Fact: Oily skin needs moisture.
K, maybe you’ve heard this a million times, but it bears repeating: You can’t skip out on moisturizer if you’ve got oily or acne-prone skin. Sorry, not sorry, but if you want to keep your oily skin at bay, the secret is to keep it hydrated with a great moisturizer.
And before you’re all like, huh, contradictory much?! We (and a few derms) broke down everything you need to know about the best moisturizers for acne-prone and oily skin types, why they’re essential, and even sifted through the hundreds of creams on the market right now to find your match. If you’ve tried everything to get rid of your oily skin to no avail, it’s time to pop one of these 15 face creams for acne-prone and oily skin in your bag ASAP.
And if you’re just here for the goods and you don't want alllll the ~great knowledge~ below (which, whomp whomp), here's a little sneak peek of the content ahead:
“Moisturizing is important to keep the skin’s barrier intact,” Dr. Waldorf has told Cosmo. It might feel a little counterintuitive to load up on heavy creams and lotions when you’ve got hella shine on your face, but skipping moisturizer can actually make your face produce more oil (and that definitely isn’t the goal, right?).
Oily skin and acne typically tend to go hand in hand, considering too much oil production on your face contributes to blackheads, clogged pores, and all those ~lovely~ breakouts. So when looking for a moisturizer for your skin, it could be beneficial to purchase products that target and address both of these skin concerns.
In addition to regular cleansing and treating, you’ll also want to invest in a lightweight—yet super hydrating—moisturizer to keep excess oil, and therefore acne, at bay. “Use a light lotion instead of a heavier cream,” says Dr. Gohara. Lotions are more so water-based whereas creams are more so oil-based, and oil, of course, is something you’ll want to avoid, she explains.
Listen, I get it, you’re here because you have oily skin—a no-brainer, right? But there’s more to it than just having oily skin. In this case, I’m referencing your skin’s sensitivity and other skin concerns like acne. Your general skin type and preexisting skin concerns are the best indicators for what type of moisturizer you should use, Dr. Mikailov has explained to Cosmo, adding that “as the ingredient list grows, so does the likelihood of irritation or allergic reaction.” Leading us to need to...
Once you choose your moisturizer’s consistency, those with oily skin should look for formulas with lightweight hydrators like hyaluronic acid or glycerin, Dr. Waldorf explained. If you have sensitive skin and legit breakout at the thought of trying new products and ingredients, stick to “alcohol-, fragrance-, and oil-free products,” says Dr. Gohara, adding that you should also keep an eye out for products that are “noncomedogenic,” aka a ~fancy~ way of saying the ingredients won’t clog your pores.
And finally, if you’re looking to keep your oily skin in check, in addition to popping one of these moisturizers for oily and acne-prone skin in your cart, you should def develop a skincare routine.
But before you do, understand that I don’t suggest that you purchase a million unnecessary products—in fact, adding too many products will increase your chances of looking, well, oily. Start with a great oil-free face wash, one of these moisturizers below, and a sunscreen for oily skin (yes, non-greasy sunscreens do indeed exist). See? Easy peasy.
Now for the fun part, and what you’ve all been waiting for: The 15 best moisturizers for acne-prone and oily skin on the market. Buh-byeee, oil and acne, won’t miss ya!
This clarifying moisturizer kills two birds zits with one stone. The formula is spiked with salicylic acid (a gentle exfoliator that unclogs your pores) and bamboo charcoal (a micro-fine powder with antibacterial and antifungal properties) to hydrate and treat your skin simultaneously.
Why does it seem like every time I have somewhere v important to be, I wake up with a few little pesky pimples the morning of? Like, k, thanks for always choosing such great timing, skin! So because I was ~over it~, I found a product that helped prevent unannounced breakouts. Enter: The Tula Skincare Breakout Star Acne Moisturizer. With 2 percent salicylic acid, a whole slew of nourishing probiotics, and soothing aloe, this moisturizer is a straight-up game changer.
This lightweight moisturizer for oily and acne-prone skin is loaded with a super-impressive cocktail of ingredients, including Japanese wild rose (which is said to improve the look of pores), and Japanese leopard lily (which reduces oil and calms problem skin). Translation: Your skin is in good hands with this one.
Feel like creamy formulas are too thick for your oily skin? This gel moisturizer from Farmacy is a lightweight alternative you’ll actually love. And with brightening and hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and papaya extract, it’s a killer combo for your dark spots and acne scars.
A solid moisturizer doesn’t need to cost your entire paycheck, as evidenced by this drugstore skincare pick from Cetaphil. Bonus: It's formulated with SPF 30, so there’s no need to layer your sunscreen on top (although, like, it’s always a super smart idea).
But if you do want sunscreen to layer on top (bc smart), unlike those goopy sunscreens that make your oily skin even oilier, this SPF moisturizer offers lightweight sun protection that won’t clog your pores. The mineral sunscreen formula also has a matte finish to keep your oily face at bay throughout the day.
Smooth this oil-free moisturizer over clean skin and you’ll notice two things: (1) It sinks into your skin super fast, and (2) it leaves behind a practically weightless texture. That’s thanks to the lightweight ingredients in the formula, like hyaluronic acid (to lock in hydration), hydrolyzed collagen (to plump), and red algae extract (to soften).
If you’re looking to treat your oily skin and dark spots simultaneously, you can't go wrong with this daily moisturizer. The formula's licorice root extract and niacinamide come together to help lighten dark spots and marks, while the shea butter works to hydrate and smooth.
I’m a fan of keeping my skincare routine super simple—especially when my face is looking extra oily and broken out—which is why I love this daily moisturizer so much. Instead of using fragrances or pore-clogging ingredients, this bb is loaded with soothing willow bark, brightening niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid. TL;DR: There’s no need to worry about irritation with this one.
If your skin is part oily, part dry, and part whatever the eff it wants to be that day, you’ll love this hyaluronic acid moisturizer. Not only does it work to strengthen your moisture barrier, but it also locks in hydration every time you use it. Psst: The formula’s also got pomegranate and vitamin C to help brighten your skin over time.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that this oily skin moisturizer is less than $10—the formula is actually stacked with glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and amino acids to help hydrate your skin without weighing it down. Don’t just take my word for it though—peep the hundreds of five-star reviews, and you’ll get the hype.
Prepare to slather this lightweight moisturizer on every night (seriously, you’ll love it that much). The creamy formula is oil-free, noncomedogenic, and fragrance-free, so it’s no wonder why derms recommend it.
It’s no secret that acne-fighting products can leave your skin out of whack. That’s where this oil-free moisturizer comes into play—it’s formulated with salicylic acid to treat breakouts and excess oil, along with ultra-hydrating hyaluronic acid and soothing aloe vera.
You know those moisturizers that just sit on your skin? Yeah, you won’t get that with this oil-free formula—it’s lightweight but super hydrating, and it absorbs into your skin pretty much immediately.
This clean formula from Tata Harper calls on natural beta-hydroxy acids to gently exfoliate your skin, zap zits, and minimize the appearance of pores. Trust that your oily skin will love this moisturizer.