When you’ve got acne, it can be frustratingly tricky trying to figure out what moisturizer you’re supposed to use. You don’t want to make your skin oily, because, breakouts. But you also don’t want to let it get too dry, because… breakouts. So your relationship status with the product would best be filed under, “it’s complicated.” As any dermatologist will tell you, though, you do need to be using moisturizer when pimples start popping up—especially during the cold, winter months when dry weather can make flare-ups even worse.
So your best bet, then, is to find a moisturizer that works double duty by implementing one of the best-in-the-business acne fighting ingredients: salicylic acid. The beta-hydroxy acid is a staple in most acne-related skin care and removes dead skin cells while penetrating pores, unclogging them of any gunk.
“BHAs encourage exfoliation, helping to prevent and treat blocked pores, and also may help diminish some types of superficial hyperpigmentation,” explains David Lortscher, MD, dermatologist and founder of Curology. “Salicylic acid is best for oily skin types. It works by penetrating and dislodging the gunk (sebum) in your pores, so that it’s no longer trapped — resulting in a lower chance of triggering an acne breakout.” When you combine salicylic with a moisturizer, you’re essentially chemically exfoliating your skin while also giving it the hydration it needs to avoid—you guessed it—breakouts.
“Salicyclic acid moisturizers are a great tool to have in your acne toolbox,” adds Austin-based dermatologist Ted Lain, MD. “A low-dose salicylic acid dives deeply into pores to exfoliate and prevent blackheads, while the moisturizing ingredients ensure that there is little to no irritation or redness.”
Some other things you want to look for when choosing a moisturizer for acne-prone skin: Look for something oil-free, light-weight, and non-comedogenic to avoid clogging your pores. And in addition to the salicylic acid, seek out ingredients like ceramides and hyaluronic acid to keep your skin moisturized and balanced. Once you’ve found the perfect combo, you’ll be able to upgrade your relationship status with moisturizer from “it’s complicated” to “deeply, deeply in love.”
Salicylic acid moisturizers
Treating pimples doesn’t have to be confusing—try these 8 acne-fighting products that the pros swear by. And if fighting off your breakouts is starting to feel exhausting, remember that there are actually some benefits to having acne.
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