Best Face Moisturizers for Acne-Prone Skin

If you’re battling acne, you don’t need more clogged pores. Thick, heavy creams are not the answer for irritated skin. You want a light, oil-free moisturizer, preferably with sunscreen if you’re going to be outdoors.

Water-based products are the answer when you want to control an oily T-zone or make dry skin feel elastic and soft again. They don’t clog pores like oil-based lotions and creams.

But there are a lot of options out on the market – choosing one can be overwhelming. We hunted down the five best face moisturizers for you.

Moisturizers With Sunscreen

Why bother wearing a sunscreen? Besides avoiding skin cancer, of course, what’s the point?

  • Your skin will age regardless, but sunscreen slows down the aging process.
  • Sunscreen prevents brown spots and general red blotchiness.
  • It also reduces the appearance of red facial veins.

Eltamd UV Clear SPF 46, 48-Gram 1.7 oz.

Teen Vogue interviewed the experts about the best moisturizers for oily skin. The director of a makeup school explained the benefits of Hyaluronic Acid, explaining that it instantly humidifies the skin and creates the perfect base for makeup. EltaMD’s UV Clear contains that very ingredient.

It also contains Vitamin E in the form of tocopheryl acetate. That’s an antioxidant that helps keep skin looking younger. Niacinamide, or vitamin B3, reduces redness. The zinc oxide turns it into a sunscreen with SPF 46 against both UVA and UVB light. It comes white out of the bottle but applies clear on skin. It can be worn under makeup and has virtually no odor at all.

One last thing we liked: EltaMD UV Clear does not have parabens – preservatives that might be linked to cancer.

Cetaphil Dermacontrol Moisturizer SPF 30, 4 Fluid Ounce

Cetaphil is a brand often recommended by dermatologists. This Dermacontrol Moisturizer has won 5 different awards since it launched in 2012. It’s gentle enough to be used alongside prescription acne medications. It evens out skin appearance by absorbing oil and calming irritated skin. As you know, acne medication can dry out and redden skin, so we liked how this lotion works to counteract those side effects.

Many users report that Dermacontrol works very well at reducing oil while it makes their skin feel softer. It has a light texture, but it takes a little while to absorb into the skin. It has no fragrance and contains no parabens. Glycerin is one of its main ingredients, and that’s a very safe humectant for sensitive skin. (“Humectant” means it pulls moisture from the air into your skin.)

Dermacontrol is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation as a sunscreen with SPF 30 protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

Moisturizers Without Sunscreen

Why bother moisturizing your face?

  • Too-dry skin can cause more acne flare-ups.
  • Wrinkles are more obvious in dry skin.
  • Makeup behaves badly when your skin is dehydrated and flaky.

That said, let’s look at our next two lotions and a gel.

Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture Sensitive Skin, 4 oz.

Neutrogena is a trusted name in skin care, and their products are generally easy to find. That’s one reason we included this in our selection.

This particular moisturizer has online reviews rated at 4 stars or higher across all major retail websites. Their customer support is on-the-ball, replying respectfully to negative reviews posted on their official website. That alone doesn’t guarantee quality, but we liked that they seemed to care!

The Oil-Free Moisture for Sensitive Skin contains no oils, fragrances, alcohol, or dyes. It’s a godsend for people with a mixture of dry and oily skin. It can be used for both day and night, and both men and women have reported success in using it. It goes on thin and smooth, and absorbs quickly so there’s no greasy feeling. Just one squirt goes a long way.

One big complaint about this product had nothing to do with the quality of the lotion. Some people have a love-hate relationship with the pump bottle. It keeps dirt out of the lotion, but the pump stops drawing it up and out before the bottle is completely empty. Of course, this seems to be the case for a lot of lotions with this kind of packaging.

Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions Daily Moisturizing Lotion, 2 Ounces

Allure Magazine loves Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions Lotion. It was their top pick for moisturizing oily and acne-prone skin. It’s water-based and contains salicylic acid, lemongrass, witch hazel, goldenseal, and hops. It’s thick like a night cream, but sinks in without leaving greasy residue on your skin.

What do these herbs and plant derivatives do? They calm irritated skin, fight fungal and bacterial infections, and diminish inflammation. Witch hazel and lemon grass are astringents that shrink inflammation. Salicylic acid exfoliates and also reduces inflammation. Goldenseal fights infections and hops help your skin relax.

Burt’s Bees warns that using topical acne medication at the same time as this lotion may cause dryness or irritation, so please keep that in mind. Some users have mentioned that it smells like medicine or paint, but the odor doesn’t linger for long.

Olay Fresh Effects Dew Over Hydrating Gel Moisturizer 1.7 Fl Oz

Oil of Olay is another brand that most people recognize. Even though their name contains “oil,” the Fresh Effects Dew Over Moisturizer does not contain oily ingredients. It’s a gel that goes on thick and feels refreshingly cool. Just a little bit goes a long way. Its hydrating effect lasts up to 24 hours.

It helps control oily spots with the help of powder. The gel itself is not clear, but white in color. The light floral fragrance comes from honeysuckle and white tea, two skin-soothing ingredients. There’s also Vitamin E for skin repair. The Vitamin B3 reduces wrinkles and lines and dark spots and regenerates surface skin.

Our only concern with including this gel on our list is that it seems to be hard to find in local stores. Amazon carries it online, thank goodness.


  1. For years I have looked for an exceptional moisturizer for my face. Which I have found to be extremely difficult, because I didnt want to have a oil residue left behind, This made buying the product I wanted impossible for purchase in a store like Walmart. I’ve been through all the products there, they all either don’t moisturize, leave a greasy oily feel, or in general just wouldn’t work with my skin. My skin is oily and dry in spots. Anyhow I was surprised to see that the one I cannot say enough about isn’t on the list. Gunilla of Sweden-a company that has been around for almost 30 yrs-from what I have read, I believe that they are a acne and skin care company. Regardless. the product I have I utterly fell in love with is “Lerosett Moisture Matte” This stuff at first might strike as costly- the small tube has stated 2 months worth(using daily) Im 3 months into it, and my kids also use it. Little goes a long way but, doesnt leave a greasy feeling at all, in fact I put make up with in seconds of putting it on, and never think about it for the rest of the day. This stuff is exceptional. So regarding the price, I have spent upwards of 20.00 on supposable good lotions, with no claim to even lasting 2 months-or any duration for that matter.. so to me, I personally have no problem paying 35 for 3 months, realistically makes it less than 10.00 a month. Hope to see this item on the list, it really is a great.

    • The product I am talking about, I have found on Amazon, however they do have their own site, and sometimes offers specials if you order directly through their site, for example, I can buy on amazon-which I often do, but if I bought through the actual company site, I would actually get the product for even less. To me it doesnt matter if its just a few bucks, but to some it might. Just to throw out there.

  2. I used the Citrus Clear Moisturizer when i was 16 but then stopped when my skin cleared up but when i was 18 my skin got really bad again so i started using it a gain and i dont know why i eveer stopped it helped clear my skin. I have oily skin and it doesnt make it shiny if you use a pea sized amount. Also i love the tingely effect it has it wakes you up and reaaly makes you feel clean and clear.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.