If you have acne-prone skin, you're well aware that all moisturizers aren't created equal — and spending the big bucks on prestige brands with fancy formulas that your friends with less finicky skin swear by can actually cause even more breakouts. But finding a moisturizer specifically formulated for your skin doesn't have to be costly. The best drugstore moisturizers for acne-prone skin will keep your skin smooth and clear with a combination of hydrating and acne-fighting ingredients.
For acne-prone skin, it often seems to make the most sense to reach for formulas that contain active ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. While these can certainly help prevent future breakouts by regulating oil production and clearing out pores, they can't do it alone. Without some hydration, they can dry your skin out, leading it to produce more oil that can cause even more acne.
Instead, choose a moisturizer with a gentle active ingredient, like salicylic acid, that's paired with a lightweight hydrator like hyaluronic acid or glycerin. You can also look for silica, which will absorb excess oil and help keep congested pores in check. Words on the packaging like "noncomedogenic" and "oil-free" are also good indicators that the product doesn't include heavy ingredients that can clog your pores.
Ahead, you'll find four of the best drugstore moisturizers for acne-prone skin — whether you're simply looking to keep skin hydrated while treating and preventing breakouts or you're in need of a full-body option that will smooth away bumps and blemishes for good.
1. Best For Sensitive, Acne-Prone Skin
Using a moisturizer with acne-fighting ingredients can be a great way to prevent breakouts while also keeping the number of products in your skin-care routine to a minimum. But sometimes ingredients that are popular for clearing out pores like salicylic acid can cause your skin to dry out. Aveeno Clear Complexion moisturizer eliminated any dry skin worries by pairing a small concentration of salicylic acid with the brand's Total Soy Complex to keep skin hydrated and balanced. The formula is also oil-free, noncomedogenic, and hypoallergenic, which further ensure the moisturizer won't clog pores.
"It reduces redness and breakouts, feels soft, and moisturized my skin without any oiliness," writes one acne-prone Amazon reviewer, who adds, "It evens out your skin like a miracle moisturizer from heaven."
2. Best For Very Oily Acne-Prone Skin
Fight breakouts and oily skin with La Roche-Posay's Effaclar Mat mattifying moisturizer. The moisturizer uses lipo-hydroxy acid (a gentle derivative of salicylic acid) to slough away dead skin cells and keep pores clear. Meanwhile, the brand's Sebulyse technology helps to reduce the look of enlarged pores, while the minerals perlite and silica work to absorb excess oil and keep skin looking matte all day. Plus, La Roche-Posay's thermal spring water is included in the formula, which has naturally soothing and hydrating properties.
"I've tried every [moisturizer] under the sun, and this is the most amazing one by far," raves on Amazon reviewer. "I have very acne-prone skin and this doesn't break me out — it's great for oily spots and dry spots, too."
3. Best Moisturizer With SPF
Differin is known for its effective and affordable acne products (Differin Gel, a topical retinoid, is particularly popular). But for daytime use, its oil-absorbing moisturizer with sunscreen is a smart choice for acne-prone skin because it contains your daily sun protection with broad spectrum SPF 30, which is particularly important when using acne treatments as they can leave your skin more susceptible to burning. The moisturizer is also oil-free, noncomedogenic, hypoallergenic, and fragrance-free, making it a great choice for sensitive skin types, too.
4. A Classic, Budget-Friendly Pick
For an under $10 pick, try this classic drugstore standby. It's lightweight, oil-free, noncomedogenic, and formulated with salicylic acid, meaning it checks all the boxes at an accessible price point. It fights off current and future breakouts while also keeping skin moisturized with glycerin, but reviewers love that it's nongreasy and sinks into skin instantly. Because it does contain fragrance and 2 percent salicylic acid, those with extra-sensitive skin might want to steer clear. But for most oily, acne-prone complexions, this might be just what the doctor ordered.
"Ever since I switched to this moisturizer, my breakouts have reduced considerably," one reviewer writes. Another shares, "Only moisturizer I will use! Perfect for oily, acne-prone skin! It never weighs heavy on your skin and doesn't cause any breakouts."
5. Best Moisturizer For Body Acne
Body acne can be even more difficult to treat than acne on your face which is why it requires its own targeted approach. CeraVe's SA Lotion looks like your average body lotion, but the formula contains powerful exfoliators in the form of lactic acid and salicylic acid. While these two active ingredients work to get rid of dead skin cells and smooth away bumps, hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and niacinamide keep skin hydrated and healthy. The gentle body moisturizer was developed with dermatologists and has been approved by the National Eczema Association for its noncomedogenic, hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and dye-free formula.
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