If you’re using a product that contains benzoyl peroxide — most likely, a benzoyl peroxide face wash or spot treatment — you want to make sure you’re using the right moisturizer, too. According to dermatologist Dr. Tiffany Libby, the best moisturizers to use with benzoyl peroxide are oil-free, noncomedogenic, and made with “hydrating and moisturizing ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and dimethicone.” Dr. Libby also suggests looking for a moisturizer that pairs those aforementioned ingredients with “calming ingredients like aloe, vitamin E, and green tea.”
Dr. Libby says that in the warmer, summer months, people with oily, acne-prone skin may prefer gel moisturizers, which are water-based, and when it’s colder and the air is drier, opt to switch to a gel-cream (or cream) formula for added hydration. If you have dry or sensitive skin, you may need a more robust moisturizer, Dr. Libby says, but it should be oil-free regardless of the formulation.
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The doctor also says to avoid heavily fragranced products, which can be irritating, as well as comedogenic oils that can clog your pores, such as coconut oil. Dr. Libby doesn’t like doubling up on benzoyl peroxide products — so that’s a no to using a BP wash with a BP moisturizer — as the ingredient can be too drying if overused, but you can pick a moisturizer with other active ingredients to target acne-related concerns, such as salicylic acid or alpha-hydroxy acids.
Below are the best oil-free, lightweight moisturizers to use with benzoyl peroxide products, including two picks from the expert.
1. Doctor’s Pick: Best Gel Moisturizer
Dr. Libby says Neutrogena’s best-selling Hydro Boost Water Gel is an “oil-free moisturizer [that] hydrates skin with hyaluronic acid and has this refreshing, cooling sensation when applied to skin.” The light-as-water cream is a great choice for just about everyone, as it’s hydrating enough to work for dry skin, but lightweight enough for oily skin.
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In the summer, you can keep this moisturizer in your fridge to enhance is refreshing sensation — an especially nice treat for skin that’s irritated or inflamed.
2. Doctor’s Pick: Best Medicated Moisturizer
Dr. Libby actually helped formulate Cetaphil’s Gentle Clear line, and says she’s received the most positive feedback from patients about these products. The fragrance-free Gentle Clear Mattifying Acne Moisturizer “is one of my favorites,” she says, “as it is a lightweight moisturizer that uses 0.5% salicylic acid to absorb excess oil and treat breakouts, while calming the skin with prebiotics, soothing botanicals, and bisabolol.”
As previously mentioned, Dr. Libby doesn’t recommend using multiple products that contain benzoyl peroxide, because it can lead to dryness and irritation, but you can use other acne-targeting ingredients to keep your pores clear, such as salicylic acid, which she explains, “is a lipophilic ingredient, aka oil-soluble, that is excellent at removing excess oil from within the pores and exfoliating layers of dead skin cells.”
3. Best French Pharmacy Moisturizer
If your skin gets shiny easily, you may want to choose a mattifying moisturizer like La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat. It helps control shine with the BHA salicylic acid (which is also what gives the Cetaphil moisturizer its mattifying benefits), but the addition of perlite and silica, which are also great for absorbing excess oil, leave your skin looking smooth and poreless.
The hydration in this moisturizer comes from glycerin, dimethicone, and the brand’s own soothing French spring water. Note that it does contain added fragrance, so stick with the fragrance-free Cetaphil cream if you prefer unscented products.
4. Best Korean Moisturizer
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This cult-favorite moisturizer from K-beauty brand Belif is a refreshing, non-sticky gel-cream that strengthens, nourishes, and calms using ceramides, glycerin, and rare herbs such as Lady’s Mantle, calendula, and oat husk. It’s a fan favorite for its lightweight, cooling feel and how well it immediately hydrates — and then disappears into skin— without feeling heavy or greasy. It’s both oil-free and fragrance-free, making it a great choice for all skin types (including sensitive).
5. Best For Damaged, Irritated Skin
This extremely gentle moisturizer is designed for people with skin that’s damaged, inflamed, or otherwise irritated (though note that it’s a great choice for anyone with dry, sensitive skin in general). From derm-favorite brand EltaMD, it contains sodium hyaluronate, aka hyaluronic acid, a skin-renewing lipo-hydroxy acid (which is a gentle salicylic acid derivative that’s well-tolerated even by sensitive skin types), glycerin, squalane, and mineral-rich French sea water. It gently soothes and repairs skin without any lingering oily feeling, and it comes in a convenient pump-top bottle to keep the product fresh and bacteria-free.
Dr. Tiffany Libby, M.D., F.A.A.D., board-certified dermatologist
The Use of Lipohydroxy Acid in Skin Care and Acne Treatment by Joshua A. Zeichner, MD f4vn.com/pmc/articles/PMC5300717/
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