Oil-free Face Lotions

Young beautiful girl applying cream on her cheek
Unusual Skin Care Ingredients Image Gallery Using an oil-free lotion can help you avoid breakouts. See pictures of unusual skin care ingredients.
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Fighting acne is frustrating enough when you're a teenager, but when you're an adult, it's a downright nuisance. You expect to be battling breakouts before the prom -- but not before your wedding. If you're one of the many adults who is still zapping zits, you may know that using an oil-based moisturizer on already oily skin can make things worse. However, there are many oil-free facial lotions formulated to moisturize your skin while keeping the blemishes at bay.

Acne is caused when dead skin cells and sebum -- an oily substance produced by the skin's sebaceous glands -- clog pores. When bacteria are trapped in pores, they can become inflamed, causing pimples [source: WebMD]. Overproduction of sebum can increase the likelihood of breakouts, which is why many cleansers are formulated to control the amount of oil on your skin. However, some soaps can be overly drying -- causing the skin to increase sebum production [WebMD]. Oil-free facial lotions work well on oily or acne-prone skin because they moisturize the skin but are less likely to trigger breakouts than an oil-based lotion [source: WebMD]. If you have acne-prone or oily skin, look for a moisturizer that's both oil-free and noncomedogenic -- meaning it won't clog your pores [source: American Academy of Dermatology].


Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of oil-free moisturizers.

Benefits of Oil-free Face Lotions

If you think you don't need a moisturizer because of your oily skin, think again. The older you are, the more you need to use a moisturizer even if your skin is oily -- oil seals in moisture, but it doesn't replace the moisture you lose as you age [source: WebMD]. Oil-free facial lotions are great for people whose skin is naturally oily and prone to breakouts -- they deliver all the benefits of moisturizers without the pore-clogging ingredients. In fact, some oil-free lotions are even formulated to help prevent acne. An oil-free lotion that contains salicylic acid does double duty -- the moisturizing elements keep your skin from drying out, while the salicylic acid unclogs pores that could form blemishes. Lotions with salicylic acid may work even better than salicylic acid cleansers -- you aren't rinsing the lotion off your face, as you would the cleanser, so it does its job throughout the day [source: Prevention].

If you're an adult with acne and wrinkles, look for oil-free lotions that contain antioxidants, alpha hydroxy acids, retinoids or vitamin C. Antioxidants help fight free radicals, which can cause fine lines and wrinkles [source: Suzman]. Alpha-hydroxy acids help lift the top layer of dead skin cells to reduce the appearance of fine lines, and these acids may also stimulate collagen production. Retinoids reduce the appearance of wrinkles and repair sun damage, and vitamin C can increase collagen production and protect skin from ultraviolet rays [source: Bouchez].


Although there are many benefits to oil-free facial lotions, oil-based moisturizers can also be good for your skin. Read on to learn more.

Are All Face Lotions Oil-free?

Not all face lotions are created equal -- nor are they all oil-free. Different skin types have different needs, and if you've browsed the skin care aisle at the store lately, you know there are products available for every type of skin.

Facial lotions are typically either water-based or oil-based. Water-based lotions are oil-free and work well for people with normal, oily or acne-prone skin. Oil-based moisturizers are good for people with dry skin -- they're heavier than water-based products and contain the oils people with dry skin are missing [source: Davis]. However, just because you have oily skin doesn't necessarily mean you need an oil-free facial lotion. While oil-free lotions are formulated for oily skin, some oil-based moisturizers may still work for you. For example, you could use an oil-based lotion that's a gel -- it's lighter and less greasy than a cream, and it's less likely to clog pores [source: Prevention]. If you've tried dozens of facial lotions and are still having trouble finding the right one for your skin type, ask your dermatologist for a recommendation.


To learn more about oil-free facial lotions, check out the links on the following page.

Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Skin Care for People with Acne." AcneNet. (Accessed 9/20/09) http://www.skincarephysicians.com/acnenet/acneguidelines_new.html
  • Brown, Bobbi. "Care for the Skin You're In." Prevention Magazine. October 27, 2004. (Accessed 9/13/2009) http://www.prevention.com/cda/article/care-for-the-skin-you-re-in/809b88dc78803110VgnVCM10000013281eac____/lifelong.beauty/makeup/bobbi.brown
  • Bouchez, Colette. "23 Ways to Reduce Wrinkles." (Accessed 10/5/09) Keep reading to learn about even more ways an oil-free moisturizer can bring out the best in your skin.
  • Davis, Susan. "10 Winter Skin Care Tips." WebMD. (Accessed 9/20/09) http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/ten-winter-skin-care-tips
  • Libov, Charlotte. "Adult Acne: Why You Get It, How to Fight It." (Accessed 10/5/09) http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/features/adult-acne-why-you-get-it-how-fight-it
  • Prevention Magazine. "Acne." 10/28/04. (Accessed 9/13/2009) http://www.prevention.com/cda/article/acne/3aba88dc78803110VgnVCM10000013281eac____/health/conditions.treatments/acne/0/0/2
  • Prevention Magazine. "Clear Skin for Grown-Ups." 2007. (Accessed 9/12/2009) http://www.prevention.com/cda/article/clear-skin-for-grown-ups/df673116c61e8110VgnVCM20000012281eac____/lifelong.beauty/anti.aging.arsenal/facial.care/0/0/2
  • Prevention Magazine. "We Look 10 Years Younger." 11/15/08. (Accessed 9/12/2009) http://www.prevention.com/cda/article/we-look-10-years-younger/fd4b642bc21ad110VgnVCM10000013281eac____/lifelong.beauty/anti.aging.arsenal/0/0/0/3
  • Suzman, Leesa. "Look 7 Years Younger." WebMD. (Accessed 9/20/09) http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/features/seven-years-younger
  • WebMD. "Oily Skin: Solutions That Work -- No Matter What Your Age." (Accessed 10/5/09) http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/features/oily-skin-solutions-that-work?page=2
  • WebMD. "Skin Conditions: Teenage Acne." (Accessed 9/20/09) http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/teenage-acne