Acne Moisturizer: Your Guide to Buying an Effective One

Despite the oily nature of your skin that is overrun with acne, you can still benefit greatly from an acne moisturizer. The key, however, is to know how to select an acne moisturizer that will take care of your skin. Anything contrary to this might worsen your acne condition; that’s where this buying guide comes in.

Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Facial Moisturizer with Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Medicine, Pink Grapefruit Acne Fighting Face Lotion with Salicylic Acid to Treat Breakouts, Non Comedogenic, 4 fl. oz

In this guide, we will give you all the tips and facts that will help you in buying the right acne moisturizer.

What Does an Acne Moisturizer Do?

First of all you must understand that the basic work of any moisturizer is to hydrate the skin. This means an acne moisturizer will increase your skin’s water level. The keyword here is “water” and not oil. This is important because when certain people think moisturizers of any kind they think addition of oil. Moisturizers including acne moisturizers only help to increase hydration.

A good acne moisturizer will work to protect the skin barrier from suffering damage. It also strengthens that which has already been damaged by forming a sort of barrier on the skin.

All acne moisturizers would carry out one of these four functions in treating acne: They exfoliate dead cells of the skin that block pores, kill bacteria that cause acne, reduce inflammation or gets rid of surplus oil.

Guidelines for Selecting an Acne Moisturizer

The myriad of acne moisturizers out there in stores does not make it easy for anyone to just go and pick one. However, following the guidelines below you should be able to select an acne moisturizer that is effective for your skin.

  • Acne Moisturizer Lotion or Acne Moisturizer Cream?

One of the common confusion most people encounter when going to purchase an acne moisturizer is: “Which one should I choose: lotion or cream?” Normally, creams are thicker than lotions in composition; therefore they tend to form thick layers on the skin. On the other hand, lotions form little or no film on the skin.
To solve the problem on which one to choose depends on your skin type. Most acne prone skins are either oily or sensitive skins: Only few dry skins are acne prone. If your skin is oily or sensitive, a lotion would serve you better. Those with dry skin should opt for an acne moisturizer cream; which is the best option for them.

  • Read Product Labels

Most times we just choose a skincare product on the advice of friends without making proper findings. The fact that it worked for your friend doesn’t mean it will work for you. Therefore go through the label to find out certain information about the product.
When dealing with acne it is important you select an acne moisturizer that is non-comedogenic, non-acnegenic and oil-free. Most of these are written on the label and you can only know about them if you read them.

  • Pick a fragrance-free, hypo-allergenic acne moisturizer

Hypo-allergenic means that such a product’s likeliness to cause an allergic reaction is relatively low if not non-existing. Acne can be made worse due to allergies so it makes sense that you’ll need an acne moisturizer that won’t cause such.

  • Also, ensure you choose an acne moisturizer that is fragrance-free. 

Fragrances are a major cause of irritation found in skincare products. They could also cause skin sting and burns especially if your skin is dried and peeling. So your wise decision would be to avoid these altogether.

Note: ‘Unscented’ does not mean fragrance-free. An acne moisturizer that is labeled unscented contains fragrance(s) that have been masked with certain agents to prevent it from having a scent.

Vanicream Moisturizing Cream with Pump | Fragrance and Gluten Free | For Sensitive Skin | Soothes Red, Irritated, Cracked or Itchy Skin | Dermatologist Tested | 16 Ounce

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  • Look out for Exfoliators

Exfoliators are ingredients that help the skin get rid of dead cells that have begun to accumulate on the skin. When this happens it leads to skin pore block; which is a major cause of acne. Choosing an acne moisturizer that contains these ingredients would contribute greatly to your battle against acne. Examples of exfoliators include alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), salicylic acid, retinol, etc.


M3 Naturals Himalayan Salt Scrub Infused with Collagen and Stem Cell Natural Exfoliating Body Souffle Face for Acne Cellulite Dead Skin Scars Wrinkles Cleansing Exfoliator 12 oz


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  • Check for SPF

You need to be protected against the harmful effects of the sun rays; it is very important. Most acne moisturizers contain sunscreens nowadays. The reason is that acne skins are highly sensitive and some acne could increase your photosensitivity. The sunscreen included in your acne moisturizer tends to counter this effect. Choose an acne moisturizer that has an SPF of about 30.

  • Go For Results Over Price or Brands

When it comes to skincare products including acne moisturizers, results always beat prices or brands. An expensive product does not guarantee it would work well for you. That the product is made by a well-known brand does not guarantee results either. This is simply because the peculiarities of everyone’s condition vary. So you should consider the result as a top priority and how the acne moisturizer feels on your skin. Unless the brand studied your acne and manufactured a product just for you; then go for brand and price. Such an acne moisturizer is bound to definitely produce fantastic results.

  • Ask a Dermatologist

If you still don’t feel confident about making a choice on your own, you could ask a dermatologist. Their advice should be able to help you make a choice; that’s if you are not prescribed one by him or her.



Check out these interesting acne product reviews/articles:

Neutrogena Rapid Clear Oil-Eliminating Foaming Acne Facial Cleanser – In-depth Review

AcneFree 24 Hour Severe Acne Clearing System – Detailed Review

Bioré Warming Anti-Blackhead Cleanser – Detailed Review

Neutrogena Naturals Acne Foaming Facial Scrub – In-depth Review

Clean and Clear® Oil-free Pore Cleanser Daily Acne Face Wash – In-depth Review

Neutrogena Oil-free Pink Grapefruit Acne Face Wash – In-depth Review




Active Ingredients your Acne Moisturizer should contain

Reading a label as we recommended earlier will bring you in contact with the ingredients contained in that acne moisturizer. It is important you know what some of those ingredients do; so that you can appreciate any acne moisturizer better. It will also make help you make up your mind faster. (No one would like to be in the store for an hour just contemplating which acne moisturizer to buy). You’re about to learn a lot…

  • Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is an ingredient that functions as an antibacterial ingredient. It readily combats bacteria that tend to cause acne breakout and works efficiently on oily skins. It has been said to be the most effective ingredient in not just treating acne but also preventing any initial breakout. Benzoyl Peroxide is readily employed in acne moisturizers to deal with serious acne conditions. It is usually found in a concentration of about 2.5% to 10% in most acne moisturizers. The downside is that it could bleach your cloth which is not really much of an issue: You just need to apply it before wearing your cloth.

Acne Free Terminator 10 Acne Spot Treatment with Benzoyl Peroxide 10% Maximum Strength Acne Cream Treatment, 1 Ounce - Pack Of 1

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  • Glycolic Acid

Glycolic acid which is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) functions as an exfoliator. It helps to get rid of dead skin cells that tend to clog up pores. Apart from functioning as an exfoliant, it also assists in boosting cell turnover in the skin. This is important because if cell turnover occurs at a slow rate, breakouts blemish and scars won’t be healed fast. Glycolic acid in most cases can be a bit intolerable at first but the end results are worth it. Glycolic acid will eventually leave your skin looking clearer, brighter and even healthier.

  • Salicylic Acid

This ingredient is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that performs similar functions like glycolic acid and works as an exfoliator. The only difference, however, is that salicylic acid effects are much milder than glycolic acid. It readily combats the production of surplus oil in the skin as well as stabilizing excessive cell shedding. These are very important functions because surplus oil and excess cell shedding are causes of acne breakouts. Salicylic acid also serves as an anti-inflammatory ingredient that assists in reducing swollen skin.


Aveeno Clear Complexion Salicylic Acid Acne-Fighting Daily Face Moisturizer with Total Soy Complex, For Breakout-Prone Skin, Oil-Free and Hypoallergenic, 4 fl. oz

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  • Retinoids

Retinoids are great at fighting blemishes and getting rid of them in the process. Serving as an anti-aging and anti-inflammatory ingredient, retinoids are very useful. They help you look young and reduce swollen skin in the process. Just like glycolic acid, retinoids also boost cell turnover in the skin.


Cetaphil Dermacontrol Facial Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin with Suncreen SPF 30, 4 Fluid (Packaging May Vary) Ounce

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  • Sulfur

Sulfur is also an antibacterial ingredient like benzoyl peroxide. The only difference between these two is that sulfur does not have a drying effect as much as benzoyl peroxide. Apart from being an antibacterial agent, sulfur possesses healing properties that heals the skin of hyperpigmentation, scars etc. In addition to these aforementioned functions, sulfur is also an exfoliating ingredient. It also reduces surplus oil. It is recommended you choose sulfur at about 10% concentration. Sulfur also has a downside which is its rotten egg-odor; which is not much of a problem nowadays. This is countered by adding certain masking agents that hide this offensive smell.

  • Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel cleanses the skin deeply since it functions as a disinfectant and an astringent; it also soothes the skin of all sorts of irritations. It cleans blemishes on the skin as it acts on the skin.

Acne Free 3 Step 24 Hour Acne Treatment Kit - Clearing System w Oil Free Acne Cleanser, Witch Hazel Toner, & Oil Free Acne Lotion - Acne Solution w/ Benzoyl Peroxide for Teens and Adults - Original

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  • Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil works as an antimicrobial and antibacterial agent. It washes out impurities and dirt that tend to clog skin pores. It has proven itself to be effective in treating acne as good as big gun ingredients like benzoyl peroxide. However, it is important your acne moisturizer must contain sunscreen or you use a separate sunscreen with it. This is because tea tree oil can make the skin vulnerable to the sun’s rays. A 5% tea tree oil concentration in an acne moisturizer is what we recommend. Anything beyond that might be harmful to your skin when exposed to the sun.


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Ingredients that can Cause Acne Breakout

Just as there are helpful ingredients that can treat acne, there are also ingredients that can cause you to break out. Some of these ingredients are found in skincare products that are used by most of us. If your skin is prone to acne breakouts, it is advisable you stay away from these ingredients listed below.

  • Fragrance

Fragrances are ingredients that perform one sole function in any skincare product including acne moisturizers. They are used to add scent to that product only. They cause the skin to be irritated and inflamed. As much as you would love your products to smell good, it shouldn’t be at the expense of your skin.

  • Alcohol

Alcohol is an ingredient that you should keep away from as much as possible. This is because alcohol is naturally a drying agent. When this drying effect occurs, more sebum (oil) is produced by the skin to counter this dryness. Excess oil on the skin gets acted upon by acne-causing bacteria. So it is evident that alcohol only increases the tendency for you to experience an acne breakout. Or you could worsen an already existing acne condition.

  • Silicone

Silicone is mostly found in products that tend to be heavily concentrated. When applied it makes the skin feel soft and supple; however, don’t be deceived by this feeling. This ingredient easily forms a thick layer on the skin which leads to blocked pores and acne breakout eventually.

  • Talc

Talc is an ingredient that most of us are familiar with in skincare products. It is mostly found in powders as well as shower products. Even though the FDA regards talc as being safe for general use, certain studies have linked it with health issues such as ovarian cancer.
Despite the approval from the FDA, one who has an acne skin should still be cautious of this ingredient. Why is that so? Talc possesses a drying effect that can cause irritation and inflammation for most sensitive skins including acne skins. While you battle that acne it is best you stay away from talc as well.

  • Parabens

Parabens are a chemical family made of different compounds that mostly serve as preservatives in skincare products. Once again this is another ingredient approved by the FDA; however certain concerns have also arisen concerning this ingredient. Parabens are said to be able to imitate the female sex hormone known as estrogen. Why is this a concern? One of the reasons for acne breakout is hormonal changes. When the body experiences fluctuations in the body’s hormonal levels, this change affects the skin. The fact that parabens possess the ability to copy estrogen would put the body and the skin under constant stress. They would then react just as if estrogen levels got spiked up naturally. In most cases, the result is acne breakout or worsening of existing acne conditions. Parabens are listed as propylparaben, methylparaben, ethylparaben, and butylparaben in most skincare products.


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Tips to Maximize Your Acne Moisturizer

It is one thing to know how to choose the right acne moisturizer. But it is a completely different kettle of fish to use it appropriately. So here are some tips for you to use it for the best results:

  • Wash your face with a mild soap

Do not aggravate the acne by using soap that is harsh. This does not mean that you would deliberately use one. But most people use harsh soaps without even knowing it. Soaps with fragrance and hydroquinone are a no-no. Avoid them. Use soaps that are very mild, knowing that soap does not do all the cleansing. There are other steps. But you must wash your face.

  • Use a light cleanser

After a long day out there in the world, it is important that you cleanse your face. This is because dirt and sebum must have gathered and clogged your pores. Your acne moisturizer will not give you the maximum results if your pores are clogged. It would need space to seep under your skin to work properly.


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  • Eat properly

Eat more vegetables and fruits and avoids fats and oils as much as possible. This would help clear up your body and give you better skin. Drink lots of water, too. Acne does not come through heredity or poor hygiene; bad diets also contribute, much more than you would think.

  • Exercise regularly

Exercising regularly, combined with eating right, would contribute greatly to giving you great skin. Therefore, add exercise to your daily routine because it is one of the ways through which you fight acne. It would also keep it off in the long term.

Has this buying guide been helpful? Let us know in the comment section.

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