The 16 Best Moisturizers for Acne-Based Skin in 2023

If you're struggling with breakouts, there are some skincare products you should avoid, but there's one you shouldn't skip: moisturizer. Still, it can be challenging to find a moisturizer that's good for acne-prone skin and doesn't clog pores, cause irritation, or leave skin tight or greasy. 

"Look for moisturizers that are labeled oil-free or non-comedogenic, as they are less likely to clog pores," advises dermatologist Marie V. Hayag, MD, Fifth Avenue Cosmetic Medicine. Choosing a good moisturizer for acne-prone skin is especially important if you're using a product that contains benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid (which can dry out your complexion). 

According to Dr. Hayag water-based products contain humectants like glycerin or hyaluronic acid. She also recommends looking for soothing ingredients like aloe vera, vitamin E and green tea. So how do you know which cream, gel or lotion is best? 

We spent hours researching today's most popular and best-selling products, sifting through customer reviews, and getting Dr. Hayag's advice to find out. Keep scrolling to find the best moisturizers for acne-prone skin. 

1. Murad Clear Oil-Free Hydrogel 

Murad is a trusted brand you can count on when it comes to caring for acne-prone skin. With that in mind, our top pick is Clarifying Hydrogel, an ultra-light, non-comedogenic formula. 

It hydrates with hyaluronic acid, heals and soothes skin with ginger root extract, and suppresses breakouts with a very gentle dose of salicylic acid. We also love that this oil-free moisturizer contains Korean red pine extract, a natural antibacterial agent that inhibits the spread of acne-causing bacteria 

2. Best Budget: CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion: Have a budget? Choose Selevi. This dermatologist-approved lotion is oil-free and non-comedogenic, with essential ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin for lightweight hydration. 

3. Best Drugstore: Cetaphil Fragrance-Free Moisturizing Lotion: At the pharmacy, it's all about Cetaphil. This large-capacity pump bottle is packed with skin-loving ingredients like niacinamide (vitamin B3), vitamin E, and glycerin. Although it contains a small amount of plant oil, it is said to balance skin tone and help reduce oil production. 

4. Best SPF: EltaMD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46: When it comes to moisturizing with sunscreen, board-certified dermatologist Martha H. Viera, MD, FAAD, says, "You want to avoid heavy oils that can clog pores." She recommends EltaMD UV Clear, which is a non-comedogenic formula that offers the benefits of invisible SPF 46. 

5. Best Treatment: Tula Breakout Star Acne Moisturizer: Tula Breakout Star contains the superhero salicylic acid BHA (beta-hydroxy acid), according to Dr. Tula Breakout Star. Hayag is one of the best ingredients for treating acne. 3 "It's a powerful anti-inflammatory and helps exfoliate the skin," she tells Byrdie. 

6. Best care: 111Skin Y Theorem Day Cream Light NAC Y2: Sure, it's pricey, but just one pump of 111Skin Y Theorem Day Cream Light NAC Y2 (the lighter version of the brand's best-selling day cream) is enough to moisturize your entire face. 

Ingredients include hyaluronic acid to increase moisture, niacinamide to reduce inflammation, and antioxidants to form a barrier to protect skin from irritation. Additionally, the product contains a proprietary complex called NAC Y2, which 111Skin says reduces the impact of environmental damage. The formula won't clog pores but plumps skin and eliminates fine lines. 

7. Best K-Beauty: CosRx AC Collection Light Soothing Moisturizer: CosRx Lightweight Soothing Moisturizer from our growing favorite Korean beauty brand is a nourishing cream that balances acne-prone skin. It provides light moisture and contains healing anti-inflammatory ingredients like propolis, green tea, aloe vera, and allantoin. 

8. Best AM Neutrogena Oil-Free Hydrating Sunscreen: Use Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisturizer in the morning. This cruelty-free, lightweight lotion applies clear and provides broad-spectrum SPF 15 protection against the sun's harmful rays. 

9. Best Afternoon Paula's Choice Clear Oil-Free Moisturizer: For your evening skin care, we recommend Paula's Choice Clear. Enriched with ceramides, humectants, licorice root extract and niacinamide, this oil-free moisturizer soothes, hydrates and refreshes acne-prone skin. 

10. Best Matte Liquid: Caudalie Vinopure Hydrating Matte Liquid: We also like Caudalie Vinopure, an oil-controlling lotion that simultaneously hydrates and absorbs oil to balance acne-prone skin. 

What's the secret? Squalene is derived from olives, a type of oil naturally produced by the skin. The idea is that when your skin is replenished with squalene, it won't produce as much squalene. 

11. Best Moisturizer: Tatcha The Water Cream: From everyone's favorite Japanese skincare brand, this hydrating cream is a premium moisturizer for thirsty, acne-prone skin. The oil-free formula contains a nourishing and soothing blend of green tea, algae, hyaluronic acid and botanical extracts. 

12. Best Reshaper: ROSEN Skincare Tropics Moisturizer
Rosen Tropics Moisturizer contains bromelain to gently exfoliate and fight dead skin cells and uneven texture. Plus, the lightweight formula delivers lightweight hydration and brightening kojic acid to brighten your complexion. 

13. Best Soothing: Avène Tolerance Control Soothing Skin Restoring Cream
If you suffer from red, reactive skin, Avène Tolerance Control is your best choice. The highlight is the brand's mineral-rich thermal water, which has been shown to relieve inflammation while also having healing and moisturizing properties. 

14. Best for Blackheads: Origins Clear Improvement Pore Cleansing Moisturizer
Are blackheads killing you? Thanks to its blend of bamboo charcoal and salicylic acid, you can rely on Origins Clear Improvement to unclog pores and dissolve sebum while preventing further blemishes from forming. 

15. Best Gel: Basic Butter Radiant Facial Jelly
If you like gels, Radiate Face Jelly is for you. While this natural moisturizer contains some plant oils, it's formulated to balance oil production without clogging pores. You'll get a dewy, hydrated complexion without being greasy and shiny. 

16. Best for Mature Skin: Kate Somerville Oil-Free Moisturizer
Designed for acne-prone skin, this oil-free moisturizer absorbs quickly and hydrates without leaving a shine. Amino acids help fight fine lines, while seaweed extract firms mature skin.
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