Scientific Skincare - Best Hydrating Products For Acne Prone Skin
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5 Of The Best Hydrating Products For Acne Prone Skin.

Do you have skin that feels tight and dry even though there is an excess of oil? If your answer is yes, then you may have dehydrated skin! Fear not! Here are the 5 best hydrating products for acne prone skin.

Dehydrated skin is, basically, skin that lacks enough water to function optimally. In acne-prone skin, it is most commonly caused by harsh medications, excessive facial washing, and surfactant containing cleansers [1].

Skin hydration is controlled by the outer most layer of the skin – the stratum corneum. The stratum corneum serves a vital role in skin health as it maintains the barrier function of the skin by keeping water in and keeping irritants out [2].

When this barrier function is damaged, water is lost from the skin and skin hydration is reduced.

What Is Dehydrated Skin - The Best Hydrating Products For Acne Prone Skin

Dry vs Dehydrated Skin

The general consensus in the skincare community is that:

  • Dry Skin – lacks both water and oil
  • Dehydrated Skin – lacks water but overproduces oil to compensate.

As dehydrated skin is associated with an overproduction of oil, it is fairly common for individuals with dehydrated skin to experience acne breakouts. In addition, common acne treatments damage the moisture barrier and are incredibly drying for skin which makes the problem worse.

This creates a vicious cycle where excessively drying products cause the skin to produce more oil which then causes an overproduction of oil and further breakouts.


Best Hydrating Products For Acne Prone Skin - Dehydrated Skin Cycle

Dehydration In Acne Prone Skin

Some evidence suggests that acne-prone skin is associated with skin barrier dysfunction.

In one study, a greater increase in trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), decreased skin hydration, and increased oil secretion was observed in men with mild-to-moderate acne [3].

Basically, their skin contained too much oil and not enough water. In addition, the levels of lipids (including ceramides) were significantly reduced. Other evidence also points to an essential fatty acid deficiency, specifically, a deficiency of linoleic acid [4].

Increased TEWL, decreased hydration, increased oil production, and reduced lipids and essential fatty acids are all symptoms of a stratum corneum barrier dysfunction and, thus, dehydrated skin.

In fact, skin hydration depends on two main factors:

  1. The presence of natural moisturizing factors (NMFs).
  2. The structure and composition of the lipids in the stratum corneum.

NMFs consist of amino acids and their derivatives such as; lactic acid, urea, and sugars and represent 5-30% of the stratum corneum.

The structure and composition of the lipids in the stratum corneum is generally referred to as the lipid matrix, which is made up of 45-50% ceramides, 25% cholesterol, and 10-15% fatty acids.

Ceramides, in particular, play a vital role in skin hydration by maintaining the skins barrier function. Plenty of evidence has demonstrated that a reduction in ceramides within the stratum corneum directly affects the hydration of the skin[1].

Some acne treatments that are exceptionally good at reducing oil, including prescription medications and cleansers containing surfactants, also reduce levels of essential fatty acids, alter the ratio of skin surface lipids, and disrupt skin barrier function [5][6].

How To Fix Dehydrated Skin - Best Hydrating Products For Acne Prone SkinFor more detailed information on the causes of dehydrated skin and how to fix it, see here:

However, fear not, for here is a round up of the best hydrating products for acne prone skin!


The Best Hydrating Products For Acne Prone Skin


Avene Tolerance Extreme Cleansing Lotion

This light and gentle cleanser has a milk-like texture to leave skin feeling soothed and hydrated. It’s hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t irritate sensitive skin or clog pores, making it suitable for all skin types. It’s designed to be used as a no-rinse cleanser – simply apply to skin with fingers and then remove with cotton wool. However, it can also be used as a wet wash for particularly sensitive skin. While not described in the instructions, simply use as wet was in the place of your harsher cleanser. This cleanser comes with a unique seal to prevent oxidization and preserve sterility.

Why is this cleanser one of the best hydrating products for acne prone skin?

That would be down to the ingredients. Avene tolerance extreme cleansing lotion contains a perfect mix of water, glycerol, triglycerides, free fatty acids, and squalene to mimic the composition of healthy skin and improve balance and hydration. In addition, it is free from preservatives, parabens, and fragrances.

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CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

CeraVe offer up an oil-free, fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, non-irritating moisturizer that’s suitable for normal to dry skin. It has MVE delivery technology, which basically means that the moisturizing ingredients are delivered slowly to skin over time, making it last longer after you apply it. It has a rich, creamy texture to moisturize skin and restore skin barrier function.

Why is this moisturizer one of the best hydrating products for acne prone skin?

As well as providing 24hr hydration, the CeraVe Moisturizing Cream is formulated with three essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid, all of which are essential for skin hydration. It is also widely recommended by dermatologists and won’t break the bank! Even better, there are many reviews on its ability to moisturize without causing breakouts.

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Nia 24 Skin Strengthening Complex

This lightweight fortifying moisturizer helps to strengthen the skins barrier function while also visibly reducing fine lines and wrinkles and creating firmer looking skin. It’s expensive but well worth the money. Perfect for people who want to reduce the signs of aging as well as hydrate their skin and prevent breakouts.

Why is this moisturizer one of the best hydrating products for acne prone skin?

Well, in addition to ceramides and hyaluronic acid, it also contains niacinamide. Niacinamide is a water-soluble form of vitamin B3 that can reduce TEWL and improve skin hydration. Some evidence suggests that this is due to its ability to increase the levels of ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol in the stratum corneum. Furthermore, niacinamide is scientifically proven to reduce sebum production and pore size as well as reduce the inflammation associated with acne. This means it gives you double protection against break-outs!

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Hada Labo Skin Plumping Gel Cream

Hada Labo, the #1 skincare line in Japan, offers up this plumping gel cream that is clinically proven to provide 24hr moisture after only one application! It’s light-weight, fast-absorbing, non-comedogenic, non-greasy, and perfect for all skin types.

Why is this moisturizer one of the best hydrating products for acne prone skin?

The Hada Labo Skin Plumping Gel Cream contains 5% urea, THREE different types of hyaluronic acid, amino acids, AND ceramide. All of which are essential ingredients for optimal skin barrier function. In addition to the fact that it has been clinically proven to provide 24hr moisture after only one application, 93% of people saw visible improvements in their skin hydration after 4 weeks of twice-daily use.

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SkinCeuticals Retexturing Activator Replenishing Serum

If the thought of skipping your regular exfoliation intimidates you, then this is the serum for you. As well as reinforcing the skin’s barrier, it also improves radiance and skin tone.

Why is this serum one of the best hydrating products for acne prone skin?

The SkinCeuticals Retexturing Activator contains 10% urea. This concentration makes it both hydrating and exfoliating. In fact, it can provide better exfoliating results than 20% daily glycolic treatment! It also contains hyaluronic acid and can increase the number of amino acids in the skin.

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So, now we have discussed some of the best hydrating products for acne-prone skin, will you be incorporating any into your routine?

The Best Hydrating Products For Acne Prone Skin Pinterest Graphic




  1. Tfayli, A., Jamal, D., Vyumvuhore, R., Manfait, M. & Baillet-Guffroy, A. (2013). ‘Hydration effects on the barrier function of stratum corneum lipids: Raman analysis of ceramides 2, III and 5’, Analyst, 138(21), 6582-6588. 
  2. Wickett, R. & Visscher, M. (2006). ‘Structure and function of the epidermal barrier’, J. Infect. Control. 34(10), Supplement, pp. S98-S110. 
  3. Yamamoto, A., Takenouchi, K. & Ito, M. (1995). ‘Impaired water barrier function in acne vulgaris’, Arch Dermatol Res., 287(2), 214-218. 
  4. Downing, D., Stewart, M., Wertz, P. & Strauss, J. (1986). ‘Essential fatty acids and acne’, J Am Acad Dermatol., 14(2), 221-225. 
  5. Levin, J. & Miller, R. (2011). ‘A guide to the ingredients and potential benefits of over the counter cleansers and moisturizers for rosacea patients’, J Clin Aesthet Dermatol., 4(8), 31-49. 
  6. Draelos, Z. (2008). ‘Clinical situations conducive to proactive skin health and anti-aging improvement’, J Invest Dermatol Symp Proc., 13(1), 25-27. 


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