“Moisturizing is extremely important in treating acne-prone skin, and the old idea of ’drying out’ acne is fortunately no longer a trend,” says Gina Marie, a renowned Los Angeles-based beautician. Traditional acne-fighting ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid cleanse the pores of dirt, oil and bacteria and, yes, dry out the skin. But when your skin gets excessively dry (which can happen if you regularly use these intense active ingredients), it will start producing more of its own oils in an attempt to re-hydrate and rebalance itself. Result? More acne. Because of this, you need to balance these drying ingredients with something moisturizing and non-comedogenic.
Input: oil-free humidifiers. “Many of my acne patients are afraid that a moisturizer will clog their pores and aggravate them, but that’s not true,” says Christine K. Kim, MD, dermatologist and brand ambassador for YesTo. … “Using a suitable, oil-free moisturizer can help you better tolerate acne-fighting skin products and give you faster results.” Since they are oil-free, these products provide hydration without the risk of clogging pores.
While oil-free moisturizers are most often recommended for oily and acne-prone skin, they can be beneficial for other skin types as well. “They are lightweight and easy to use, so they are great for applying under sunscreen and makeup, and I also recommend them to people who don’t like the feeling of strong moisturizers.” Because they are so light, she loves to use them during the summer months when humidity can make any complexion more prone to oily. Another added bonus? Applying a non-fat moisturizer to active ingredients like retinoids and AHA / BHAs can help your skin transfer them without sacrificing their effectiveness.
However, you should exercise caution when using a non-oil moisturizer on dry, dehydrated, or irritated skin. A lack of oil may mean that there is not enough oil to heal the damaged skin barrier, so in these situations, you may want to opt for something heavier and more nutritious. “If the skin is dry and even slightly dehydrated, I prefer oil-rich moisturizers, serums and facial oils,” says Marie. “And the winter months usually require stronger moisturizers, especially in colder climates.”
When shopping for oil-free moisturizers, Dr. Kim advises looking for moisturizers that absorb water into the skin. “Hyaluronic acid, which can attract 1,000 times its weight in water, is the main ingredient,” she says. Glycerin, honey, aloe vera, allantoin, urea, and lactic acid are also excellent options that have similar spongy properties.
With that in mind, these are the five best oil-free moisturizers that can be safely used on even the most oily skin and the toughest breakouts.
1. Paula’s Choice CLEAR Oil-Free Moisturizer, $ 29.
This lightweight moisturizer will strengthen and moisturize your skin with ceramides and hyaluronic acid, without clogging your pores. It also contains niacinamide, which can help relieve inflammation if you use it in addition to an active rash.
2. Shani Darden Skin Care Weightless Oil-Free Moisturizer, $ 48.
Thanks to the combination of hyaluronic acid, this moisturizer will make your skin smoother … and even slightly. It also contains hydrolyzed collagen and emollient red algae to moisturize the skin, and it’s so light you won’t even notice you’re wearing something.
3. Tatcha The Water Cream, an oil-free moisturizer that minimizes pores, $ 20.
There’s a reason so many people swear by the iconic Tatcha water cream. It has a jelly texture that remains invisible but does not leave a sticky feeling on the skin, and it is filled with a mixture of Japanese plants, including rose hips, which tighten pores, and leopard lily, which helps control excess oil. Green tea, rice and algae extract will leave skin hydrated and acne-free.
4. Kate Somerville Oil Free Moisturizer, $ 70.
People with combination skin prefer this drug because it moisturizes enough to be applied to dry areas of skin, but does not leave excess oil on oily areas. It contains oil-absorbing spheres that absorb excess sebum, as well as algae and peptides that strengthen the skin barrier.
5. Summer Friday Cloud Dew Oil Free Moisturizing Gel Cream, $ 42.
Remember how Dr. Kim called hyaluronic acid the “star ingredient” in oil-free moisturizers? Well, this stuff comes in three different types. Its multi-weight hyaluronic acid penetrates the skin and delivers moisture at different levels, which means you will feel hydrated from the inside out.