The Best Moisturizers for Acne

Everyone – young, old, and in between – have to deal with acne at one time or another. Of course, teens are at the top of the list, but hormonal changes can bring on breakouts with a vengeance at any age. Unfortunately, many treatments for acne leave your skin dry and flaky. That’s where moisturizers for acne-prone skin come in handy. They give your skin the hydration and moisture it needs without clogging pores.

We reviewed dozens of moisturizers for acne to find the formulas that nourish the skin but banish pimples. Our search included formulas with acne medication, some with sunscreen, and others specially designed for aging skin. We narrowed it down to the top five moisturizers for acne. These formulas target specific problem areas and just plain do a fantastic job of moisturizing the skin without contributing to and even preventing breakouts.

Best Moisturizer for Acne Overall
CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin
Meet a moisturizer that pulls triple duty by moisturizing, exfoliating, and treating acne.

CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin brings everything to the skin moisturizing table. This formula exfoliates with lactic acid, which also lightens dark spots and can decrease fine lines and wrinkles. However, this lightweight lotion also fights acne with salicylic acid. Finally, it contains vitamin D and essential ceramides to nourish the skin. CeraVe’s formula is also non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic, and fragrance and dye-free.

The 5 Top-Rated Moisturizers for Acne

Editor's PicksBrandRating
Best Moisturizer for Acne OverallCeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin4.5
Best Moisturizer for Acne with SunscreenCetaphil PRO Oil Absorbing Moisturizer with SPF 304.2
Best Budget Moisturizer for AcneClean & Clear Morning Burst Hydrating Gel Face Moisturizer4.5
Best Anti-Aging Moisturizer for AcneBody Merry Retinol Surge Moisture4.4
Best Best Moisturizer for Acne with Acne MedicationClean & Clear Essentials Dual Action Face Moisturizer with Salicylic Acid 4.6

*Ratings are current at the time of publication and can change

Best Moisturizer for Acne Overall: CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin

CeraVe makes a popular skincare line the treats everything from dry skin to the oiliest of complexions. Their CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin takes on three common skin issues with a single skincare product. This formula contains lactic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that’s used to exfoliate, lighten dark spots, and reduce wrinkles and fine lines. It’s the gentlest of the AHA’s and is often used for sensitive or acne-prone skin.

CeraVe’s formula also contains salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that causes the skin to shed the dense skin cells that can clog pores, making it an effective ingredient against acne. At the same time, this formula also has hyaluronic acid to boost skin hydration. A mix of three ceramides also fortify the skin’s natural protective layer. The combination of exfoliating, acne treating, and moisturizing gets rid of the skin cells and oils that cause acne while building and revitalizing the skin.

CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin Key Features:

  • Exfoliates with lactic acid
  • Fights acne with salicylic acid
  • Nourishes the skin with vitamin D
  • Builds the skin’s protective layer with three essential ceramides

Best Moisturizer for Acne with Sunscreen: Cetaphil PRO Oil-Absorbing Moisturizer with SPF 30

Best Moisturizer for Acne with Sunscreen
Cetaphil PRO Oil-Absorbing Moisturizer with SPF 30
Acne treatments can make your skin sensitive to the sun.

Cetaphil’s PRO Oil-Absorbing Moisturizer with SPF 30 contains a slew of ingredients that protect and nourish the skin. It starts with micropearl technology that absorbs surface oil to cut down on clogged pores and leave behind a matte finish. That’s combined with a broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection with Oleosome technology. This technology lowers the sunscreen concentration for less irritation and better hydration without sacrificing sun protection.

While protection is great, the best part of this moisturizer is the actual moisturizing, which softens as it moisturizes. Finally, Cetaphil PRO is free of the parabens and fragrances that can contribute to skin irritation.

We like that it’s light and not greasy. There’s nothing worse than putting on a moisturizer and feeling slimy afterward.
Cetaphil PRO Oil-Absorbing Moisturizer with SPF 30 Key Features:

  • Contains UVA/UVB broad-spectrum protection
  • Oleosome technology for sensitive skin
  • Absorbs oils with micropearls
  • Non-greasy

Best Budget Moisturizer for Acne: Clean & Clear Morning Burst Hydrating Gel Face Moisturizer

Best Budget Moisturizer for Acne
Clean & Clear Morning Burst Hydrating Gel Face Moisturizer
This refreshing morning gel won’t clog pores and leaves skin invigorated and ready for the day.

Moisturizers like Clean & Clear Morning Burst Hydrating Gel Face Moisturizer are water-based, so they won’t clog pores while offering maximum hydration. This blend brings the refreshing power of cucumber and green mango extracts for morning invigoration. The cool gel certainly gives you wake up and puts your skin on the right path for the rest of your day.

Creams can sometimes feel heavy. Morning Burst feels ultralight on the skin and quickly absorbs into the sink, so there’s no greasy residue. All that’s left behind is dewy, well-hydrated skin. Of course, it’s non-comedogenic and won’t cause breakouts.

Clean & Clear Morning Burst Hydrating Gel Face Moisturizer Key Features:

  • Contains cucumber and green mango extracts
  • Ultra-light feel
  • Non-greasy
  • Gel

Best Anti-Aging Moisturizer for Acne: Body Merry Retinol Surge Moisture

Best Anti-Aging Moisturizer for Acne
Body Merry Retinol Surge Moisture
Teens aren’t the only ones who struggle with acne. You can take on two issues with this one moisturizer — aging and acne.

Anti-aging moisturizers like Body Merry Retinol Surge Moisturizer contain extra ingredients that plump fine lines and wrinkles, while helping the skin to stay clean and clear from acne. Hyaluronic acid acts as the miracle ingredient, as it encourages collagen production to reduce visible aging. The skin feels tighter and plumper with each use. At the same time, this powerful acid helps shrink pores. Guess what? Smaller pores are less likely to develop acne.

Retinol Surge also contains green tea, jojoba, and aloe hydrate and give the skin a healthy glow. It’s designed to be used with Body Merry’s skincare system, so you might need to use several products to get the maximum benefits. Whether you use it with other products in their skincare line or not, you’re getting excellent moisturization that reduces wrinkles and prevents acne.

Body Merry Retinol Surge Moisture Key Features:

  • Contains Hyaluronic acid and retinol to reduce visible signs of aging
  • Moisturizes with green tea, jojoba, and aloe
  • Evens skin tone
  • Prevents breakouts

Best Moisturizer for Acne with Acne Medication: Neutrogena Oil-Free Facial Moisturizer with Salicylic Acid

Best Moisturizer for Acne with Acne Medication
Neutrogena Oil-Free Facial Moisturizer with Salicylic Acid
Neutrogena allows you to moisturize your skin while hitting acne with an extra dose of salicylic acid.

Some moisturizers only do one thing — moisturize. However, formulas like Neutrogena’s Oil-Free Facial Moisturizer with Salicylic Acid moisturize and hit acne with a dose of acne medication at the same time. These aren’t prescription-level ingredients, but they’re effective at breaking down the skin cells and oils that clog pores. In this case, salicylic acid reduces swelling and redness while breaking up pore-clogging debris.

At the same time, this Neutrogena blend offers the skin the moisture it needs to prevent flaking and peeling. It has everything you’re looking for in moisturizer for acne; it’s non-comedogenic, oil-free, and has a light, nongreasy feel.

Neutrogena Oil-Free Facial Moisturizer with Salicylic Acid Key Features:

  • Fights acne with salicylic acid
  • Moisturizes
  • Grapefruit scent

Who Should Buy a Moisturizer for Acne

Pores get clogged, and the body responds with acne. It’s a fact of life. Adolescence is the most common time for acne-prone skin. However, hormone fluctuations cause acne into middle age and beyond. Most people associate acne with oily skin. Many acne treatments, however, can be drying, which only makes the skin produce more oil to maintain hydration — more oil means more acne. That’s where moisturizers for acne come into play. These moisturizers keep the skin moist but don’t contribute to breakouts. In fact, many formulas are designed to fight acne.

Everyone’s skin is different, so the type of moisturizer you’ll need will depend on a number of factors. People with sensitive skin should look for a formula designed specifically for sensitive skin. These formulas often skip harsh chemicals, irritating sunscreens, and contain low doses of acne medication (if any). You can often find a moisturizer for acne that can help you with other skin issues, such as wrinkles, dark spots, or sun sensitivity. No matter your skin issues, there’s a moisturizer out there for you. It just might take some trial and error to find the right formula.

Best Moisturizer for Acne Overall
CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin
Meet a moisturizer that pulls triple duty by moisturizing, exfoliating, and treating acne.

Important Features to Consider

A moisturizer for acne should do a few things well and have the key features that you need. Here’s what to consider as you make your selection:

  • Non-comedogenic. You definitely want to look for a moisturizer that’s non-comedogenic. That basically means that it won’t clog your pores. Clogged pores lie at the heart of acne. Most non-comedogenic moisturizers are also water-based. But double-check to make sure since oil-based moisturizers quickly lead to breakouts.
  • Gel vs. cream. As far as effectiveness goes, a gel versus a cream doesn’t really make much difference. But they do feel different, which may make one or the other better for you. Gels tend to feel lighter in weight and soak into the skin faster, whereas creams feel heavier and leave behind a protective barrier. Either type can leave a matte finish, depending on the formula. It’s really about what you prefer.
  • Sunscreen. We all know that the sun ages skin. Dermatologists recommend wearing sunscreen every day to prevent the kind of damage that can lead to skin cancer. Moisturizers that contain sunscreen give you a two-for-one on skincare by containing sunscreen. These formulas may feel thicker, so look for one that’s lightweight and nongreasy. It should be at least SPF 15. Also, you may not apply enough moisturizer to fully protect your skin from the sun. If you plan to spend a lot of time outside, be sure to apply sunscreen.
  • Acne medication. Some moisturizers don’t just prevent acne; they treat it. These moisturizers may contain salicylic acid, tea tree oil, or benzoyl peroxide. Some formulas also have ingredients that control sebum production. Sebum comes from the sebaceous glands, which control your skin’s oil production. If you’re already using a topical acne medication, be very careful using a moisturizer with additional medication. The combination can cause irritation or drying and flaking. However, if you’re not using any extra topical treatments, a moisturizer with acne medication may be all you need to keep breakouts under control.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is moisturizer good for acne?

Acne-prone skin needs moisture just as much as dry or normal skin. In fact, it may need it more. Most people with acne wash their faces more often and use harsher products to control breakouts. Excessive drying may cause the skin to produce more oil, which contributes to more breakouts. For that reason, moisturizers are an important part of daily skincare. They help maintain the proper balance of hydration even if you’re treating acne.

Can moisturizers cause acne?

Yes, some moisturizers can cause acne. That’s why you want to look for a moisturizer that’s non-comedogenic because that means it won’t clog pores. You should also look for formulas that are water-based rather than oil-based since they’re less likely to contribute to acne.

How often do I need to apply moisturizer?

How often you apply moisturizer depends on your skincare routine. In general, you should moisturize your skin after you’ve washed it with soap or treated it with acne products. For some people, that will only be once a day. For others, it may be in the morning and at night. Anytime you strip your skin of moisture, you should reach for a skin moisturizer.

Do I need a moisturizer with acne medication in it?

Moisturizers with acne medication are helpful for some people. However, if you’re already using topical acne medications, another layer of medication may be too harsh for your skin and cause more breakouts. You have to take into account your other medications and how often you be applying the moisturizer. If you notice itching or worsening breakouts, reduce the number of times you use the moisturizer or try a different formula. Since everyone’s skin is different, one formula may work better for you than another.

Other Moisturizers for Acne We Reviewed

Best Moisturizer for Acne Overall
CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin
Meet a moisturizer that pulls triple duty by moisturizing, exfoliating, and treating acne.

We looked at the 20 other moisturizers for acne. While these formulas didn’t make our 5 best moisturizers for acne list, they’re still excellent formulas that may be perfect for your skin. We’ve included the information you need to compare products with each listing.

Anti-Aging Moisturizers for Acne

Neutralyze Renewal Complex

Neutralyze Renewal Complex

Acne knows no age limits. This formula tackles breakouts and wrinkles with a single cream.

Key Features:

  • Exfoliates with mandelic acid
  • Clears acne with salicylic acid
  • Moisturizes for 24 hours

Cost: $18

Tree to Tub Ginseng Green Tea Deep Hydrating Face Cream

Tree to Tub Ginseng Green Tea Deep Hydrating Face Cream

A cream that locks in moisture for a full eight hours is one that keeps skin looking young and fresh. This formula also battles acne for a clear complexion no matter your age.

Key Features:

  • Contains organic green tea, ginseng, and rose water
  • Maintains moisture in drying conditions
  • Soothes irritated skin

Cost: $29

Moisturizers for Acne with Sunscreen

Differin Oil Absorbing Moisturizer with Sunscreen

Differin Oil Absorbing Moisturizer with Sunscreen

Differin’s formula has micro pearl technology that soaks up oil while moisturizing and offering SPF 30 sun protection.

Key Features:

  • Absorbs oil
  • Contains technology that allows for less sunscreen with maximum protection
  • Non-comedogenic and fragrance-free

Cost: $11

Moisturizers for Acne with Acne Medication

Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Moisturizer

Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Moisturizer

This wonderfully light moisturizer contains salicylic acid to treat acne while giving the skin the nutrients it needs.

Key Features:

  • Contains salicylic acid
  • Made with a moisturizing soy complex
  • Penetrates deep pores

Cost: $18

Clean & Clear Essentials Dual Action Face Moisturizer with Salicylic Acid

Clean & Clear Essentials Dual Action Face Moisturizer with Salicylic Acid

Clean & Clear designed this formula to be used as part of their complete skin care treatment system. However, this moisturizer can be used alone to treat acne while maintaining the skin’s hydration.

Key Features:

  • Contains salicylic acid
  • Oil-free
  • Recommended for use with Clean & Clear cleanser and astringent

Cost: $5

Era Organics Tea Tree Oil Face Cream

era Organics Tea Tree Oil Face Cream

You opt for natural tea tree oil for acne treatment with this moisturizing formula.

Key Features:

  • Treats rosacea
  • Fights acne with tea tree oil and salicylic acid
  • Contains naturally soothing ingredients like St. John’s wort, pomegranate seed oil, and aloe vera

Cost: $18

Lauda Botanicals Oily Skin Control Moisturizer

Lauda Botanicals Oily Skin Control Moisturizer

Lauda packs a three-sided punch with a moisturizer that also mattifies and reduces pore size.

Key Features:

  • Contains tea tree oil, St. John’s wort, witch hazel
  • Controls sebum production
  • Contains salicylic acid

Cost: $17

Murad Skin Perfecting Lotion

Murad moisturizes, tones, and reduces pore size for a triple action skin lotion.

Key Features:

  • Contains retinol and allantonin
  • Calms inflammation
  • Oil-free formula

Cost: $42

Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Invisible Finish Moisture Gel

Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Invisible Finish Moisture Gel

Hyaluronic acid tones the skin, and niacinamide reduces pore size, while the rest of the ingredients reduce inflammation and moisturize.

Key Features:

  • Rejuvenates the skin while hydrating
  • Evens skin coloration
  • Reduces fine lines and wrinkles

Cost: $29

Vichy Laboratories Normaderm

Vichy Laboratories

Salicylic acid gives this moisturizer its deep acne-fighting power.

Key Features:

  • Hydrates for a full 24 hours
  • Reduces shine
  • Can be used up to three times per day

Cost: $25

Moisturizers for Acne for Sensitive Skin and/or Natural Ingredients

Acure Incredibly Clear Mattifying Moisturizer

Acure Incredibly Clear Mattifying Moisturizer

Acure’s moisturizer soaks up oil, leaving behind a smooth matte finish.

Key Features:

  • Easily absorbs into the skin
  • For normal to oily skin
  • Moisturizes with argan oil

Cost: $16

The Body Shop Tea Tree Mattifying Lotion

The Body Shop Tea Tree Mattifying Lotion

A 100 percent vegan formula treats acne while hydrating the skin.

Key Features:

  • 100 percent vegan
  • Lightweight
  • Doesn’t clog pores

Cost: $15

Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions Daily Moisturizer

Burt's Bees Natural Acne Solutions Daily Moisturizer

Almost all of the ingredients in this formula, 99.5 percent, are natural. It still has salicylic acid to combat acne but offers a gentler, natural approach to breakouts.

Key Features:

  • 99.5 percent natural ingredients
  • Contains salicylic acid
  • Designed to moisturize oily skin

Cost: $18

Formula 10.0.6 Seriously Shine Free Moisturizer

Formula 10.0.6 Seriously Shine Free Moisturizer

Natural botanicals in this formula get to work, reducing shine and moisturizing dry skin.

Key Features:

  • Bamboo extra absorbs oil
  • Mattifies the skin
  • Softens as it moisturizes

Cost: $7

LAVO Daily Moisturizer Cream

LAVO Daily Moisturizer Cream

This moisturizer creates a barrier that protects the skin from bacteria to prevent acne. It’s also designed to reduce acne-related inflammation.

Key Features:

  • Botanical based formula
  • Designed for oily, combo, and sensitive skin
  • Contains hydrating avocado oil and aloe vera

Cost: $20

Majestic Pure Cosmeceuticals Tea Tree Oil Face Cream

Majestic Pure Cosmeceuticals Tea Tree Oil Face Cream

Tea tree oil offers a natural treatment for acne-prone skin. This one also moisturizes into the deepest skin layers.

Key Features:

  • Contains 5 percent tea tree oil
  • Nourishes skin with ceramides
  • Gentle enough for sensitive skin

Cost: $17

Neutrogena Oil-Free Facial Moisturizer

Neutrogena Oil-Free Facial Moisturizer

Sensitive skin gets breakouts and needs moisture, too. This formula caters to those who need a gentle formula.

Key Features:

  • Non-comedogenic and lightweight
  • Alcohol, fragrance, and dye-free
  • Hypoallergenic

Cost: $10

SeboCalm Soothing Face Moisturizer

SeboCalm Soothing Face Moisturizer

Soothing ingredients like vitamin E and aloe allow this formula to calm red, irritated skin.

Key Features:

  • Controls sebum production
  • Treats rosacea and acne
  • Free of parabens and sulfates

Cost: $20

Solimo Oil-Free Facial Moisturizer

Solimo Oil-Free Facial Moisturizer

Sensitive skin needs a formula that’s free of alcohol and harsh chemicals. Solimo fits the bill and moisturizes the driest of skin.

Key Features:

  • Water-based
  • Won’t clog pores
  • Alcohol and paraben-free

Cost: $5

Yes to Tomatoes Daily Balancing Moisturizer

Yes to Tomatoes Daily Balancing Moisturizer

With a name that includes tomatoes, it’s easy to remember this formula that’s packed with natural ingredients. It’s not 100 percent natural, but it’s pretty close.

Key Features:

  • Contains watermelon, tomato, and almond extracts
  • Absorbs sebum
  • Free of parabens, SLS, and silicone

Cost: $10

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