-inflammatory or acne-fighting. Neither is better than the other, it’s just what your skin prefers, and many lotions contain ingredients from both categories. If you’re using an intensive acne treatment routine, a soothing moisturizer might be perfect, rather than adding on another product designed to decongest. Dr. Maiman suggests looking for anti-inflammatory ingredients, like niacinamide, green tea, and aloe.

  • Go lightweight: “In my opinion, the best type of moisturizer for acne-prone skin is a gel moisturizer,” says Dr. Idriss. She prefers a lightweight texture because it’s unlikely to cause breakouts or feel too heavy on the skin. “However, if you are feeling like you do need something a little more hydrating, you can absolutely start experimenting with a thicker moisturizer, just make sure you are paying close attention to how your skin reacts and stop using it if it becomes red, inflamed or breakouts become worse,” she notes. “Spot testing in a small area for a few days is a great way to see how your skin is going to react before applying to your entire face.”

  • Wear SPF: You’ve heard it a hundred times, but only because it’s so important: Wear sunscreen every single day. “When the sun touches your skin, it can affect your acne marks, changing them to a darker brown color and allowing them to linger for a longer period of time,” says Dr. Idriss. “Sunscreen should be layered on top of your morning moisturizer.”

Related Stories:

The 20 Best Acne Spot Treatments to Get Rid of Pimples Fast
The 15 Best Acne Serums to Effectively Zap Blemishes For Good
The 15 Best Pimple Patches to Clear Your Acne Breakouts
The 15 Best Foundations for Acne-Prone Skin to Make Your Blemishes Invisible
The 12 Best Concealers for Acne to Cover Every Type of Blemish

Sign up for WWD’S The Essentialist newsletter to get the scoop on the best in beauty and style with in-depth reviews of exciting new releases and buyer’s guides to find the products you need to try ASAP.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Oil-Control Moisturizer

Best Gel Moisturizer For Acne-Prone Skin

  • Size: 1.7 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Gel moisturizer 

  • Special ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, oil-absorbing microspheres, and niacinamide

This unique formula is one of Dr. Maiman’s favorite moisturizers for acne-prone skin that is also oily. “This ultra-light formula provides optimal hydration without leaving skin greasy,” says Dr. Maiman. “Oil-absorbing microspheres deliver a powder soft, mattifying finish, while a blend of active ingredients, including niacinamide, work to control sebum production, minimize pores and reduce shine over time. It also contains a botanical oat extract that helps nourish, calm and soothe skin.” 

Users also love the oil-absorbing feel of this product: “I can honestly say my skin is MATTE right after use,” reviewed one user. “It’s so soft and light. I’m used to my skin having a greasy look because I’ve been using moisturizers that are too heavy. This is perfect.” 

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Oil-Control Moisturizer
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Oil-Control Moisturizer




First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Oil-Control Moisturizer


$32



Buy Now

Doctor Rogers Face Lotion

Best Moisturizer for Sensitive Acne-Prone Skin

  • Size: 1.7 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Lightweight lotion

  • Special ingredients: Squalane, niacinamide, and centella asiatica extract (to improve the skin barrier)

As the name might hint, Doctor Rogers was created by dermatologist Heather D. Rogers. She’s built a cult following amongst beauty editors for her facial moisturizers, as they hydrate without feeling sticky and sink into skin nearly instantly without ever irritating. Her lightweight Face Lotion is ideal for oily, acne-prone skin because it has a blend of niacinamide (to visibly reduce pores, texture, and irritation), centella asiatica extract (to heal and soothe), and squalane (to hydrate). If you commonly find your skin irritated by acne serums, this lotion is great for you: It’s recognized by the National Eczema Association as suitable for eczema and sensitive skin. 

Doctor Rogers Face Lotion
Doctor Rogers Face Lotion




Doctor Rogers Face Lotion


$72



Buy Now

Ren Clean Skincare ClearCalm 3 Replenishing Gel Cream 

Best Mattifying Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin

  • Size: 1.7 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Lightweight, calming moisturizer

  • Special ingredients: Licorice extract and seaweed extract 

Ren’s Clearcalm Replenishing Gel moisturizer addresses breakouts and excess sebum with natural solutions, including lingonberry and licorice extracts. It’s also designed to calm and soothe tight, irritated skin (often from acne serums) and replenish moisturize without the heaviness. 

Users seem to be a fan of the gentle and lightweight gel, too. “I’m actually shocked by how mattifying this cream is for me, even more so than creams and lotions that advertise they are matte-effect,” wrote one reviewer. “I really have noticed that this works to help shrink blemishes overnight and keep oil at bay. It’s probably not the only thing in my routine that is responsible but it’s certainly working with everything…I would definitely recommend it to someone with oily skin. But this might not be moisturizing enough if your skin is dry.” 

REN Clean Skincare ClearCalm 3 Replenishing Gel Cream 
REN Clean Skincare ClearCalm 3 Replenishing Gel Cream




Ren Clean Skincare ClearCalm 3 Replenishing Gel Cream


$43



Buy Now

Avène Cleanance Hydra Soothing Cream

Best Calming Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin

  • Size: 1.3 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Rich, nourishing cream

  • Special ingredients: Glycoleol, dextran sulfate (soothes and moisturizes), and plant triglycerides

Don’t let the words “rich, nourishing cream” scare you off — this dermatologist-beloved brand is specifically designed for acne-prone skin. Especially the type of skin that has been compromised from harsh, drying acne treatments. This Hydra Soothing Cream minimizes the appearance of redness and irritation, while also imparting much-needed nourishing hydration. The cream is clinically proven to visibly reduce swelling, dryness, and redness within seven days. It has a blend of essential fatty acids to soothe skin, plant triglycerides, which provide instant comfort, and, of course, the brand’s trademarked Avène Thermal Spring Water to soften skin.

This is personally one of my favorite brands and my go-to when recommending products. The price points are outstanding, the products are wonderful for any skin type and this cream pairs perfectly with your harsher treatments, like retinol or acne serums. 

Avene Cleanance Hydra Soothing Cream
Avene Cleanance Hydra Soothing Cream




Avene Cleanance Hydra Soothing Cream


$20



Buy Now

Biopelle Tensage Soothing Cream Moisturizer

Best Anti-Aging Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin

  • Size: 1 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Cream moisturizer 

  • Special ingredients: Growth factor (for repairing), frankincense extract, and hyaluronic acid

“The Tensage Soothing Cream Moisturizer is what many of my patients like because it is soothing, oil-free, contains growth factors to help repair the skin, and also contains a great form of hyaluronic acid to help moisturize and restore the skin barrier,” says board-certified dermatologist Joel L. Cohen

This non-comedogenic cream heals even the most compromised and reactive skin. And the formula includes SCA Biorepair growth factor, designed to visibly improve signs of aging. So it’s not only ideal for sensitive skin but also for those wanting to address fine lines and wrinkles. 

Biopelle Tensage Soothing Cream Moisturizer
Biopelle Tensage Soothing Cream Moisturizer




Biopelle Tensage Soothing Cream Moisturizer


$70



Buy Now

Paula’s Choice Clear Oil-Free Moisturizer

Best Oil-Free Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin

  • Size: 2 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Lightweight cream 

  • Special ingredients: Licorice Root⁠⁠, niacinamide⁠, and ceramides⁠

Paula’s Choice is a science-backed brand, creating products that simplify and demystify confusing topics and products. And this Clear Oil-Free Moisturizer is their answer to acne-prone moisturizers. It intentionally doesn’t contain any acne-fighting ingredients. The lightweight formula is designed to be used in tandem alongside blemish treatments. And it was formulated specifically for acne-prone skin to reduce the redness and dryness that often accompanies acne medications. It’s boosted by a handful of antioxidants, ceramides, and hydrators to soothe skin.

“I have tried every moisturizer on the face of the Earth it feels like, and this is the only one that actually moisturizes without breaking me out,” wrote one reviewer. “It doesn’t make my skin more oily and sits under powder makeup nicely. Since it’s a light daily moisturizer, I layer this and then a heavier moisturizer on top if the winter is making my skin extra dry.” 

Paula’s Choice Clear Oil-Free Moisturizer
Paula’s Choice Clear Oil-Free Moisturizer




Paula’s Choice Clear Oil-Free Moisturizer


$27.55



Buy Now

Embryolisse Lait Crème Concentré

Best Lightweight Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin

  • Size: 2.54 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Lightweight moisturizer

  • Special ingredients: Shea butter, beeswax, aloe vera, and soy protein

“The Embryolisse Lait Crème Concentré is another moisturizer that I really love for acne-prone skin,” says Dr. Idriss. “It is super lightweight so I like to use it as a primer under makeup in the summertime.” This iconic French pharmacy staple has been used to hydrate and nourish since 1950. The Lait Crème Concentré is so popular that one is sold every 10 seconds all over the world. Rich in vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids, the lotion comforts and balances, making it ideal for dry skin. 

Embryolisse Lait Crème Concentré
Embryolisse Lait Crème Concentré




Embryolisse Lait Crème Concentré


$26



Buy Now

ClearStem Skincare HydraGlow Stem Cell Moisturizer

Best Moisturizer for Dry Acne-Prone Skin

  • Size: 2 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Lightweight, creamy moisturizer

  • Special ingredients: Bakuchiol, squalane, and stem cells

All skin benefits from a moisturizer — even acne-prone skin, notes Danielle Gronich, a clinical esthetician, acne specialist, and co-founder of ClearStem Skincare. “If you have acne, you may be afraid of moisturizer because most of them have pore-clogging fillers, which cause more acne,” she says. “But when you find one specifically made without these ingredients, you’ll see that a great moisturizer helps the skin heal faster.” 

She notes that the brand’s HydraGlow complex works with your natural skin barrier so it can seal and lock in moisture, keeping your skin soft and healthy. “Think of it as infusing your cells with hydration and nutrients, giving your skin that plump, bouncy glow,” she says.  

HydraGlow is specifically designed for those with acne-prone skin, as it regenerates the skin with bakuchiol (a natural, foolproof alternative to retinol), squalane, and plant stem cells. “The moisturizer is rich and luxurious but does NOT leave your skin feeling greasy,” wrote one reviewer. “I love that my skin can still breathe after I’ve applied it.” 

ClearStem Skincare’s HydraGlow Stem Cell Moisturizer
ClearStem Skincare’s HydraGlow Stem Cell Moisturizer




ClearStem Skincare’s HydraGlow Stem Cell Moisturizer,


$56



Buy Now

EltaMD Skin Recovery Light Moisturizer

Best Hydrating Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin 

  • Size: 1.7 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Lightweight, antioxidant-packed formula

  • Special ingredients: Squalane, peptides, and sodium hyaluronate

EltaMD is the number one dermatologist-recommended sunscreen brand, yet their skincare line is equally beloved by experts. This gentle lotion absorbs instantly, making it a fab hydrator for hot, humid summer days. The super-packed moisturizer has squalane, sodium hyaluronate (a more potent version of hyaluronic acid), and French seawater (rich in minerals for water retention). While nothing in the formula is designed to fight acne, the ingredients will support your overall barrier and natural hydration levels, making it ideal to pair with a dedicated acne serum, if desired. 

“I love how well this absorbs into the skin and gives me the perfect amount of moisture without being thick under my makeup and sunscreen,” wrote a reviewer. 

EltaMD Skin Recovery Light Moisturizer
EltaMD Skin Recovery Light Moisturizer




EltaMD Skin Recovery Light Moisturizer


$39



Buy Now

Naturopathica Rosemary & Salicylic Acid Acne Clearing Moisturizing

Best Natural Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin

  • Size: 1.7 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Lightweight cream

  • Special ingredients: Rosemary essential oil, salicylic acid, and bixa orellana seed powder

This creamy moisturizer harnesses purifying rosemary essential oil, maximum-strength salicylic acid, and skin-perfecting bixa orellana seed powder. It’s great for all skin types, but especially ideal for blemish-prone skin due to its powerful and penetrating BHAs. “This is my first purchase of this lotion but, oh my, the results started to appear about 1-2 weeks after using,” wrote a reviewer. “My skin has looked clearer and more even. Most moisturizers that are fit for acne-prone skin can be drying but not this one! Highly moisturizing while also doing what it says!” 

Naturopathica Rosemary & Salicylic Acid Acne Clearing Moisturizing
Naturopathica Rosemary & Salicylic Acid Acne Clearing Moisturizing




Naturopathica Rosemary & Salicylic Acid Acne Clearing Moisturizing


$61.60



Buy Now

Aveeno Calm and Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer

Best Drugstore Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin 

  • Size: 1.7 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Lightweight gel 

  • Special ingredients: Oat extract 

“My favorite moisturizer for acne-prone skin is the Aveeno Calm and Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer,” says Dr. Idriss. “It is a gel formula, glycerin-based and non-inflammatory, so your skin will most likely react better to it.” The soothing, hydrating, and nourishing gel lotion has been proven to moisturize for up to 24 hours. It’s the perfect everyday lotion to massage onto skin after acne treatments. 

“I’ve been using this moisturizer for about 2 months because I needed something hydrating in the morning that wouldn’t clog my pores and make me look greasy,” wrote one reviewer. “This moisturizer is perfect and applies so nice, it is light and didn’t make me break out. Perfect for light hydration!”

Aveeno Calm and Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer
Aveeno Calm and Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer




Aveeno Calm and Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer


$22.99



Buy Now

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer with SPF

Best Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin with SPF

  • Size: 2.5 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Lightweight, non-greasy lotion

  • Special ingredients: Niacinamide, glycerin, and prebiotic thermal water.

“A great product that combines moisturizer with an SPF is the La Roche-Posay Double Repair Face Moisturizer,” says Dr. Idriss. “It soaks into the skin really nicely without leaving behind a sticky residue or white cast.” When experiencing an acne breakout, you might be tempted to skip sunscreen altogether, but sun exposure can cause more irritation, leading to further breakouts. SPF is necessary, but yes, some are designed with irritating products that can flare up blemishes. 

This moisturizer with broad-spectrum UVA/UVB 30 protection is dermatologist-recommended and not only helpful for acne-prone skin, but helps to restore and repair skin. “I was searching for a moisturizer that would work with Retin-A and came across this,” wrote one reviewer. “Great price point. No heavy scent and [my] face actually feels moisturized. I will definitely add it to my daily routine.” 

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer with SPF
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer with SPF




La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer with SPF


$19.99



Buy Now

Urban Skin Rx HydraBalance Brightening Moisture Infusion

Best Nighttime Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin

  • Size: 1.69 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Fast-absorbing cream 

  • Special ingredients: Squalane, hyaluronic acid, and skin-brightening peptides

The HydraBalance Brightening Moisture Infusion has a featherweight feel, but it’s also very moisturizing. This easy-to-use moisturizer has a plush, water-to-cream texture, designed to melt into the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, making it ideal to pair with commonly irritating acne ingredients. Roff prefers using a water-based and non-comedogenic moisturizer in the evening and recommends using this HydraBalance lotion, especially for those acne-prone patients. 

Urban Skin Rx HydraBalance Brightening Moisture Infusion
Urban Skin Rx HydraBalance Brightening Moisture Infusion




Urban Skin Rx HydraBalance Brightening Moisture Infusion


$35.91 
$22.26



Buy Now

Image Skincare Clear Cell Clarifying Repair Crème

Best Moisturizer For Oily Acne-Prone Skin

  • Size: 1.7 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Gel moisturizer

  • Special ingredients: Salicylic acid, bakuchiol, squalane, and ceramides

This gel moisturizer works almost like an acne serum because it features bakuchiol to help with surface exfoliation and salicylic acid to treat acne, yet it’s balanced with ceramides and squalane for hydration. Together the ingredients combine to make a multi-action lotion that reduces the appearance of acne, as well as minimizes skin discoloration, and clarifies pores. 

And reviewers seem to have success, no matter their age: “My 14-year-old son uses this and we notice that it is a gentle moisturizer and it clears breakouts on what seems to be hormonal breakouts on his forehead,” wrote one reviewer. “Highly recommend. Not drying at all. Very effective.” 

Image Skincare Clear Cell Clarifying Repair Crème
Image Skincare Clear Cell Clarifying Repair Crème




Image Skincare Clear Cell Clarifying Repair Crème


$69



Buy Now

111SKIN Y Theorem Day Cream Light

Best Morning Moisturizer For Acne-Prone Skin

  • Size: 1.7 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Lightweight lotion 

  • Special ingredients: Hyaluronic acid and patented NAC Y²

“The best moisturizer for acne-prone skin is one that is lightweight with hyaluronic acid and niacinamide that help decrease inflammation associated with acne, acne treatments, and acne-prone skin,” says Dr. Yannis Alexandrides, the triple-board certified surgical director of 111 Harley St. in London, and the co-founder of 111SKIN. He recommends his Y Theorem Day Cream Light with hyaluronic acid and antioxidants to protect the skin from inflammation.

The Day Cream has all the benefits of the beloved Y Theorem Day Cream NAC Y² but is updated to be lighter for oily and combination skin. What makes the moisturizer so useful is the light, protective barrier that shields the skin from environmental aggressors, keeping skin hydrated and calm. “This light moisturizer is great for my oily skin,” reviewed one user. “It goes on like silk and gives my face a beautiful glow. It provides plenty of hydration without the heaviness that can cause clogged pores and breakouts.” 

111SKIN Y Theorem Day Cream Light
111SKIN Y Theorem Day Cream Light




111SKIN Y Theorem Day Cream Light


$210



Buy Now

Renée Rouleau Skin Recovery Lotion

Best Moisturizer for Reactive Acne-Prone Skin

  • Size: 2 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Silky, lightweight lotion

  • Special ingredients: Sodium hyaluronate, bisabolol, and panthenol 

No one has built a career of fighting acne like Renée Rouleau. The Austin-based esthetician has been perfecting the skin for her clients for over 30 years. Her Skin Recovery Lotion is particularly unique because it’s formulated for highly sensitive, acne-prone skin. The unique combination of irritable, yet acne-prone is too often overlooked. The lotion features water-binding ingredients, which address dehydration and redness caused by harsh acne treatments. It’s the ideal moisturizer to pair with your existing acne treatment, because it calms and soothes, helping skin to ease sensitivity triggers. 

“I absolutely love this product,” wrote one reviewer. “I hate using any kind of moisturizer because they all seem to cause more oil production in my oily areas and do not fully moisturize my dry, irritated areas. This works in all areas! It lightly moisturizes my t-zone, and my dry irritated areas are completely soft without any flaking. I hardly ever have to reapply and do not get excessive oil in my t-zone. I use it daily and it is great under my makeup!” 

Renee Rouleau Skin Recovery Lotion
Renee Rouleau Skin Recovery Lotion




Renee Rouleau Skin Recovery Lotion,


$44.50



Buy Now

Pai Skincare The Pioneer Geranium & Thistle Mattifying Moisturizer

Best Moisturizer for Combination Acne-Prone Skin

  • Size: 1.7 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Fast-absorbing moisturizer

  • Special ingredients: Squalane, geranium, and thistle oil

Pai Skincare was created by Sarah Brown after she developed severe hypersensitivity and acne. She couldn’t find a product or brand to heal her irritation, so she created her own. It’s gentle enough for sensitive skin, light enough to minimize acne and excessive oil, and hydrating enough to moisturize without triggering oiliness. 

Users note its incredible light and non-greasy texture, which can mattify complexions all day long. “Truly one of the best, if not the best moisturizer I have ever tested,” wrote one user. “My skin is not shiny anymore during the day. The feeling you have after applying it, is so, so great, and lasts throughout the day! I am in love.” 

Pai Skincare The Pioneer Geranium & Thistle Mattifying Moisturizer
Pai Skincare The Pioneer Geranium & Thistle Mattifying Moisturizer




Pai Skincare The Pioneer Geranium & Thistle Mattifying Moisturizer


$54



Buy Now

Dr. Jart+ Teatreement Moisturizer

Best Moisturizer for Cystic Acne

  • Size: 1.69 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Gel lotion

  • Special ingredients: Tea tree extract, salicylic acid, and aloe vera leaf extract 

Dr. Jart’s Teatreement was designed to target acne spots while keeping the rest of skin calm. It has encapsulated salicylic acid to zero in on blemishes and excess oil while leaving the surrounding skin unbothered. Pairing with clarifying tea tree extract with nourishing aloe vera and Roman chamomile flower extract, the formula is simultaneously active and calming. 

Most users note that the ultra-lightweight lotion is great, but it might need another lotion atop it for an extra dose of hydration, especially for drier spots. “Love it for my oily/sensitive skin,” wrote one reviewer. “It’s a thin gel-lotion hybrid. I use it alongside a moisturizing toner. This moisturizer works best when it is not a stand alone product. Def add a cream or oil over this if you have dry skin. One of the only lotions that helps my oily skin during the daytime.” 

Dr. Jart+ Teatreement Moisturizer
Dr. Jart+ Teatreement Moisturizer




Dr. Jart+ Teatreement Moisturizer


$35



Buy Now

Eadem Cloud Cushion Airy Brightening Moisturizer

Best Moisturizer for BIPOC Acne-Prone Skin 

  • Size: 1.69 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Lightweight, bouncy texture

  • Special ingredients: Niacinamide, pigmentation-blocking peptides, Smart Melanin

Eadem was founded by two women of color, the products are made by women of color chemists, vetted by women of color dermatologists, and then tested on a variety of different skin shades and types — resulting in products that are not only more inclusive and reparative, but are specifically designed to meet BIPOC skin needs.

Cloud Cushion has a light, almost bouncy texture, but don’t let the airiness fool you. Their proprietary Smart Melanin Technology was designed to prevent the appearance of dark spots and melasma, whilt the fragrance-free formula sinks right in, revealing velvety, bouncy skin. Beyond preventing dark spots, the lotion is great for acne-prone skin because it strengthens your skin barrier, which is particularly important as a damaged skin barrier can lead to dehydration, uneven skin tone, and acne.

Even Dr. Idriss is a fan. “This one is loaded with ceramides and peptides,” she notes. “It has some nice anti-inflammatory action as well, which works hand-in-hand with the ceramides to restore your skin barrier.”

EADEM Cloud Cushion Airy Brightening Moisturizer 
EADEM Cloud Cushion Airy Brightening Moisturizer




Eadem Cloud Cushion Airy Brightening Moisturizer


$58



Buy Now

Osea Malibu Blemish Balm

Best Moisturizer for Blackheads 

  • Size: 2 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Sheer, lightweight moisturizer

  • Special ingredients: Seaweed, tea tree oil, juniper, and thyme

Users love this sheer lotion, which is packed with three synergistic and acne-fighting essential oils: tea tree, juniper, and thyme. The trio clarifies skin, helping to minimize the appearance of blemishes, as well as irritations. And the nutrient-rich seaweed, which is Osea Malibu’s signature staple, provides a much-needed dose of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids. 

“​I really like this and I don’t know how I lived without it,” wrote one reviewer. “I’m 29, have combo skin, and still struggle with random breakouts, hormonal acne, blackheads, and white heads. While this hasn’t solved all of that completely, worn over a serum and before my day or night oil I feel like this stuff has some antibacterial/anti-inflammatory properties that have reduced the number and severity of freakouts that my skin used to have.”  

Osea Malibu Blemish Balm
Osea Malibu Blemish Balm




Osea Malibu Blemish Balm


$48



Buy Now

Obagi Medical Clenziderm M.D. Therapeutic Lotion

Best Moisturizer for Severe Acne-Prone Skin

  • Size: 1.6 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Lightweight lotion

  • Special ingredients: 5 percent benzoyl peroxide

Founded by skincare experts in 1988, Obagi is the unsung hero of science and innovation in the skincare industry. And their Clenziderm lotion does not mess around, as it features five percent benzoyl peroxide. The powerful ingredient works brilliantly on pimples by targeting acne-causing bacteria deep in the pores. It can also exfoliate and remove dead skin buildup and sebum from pores, further preventing potential flare-ups. The brand suggests using both salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide in your routine if you’re experiencing more severe acne — benzoyl peroxide actively targets bacteria and salicylic acid gently exfoliates and soothes skin.

“I’ve been using Clenziderm for years and count on it reducing a blemish within 24 hours,” wrote one reviewer. “My daughter is now hooked on it as well and finds it to resolve blemishes equally well. For a new user or someone with delicate skin may feel a slight stinging sensation, however nothing intolerable.”

Obagi Medical CLENZIderm M.D. Therapeutic Lotion
Obagi Medical CLENZIderm M.D. Therapeutic Lotion




Obagi Medical Clenziderm M.D. Therapeutic Lotion


$88



Buy Now

The Nue Co. Barrier Culture Moisturizer

Best Moisturizer to Improve Texture for Acne-Prone Skin

  • Size: 1.6 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Gel-to-cream formula

  • Special ingredients: Squalane, niacinamide, peptides, ceramides, and prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics

This supplement and skincare brand is dedicated to healing the skin from the inside out and this moisturizer addresses the skin’s barrier, as well as the microbiome. They’ve discovered a way to utilize prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics in skincare to achieve skin harmony — aka less acne, irritation, redness, and dehydration.

“I never write reviews, but this product is just so good I had to write one,” wrote one reviewer. “It truly improves the texture of my skin, and somehow makes me look healthier.”

The Nue Co. Barrier Culture Moisturizer
The Nue Co. Barrier Culture Moisturizer




The Nue Co. Barrier Culture Moisturizer


$65



Buy Now

ReVive Moisturizing Renewal Lotion

Best Brightening Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin

  • Size: 1.7 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Resurfacing lotion 

  • Special ingredients: Glycolic acid, polyhydroxy acid, green tea, and licorice root

ReVive’s new Moisturizing Renewal Lotion takes acne prevention one step further to reduce blemishes and brighten skin. The formula includes a few clever additions, including time-released glycolic and polyhydroxy acids to curb acne gently, as well as the brand’s signature Bio-Renewal Peptide for anti-aging properties. 

It also includes a few more key ingredients, too, like green tea extract for soothing and licorice root for brightening. In an independent study, testers felt their skin looked more clear, brighter, and smoother after four weeks of use. “I’ve tried a LOT of skincare products,” wrote one reviewer. “This one actually works…smooths, brightens, and hydrates. You can feel this product working from the inside out to transform your skin — it has changed the complexion of my skin in the last couple months since I started using it and I’ll be sticking to it.” 

ReVive Moisturizing Renewal Lotion
ReVive Moisturizing Renewal Lotion




ReVive Moisturizing Renewal Lotion


$195



Buy Now

E.l.f. Cosmetics Blemish Breakthrough Acne Calming Water Cream

Best Budget Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin

  • Size: 1.69 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Lightweight water-based lotion 

  • Special ingredients: Salicylic acid, niacinamide, and tranexamic acid

This newly launched E.l.f. moisturizer feels light as air, thanks to the water-based formula, but works hard to reduce current acne, as well as prevent new blemishes and control excess oil — all at a killer $12 pricepoint. The dermatologist-developed Blemish Breakthrough Acne Calming Water Cream is boosted with acne-fighting ingredients, like salicylic acid, zinc PCA, niacinamide, and tranexamic acid. Freel free to use both morning and night to treat and prevent blemishes, as well as hydrate and balance skin. 

“This is a good lightweight moisture for oily acne-prone skin,” wrote a reviewer. “I thoroughly enjoyed using this when my skin was breaking out. It also helped brighten my skin tone.” 

elf cosmetics
elf cosmetics




E.l.f. Cosmetics Blemish Breakthrough Acne Calming Water Cream


$12



Buy Now

Dermalogica Oil-Free Matte SPF 30

Best Dermatologist-Recommended Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin

  • Size: 1.7 fl oz

  • Type of moisturizer: Lightweight lotion

  • Special ingredients: Caffeine, niacinamide, biotin, and yeast extract

If you’re looking for a moisturizer that can do it all, Hickman suggests trying this Dermalogica option, which features zinc gluconate (great at curbing acne), caffeine, niacinamide, biotin, and yeast extract. Not only will it aid breakout-prone skin, but the formula also helps to support the overall health of skin, she says. Impressively, the moisturizer is also designed to provide an all-day matte finish, preventing shine without any powdery residue. If that wasn’t enough, it also has broad-spectrum SPF 30. 

“This stuff is amazing,” wrote one reviewer. “Especially if you have oily, shiny, congested skin. It does a brilliant job at providing effective, light, sheer SPF protection while giving your skin this matted yet almost glowing appearance. And it will not clog your pores. I will definitely be purchasing this again.” 

Dermalogica Oil-Free Matte SPF30
Dermalogica Oil-Free Matte SPF30




Dermalogica Oil-Free Matte SPF30


$55



Buy Now

The Best Way to Apply Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin

You’ve now got the knowledge, and perhaps the products, here’s the correct order to apply your skincare, all in the name of preventing further acne breakouts. 

  1. Wash your hands: “Always wash your hands before starting your skincare routine,” notes Rachel Roff, a celebrity esthetician and the founder and CEO of Urban Skin Rx. You don’t want to potentially add bacteria from your hands onto your face. Once that’s done, start cleansing the face.

  2. Cleanse: Thoroughly washing your face is extremely important, especially for acne-prone skin. A double cleanse — first using an oil-based cleanser on dry skin (then slowly incorporating water to make it a milky cleanser), rinsing the skin with water, and then using a second water-based cleanser and washing for at least 30 seconds — is great for the evening to ensure you remove every last trace of dirt, makeup, and sunscreen. A quick wash with a gentle cleanser is all that’s needed for the morning. 

  3. Tone: The key to using skincare products in the correct order (so you can get the benefits of each product) is layering thinnest to thickest. This means using a toner or essence after cleansing. It is absolutely an optional step, although some experts swear by this, even if it’s just a gentle facial spray, like Tower 28 SOS Daily Rescue Facial Spray, which has hypochlorous acid to soothe and reset skin. You might be tempted to grab a harsh, alcohol-based toner, but don’t. Often these types of toners, like witch hazel, can be stripping and unnecessarily irritating to skin. 

  4. Serum: If using a serum or acne treatment, check the recommended usage. Many acne-focused ingredients have specific time usage, like retinol, which is best used at night, after cleansing and on dry skin. Other products, like salicylic acid or niacinamide-based serums can be used morning or night.

  5. Moisturizer: Moisturize both morning and night and only use the recommended amount of moisturizer — more is not more when it comes to skincare. Usually, this means a pea-sized amount, patting it onto skin in an upward motion. Hickman prefers a patting motion to prevent removing the serum underneath and tugging at skin. You can always add more moisturizer if needed, but start with a smaller amount and build up. And don’t forget your neck and decolletage.

  6. SPF: Use sunscreen every day, no matter what. There are a vast array of great options available wherever you like to grab your skincare — whether that be at the drugstore or luxury department stores. And many are geared towards acne-prone skin now.

Meet the Experts

  • Danielle Gronich is a clinical esthetician, acne specialist, and co-founder and CEO of Clearstem Skincare. She’s known as “The Acne Guru” and is the formulator at Clearstem. After consistently struggling with acne and no solution in sight, Gronich left her corporate job and dove into clinical research and schooling to find a holistic and effective way to manage skin — and Clearstem Skincare was born. 

  • Dr. Rachel Maiman is a board-certified general and cosmetic dermatologist at Marmur Medical in New York City. She’s especially passionate about acne (and acne scarring), melasma, rosacea, hair loss, and transgender dermatology. 

  • Rachel Roff is the founder and CEO of Urban Skin Rx, a clinical skincare brand providing expertise for all skin tones. An established licensed aesthetician, Roff is an authority on treating hyperpigmentation and discoloration.

  • Dr. Joel L. Cohen is a board-certified dermatologist and the director of the Denver-based AboutSkin Dermatology and DermSurgery. He’s known for his extensive work in both cosmetic and medical dermatology, particularly skin cancer. 

  • Dr. Shereene Idriss is a board-certified dermatologist, founder of Idriss Dermatology in New York City, and the creator of the popular #Pillowtalkderm series on Instagram. She’s passionate about an individual approach with her patients, as well as educating them on their skincare routines. She believes skincare should be an empowering form of self-care. 

  • Dr. Yannis Alexandrides is the founder and surgical director of 111 Harley St. in London. He’s board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, and the European Board of Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery. Dr. Alexandrides is the co-founder (with his wife Eva) of 111SKIN, the famed and beloved science-focused skincare brand. 

  • Heather Hickman is the senior director of education at Dermalogica. The licensed professional skin therapist hails from London but currently resides in LA. With over 30 years of industry experience, Hickman specializes in advanced product, ingredients, and service techniques. 

Meet the Author

Kristin Limoges is a New York-based beauty and wellness freelance editor. Previously, she created the beauty and wellness vertical for Domino Magazine where she served as the lifestyle editor for both print and digital content. In addition to all things beauty, she also covers travel and wellness. She can usually be found hair masking, face masking, and body masking simultaneously in her Chinatown apartment. 

Sign up for WWD's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Click here to read the full article.