Can Your Moisturizer Cause Acne? Pore-Clogging Ingredients to Avoid

Can Your Moisturizer Cause Acne? Pore-Clogging Ingredients to Avoid

Explore the truth about moisturizers and acne and unveil the link between skincare and breakouts. Read on to learn more.
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The world of skincare advice can get confusing. Some influencers swear by techniques such as “slugging,” insisting that you should slather your face in petroleum jelly to stay ultra-hydrated. But others will advise you against putting such a thick moisturizer on your skin, asserting that this could worsen  your breakouts.

With so many conflicting opinions on proper skin hydration, what is the truth—can moisturizers cause acne, or is this merely a myth?

Dermatologists agree that moisturizers are essential elements of any well-balanced skincare routine. However, using the wrong kind that has pore-clogging ingredients can create excess oil and exacerbate your acne breakout problems. Read on to learn which ingredients you should look for to maintain a healthy balance between hydration and acne prevention

What Causes Acne?

Before you can understand why certain ingredients can help your acne heal or clog your pores even more, it’s important to know what causes acne in the first place. 

Many underlying factors play a role in the frequency and severity of breakouts, such as: 

But at a basic level, acne forms when our hair follicles become plugged up with excess oil, dead skin cells, and other pollutants.

These small openings in the skin that grow hairs are very important for our wellbeing. They contain sebaceous glands, which are responsible for secreting the oil or sebum that keeps our skin hydrated and healthy. 

But when the pores that pump out this sebum get congested with trapped dirt and debris, a bump can form on the skin, leading to common skin concerns like whiteheads and blackheads. 

These relatively mild blemishes can be annoying enough on their own. But if acne-causing bacteria manages to creep in and contaminate our clogged pores, that’s when the red, inflamed, painful pimples we all know (and certainly don’t love) can pop up. 

Clearly, keeping our pores clean and unclogged is crucial if we want to fend off acne and maintain a healthy skin barrier

Pore-Clogging Ingredients

Have you been adding new so-called skincare holy grails into your regimen without seeing any results? Even worse, has your acne started worsening the more you incorporate certain skincare products into your daily routine?

If yes, then the substances you’re putting on your skin might be doing more harm than good. 

Many skincare products contain hidden pore-clogging ingredients such as: 

  • Cocoa Butter
  • Coconut Oil
  • Shea Butter
  • Lanolin
  • Olive oil
  • Diisostearyl Malate
  • Ethylhexyl Palmitate

We wish we could tell you the full lineup of pore-clogging ingredients was this short, but unfortunately, the list of offenders goes on and on. 

Don’t worry because we’ve got you covered. Check out our CLEARSTEM Pore-clogging Ingredients Checker for a comprehensive list of all the common ingredients you should avoid when looking to invest in a new skincare product that won’t upset acne-prone or sensitive skin. 

Choosing the Right Moisturizer

So, what do moisturizers do exactly? In its most basic form, moisturizers work to improve hydration to the skin barrier. Two of the biggest factors we can control to set our skin up for success are the cosmetics we wear and, you guessed it: the skincare products we use. When looking for a product to help with skin hydration, choose something that will be able to penetrate the skin barrier and add moisture but won't cause irritation. 

Choosing the right moisturizer can make or break your skincare routine because:

  1. No matter how good your cleanser is, layering a greasy, pore-clogging moisturizer over a freshly washed face can counteract your efforts.
  2. Unlike cleansers, which will only make contact with your face for a few moments before being washed off, moisturizers sit on your face for 12 to 24 hours. 
  3. Even when you know the importance of choosing a good moisturizer, all the hard-to-read ingredient names found on the backs of skincare packaging can still be confusing to understand. 

When dealing with dry or dehydrated skin, make sure you are choosing the right ingredients that are going to provide moisture deep into your skin barrier, without leading to clogged pores and oily skin. 

Skincare Tips for Acne-Prone Individuals

When browsing through skincare products, you might have seen the term “non-comedogenic” listed on some moisturizers. 

Comedogenic means that something is pore-clogging, so naturally, products that are classified as non-comedogenic are less likely to lead to blocked pores or comedones. 

Keep in mind that the FDA does not currently regulate the use of the term “non-comedogenic.”Therefore, it’s best to stick with trusted brands founded and run by real skincare experts. 

That’s where CLEARSTEM comes in. Check out our top two recommendations for moisturizing products that will leave your complexion soft and glowy without clogging pores or causing skin irritation: 

  1. Invest in a non-comedogenic moisturizer – The facial skin can be incredibly sensitive. It’s vital to apply the best ingredients to this area to prevent instigating unwanted acne. Our HYDRAGLOW™ Stem Cell Moisturizer makes the perfect daily moisturizer for all skin types, from dry skin to oily skin to combination skin. Enjoy smoother, more hydrated skin, plus reduced fine lines and wrinkles, all with zero pore-cloggers.
  2. Don’t forget to pamper your body – Just like the ones on your face, your body pores can easily become clogged. When moisturizing your body, make sure to invest in products that will hydrate without suffocating your skin. Our SOFTSKIN™ Body Lotion is an ideal choice because it’s safe to use even on your most sensitive, acne-prone areas. For an extra boost of hydration, try our BODYGLOW™ Stem Cell Body Oil. It’s fast-absorbing and packed with both botanical extracts and stem cells to provide some serious skin nourishment. 

Discover Non-Comedogenic Moisturizers from CLEARSTEM 

The last thing you need when you’re trying to build a clean, responsible skincare routine is products that will clog up your pores, instigate acne, and make your skin concerns even more difficult to resolve. 

At CLEARSTEM, we formulate all of our products with advanced dermatological science in mind. You’ll never find any pore-cloggers, toxins, or hormone disruptors in our collection of clean skincare solutions, so you can browse our collection confidently without needing to scrutinize the ingredient list.


Mayo Clinic. Acne.

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Medical News Today. What are noncomedogenic skin care products?