Read your labels. This is the single most important step in choosing the right moisturizer. If you have oily skin or are prone to breakouts, choose a moisturizer labeled oil-free and noncomedogenic or non-acnegenic. Oil-free products don't have added oils that can leave a heavy, greasy feel to the skin. Noncomedogenic products are much less likely to clog the pores and cause breakouts.
Also, when choosing your moisturizer remember that creams are generally heavier than moisturizing lotions. If you want a lighter product, go with a lotion.
Know if your moisturizer contains exfoliating ingredients. Many moisturizers contain
alpha hydroxy acids, retinol, salicylic acid, or other exfoliating ingredients. These ingredients could be helpful in improving acne, especially mild or comedonal acne, by increasing cell turnover.
But if you are using a topical acne medication, moisturizers with these ingredients can irritate the skin, and may increase peeling and flaking. In this case, it's better to use a moisturizer without exfoliating ingredients unless your dermatologist recommends it.
If your skin is sensitive, choose a hypo-allergenic, fragrance-free formulation. Fragrances can irritate skin that is already sensitive or acne-inflamed. And if you're dealing with extremely dry, peeling skin caused by acne medications, highly fragranced moisturizers may burn or sting when applied. Your best bet is to choose a fragrance free, hypo-allergenic product. Be aware that unscented is not the same as fragrance-free.
Don't forget the SPF. So many moisturizers now contain SPF, and it's a simple and easy way to be sure to get your sun protection. Using a sunscreen daily will help protect your skin from aging and skin cancer. This is especially important if you are using acne treatments that cause photosensitivity, or increase your sensitivity to the sun. Some common acne treatments that increase photosensitivity include (but aren't limited to):
Get advice from the pros. If you're still feeling overwhelmed with the sheer number of choices available, don't be afraid to ask a professional for advice. Ask your dermatologist what s/he recommends. Your esthetician can also suggest moisturizers suitable for oily skin, and will have them available for sale.
Go with results and not price. Remember, you don't have to pay an exorbitant amount to get a good quality moisturizer. Give more weight to how the moisturizer makes your skin feel. If you love your luxuriously priced moisturizer, use it and enjoy it. But if you'd rather spend less, that's OK too. An inexpensive product can work just as well as the pricey brand names.
"Cosmeceutical Facts & Your Skin." American Academy of Dermatology. Schaumburg, IL, 2004.
Lynde CW. "Moisturizers: what they are and how they work." Skin Therapy Letter. 2001 Dec; 6(13):3-5.