Why Acne-Prone Skin Needs Moisturizer

Acne is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that affects people of all ages but is most common amongst teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17 years. Acne breakout occurred when the oil and dead skin cells plugged the hair follicles. 

Clinical features include:

  • Oily skin
  • Inflammatory lesions (papules and pustules)
  • Non-inflammatory lesions (closed comedones – whiteheads and open comedones- blackheads)
  • Degree of scarring

Pathogenesis of the disease includes four main processes:

1. Altered Keratinization

2. Elevated Sebum Production

Sometimes the skin debris is unable to shed from the skin completely and remains attached to the skin. As a result, the sebum cannot flow out from the pores properly. This mixing of sebum with the dead skin cells clogged the hair follicles.

3. Follicular Colonization by Propionibacterium Acnes

Once the pores (hair follicles) are clogged, they become deprived of oxygen. This serves as the best environment for the growth of Propionibacterium acnes bacteria. 

4. Triggered Inflammatory Process

The colonization of p.Acnes bacteria leads to inflammation, which generates pressure inside, and thus, a follicle ruptures. As a result, there is a leaking of pus that causes pimples, pustules, and papules.

What does it mean to Have Acne-Prone Skin?


Acne-prone skin breaks and flares up easily, and that too, quite often. Unfortunately, it needs special care and sometimes consistent treatment. Moreover, it is not the type that goes away on its own.

The severity of the breakouts of acne-prone skin includes:

  • Blackheads and whiteheads are acute forms of breakout.
  • Pustules and papules are the moderate forms of skin flare-up.
  • Cystic nodules are the most chronic form of acne.

Other Contributing Factors for Acne-Prone Skin

  • Genetics
  • Hormonal changes
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Imbalance diet
  • Too much cleansing
  • Sleep deprivation

Is Moisturizer Needed for Acne-Prone Skin?


The most frequently asked questions from the people having oily skin or acne-prone skin are:

  • Do I even need to moisturize my already oily skin?
  • Should I moisturize my oily skin?
  • Do I not need to dry it out instead of moisturizing?

The simple answer to all these questions is YES! You need to moisturize your skin. For better understanding, let’s have a clear look at what moisturizer does to your skin.

Moisturizers are meant to hold the water in the outermost layer of skin and not add water to your skin. Now, you must be wondering how that works? Moisturizers contain ingredients like humectant and emollients. The former is used to draw the water into your skin, while the latter is responsible for developing a protective shield for the trapping of water within the skin. 

Best Moisturizer According to Your Skin?

There are various varieties of moisturizers available on the market. Some are oil-based, others are water-based. These can be lotions, creams, or gels. You must know that every individual’s skin is different from the others. If one product suits you, this does not mean it will work for others too. And for this, you need to be ready to experiment with different moisturizers until you find the best option.

If your acne treatments involve any of the following, then the moisturizer is a must needed care for your skin:

  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Salicylic acid
  • Adapalene, tazarotene, or tretinoin
  • Isotretinoin – it is prescribed in case of severe acne

These substances dry the skin and irritate it. During this medical therapy, you need to use a moisturizer every day.

The human body secretes more sebum when the skin is dry. As a result of which the pores can be clogged, leading to skin breakouts. Choose wisely the best perfect moisturizer for your skin to overcome irritation and skin dryness.

Choosing the Best Moisturizer for Your Skin

Here are some useful tips to help you find the most compatible moisturizer according to your acne-prone, oily skin:

1. Mind the Texture

Avoid opting for ointments they constitute oil as a base. Acne-prone, oily skin is more compatible with water-based lotions and gels. When water acts as a base, the moisturizer tends to aggravate less.

2. Read the Label Carefully

Try to purchase cosmetic products labeled on their packaging “oil-free” or “non-comedogenic” because they pose fewer chances of pores clogging.

3. Look for SPF

Sunscreen is one of the biggest enemies of acne. Choose a moisturizer with a broad spectrum chemical-free, non-irritating sunscreen (SPF 30 or above). Also, this will limit the number of products used on your sensitive skin.

If you wish to use a sunscreen other than the moisturizer, look for the ones containing zinc oxide or titanium oxide. These ingredients are known to develop fewer skin breakouts. 

Boycott sunscreens that have fragrances or oils in them.

4. Apply On Moist Skin

The best time to apply a moisturizer is just after bathing or washing your face. Apply it when the skin is still damp. This way, you can trap the water within the skin.

Ideal Moisturizer for Oily, Acne-Prone Skin

The moisturizers for oily, acne-prone skin are designed specifically as a light, fast-absorbing product that does not leave the skin glossy. 

A good moisturizer possesses three major properties:

1. Humectants

The first characteristic of a good moisturizer is a humectant. Humectants keep the skin hydrated by pulling the water from the underlying layer (dermis) to the outermost layer (epidermis).

Examples of such ingredients are glycerin (glycerol), sodium lactate, ammonium lactate, hyaluronic acid, sorbitol, urea, and alpha-hydroxy acids.

2. Emollient

These constituents replenish the skin by filling the void spaces present in the stratum corneum (outer layer of the epidermis) with either wax or oil. 

Emollients include a wide range of compounds. These can be less or more greasy. For instance, ceramide is a less oily emollient, while stearic acid, linoleic acid, oleic acid, lauric acid, and fatty alcohols are greasier.

3. Occlusive

These agents block the transepidermal water loss (TEWL) by creating a hydrophobic (water repellent) film on the skin surface, thus sealing the moisture within. 

Examples of occlusive agents are petrolatum, lanolin, mineral oil, paraffin, squalene, and silicone derivatives (dimethicone, Cyclomethicone). Silicone derivatives can be used in combination or on their own.

Note: Search for the item labeled “non-comedogenic” because it has fewer chances of developing comedones (whiteheads or blackheads). On the contrary, stay away from skincare products containing fragrance and also from moisturizers that contain mineral oil, cocoa butter, petrolatum, or petroleum. These products are harsh for sensitive skin.

Care Tips for Acne Skin

If you find acne worrisome and embarrassing, the following are some useful tips to reduce acne and its damage to your skin:

  • Look for a cleanser that is specially designed for acne. These usually contain salicylic acid (known to increase the moisture in the skin) or benzoyl peroxide (reduces the aggregation of acne-causing bacteria and also helps the skin to dry and peel off).
  • Gently wash your face. Harsh rubbing may worsen the acne breakouts or cause scarring. Only use your hands while washing your face. Terry Cloth or other exfoliating material may rupture acne sores.
  • Probably the best option for your acne-sensitive skin is a moisturizer that is non-comedogenic, oil-free, and antibacterial.
  • Oil-free cosmetics are better than heavy makeup or other products that are harsh on acne flare-ups.
  • Stop picking! Otherwise, it will further aggravate the inflammation and scarring.


When it comes to buying the right moisturizer for oily skin, you won’t be able to find a perfect one. Therefore, take your time to choose the right moisturizer by reading its ingredients. Moreover, you can also ask your dermatologist for recommendations. Once you have narrowed down some moisturizers, experiment with them until you find the right one according to your skin.