Are you looking for an effective moisturizer that will keep your skin hydrated without contributing to breakouts? Here is our guide to the best drugstore moisturizers for acne.
Do Moisturizers Help with Acne?
A moisturizer isn’t going to directly treat acne. Chemical exfoliants, acne treatments (both topical and oral), and masks targeting clogged pores are best for proactively tackling breakouts. However, a moisturizer is crucial for supporting the skin as you work towards clearing your breakouts. A moisturizer hydrates the skin, and hydrated skin is better able to fight inflammation. Additionally, since many acne treatments dry out the skin, a moisturizer will work to counteract that dryness. When looking for the best moisturizer for acne-prone skin, you’ll want to seek out lightweight and non-comedogenic formulas.
1. Clear Oil-Free Moisturizer
Paula's Choice Moisturizer for Daily Moisturization
Paula’s Choice Clear Oil-Free Moisturizer
This moisturizer is perfect for those with acne-prone skin, because it is lightweight, non-greasy, oil-free, and doesn’t clog pores or lead to more breakouts.
It can be difficult for those with acne-prone skin to find a suitable moisturizer, but this option delivers hydration without contributing to breakouts. It also contains ingredients that soothe the skin, helping to eliminate any irritation.
- No SPF for daytime use
This moisturizer contains niacinamide, which helps to minimize pores, eliminate redness, and even skin tone. It also contains antioxidants that soothe the skin, and ceramides that strengthen the skin’s surface.
Water (Aqua), Ethyl Macadamiate (hydration), Glycerin (skin-replenishing), Cetearyl Alcohol (texture enhancer), Propanediol (hydration), Triethylhexanoin (skin-smoothing), Sodium Acrylates Copolymer (texture enhancer), Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate (thickeners), Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract (skin- soothing), Hydrolyzed Pumpkin Seedcake (skin-replenishing), Vaccinium Angustifolium (Blueberry) Fruit Extract (antioxidant), Euterpe Oleracea (Acai) Fruit Extract (antioxidant), Prunus Serotina (Wild Cherry) Fruit Extract (skin-soothing/antioxidant), Niacinamide (skin-restoring),Tripeptide-29 (skin-restoring), Ceramide NP, Ceramide AP, Ceramide EOP (skin-replenishing), Sodium Hyaluronate (skin-replenishing/hydration), Phytosphingosine (skin-restoring), Cholesterol (skin-replenishing), Panthenol (hydration), Sodium PCA (skin-replenishing), Adenosine (skin-restoring), Lecithin (skin-restoring/hydration), Arginine (amino acid/hydration), Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate (emulsifier) Sodium Gluconate (hydration/chelation), Citric Acid (pH adjuster), Isohexadecane (solvent/texture enhancer), Xanthan Gum, Carbomer (thickeners), Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin (preservatives)
National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Topical niacinamide reduces yellowing, wrinkling, red blotchiness, and hyperpigmented spots in aging facial skin"Accessed Aug. 2, 2021.
2. Clear Ultra-Light Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 30+
Paula's Choice Moisturizer for Daily Sun Protection and Moisturization
Paula’s Choice Clear Ultra-Light Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 30+
This lightweight SPF 30 moisturizer leaves a matte finish and doesn’t clog pores, making it one of the best Paula’s Choice sunscreens for normal to oily and acne-prone skin.
Many people with oily or acne-prone skin worry about using sunscreens, because they often feel thick and greasy. However, this SPF moisturizer is an excellent choice for these skin types, because it protects the skin but doesn’t feel greasy or clog pores. It also contains antioxidants and hydrators that calm the skin.
- Matte finish
- Contains chemical sunscreen, which may irritate sensitive skin
- Not water-resistant
This lightweight SPF moisturizer contains antioxidants and replenishing ingredients that calm and hydrate the skin without contributing to shine, including vitamin E, grape seed extract, green tea, and oat extract.
Avobenzone 2.0%, Octinoxate 7.50%, Octisalate 5.0%, Octocrylene 2.0% (sunscreen actives), Water (Aqua), Glycerin (hydration/skin-replenishing), Silica (absorbent), Dimethicone (hydration/texture enhancer), Benzyl Alcohol (preservative), Tocopherol (vitamin E/antioxidant), Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract (antioxidant), Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract (antioxidant), Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract (antioxidant), Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract (antioxidant), Peucedanum Graveolens (Dill) Extract (antioxidant), Sambucus Nigra (Black Elderberry) Fruit Extract (antioxidant), Avena Sativa (Oat) Bran Extract (skin-soothing), Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Extract (antioxidant), Lycium Barbarum (Goji) Fruit Extract (antioxidant), Hydrogenated Lecithin (skin-restoring), Titanium Dioxide (texture enhancer), Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer (hydration), Diethylhexyl Syringylidenemalonate (hydration), Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer (film-forming/suspending agent), Xanthan Gum (texture enhancer), Sodium Carbomer (texture enhancer), Benzyl Alcohol (preservative), Sodium Benzoate (stabilizer), Potassium Sorbate (preservative), Phenoxyethanol (preservative).
American Academy of Dermatology. "Is Sunscreen Safe?"Accessed Aug. 2, 2021.
3. Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer
La Roche-Posay Moisturizer for Daily Moisturization
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer
This lightweight, oil-free moisturizer is excellent for all skin types. It effectively hydrates without clogging pores, making it a particularly great choice for those prone to acne.
This product is one of the overall best La Roche-Posay moisturizers. It contains niacinamide, which helps soothe and reduce redness, as well as ceramides, which strengthen and hydrate the skin. Additionally, this moisturizer is non-comedogenic, meaning it contains ingredients that are not likely to clog pores. This makes this moisturizer excellent for acne-prone skin.
- Dermatologist tested
- May not be moisturizing enough for super dry skin
In addition to the ingredients mentioned above, this moisturizer contains prebiotics, which the brand says help restore the skin, and glycerin, which moisturizes.
Aqua/Water, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Niacinamide, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurine, Myristyl Myristate, Stearic Acid, Ceramide 3, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Isobutane, Glyceryl Stearate Se, Sodium Hydroxide, Myristic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Capryloyl Glycine, Caprylyl Glycol, Xanthan Gum, T-Butyl Alcohol, Acrylonitrile/Methyl Methacrylate / Vinylidene Chloride Copolymer, Tocopheryl
National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Skin hydration is significantly increased by a cream formulated to mimic the skin’s own natural moisturizing systems"Accessed Aug. 19, 2021.
Sage Journals. "Safety Assessment of Glycerin as Used in Cosmetics"Accessed Aug. 19, 2021.
4. Mattifying Moisturizer for Oily Skin
La Roche-Posay Moisturizer for Daily Moisturization
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat Mattifying Moisturizer for Oily Skin
This oil-free moisturizer is formulated with a variety of ingredients that cut down on shine to achieve a matte finish, but it still gives oily skin the hydration that it needs.
This moisturizer is great for oily skin, because it contains a variety of shine-reducing ingredients. It uses the brand’s Sebulyse technology, which helps mattify excess oil and reduce the appearance of pores. Additionally, it contains perlite and silica, which absorb excess oil to cut down on shine.
- Dermatologist tested
- Contains fragrance
This moisturizer also contains a small amount of lipo-hydroxy acid, a chemical exfoliator that gently exfoliates the skin.
Aqua/Water, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Isocetyl Stearate, Alcohol Denat., Silica, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Acrylamide/Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Butylene Glycol, PEG-100 Stearate, Cocamide Mea, Sarcosine, Glyceryl Stearate, Triethanolamine, Isohexadecane, Perlite, Capryloyl Salicylic Acid, Tetrasodium EDTA, Pentylene Glycol, Polysorbate 80, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Salicylic Acid, Parfum/Fragrance.
National Center for Biotechnology Information. "The Use of Lipohydroxy Acid in Skin Care and Acne Treatment"Accessed Aug. 18, 2021.
5. Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion with Birch Sap
COSRX Moisturizer for Daily Moisturization
COSRX Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion with Birch Sap
This lightweight, oil-free lotion is the perfect daily moisturizer, and is one of the best COSRX products for all skin types.
This lotion provides deep hydration that all skin types need, but does so without leaving behind a greasy finish. Birch sap helps to restore moisture to the skin and maintain hydration levels.
- Vegan and cruelty-free
- Contains fragrant essential oils
In addition to birch sap, this lotion contains hydrating and soothing ingredients, including glycerin, panthenol, allantoin, and sodium hyaluronate.
Betula Platyphylla Japonica Juice, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Betaine, Cetearyl Alcohol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Oil, Allantoin, Panthenol, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Lactate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ethyl Hexanediol, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil
National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Skin moisturizing effects of panthenol-based formulations"Accessed Aug. 30, 2021.
Sage Journals. "Safety Assessment of Glycerin as Used in Cosmetics"Accessed Aug. 30, 2021.
6. Oil-Free Face Moisturizer
Neutrogena Moisturizer for Daily Moisturization
Neutrogena Oil-Free Face Moisturizer
This lightweight, oil-free, and non-comedogenic moisturizer is an excellent choice for oily skin types, as it moisturizes without contributing to shine.
While this moisturizer is marketed towards sensitive skin, the lightweight and gentle formula is great for normal to oily skin. The water-based moisturizer is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores, and also does not feel heavy or greasy on the skin.
This moisturizer is non-comedogenic, meaning it doesn’t contain ingredients known to clog pores. This makes it a suitable choice for those prone to acne. One of the key moisturizing ingredients in this moisturizer is glycerin, a humectant that keeps the skin hydrated.
Water, Glycerin, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Dimethicone, Petrolatum, Cyclomethicone, Soybean (Glycine Soja) Sterols, Isopropyl Isostearate, Cetyl Alcohol, PEG-10 Soy Sterol, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Carbomer, Tetrasodium EDTA, Sodium Hydroxide, Diazolidinyl Urea, Ethylparaben, Methylparaben, Propylparaben.
Sage Journals. "Safety Assessment of Glycerin as Used in Cosmetics"Accessed Jul. 30, 2021.
What is the best drugstore moisturizer for combination acne-prone skin?
Two of the best drugstore moisturizers for combination skin that is prone to breakouts are the Neutrogena Oil-Free Face Moisturizer and the Paula’s Choice Clear Oil-Free Moisturizer. These oil-free moisturizers are formulated with this skin type in mind, and don’t contain ingredients known to clog pores.
What is the best drugstore moisturizer for oily acne-prone skin?
All of the moisturizers recommended on this list are suitable for oily skin that is prone to acne. For those with particularly oily skin looking for an option that will help cut down on shine, check out the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat Mattifying Moisturizer for Oily Skin. This non-comedogenic and oil-free moisturizer contains ingredients that absorb excess oil to give the skin a more matte finish.
Do moisturizers make acne worse?
Everyone needs to moisturize their skin on a daily basis in order to keep the skin hydrated, healthy, and balanced. However, not all moisturizers are suitable for acne-prone skin, as there are some formulas that contain ingredients that are known to clog pores, which can lead to breakouts. That’s why it is key for those prone to breakouts to seek out formulas that will work for their skin. The best moisturizers for acne tend to be lightweight and non-comedogenic (meaning they don’t contain ingredients known to clog pores).
The Bottom Line
Finding the right moisturizer for skin that is prone to breakouts can be a challenge, but there are some excellent options on the market – including many you can find at the drugstore. If you’re looking for a moisturizer that is suitable for acne-prone skin, try any of our recommended products to maintain a healthy and hydrated complexion.