Do You Need to Moisturize Acne-Prone Skin?
Moisturizing is an essential step in any skincare routine for healthy-looking skin. However, since acne-prone skin can often appear excessively oily, it’s natural to wonder whether moisturizer might clog your pores or make acne worse. So, does a moisturizer help with acne or should you avoid it? Below, we’re sharing the important facts you should know when it comes to moisturizing acne-prone skin.
Common Myths About Moisturizers and Acne
- Myth #1: “I don’t need to moisturize because I have oily, acne-prone skin.” - All types of skin can benefit from using the right moisturizer formula, including oily and acne-prone skin.
- Myth #2: “Moisturizers will clog my pores or trigger more breakouts.” - CeraVe’s facial moisturizers are “non-comedogenic,” which means they’re formulated not to clog your pores.
- Myth #3: “All moisturizers are the same.” - Facial moisturizers come in many varieties, such as daytime formulas with sunscreen and nighttime formulas that help hydrate and soothe acne-prone skin overnight.
- Myth #4: “Moisturizers will leave my skin feeling greasy.” - Lightweight moisturizer formulas can provide hydration without leaving your skin looking shiny or feeling greasy.
Can Moisturizers Cause Acne?
This depends on a number of factors, like the moisturizer you choose and whether or not you apply it correctly. Be sure to look for moisturizers that are non-comedogenic, as using a heavy, comedogenic (pore-clogging) moisturizer may contribute to congestion in your pores and potentially aggravate acne. On the other hand, research shows that some moisturizers can help support a clear, healthy-looking complexion in those with acne-prone skin.1
Is it better to avoid moisturizers if you’re prone to acne?
Some people mistakenly believe that a moisturizer will add more oil to the skin’s surface, and therefore, worsen the appearance of acne. This same logic also leads many people to believe that drying out their skin is the best way to reduce excess oil. In reality, this approach can actually have the exact opposite effect. Over-drying your skin can actually cause it to produce more oil in an attempt to compensate for moisture loss.
Does a Moisturizer Help With Acne?
What some people don’t realize is that a moisturizer is not meant only for dry, flaky skin. A moisturizer is an essential part of any skincare routine, even if you’re struggling with acne blemishes. The primary role of a moisturizer is to provide hydrating benefits to your skin’s surface and help seal in much-needed moisture. This is an important part of supporting a healthy-looking complexion in all types of skin, including oily skin and acne-prone skin. When your skin is properly hydrated, it should feel comfortable and appear plump, radiant, and smooth.
In addition to this, some moisturizers also feature acne-fighting ingredients that can help directly address breakouts and improve the appearance of pores, like those formulated with salicylic acid.
Are Ceramide-Containing Moisturizers Helpful for Blemish-Prone Skin?
With three essential ceramides, CeraVe’s facial moisturizers can help maintain and restore your skin’s protective barrier. This is an important benefit for anyone with acne-prone skin, as some research suggests that acne may be associated with a weakened skin barrier.3 And when the skin’s barrier function is disrupted, it can no longer effectively keep moisture in your skin and harmful elements out. To learn more about CeraVe’s three essential ceramides, visit The Ceramides Difference.
What Are the Main Benefits of a Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin?
As mentioned above, a major benefit of moisturizers for acne-prone skin is that they can help keep your skin feeling hydrated, calm, and comfortable. In other words, the right moisturizer can help reduce acne-related skin issues by keeping your skin in a balanced, happy state. This may help you avoid problematic extremes, such as extreme oiliness or extreme dryness. Moisturizers can also be helpful for combating the drying effects of certain acne treatments, such as tretinoin or benzoyl peroxide.
Debunking 4 Common Myths About Moisturizer and Acne
When it comes to moisturizers and acne, there are a few myths that tend to pop up quite frequently. Learn more about these common misconceptions and how to separate fact from fiction below.
Myth #1: “I don’t need to moisturize because I have oily, acne-prone skin.”
Regardless of your skin type or skin concerns, there are a few core products that form the foundation of any good skincare routine. Your daily skincare regimen should include a gentle face cleanser, non-comedogenic moisturizer, and sunscreen (for daytime). This means everyone should use a moisturizer, even if you have acne-prone skin.
In addition to these skincare basics, your dermatologist may prescribe additional acne treatments based on your individual skin’s needs and the severity of your acne. In this case, your moisturizer should come after any topical acne treatment.
Myth #2: “All moisturizers are the same.”
There are different types of moisturizers you can consider for acne-prone skin, and one formula can differ greatly from another. Some moisturizers are designed specifically for daytime or nighttime use, for example. Others may include ingredients that can help target different acne concerns, such as post-acne marks, rough skin texture, or redness.
Myth #3: “A moisturizer will clog my pores or trigger new breakouts.”
Face moisturizers for acne-prone skin are typically formulated without ingredients that are known to clog pores, such as cocoa butter, lanolin, and corn oil. To find moisturizers that won’t cause clogs, look for the term “non-comedogenic” on the product label. These formulas are designed to help hydrate your skin without clogging pores, which makes them an ideal choice for acne-prone skin.
Myth #4: “A moisturizer will leave my skin feeling greasy.”
Moisturizers are not a “one-size-fits-all” skincare product. And this can cause some confusion when it comes to choosing a moisturizer for acne-prone skin. Moisturizers are available in a wide variety of formulas, and some oil-based moisturizers may be too heavy for your skin’s needs. We recommend looking for moisturizer options that are lightweight, oil-free, and non-greasy, such as CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion.
Tips for Moisturizing Acne-Prone Skin
Now that we’ve debunked some of the most common moisturizer myths, let’s dive into how to choose the right product for your acne-prone skin. Ahead, we’ve compiled our top tips to help you find a moisturizer that supports clear, hydrated skin, without clogging your pores or triggering breakouts.
Look for moisturizers that are developed with dermatologists
When choosing a moisturizer for your acne-prone skin, look for products that are developed with dermatologists, such as CeraVe. This will help ensure you’re picking a well-formulated product, specific to your skin type, that’s been approved by experts in skincare. We also recommend sticking with moisturizers that are fragrance-free, allergy-tested, and include beneficial ingredients for healthy-looking skin (like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide), all of which applies to CeraVe products.
Choose oil-free, non-comedogenic formulas
As mentioned above, certain oil-based moisturizers may contain ingredients that can clog your pores or contribute to acne blemishes. When choosing a moisturizer for acne-prone skin, look for the terms “non-comedogenic” and “oil-free” on the label. This generally means that the product was formulated with the needs of acne-prone skin in mind.
Use different moisturizers for daytime and nighttime
Using an oil-free daytime and nighttime moisturizer duo, like CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion and PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion, can help to support skin that looks and feels its best. Our AM Moisturizer moisturizes your skin throughout the day and includes broad-spectrum SPF 30 to help protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. In the evening, our PM Moisturizer makes an ideal night cream option. It can help hydrate, calm, and soothe your skin while delivering a steady stream of much-needed moisture throughout the night.
Identify the right acne-fighting ingredients for your routine
It’s possible to help target different acne concerns with specific active ingredients. A board-certified dermatologist can help you identify which acne-fighting ingredients may be right for your acne type. Salicylic acid, for example, is one acne-fighting ingredient that has been shown to be especially helpful for minimizing the appearance of blackheads. Benzoyl peroxide, on the other hand, is a popular acne ingredient that helps fight off the acne-causing bacteria known as P. acnes. Learn more about these two skincare ingredients in our guide to salicylic acid vs. benzoyl peroxide.
Pay attention to your skin’s needs
It’s important to remember that your acne-prone skin is unique. So, whenever you use a new moisturizer or skincare product, pay close attention to how your skin reacts. If you notice additional oiliness, redness, or irritation, it may be a sign that the product is not the right fit for you. If you’re concerned that your moisturizer may be contributing to your acne, schedule a visit to your dermatologist’s office. They can assess your skin and offer guidance on the best acne treatment plan for your individual needs.
- Chularojanamontri L, Tuchinda P, Kulthanan K, Pongparit K. “Moisturizers for Acne: What are their Constituents?” J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014 May;7(5):36-44. PMID: 24847408; PMCID: PMC4025519.
- “10 Skin Care Habits That Can Worsen Acne.” American Academy of Dermatology Association, 2023.
- Lynde, Chuck W et al. “Moisturizers and Ceramide-containing Moisturizers May Offer Concomitant Therapy with Benefits.” The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology vol. 7,3 (2014): 18-26.
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