For those with acne-prone skin, finding a facial moisturizer can be tricky. You’ll pick up an option that feels great on the skin...but a few days later your face will be greeted with yet another breakout. The trick is finding a non-comedogenic moisturizer that agrees with your skin and won’t contribute to any acne issues.

While it might sound simple, it is unfortunately easier said than done. Read on to learn about the best non-comedogenic face moisturizers that’ll leave your skin moisturized and breakout-free.

What Does Non-Comedogenic Mean?

The term “comedogenic” refers to ingredients known to clog pores. For instance, some of the most common comedogenic skincare ingredients include coconut oil, shea butter, red algae, isopropyl isostearate, isopropyl myristate, isopropyl palmitate, and lauric acid – among many others. The term “non-comedogenic”, on the other hand, describes skincare products formulated to not clog pores. Products that have this label are supposed to contain ingredients that are not known for clogging pores and causing acne. As such, this term is particularly important for those with acne-prone skin who don’t want to trigger a breakout.

Here is where matters get tricky: the term “non-comedogenic” isn’t regulated by the FDA or any similar agency. Therefore, skincare companies can use the term on their products, even if they haven’t tested that claim. For many companies, the term is more of a marketing tool. It is how they signal that a certain product is safe for acne-prone skin – even if that isn’t fully accurate.

5 Best Non-Comedogenic Face Moisturizers

Thankfully for those with acne-prone skin, there are non-comedogenic face moisturizer options available on the market that legitimately contain ingredients that don't clog pores. These are 5 of the best non-comedogenic face moisturizers that deliver much-needed hydration without triggering breakouts.

1. CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion (Normal to Oily)

CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion (Normal to Oily)

Editor's pick: this affordable non-comedogenic face moisturizer is excellent for normal to combination skin

This lightweight, non-comedogenic formula is soothing and hydrating. It has ingredients that are excellent for those with acne-prone skin. CeraVe PM's formula is oil-free and contains niacinamide, an ingredient that helps calm the skin. In addition, the moisturizer also has hyaluronic acid and ceramides, which add hydration. This facial moisturizer is marketed towards nighttime use, however, it is appropriate to use both day and night.

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2. Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Invisible Finish Gel (Normal to Oily)

Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Invisible Finish Gel (Normal to Oily)

Best for: normal, oily and combination skin

This Paula’s Choice option is another one of the best non-comedogenic face moisturizers. It has a super light formula that hydrates the skin without making it feel greasy. The moisturizer contains calming niacinamide, as well as hydrating hyaluronic acid. Plus, it has antioxidants that protect the skin and reduce the visible signs of aging. It is free of fragrances, so it won’t irritate the skin. Moreover, this moisturizer is appropriate for morning and night use.

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3. Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel (Normal to Oily)

Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel (Normal to Oily)

Best for: normal to oily skin

This oil-free, lightweight gel lotion was developed by dermatologists, and is one of the best non-comedogenic face moisturizers available on the market. It contains a wide variety of ingredients that are great for hydrating and strengthening the skin’s protective barrier. This includes sunflower seed cake, barley extract, and cucumber fruit extract. Plus, it has hydrating sodium hyaluronate, a derivative of hyaluronic acid. The formula absorbs into the skin quickly, and leaves a non-greasy finish. It can be used both day and night.

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4. COSRX Oil Free Moisturizing Lotion (Normal to Dry)

COSRX Oil Free Moisturizing Lotion (Normal to Dry)

Best for: normal to dry skin

This product from COSRX has a lightweight texture, and hydrates and protects the skin. The formula features a unique ingredient: betula platyphylla japonica juice, or white birch sap. It makes up 70% of the formula, and provides long-lasting hydration to the skin. Lastly, this oil-free formula is suitable for day and night application.

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5. The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA (Normal to Dry)

COSRX Oil Free Moisturizing Lotion (Normal to Dry)

Best for: normal to dry skin

Cult-favorite skincare brand The Ordinary offers on of the best non-comedogenic face moisturizers at an incredibly low price. The formula has hyaluronic acid, amino acids, dermal lipids, and a variety of other ingredients that help moisturize and protect the skin. It has a non-greasy finish on the skin, and is appropriate for day and night.

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Bonus: Hadalabo Gokujun Hyaluronic Lotion (All Skin Types)

Hadalabo Gokujun Hyaluronic Lotion

This is NOT a moisturizer - it is a hyraluronic acid serum that can be mixed your moisturizer for additional hydration

As an added hydrating bonus, people looking for some of the best non-comedogenic face moisturizers can add this hyaluronic acid serum to their skincare rotation. Hyaluronic acid attracts moisture and retains water in the outer layer of the skin. Therefore making the skin more moisturized. This lightweight serum can be applied before moisturizer, or even mixed in with one of the moisturizers mentioned above. Additionally, it can be used as needed, or up to two times a day.

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How to Determine if a Face Moisturizer Will Work For You

So what exactly do you do when you can’t fully trust the non-comedogenic label? The key is paying closer attention to the ingredient list in skincare products. Moreover, if you are unsure about certain ingredients in a skincare product, you can check their comedogenic level.

The comedogenic level rating ranges from 0-5, with 5 being highly comedogenic and 0 being non-comedogenic. Checking the comedogenic level helps you determine whether an ingredient might cause problems for your skin. This is especially true of ingredients that are higher up on the list. Ingredients listed first are the most potent. 

Pay Attention to Products That Break You Out

Beyond looking at the label, you should look at your own skin’s history. Everyone’s skin is different. Some will benefit from a certain ingredient, while others breakout while using the same ingredient. The best way to avoid using breakout-causing products is to start looking at patterns with your skin’s reaction to certain ingredients. For example, say you used a moisturizer with avocado oil that caused your skin to breakout. In the future, you will want to check for that ingredient in other skincare products to avoid skin issues.

If you have acne-prone skin, you should still look for products labelled as being non-comedogenic. This label should serve as a general guide. However, doing a bit of extra research can help you avoid a skincare product that might do more harm than good.

FAQs

What is a non-comedogenic moisturizer?

The term “non-comedogenic” refers to a product that contains ingredients that don't clog pores. Therefore, a non-comedogenic moisturizer shouldn’t clog pores and cause breakouts. However, the FDA does not regulate the term. Companies can label a moisturizer as being non-comedogenic, even if it still might clog pores. Those worried about a moisturizer clogging their pores should pay close attention to the ingredients in order to determine whether it is suitable for their skin.

What is the best non-comedogenic face moisturizer?

There are a variety of face lotions available that do not clog pores. The best non-comedogenic face moisturizer will ultimately depend on your skin type.

Can moisturizer clog pores?

Yes, a moisturizer can clog pores. Therefore, it is best to look out for non-comedogenic moisturizers in order to avoid clogging pores and creating breakouts. However, it is important to note that the FDA does not regulate the term “non-comedogenic”. It is possible to pick up a “non-comedogenic” moisturizer that might still clog pores. In order to be extra cautious, you should also look at the ingredients list to make sure there isn’t anything that you know has clogged your pores in the past.

Summary: 5 Best Non-Comedogenic Face Moisturizers

The Bottom Line

“Non-comedogenic” refers to skincare products that contain ingredients that are not known to clog pores. Additionally, the term “non-comedogenic” is not regulated by the FDA. Brands can use the term, without testing to see if it is actually true. In short, those with acne-prone skin should pay close attention to ingredient labels, and look up the comedogenic rating of any ingredients that raise a red flag.