Feel Nourished and Soothed: How to Choose The Best Gentle Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin

Acne is a common skin condition that affects nearly 6 million Canadians. Acne breakouts occur when your pores become blocked with skin cells and oils (1). Acne-prone and combination skin can have an oily appearance, so you may think you don’t need to moisturize, but moisturizers can help acne-prone skin in a number of ways.


Choosing the best moisturizer for acne-prone skin

Moisturizers can help acne-prone skin - but as with any skin care product, it’s essential to choose the most appropriate product for your skin type.

When choosing a moisturizer for acne-prone skin, there are a few factors you might want to consider: Firstly, opt for a non-comedogenic moisturizer (2) that is labeled specifically for acne-prone or oily skin, as they tend to be lighter and less likely to cause breakouts.

Secondly, it's important to choose a moisturizer that is oil-free and fragrance-free to minimize irritation (2). Consider moisturizers with ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin, as they provide hydration without adding excess oil.


As well as looking for products which are non-comedogenic and fragrance-free, you may want to avoid other products which could irritate acne-prone skin - here’s a quick breakdown of some terms you may have noticed in your skin care products:

● Non-comedogenic: ‘Comedos’ or ‘comedones’ are names for clogged pores - so non-comedogenic products tend to have a light texture or less oily ingredients to prevent pores from becoming blocked (3).

● Fragrance-free: This simply means that no fragrance has been added to the product (4).

● Hypoallergenic: A common term found on skin care products. This term is used to indicate that this product has been formulated to be less likely to cause allergic reactions (4).

● Paraben-free: Parabens are used as preservatives in skin care products, and you may see some skin care products claim to be paraben-free (5).

It’s important to speak to your dermatologist if you are concerned about your acne and it’s advisable to use specific skin care products to target acne breakouts, such as products which include benzoyl peroxide or salicyclic acid. Try the Cetaphil Gentle Saliclycic Acid Acne Serum that has a triple-action formula to help prevent and reduce acne with salicylic acid, as well as a unique blend of skin-soothing ingredients.

It’s also important to make sure you choose a moisturizer that can help address all of your skin concerns. If you have acne-prone skin, it’s likely that you have other issues such as oily or combination skin, dry or dehydrated skin. Let's explore how you can address these specific skin concerns.

Moisturizers for oily skin

If you have acne-prone skin, you may also have oily or combination skin. If you do, it’s important to pick the right product, such as moisturizers that are oil-free (2). Additionally, look out for moisturizers that help with oil control and include ingredients like silica, which helps absorb excess oil from your skin.

If you have oily and combination skin, try Cetaphil Pro DermaControl Oil Control Moisturizer, which is fragrancefree, paraben-free, hypoallergenic and absorbs excess oil from your skin resulting in a shine-free, matte finish appearance. It also includes SPF 30 to help protect your skin against the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. Find out more about dry, oily and combination skin.


Moisturizers to help prevent skin dehydration

It’s important to remember that dry skin and dehydrated skin are not the same thing, although they can show similar symptoms. Dry skin arises when your skin produces less oil, and dehydrated skin is where your skin is lacking water in the upper layer (6).

For moisturizers that can help dehydrated skin, try Cetaphil Optimal Hydration Skin Restoring Water Gel that contains Cetaphil’s HydroSensitiv™, which increases your skin’s water content and also won’t clog your pores.

Moisturizers to help protect the skin barrier

A healthy skin barrier is important to maintain healthy looking skin. Damage to your skin’s moisture barrier can lead to a variety of different skin conditions, including dryness, irritation, and dehydration (7), which you may experience if you have combination skin.

Several things can damage your skin barrier including different types of weather, especially cold winter weather as this can harm the skin barrier and cause dryness and flaking (7). If you have acne-prone skin, you may still experience dry skin in combination with acne breakouts.

Moisturizers are good for acne-prone skin because they can help protect your skin barrier, especially against the harsh effects of some acne treatments (2). They do so by increasing water content to your skin and helping to reduce water loss (7). Moisturizers can also help to protect your skin against environmental elements (7).

Choose a moisturizer that can help to protect your skin barrier such as Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion or Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream, both of which can help restore your skin barrier and include niacinamide, panthenol, and hydrating glycerin.

Moisturizers to help improve skin texture

If you have acne-prone skin, your skin texture might be uneven. There are a few things you can introduce into your skin care routine to help with skin texture. If you have uneven skin, try a gentle exfoliation product like Cetaphil Extra Gentle Daily Facial Scrub. In addition, moisturizers can help improve skin texture by softening and smoothing your skin (7).

Cetaphil moisturizers can also help with any uneven or rough skin texture. They are formulated to defend against the 5 signs of skin sensitivity, including a weakened skin barrier, dryness, roughness, itchiness, and tightness.

If you experience uneven skin texture, try Cetaphil Optimal Hydration Illuminating Lotion Serum, which is formulated with hyaluronic acid plus sunflower extract to help smooth your skin's texture. It also features Cetaphil’s exclusive HydroSensitiv™ Complex with Blue Daisy to hydrate and soothe dry skin, so skin texture is visibly refined and smoothed.

In summary - does moisturizer help acne-prone skin?

Acne can have a big impact on self-esteem and confidence, but it’s important to remember that moisturizers can help acne-prone skin by keeping your skin nourished and soothed. If you have acne-prone skin, you may also experience other issues like oily or combination skin, as well as dry or dehydrated skin. It is important to select a moisturizer that effectively targets all of your skin concerns, while hydrating and improving your skin barrier and texture.


1. Acne. Canadian Dermatology Association. Accessed

26 April 2023.

2. Moisturizer: Why you may need it if you have acne. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Accessed 26 April 2023

3. What does non-comedogenic mean? DermLetter.

mean Accessed 26 April 2023.

4. Cosmetic advertising, labelling and ingredients. Government of Canada.

html Accessed 26 April 2023.

5. Paraben. Government of Canada.

safety/parabens.html Accessed 26 April 2023.

6. What is Dehydrated Skin - and How to Fix it. The Derm Review. Accessed 26 April 2023.

7. Purnamawati S, Indrastuti N, Danarti R, Saefudin T. The Role of Moisturizers in Addressing Various Kinds

of Dermatitis: A Review. Clin Med Res. 2017;15(3-4):75-87. doi: 10.3121/cmr.2017.1363.