Think you don't need moisturiser if you have acne? Think again—here's the 6 best

I've had acne for years and, trust me, you need a moisturiser if you suffer

Woman with clear skin
(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the worst mistakes I ever made when dealing with my acne-prone skin was skipping moisturiser. The second was thinking that an alcohol-based toner was the best acne treatment. I was wrong, on both counts.

Here’s the thing: a good skincare routine for acne will definitely include a moisturiser. All the types of acne benefit from it, and even if you have a particularly violent patch you’re covering with acne patches or a spot treatment, you still want to moisturise, regularly.

I learned this the hard way. Not moisturising compounded my acne - my skin suffered from excessive trans-epidermal water loss, leaving it dehydrated and entirely out of whack. The acne got worst and the clear patches didn’t look so great, either; they were dry, and a bit flat looking. 

I introduced moisturiser when a facialist heavily advised I do so, and I’ve not looked back. Now, my routine includes serum and moisturiser every day - and my skin’s never looked better. The truth is, once you've found the best acne face wash and used all of the best spot treatments (whether that be retinol for acne or even tea tree oil for acne), you need to follow up with a great moisturiser. And take this as your sign to also start looking for the best sunscreen for acne-prone skin, while you're at it.

But don’t just take my word for it - I grilled NIVEA's brand ambassador Dr Ewoma Ukeleghe on how important introducing a moisturiser for acne prone skin is:

Why should people who suffer from acne use a moisturiser?

"A common misconception is that acne-prone skin doesn't need moisturiser, however, dehydration and acne can co-exist on the skin. Instead of skipping the moisture altogether, gravitate towards lighter lotions with ingredients focused on barrier repair which is integral for acne-prone skin."

Which ingredients are especially helpful to reduce redness without clogging pores?

"There are a few ingredients that can combat redness without being comedogenic; I suggest Niacinamide, Q10 and Vitamin B5. Q10 specifically is a powerful ingredient which refills the skins energy supply and maximises the natural cycle of repair and regeneration."

What about applying moisturiser to areas of active acne?

"It really depends on the severity of the acne. I would generally advise using a very light layer of moisturiser on acneic areas, particularly if the breakouts are more severe. That said, if you are using anti-acne treatments/prescriptive topicals in your routine, you may find that such products are moisturising alone, as some acne treatments are often combined with nourishing bases such as stearic acid." 

The Best Moisturisers for Acne Prone Skin

As someone who's had a long 20 years to test skincare on my acne-prone skin, I've got a very good instinct for what's going to make my skin break out, or soothe it. 

That said, what works for me might not work for you, and different ingredients of course don't agree with different skin types.

There is, however, overlap - certain ingredients which reduce inflammation universally, or slough off dead skin gently to help reduce blockages. 

Everything below contains ingredients which reduce inflammation or acne, and which have made my skin calmer and clearer.

Best moisturiser for acne prone skin which is also very oily

Best moisturiser for acne prone skin which is also very red

Best moisturiser for acne prone skin if you hate the sensation of product on your skin

Best moisturiser for acne prone skin if you also want some firming action

Best moisturiser for acne prone skin if your skin looks dull

Best all rounder moisturiser for acne prone skin

Madeleine Spencer

Madeleine Spencer is a journalist and broadcaster who has contributed to titles including Grazia, Glamour, InStyle, The Independent, The Evening Standard, and Stylist, as well as offering commentary for the BBC, Sky News, and ITV.

She is keen on exploring the significance beauty rituals, products, and memories have on people from different walks of life, and enters into conversation on the topic with guests on her podcast, Beauty Full Lives.