Contrary to popular belief, even if you have acne-prone skin, you need moisturizer just as much as anyone else. When the skin becomes dehydrated, the sebaceous glands produce more oil to combat the dryness. This can become problematic, as too much oil often results in clogged pores (blackheads). Now, winter is a difficult time for acne-prone skin. The dry winter air steals moisture from the skin. So if you think cutting out moisturizer in the cold season will help your acne, think again. In fact, it makes acne worse. With this in mind, we searched high and low for the best winter moisturizers for acne-prone skin. These are formulated to hydrate and protect your skin, so you can face the cold weather without worrying about dehydration and acne.
- Key ingredients to look for
- Ole Henriksen Cold Plunge Pore Remedy Moisturizer
- Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer
- Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream
- La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat Mattifying Moisturizer
- Proven Day Moisturizer
- First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Oil-Control Moisturizer
- Murad Clarifying Oil-Free Water Gel Moisturizer
- Dr. Jart+ Teatreement Moisturizer
- Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel
- Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Acid Cloud Cream
- Roc Multi Corexxion Revive + Glow Gel Cream
- Proactiv Green Tea Moisturizer
- Vichy Normaderm PhytoAction Acne Control Moisturizer
- Pyunkang Yul Calming Moisture Barrier Cream
How to find the best winter moisturizer for acne-prone skin
If a lightweight, gel-like moisturizer is ideal in the summer, then in winter, it’s best to use a richer moisturizer that protects your skin barrier and provides hydration without clogging your pores. Yes, winter moisturizers tend to be heavier and thicker. However, don’t think they all clog pores and cause acne. The trick is to avoid comedogenic ingredients.
Before we discuss what to look for in your moisturizer, let’s look at why cold weather often makes acne breakouts worse. This is essential to know as it will make it easier to understand what moisturizer you need.
For starters, the combination of cold outdoor air and dry indoor heating can dry out your skin. This is tough for those with acne-prone skin, as dryness can lead to more oil production. This excess sebum can mix with dead skin cells and block pores. Moreover, the harsh winds also create cracks in the skin’s barrier that allow moisture to leak out, which leads to the same situation of dehydration and excess sebum.
In short, the ideal winter moisturizer for acne-prone skin should be non-comedogenic. It should also hydrate, lock in moisture, protect, and strengthen the skin barrier. Let’s break this down:
Key ingredients to look for
- Non-comedogenic: That means it won’t clog your pores.
- Hydrating: The moisturizer should contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and Centella asiatica to deliver lightweight hydration.
- Moisture-sealing and protective: Occlusives like squalane and dimethicone are perfect to have in your winter moisturizer if you have acne-prone skin. They cover the skin’s surface with a protective film that protects your skin from harsh elements and reduces moisture loss. Avoid heavy occlusives like mineral oil, though, as they’re often too greasy and sticky for acne-prone skin.
- Barrier-strengthening: Ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids can restore the skin’s barrier. They will rebuild the moisture barrier so that your face is neither dry nor congested but self-regulating. That’s exactly what you need.
Also, to find the best winter moisturizer for acne-prone skin, we’ve looked through products containing acne-fighting ingredients. These ingredients work to clear pores, balance sebum production, combat bacteria, and heal acne breakouts. Without a doubt, salicylic acid, tea tree oil, and willow bark extract are the best acne-fighting ingredients.
The best winter moisturizes for acne-prone skin
Ole Henriksen Cold Plunge Pore Remedy Moisturizer
Ole Henriksen Cold Plunge Pore Remedy comes with such a perfect ingredient list that makes it the best winter moisturizer for acne-prone skin. The formula loads salicylic acid and lipohydroxy acid to slough off dead cells and excess oil. But that’s not all—it also boasts a fusion of botanical extracts that nourish the skin and give pores a more refined appearance. The gel-like lightweight texture absorbs in an instant without leaving greasy or sticky residues. Just one note: If you face severely dry skin in the winter, it’s best to use a more hydrating moisturizer after this one. This ensures your skin receives the extra moisture it needs without sacrificing the acne-fighting properties of Ole Henriksen Cold Plunge Pore Remedy.
Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer
Protecting and restoring the skin barrier is key to balancing acne-prone skin in the colder months. And this weightless, gel-like moisturizer does just that without the risk of clogging your pores. The formula is enriched with probiotics to balance and protect the skin, squalane to seal in moisture and regulate sebum, and a host of natural extracts to soothe and nourish. Most people love Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel because it’s clean, hydrating, and gentle, making it one of the best winter moisturizers for acne-prone skin.
Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream
Drunk Elephant Polypeptide Cream contains nine peptides that boost moisture, strengthen skin, and restore firmness. It also blends in plenty of antioxidants to shield your skin from environmental stressors as well as vitamin B and sodium hyaluronate to increase hydration. Despite how rich the formula is, people with breakout-prone skin said their pores never got clogged from using it, so one more reason we consider Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream a good winter moisturizer for acne-prone skin.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat Mattifying Moisturizer
This mattifying, non-comedogenic moisturizer is like a life jacket for acne-prone skin. As one of the best winter moisturizers for acne, La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat is made with micro-exfoliating lipo-hydroxy acid (a cousin of salicylic acid) and salicylic acid itself, both of which are effective in fighting acne-causing bacteria and calming inflammation. Plus, there’s a splash of La Roche-Posay Thermal Water and glycerin to hydrate your skin and sarcosine to control oil and reduce shine. We recommend using La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat alongside a more hydrating moisturizer to get the best of both worlds: acne treatment and hydration boost.
Proven Day Moisturizer
Proven offers a different take on winter moisturizers. You start with a quiz about your skin, and they create a moisturizer just for you. This takes into account your skin condition, the weather, your age, and where you live. Proven uses ingredients that are proven by science, so you know your moisturizer will work well. The experience of creating your own winter moisturizer with Proven isn’t just effective, it’s also fun. It’s definitely worth giving a shot.
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Oil-Control Moisturizer
First Aid Beauty has created a gel-like moisturizer in a lightweight mattifying formula that provides intense hydration without greasiness. Perfect for oily and acne-prone skin, it has tiny microspheres that reduce excess oil, leaving you with an instant matte finish. And there’s more—niacinamide controls sebum production long-term. Moreover, sodium hyaluronate hydrates the skin, while oat extract and oleanolic acid soothe and protect your acne-prone skin from harsh weather.
Murad Clarifying Oil-Free Water Gel Moisturizer
We’re big fans of Murad products, and this moisturizing gel is one of our favorites. First of all, it contains salicylic acid, ideal for unclogging pores and balancing sebum production. Then, glycerin, sodium hyaluronate, and niacinamide work together to hydrate the skin. Plus, this moisturizer is enriched with a mix of plant extracts like bisabolol and ginger root, which calm and soothe the skin. Yeast amino acids are also in the mix, providing lightweight hydration. It’s a great moisturizer that acne-prone skin can use in the cold season to maintain hydration, enhance clarity, and reduce acne breakouts.
Dr. Jart+ Teatreement Moisturizer
Dr. Jart+ Teatreement Moisturizer is a dream for acne-prone skin for a few reasons. It eliminates bacteria and dead skin with tea tree oil and salicylic acid, calms redness with chamomile, aloe leaf, and green tea, and boosts hydration with glycerin, niacinamide, cica, and hyaluronic acid. If you’re hunting for a lightweight moisturizer that treats acne while hydrating blemish-prone skin, this is it.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel is ideal for combination, oily, sensitive, and acne-prone skin. This non-comedogenic, oil- and fragrance-free gel provides the hydration you need in the cold months with glycerin and hyaluronic acid. Then, it seals in hydration with beeswax and olive extract without clogging pores. It is one of the best choices for a budget-friendly winter moisturizer.
Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Acid Cloud Cream
This moisturizer ticks all the right boxes. It’s hard to fail on hydration with a moisturizer made with 30% of hyaluronic acid. To deliver even more moisture, the formula is loaded with a slew of ceramides, cholesterol, and vitamin C, all working to increase moisture retention and restore the skin’s barrier. The best news still, this water-gel cream has a lightweight texture that absorbs in a minute without feeling heavy or clogging pores and is void of fragrance.
Roc Multi Corexxion Revive + Glow Gel Cream
Our skin is drier in winter because we lose ceramides. Vitamin C is key for making more ceramides. Roc’s Multi Correxion Revive Cream has a 10% vitamin C formula. It fights free radicals on the surface and boosts collagen and ceramides at a cellular level. The formula also has a peptide, shea butter, and watermelon fruit, which is full of amino acids, to calm and strengthen your skin.
Proactiv Green Tea Moisturizer
Proactiv Green Tea Moisturizer was made with acne-prone skin in mind, and most reviewers rave about it. It’s a savior during winter since it’s spiked with sodium hyaluronate to hydrate, zinc sulfate to fight acne breakouts, and retinyl palmitate to reduce acne some more. Additionally, the formula includes EGCG and allantoin to soothe. Non-comedogenic, non-greasy, and lightweight? Check, check, and check.
Vichy Normaderm PhytoAction Acne Control Moisturizer
My derm recommended this one to me, and I’ve been a loyalist ever since, in both summer and winter. It’s indeed one of the best treatment moisturizers for acne-prone skin because the formula features 2% salicylic acid (the maximum allowed in OTCs), which balances sebum, shrinks the look of pores, and reduces blackheads. At the same time, the moisturizer is made with kaolin and zinc, both known for their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. All the while, glycerin and sodium hyaluronate provide bursts of hydration and soothe the skin in a lightweight, serum-like formula.
Pyunkang Yul Calming Moisture Barrier Cream
Is your skin bothered by the harsh weather? Check this one out. Pyunkang Yul Calming Moisture Barrier Cream is one of the best winter moisturizers for sensitive, acne-prone skin. The formula contains everything acne-prone skin needs and nothing it doesn’t. For starters, the moisturizer restores the skin’s barrier with ceramides. It also boosts hydration with sodium hyaluronate and Centella asiatica, seals in moisture and balances sebum production with squalane, and reduces acne-causing bacteria with tea tree oil. There are also a bunch of antioxidants to protect your skin from external aggressors.