7 Best Moisturizers for Accutane Users with Dry Skin [2021]

7 Best Moisturizers for Accutane Users with Dry Skin

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best moisturizers for accutane
In a hurry? Here are our top picks:


ZELEN Life Moisturizer


Bioderma Hydrabio Cream

Accutane is a widely used oral treatment for nodulocystic and severe acne. It has been around for decades and is also known as isotretinoin.

While it works very well to prevent acne scarring and treat severe nodules and cysts associated with acne, it can also be very drying to the skin. In fact, the most common side effect from treatment with Accutane is dry skin that often peels, which feels irritated and sensitive.

Thus we have come up with a list to help with moisturizing and hydrating the skin while on Accutane treatment–the best moisturizers for Accutane users who are experiencing dry skin.

Our list is designed to help restore your skin’s moisture after treatment with Accutane, which is a strong medication that shrinks and dries out the sebaceous glands, leaving the skin sometimes irritated, peeling and sensitive.

In our review, we analyzed the 7 best moisturizers for Accutane that keep your skin moisturized without interfering with your acne treatment.

You may read further to find a detailed review of each item, its highlights, and unique features, ingredients that may be beneficial, items to consider, and who they are best suited for.

We also address possible frequently asked questions and considerations regarding skin type and individual scenarios.

Quick summary

bb2-table__imageZELEN Life Moisturizer
  • Organic plant-based formula, packed with vitamins and antioxidants
  • Light non-greasy texture, absorbs and hydrates fast
  • Soothes acne, helps dry, sensitive and irritated skin
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bb2-table__imageBioderma Hydrabio Cream
  • Rich formula provides long-lasting hydration
  • Hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic
  • Encourage skin cell regeneration
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bb2-table__imageMurad Hydration Hydro-Dynamic Ultimate Moisture
  • Ultra-hydrating for dry skin
  • Non-greasy and lightweight
  • Rejuvenating anti-aging properties
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bb2-table__imageDermalogica Calm Water Gel
  • Gel texture absorbs smoothly and locks in moisture
  • Water-based formula, suitable for acne sufferers
  • Helps calm skin and reduce signs of redness
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bb2-table__imageL’Occitane Ultra-Rich Comforting Cream
  • Super enriched cream, 25% shea butter
  • Eliminates dry, peeling and flaking skin
  • Provides long-lasting moisture all day
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bb2-table__imageELEMIS Superfood Cica Calm Hydration Juice
  • Gel-based formula glides on the skin easily
  • Contains Cica, an effective prebiotic
  • Soothes, hydrates and refreshes skin
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bb2-table__imageBioderma Atoderm Cream
  • Excellent tolerance, suitable for all skin types
  • Nourishes skin and improves its barrier
  • Gives 24-hour moisture
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Before you buy: 3 things to consider when purchasing a moisturizer for Accutane

Before buying a moisturizer to use with Accutane, there are a few items to consider. Moisturizers to use with Accutane are geared towards intense hydration of the skin as the medication shrinks your sebaceous glands, leading to dryness, including possible peeling and irritation.

As a result, these moisturizers should be more nourishing and hydrating than others. Their main function is to restore the skin barrier so that your skin remains healthy and intact during treatment. Here are a few things to know before buying a moisturizer for Accutane for yourself.

1. Skin type

Classifying and knowing your skin type is very important before choosing a new skincare product. Also, it is important to note that your skin type might change after beginning treatment with Accutane.

If you have oily skin, you may go for a more lightweight moisturizer, while if you have dry skin, you may need a thicker, more soothing emollient.

It is also important to realize if you have sensitive skin; if you tend to break out into a rash or begin flushing after applying something topically, you may fall into this category.

Other signs of possible sensitive skin include frequent outbreaks of dermatitis, unwanted peeling or irritation, and flares with wheals, hives, or urticaria, or even acne in response to a new skincare product.

Paying attention to what symptoms or signs you may experience is also very important. If your skin stings or experiences a burning sensation after applying a new topical product, it is vital to take note and discontinue its use.

Being fully aware of your skin type will help you and your dermatologist guide your skincare regimen and will help you decide which moisturizer to use along with Accutane may be best for you.

2. Skincare regimen

Another essential point to consider before choosing which moisturizer to use with Accutane is figuring out how it will fit into your skincare regimen.

Are you using too many items on your skin? What is your overall goal? While one of the treatment goals in choosing moisturizers to use with Accutane is to nourish the skin and restore the skin barrier, what other goals, needs, or wants do you have in mind that you seek in a skincare product?

Some individuals would like to improve their skin’s pigmentary changes, while others would like a rejuvenating effect. Jotting down a few goals and notes about what you seek in your ideal skincare regimen will help you narrow down what you wish to gain from a product.

3. Treatment course with Accutane

Last but not least, it is crucial to evaluate how a moisturizer to use with Accutane will fit into your medical treatment plan. It is best to ask your dermatologist how he or she thinks you may implement this moisturizer.

Most treatment courses with Accutane can last several months, about 6-8 months on average, which is a very long time for most people. Doses generally begin low and may be increased according to an individual’s progress and response to treatment.

Sometimes people with more chronic and rare, difficult-to-manage dermatologic issues are kept at very low doses for longer periods of time.

These factors need to be taken into account, as longer and higher dosed treatment regimens with Accutane will often need a more aggressive and long-term moisturizing regimen.

The 7 best moisturizers for Accutane

The best moisturizers for Accutane include not only those that hydrate and nourish the skin but also those that are strong enough to restore the skin barrier, avoid peeling and irritation, and not interfere with your treatment with Accutane.

Here are our top 7 moisturizers to use with Accutane.

1. ZELEN Life Moisturizer

ZELEN Life-Moisturizer

Best features:

  • Non-comedogenic, good for acne-prone skin
  • Free of chemicals, animal testing, environmentally friendly and vegan formula
  • Lightweight and non-greasy formula with fast absorption

The best moisturizer for:

Accutane users in need of a fast-absorbing, organic formula.


The ZELEN Life Moisturizer is a lightweight formulation ideal for sensitive skin undergoing treatment with Accutane. It is made of the highest quality ingredients to promote motorization in the skin and integration with your skincare routine.

It can be applied in the morning and after your face wash routine to seal in the moisture. Its hydration lasts the entire day, but it can be used multiple times a day as needed.

It has a non-greasy weightless formula that leaves the skin smooth. It is also free of parabens, sulfates, fragrances, petrochemicals, and synthetic colors. Its ingredients are plant-based and organic, and it is also a hypoallergenic moisturizer for those with sensitive skin.

Its key ingredients include jojoba, clary sage, and calendula, which protect the skin from external influences, strengthening the skin barrier. It is also cruelty-free and not tested on animals.

Clary sage is an herb found in the Mediterranean with anti-inflammatory properties to prevent irritation. It is also antibacterial, used in wound healing after a trauma or skin infections with bacteria such as Staphylococcus.(1)

Calendula is an oil derived from marigolds, which reduces redness and acts as a natural antiseptic.(2) Jojoba is a plant-based oil that helps fight aging and acne while also speeding up wound healing.(3)

It regulates sebum from sebaceous glands, helping to control acne flares while on treatment with Accutane while also helping improve moisturization by simulating sebum on our skin.(3)

This product’s key ingredients are jojoba, calendula, and clary sage, making it suitable for most skin types. These ingredients also protect the skin from the daily elements by strengthening the skin barrier. It is also cruelty-free and not tested on animals in any way.

The good:

  • Contains plant-based, organic ingredients that are hypoallergenic
  • Essential ingredients include antioxidants, vitamins, and essential fatty acids to nourish the skin
  • Leaves skin moisturized and hydrated with a smoothing, calming, and soothing effect

Things to think about:

  • Does not have sunscreen or SPF
  • Mattifying finish, which is desirable by most except if you are going for a shiny look on the face

Bottom line:

This is the moisturizer of choice with individuals who are undergoing intense treatment with Accutane for severe acne. It has an organic, plant-based lightweight formula that calms the skin and soothes inflamed and dry areas while providing the skin with much needed enriched hydration.

2. Bioderma Hydrabio Cream

Bioderma Hydrabio Cream

Best features:

  • Promotes rejuvenation of the skin
  • Key ingredients include salicylic acid, a keratolytic commonly used in over-the-counter skincare products for acne-prone skin
  • Promotes radiant skin

The best moisturizer for:

Those with dry skin.


Bioderma’s Hydrabio Cream is a rich formula that hydrates particularly dry skin, especially overnight. Its unique ingredients include an Aquagenium formal, which is patented and is designed to improve the moisturization of the skin for lasting hydration.

This cream also contains apple seed extract as well as niacinamide to help restore radiance and to moisturize. It is specifically designed for dry and sensitive skin types.

Salicylic acid, also one of its key ingredients, helps to exfoliate the skin and remove dead cells off the skin’s surface, gradually allowing new skin to appear for a more radiant and youthful appearance.

This formula also contains apple seed extracts, which are being investigated for antioxidant and anti-aging benefits.(4)

It also helps to stimulate aquaporins in the skin to allow for the absorption of water and moisture within the cells, facilitate long-lasting hydration, and lock in moisture in the epidermis.

Niacinamide, which is also present, helps strengthen the skin, making the skin barrier impermeable and resistant to insults.(5) It also contains vitamin E, which helps to fight aging and protect our outer layer of skin against signs of stress and reactive oxygen species.(6)

The antioxidant properties of niacinamide have been studied clinically in addition to its role in improving the skin barrier of the epidermis, decreasing signs of hyperpigmentation and dyschromia, and reducing wrinkles and fine lines.(5)

It has also been shown to improve elasticity in the skin, decrease redness, and diminish unwanted yellowish discoloration.(5)

The good:

  • Hypoallergenic formula
  • Non-comedogenic, ideal for acne-prone skin
  • Free of parabens

Things to think about:

  • The richness of the product may feel too thick for some individual preferences
  • Not fragrance-free; it is a scented formula

Bottom line:

This moisturizer is ideal for dry skin, which is often prevalent after Accutane treatment. It is also hypoallergenic and can enrich dull, dry skin in need of aggressive hydration.

3. Murad Hydration Hydro-Dynamic Ultimate Moisture

Murad Hydration Hydro-Dynamic Ultimate Moisture

Best features:

  • Provides a non-greasy formula that maintains moisture
  • Contains rejuvenation benefits to fight aging
  • Provides a high level of skin hydration

The best moisturizer for:



The Murad Hydration Hydro-Dynamic Ultimate Moisture topical cream is a unique lightweight formula that provides skin hydration for dry skin. Its main active ingredients contain shea butter, avocado, sunflower, coconut extract, hyaluronic acid, and olive fruit oils.

It relieves dry skin while the presence of hyaluronic acid helps to restore suppleness and rejuvenate your complexion.(12)

Hyaluronic acid is a key component of the dermis, which decreases with aging.(12) Its addition helps to diminish fine lines and wrinkles, making aging less noticeable and promoting a more youthful appearance.(12)

Coconut extract and olive fruit oils help moisturize and lock in moisture, which soothes dry skin.(20)

This topical can be mixed with foundation, makeup, and skin highlighters for a glowing result and appearance. It can also be applied on several skin types, including oily, combination, dry or sensitive skin.

Importantly, it is also free of parabens, sulfates, animal testing, phthalates, and gluten.

The good:

  • Instant hydration with an enriching formula
  • Lightweight and not greasy
  • Clinically proven to moisturize the skin

Things to think about:

  • This product also does not contain sunscreen or SPF, so an additional sunscreen will need to follow after its use
  • While it serves as a good moisturizer for the skin, it is best to avoid using around the eyes, which is a sensitive area

Bottom line:

This moisturizer has anti-aging benefits in a lightweight formula that is hydrating and not greasy. It locks in moisturization and is comforting on the skin. It can be applied to the face, neck, and the rest of the body, though care should be taken to avoid sensitive areas such as the eyes. It is best followed by the application of sunscreen for sun protection.

4. Dermalogica Calm Water Gel

Dermalogica Calm Water Gel

Best features:

  • Water-based formula which is ideal for acne-prone skin
  • Gel vehicle settles in smoothly, allowing for diffuse, even spread
  • Locks in moisture providing hydration to dry and irritated skin

The best moisturizer for:

Those looking for water-based skincare.


Dermalogica’s Calm Water Gel formula is a light moisturizer geared to hydrate sensitive and dry skin. This is particularly important during specific periods of time, such as when undergoing treatment with Accutane, where the skin feels dehydrated, tight, and irritated.

Its water-based gel formulation provides an alternate vehicle to lock in moisture while its lightweight feel is suitable for oily and combination skin.

This formula provides a weightless feel to help restore the skin barrier against any external threats to its health. It also has hyaluronic acid technology to improve moisturization and target aging, promoting rejuvenation in the skin.

Its main ingredients include glycerin and apple fruit extract to hydrate and soften the skin against harshness in the environment and dryness.(7)

Cactus pear extract, which is also present, also helps promote properties that bind water and support hydration in the skin while also reducing skin sensitivity and irritability.(11)

It also contains vitamins, amino acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and polyphenols, which each have antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory advantages.(11)

Hyaluronic acid helps to promote immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties, wound healing, skin cancer prevention, anti-inflammatory benefits, and promotes repair of the skin.(12)

The good:

  • Water-based emollient
  • Free of parabens, gluten, animal testing
  • Vegan formula which soothes redness

Things to think about:

  • While useful, this product is at a higher price point than most other comparable products on the list.
  • It also does not contain sun protection or sunscreen, so a sunscreen with SPF must be used in addition to this product if using it in the daytime

Bottom line:

This is an excellent moisturizer for dry skin in individuals who are seeking an alternative formulation such as a gel or those with acne-prone skin who may benefit from water-based skincare products.

5. L’Occitane Ultra-Rich Comforting Cream

L’Occitane Ultra-Rich Comforting Cream

Best features:

  • Very rich cream with shea butter
  • Reduces dryness and tightness in the skin
  • Ideal for very dry skin as it locks in moisture all-day

The best moisturizer for:

All-day moisturizing.


L’Occitane’s Ultra-Rich Comforting Cream helps to hydrate very dry skin by locking in moisture. It is particularly designed to soothe skin that is desperately in need of intense nourishment.

Its key ingredients include shea butter; it contains 25% of this ingredient to reinforce hydration for dry skin. Shea butter is an antioxidant, is also anti-inflammatory, and is derived from the seeds of the shea tree and extracted from plant fat.(8)

It has been used for centuries as a moisturizer as it contains vitamin E, karitene, and omega 6, which leave the skin hydrated.(8) It can be used on the skin at any time.

This cream also contains sunflower seed oil and horse chestnut seed extract, among other ingredients to help keep the skin soft and reduce tightness.(9)

It also contains sunflower seed properties and horse chestnut seed extract, which contains saponins, which have anti-inflammatory benefits, reduce swelling and fragility of blood vessels.(10) They are known to have a gentle feel and are also known as “aescin.”(10)

The good:

  • Contains shea butter, a natural moisturizer which has been studied and used for centuries
  • Reduces dryness, peeling, scaling, and flaking of the skin
  • Results show a youthful, nourished appearance

Things to think about:

  • This product is rather costly given its size (1.7 ounces), although it is elegantly and smartly packaged
  • According to several consumer reviews, it may leave a thick coating on the skin after use, making it difficult to apply makeup or other skincare products afterwards

Bottom line:

This moisturizer is ideal for sensitive and dry skin with extra irritation, scale, or peeling. It is optimal for those in search of a rich moisturizer for intense hydration.

6. ELEMIS Superfood Cica Calm Hydration Juice

ELEMIS Superfood Cica Calm Hydration Juice

Best features:

  • Formulation is gel-based, which spreads easily on the skin
  • Ingredients soothe and hydrate the skin effectively
  • Ingredients include Cica, which is bio-transformed and calms the skin

The best moisturizer for:

Those in need of feeling refreshed.


This gel-based formula leaves skin cool, refreshed, and moisturized with its star ingredient, the biotransformed Cica. Its formulation is free of parabens, silicones and is also vegan.

The formula is rich in antioxidants, including aloe vera and cucumber extract to provide a cool, refreshed feel. Other key ingredients include mandarin, kiwi, and green fruit waters to help skin look bright while other antioxidants helps to soothe the skin and prevent oxidation of free radicals.

Aloe vera is a key main ingredient that has been studied and used for centuries to soften and moisturize the skin.(13) Bergamot is an essential oil that has popular sedative properties and is also antimicrobial.(14)

Cucumber helps to regulate and tighten the skin, providing a refreshed and soothing feel along with hydration.(15) Orange essential oils are soothing and calming, along with sunflower seed oil, which contains soothing and moisturizing benefits for the skin.(16)

Coconut oil may be used as a soft emollient that does not leave the skin greasy, in addition to other benefits.(17) Spearmint, which is also present, has an attractive aroma and soothes olfactory senses through a pleasant experience.(18)

Its bio-transformed Cica, also known as tiger grass in traditional Chinese medicine or Centenella Asiatica by its scientific name, is an antioxidant that helps to reduce redness and helps the appearance of dehydrated skin.(19)

Glycerin is a well-known ingredient present in many skincare products that moisturize and locks water into the skin, leaving it hydrated and supple.(7)

The good:

  • Gel-based moisturizer with a prebiotic formula
  • Contains Cica, a soothing bio-transformed prebiotic ingredient
  • Leaves the skin refreshed, calm, and moisturized

Things to think about:

  • Some individuals prefer a cream to a gel, although gels leave the skin feeling cool, calm, and refreshed. Others may prefer the more classic types of moisturizer vehicles, such as emollients, lotions, and creams

Bottom line:

This moisturizer is a gel-based vehicle with pre-biotics formulated with Cica to hydrate the skin and leave it cool and refreshed. It can be used on the face, neck, and chest for a better, hydrated complexion.

7. Bioderma Atoderm Cream

Bioderma Atoderm Cream

Best features:

  • Improves skin barrier
  • Nourishing ingredients that soften and moisturize
  • Moisturizes for 24 hours

The best moisturizer for:

Those with very dry, sensitive skin.


The Bioderma Atoderm Cream for very dry or sensitive skin provides immediate and lasting moisturization, leaving the skin supple and soft. It is very well tolerated and suitable for most skin types, although it is geared to very dry or sensitive skin. It is free of fragrances and is also non-comedogenic, not sticky, and absorbs quickly.

This product contains a skin protect trademarked complex, which has vitamin PP and combines two sugars to leave the skin healthy, maintain the skin barrier, and our natural water reserves.

Vitamin PP enhances suppleness in the skin by improving the skin barrier. Sugars optimize water reserves in the skin and facilitates water flow for 24-hour hydration.

It also targets the synthesis of hyaluronic acid. Glycerin helps to lock in moisture within the skin.(7) The DAF patented natural complex helps increase our skin’s tolerance threshold regardless of skin type to help strengthen resistance.

This patent was designed in Aix-en-Provence and developed in Bioderma’s own laboratories.

The good:

  • Good for the entire family
  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Contains nourishing ingredients

Things to think about:

  • While its product formulation is excellent, the cream comes with a pump which sometimes malfunctions, according to customer reviews. It is important to know what to do if the pump does not work, as it will be difficult to use the product if this item breaks

Bottom line:

The Atoderm Cream is geared for very dry or sensitive skin but is suitable for all skin types with nourishing ingredients. It helps restore the skin barrier, softening the skin from its initial use for up to 24 hours.

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How we chose these products

To come up with this review, we analyzed many characteristics that comprise the best moisturizers that can be used with Accutane. We considered ingredients, trying to choose the most natural and organically based products with proven efficacy.

Thus, most of the items in our selection are free of parabens, sulfates, synthetic chemicals, and animal testing.

We also highlighted and researched each ingredient’s efficacy, using evidence-based medicine, systematic reviews, and clinical trials that were conducted by key opinion leaders in dermatology, which can be found in the references.

We implemented our knowledge base as dermatologists who treat hundreds of patients on Accutane and deciphered their needs and wants while on acne treatment to see what the predominant skin types are.

We included rich, hydrating moisturizers that nourish potentially dry and irritated acne-prone skin and can restore the important skin barrier during their medical treatment.

This review also analyzes other potential skin concerns while on Accutane treatment for acne, including anti-aging, peeling due to dryness, irritant dermatitis, dyschromia, and hyperpigmentation.

There are also various choices spanning everyone’s budget range to make sure that the choices are generally affordable and accessible to most.

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

How do I know which product is right for my skin?

It is important to know how your skin will react to a new product and if you can tolerate it. Before using a skincare product, I actually apply a very small amount to an area that is not near the face, such as the foot.

Then I will generally leave it on for a few hours, sometimes overnight. If I do not experience a tingling, burning, or flushing sensation to the product, I know that my face can likely tolerate it.

About 1-2 days later, I will then apply a greater amount to my arm or foot and conduct the same test. This is an individual version of patch testing that I have learned to do on my own.

If the product passes this test a second time, I will then test it on my face and apply a pea-sized amount, distributing evenly and avoiding sensitive areas such as the eyes.

If it does not cause an inflammatory reaction, redness, scaling, peeling, or irritability of the skin, it is ok to use. If you have any doubts about whether a product can be used with your Accutane treatment or if you will tolerate it, it is best to ask your dermatologist for his or her professional opinion.

What can I do if my skin continues to feel dry?

Is your skin continuing to feel dry despite using many moisturizers while on treatment with Accutane? If your skin continues to feel too dry or irritated despite loading many moisturizers and emollients on the affected areas, you may want to apply a thicker emollient for more aggressive moisturization.

Such as Vaseline petrolatum, one of the most potent moisturizers available. While many people do not like Vaseline because it makes the skin feel greasy and is often messy.

Petrolatum, along with your regular moisturizers, might be the key missing factor in restoring your skin barrier and helping your skin heal after a very drying treatment such as with isotretinoin.

If your skin continues to experience dryness, peeling, and irritation despite your best efforts, it is best to seek further evaluation and management from your dermatologist.


Accutane is commonly used to treat severe and nodulocystic acne and acne associated with scarring. Its mechanism of action involves making the sebaceous glands which produce sebum smaller.

This undoubtedly leads to dry, sensitive, and irritated skin in most people. It is imperative to have a reliable moisturizing skincare regimen to avoid over-drying the skin while on acne treatment, one of the most common side effects.

Have you been on Accutane before, and if so, what is the best moisturizer you found to deal with dry, peeling skin?

If you found alternative ways to help keep your skin moisturized and hydrated while on this treatment, please share your experience with us, we would like to know.

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About The Author

Dr. Anna Chacon MD FAAD
Dr. Anna Chacon MD FAAD

Board-Certified Dermatologist

Dr. Anna Chacon is a board-certified dermatologist from Miami, based in South Florida. She graduated from Brown University’s highly selective Program in Liberal Medical Education. She completed her dermatology residency at the University of Southern California, where she learned firsthand about skin disorders that others only read about. She loves to write, see patients, and practice all aspects of dermatology.

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