6 surprising tips on how to hydrate acne-prone skin (without triggering shine)

February 15, 2024

True or false: Change your moisturizer. Change your skin. We believe it’s true, but it’s dependent on finding the best moisturizer for your skin type.

If you’re prone to oiliness and breakouts, finding your holy grail oil control products can be a frustrating game of trial and error that leads to abandoning them all together. But board-certified dermatologist, pharmacist and founder Dr. Howard Murad says moisturizers are musts regardless of skin type. “I tell my patients to think of them as hydrators that keep skin and the microbiome healthy and in balance, which can help decrease oiliness and prevent breakouts.”

Why? Because skin might be over-producing oil to compensate for a lack of hydration, especially if you’re treating with intense oil-controlling or breakout-clearing ingredients. So how do you find the right moisturizer for acne prone skin or a skin type that may produce excess oil already? To find the best face moisturizer for acne and oily skin that hydrates without feeling greasy or amplifying shine, follow these tips.

How to hydrate oily and acne-prone skin

Don’t skip moisturizer

Every skin type needs hydration from moisturizers—even oily and acne-prone skin types. Why? Hydration is the amount of water in your skin, and it can be low no matter how much oil you have on the surface. Moisturizing skin helps it retain this water, keeping it balanced, protected, smooth and luminous.

But when it comes to skin hydration for oily and acne-prone skin, it can be challenging to find the right moisturizer, like with other skincare products. Here’s what you can look for and what to avoid if you have any of these skin types:

Look for key words

Oil-free, non-comedogenic, water-light, ultra-light and gel indicate a texture that’s suited to oily skin.

Avoid these words

Rich, creamy, and heavyweight are not for oily and breakout-prone skin types. (They’re more for supremely dry and dehydrated skin types who need the extra oil.)

Know your ingredients

Certain key ingredients can play a significant role in controlling acne breakouts, while providing the skin hydration everyone needs. Ingredient all-star salicylic acid (a beta hydroxy acid) has long been a dermatologist favorite for oily and acne-prone skin types. At certain percentages, salicylic acid helps gently exfoliate the upper layer of the skin to help keep pores clear and unblocked. It also helps refine and smooth. Hyaluronic acid is a must in moisturizers for oily and acne-prone skin because it hydrates without feeling heavy or greasy, and it won’t clog pores.

Follow Dr.’s orders

Dr. Murad has always advised his clients to treat any skin condition holistically—that is, with a balanced diet, exercise, and a consistent skincare routine. Taking care of your whole body will ultimately show on your skin.

Stay in the know

Watch for new ingredients on the market that provide a new route for treating oiliness and acne. Our Clarifying Water Gel by Murad contains innovative Korean red pine extract that helps prevent our skin’s bacteria from causing an imbalance (which can lead to irritation that triggers breakouts). This moisturizer checks all the boxes for oily and acne-prone skin: it hydrates with weightless, non-greasy hyaluronic acid, it balances your skin’s microbiome to minimize impurities that lead to breakouts, and it calms to deliver soothing relief to red, irritated skin.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Murad, and are for informational purposes only, even if the advice of physicians and medical practitioners are included. This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should not be considered specific medical advice.  

About the Author

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Jacki Marzano is SoCal-based storyteller and head copywriter at Murad Skincare. She's shaped the voice of some of the most recognized beauty brands in the business, has a penchant for sharing homemade cookies, and believes SPF is the secret to getting carded well into your 40s.