3 Questions to Consider Before Using Aquaphor To Treat Acne Breakouts

Aquaphor is not comedogenic, which means it will not cause acne breakouts on its own, despite its oily nature. However, depending on your skin type, and current skin care product regimen, Aquaphor could potentially be keeping dirt, oil, and dead skin cells trapped in your pores. 

In this article, we’ll review exactly how Aquaphor can be used as an effective acne treatment when it should be used, how frequently you should use it, potential side effects to be aware of, and alternatives that are likely better for those with acne-prone skin.

1. What is your skin type?

Although Aquaphor is not comedogenic and does not clog pores on its own, its oily and occlusive nature can lead to trapped debris, oil, and dead skin cells in the pores, especially for those with oily or combination skin. If you have acne-prone skin, Aquaphor could inadvertently trap existing debris in your pores. Because of this, we highly recommend patch testing aquaphor on a small area first to see how your skin reacts immediately after washing your face.

Understanding your skin type is essential when choosing products to incorporate into your skincare routine, especially if you have acne-prone skin. The proper skincare regimen for someone with oily skin and acne is completely different from someone who has dry skin and acne.

Aquaphor’s best use case is for people with dry, cracked skin however, it can be an effective acne aid for people with oily skin if they use a facial cleanser immediately before applying Aquaphor. 

It’s crucial to keep in mind that Aquaphor, itself, is not comedogenic (pore-clogging); however, its occlusive properties can inadvertently contribute to the formation of acne if applied on oily or already clogged pores. This is why understanding your skin type is key when determining if Aquaphor can help alleviate your breakouts.

2. What is your current skincare routine?

Your current skincare routine plays a significant role in whether Aquaphor will help with healing acne breakouts. It’s essential to ensure you’re using non-comedogenic and suitable products for your skin type, along with Aquaphor. A consistent cleansing and exfoliating routine will help in preventing the buildup of trapped bacteria that can lead to blackheads and acne breakouts. It’s also important to thoroughly wash your face before you apply Aquaphor to your skin. If you are unable to determine if Aquaphor is a good fit for your skin, you should discuss your concerns with a dermatologist or skincare professional to determine the best course of action for your unique skin.

How Should Aquaphor Be Applied on People With Acne Prone Skin

  1. Wash the face with a non-comedogenic facial cleanser
  2. Pat your face dry with a clean towel
  3. Apply any non-comedogenic serums to increase skin cell turnover (such as retinol)
  4. Coat the skin with a thin layer of Aquaphor

3. Do you have sensitive skin?

The mineral oil, lanolin, and glycerin in Aquaphor are all great for soothing sensitive skin. 

Many people with sensitive skin are unable to use active ingredients like retinol and hyaluronic acid, even though these ingredients can be quite effective at treating acne breakouts.

If you are unable to use products like retinol due to the irritation and discomfort that accompany its use, Aquaphor can serve as a useful alternative for calming the skin while still allowing you to get the benefit of active ingredients. 

As someone who has deal with sensitive skin their entire life, I understand the balancing act of finding products gentle enough for daily use while still effectively addressing acne concerns. 

Aquaphor’s ability to soothe and protect the skin has made it a go-to option for people with sensitive skin in the winter months who deal with dry skin and acne at the same time.

In addition to protecting against bacteria, Aquaphor can also help alleviate some of the symptoms of acne-prone sensitive skin, such as redness, inflammation, and dryness. By providing a moisture boost and soothing irritated skin, the ointment can aid in the overall improvement of skin texture and appearance.

Does Aquaphor have any side effects?

Aquaphor is generally very safe for most people to use on their skin, however everyone is different.

  • Acne Breakouts: If you have excessively oily skin or lots of black heads aquaphor can cause the clogged pores to oxidize, resulting in acne breakouts. This is generally not a problem if you only apply Aquaphor after cleansing your skin.
  • Allergic Reactions: Aquaphor is comprised of mineral oil, petroleum jelly, glycerin, and lanolin oil. Although very few people are allergic to these ingredients, they can cause allergic reactions. This is why its best to spot-test Aquaphor if you have never used it before. 

What are the best alternatives to Aquaphor?

Although Aquaphor can be used as part of an acne skincare routine there are, quite frankly better skincare products we would recommend. Below we have a list of both over-the-counter and natural skincare products

Best Natural Alternatives To Aquaphor

As someone who has dealt with acne breakouts, I’ve researched various natural alternatives to Aquaphor. Here are five options that benefit the skin:

  • Bakuichiol – A natural alternative to retinol, Bakuchiol possesses anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, making it effective in reducing acne and improving skin texture without the usual irritation associated with retinoids.
  • Tea tree oil – Known for its potent antiseptic properties, tea tree oil helps combat acne-causing bacteria, reducing inflammation and preventing new breakouts.
  • Rosehip oil – Rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants, rosehip oil aids in skin regeneration and can help fade acne scars while balancing oil production to prevent future breakouts.
  • Witch hazel – A natural astringent, witch hazel helps in tightening the skin, reducing inflammation, and clearing excess oil, making it effective for acne-prone skin.
  • Aloe vera – Aloe vera has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, which help calm acne flare-ups and reduce skin redness while promoting healing and hydration. Additionally, aloe vera contains antioxidants, enzymes, and vitamins A and C, all working together to calm inflammation and promote healing. 

I’ve experienced the effectiveness of these natural alternatives in my own skincare routine and have seen the successful results copied in dozens of other individuals

Best Over The Counter Alternatives To Aquaphor

Just because a product is “natural” does not automatically make it better. For those with severe cystic breakouts, prescription and over-the-counter treatments can be more effective and mitigate potential scarring. 

  • Hyaluronic Acid – is a natural substance found in our skin that helps to maintain moisture. It has become a popular ingredient in many skincare products due to its ability to hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water. This makes it an excellent choice for hydrating your skin without clogging pores or causing further breakouts. Additionally, it can help to reduce inflammation and promote overall skin health.
  • Retinol – is a derivative of vitamin A, which has been widely used to treat acne and signs of aging. It works by encouraging cell turnover and promoting collagen production, which helps to reduce the appearance of acne scars and improve overall skin texture. While retinol can be highly effective, it is essential that you use it correctly and within recommended guidelines, as it can cause irritation if used improperly.
  • Tretinoin – is another derivative of vitamin A, but it is available by prescription only. It is often used as a more potent alternative to retinol for treating severe acne breakouts and reducing the signs of aging. Tretinoin works similarly to retinol by increasing cell turnover and boosting collagen production. However, it is more potent, which means it can be more effective, but it also has a higher risk of causing side effects such as skin peeling and increased sensitivity.

What is the difference between Aquaphor and Vaseline?

Aquaphor is made up of petrolatum, mineral oil, ceresin, lanolin alcohol, panthenol, glycerin, and bisabolol, whereas Vaseline is 100% petroleum jelly. Because of its ingredient makeup, Aquaphor is significantly better at healing the skin than vaseline, and vaseline serves as a better for locking in moisture and protecting the skin than Aquaphor. Vaseline is also better for anyone who is allergic to Aquaphor. 

Both Aquaphor and Vaseline are often used for slugging, a skincare trend that involves applying an occlusive ointment over your regular nighttime routine. This layer serves as a barrier, trapping and sealing in moisture to provide extra hydration. Though they may seem similar, their ingredients and consistencies set them apart.

In terms of consistency and feel, it’s important to note  that Aquaphor has a slightly lighter texture compared to Vaseline, making it easier to spread across your skin. This characteristic can be particularly appealing if you’re using the product as part of your skincare routine or for slugging purposes.

To sum up, Aquaphor and Vaseline can both suffice for slugging and wound healing, but their ingredients and consistencies differ. Aquaphor contains added components to promote skin healing and has a lighter texture, while Vaseline focuses on creating a strong barrier with its pure petrolatum composition.

What is the difference between Aquaphor and Neosporin?

Neosporin is an antibiotic ointment designed for treating minor skin wounds, such as cuts, scrapes, or burns. It contains three antibiotics including: bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin B. While aquaphor can also help heal the skin, it is not nearly as effective or antibacterial as Neosporin. 

While both Neosporin and Aquaphor can provide relief for irritated skin, their intended purposes significantly differ. Since Neosporin contains antibiotics, it is more suitable for treating open wounds and popped pimples. These antibiotics work to kill bacteria and prevent infection, promoting the healing process. 

However, frequent use of Neosporin on acne can lead to antibiotic resistance, so it’s essential to use it sparingly and only when necessary. 

In contrast, Aquaphor’s primary function is to moisturize and protect the skin. It forms a barrier on the skin surface, locking in moisture and helping to prevent dryness and irritation. For this reason it makes more sense for Aquaphor to be an “everyday” product. 

When Should Aquaphor Be Used in a Skincare Routine?

In my skincare routine, I have found that using Aquaphor is most effective when applied immediately after washing my face. By doing so, I minimize the chances of trapping dirt, oil, or dead skin cells in my pores and prevent anything from passing through the skin barrier.

Before applying Aquaphor, I cleanse my face with a gentle cleanser to remove any impurities and then pat it dry. This ensures that my skin is clean and ready for the hydrating benefits of Aquaphor. If I am using retinoids in my skincare routine, I would apply them before Aquaphor to enhance their effectiveness.

When it comes to moisturizing, it is essential to note that Aquaphor is primarily an occlusive skincare product. This means that it forms a barrier on the surface of the skin to prevent moisture loss. Thus, I find it most beneficial to apply a hydrating product, like a moisturizer, first, and then seal it in with Aquaphor.

What skin conditions is Aquaphor best for?

Although Aquaphor can help relieve symptoms associated with acne prone skin, it’s primarily targeted towards the following skin conditions: 

  • Eczema – Aquaphor acts as a moisture-sealing barrier, helping to prevent the dryness and itching associated with eczema. Its occlusive properties lock in moisture and soothe the skin, aiding the healing process.
  • Psoriasis – The moisturizing ingredients in Aquaphor can alleviate the dry, scaly patches caused by psoriasis. It helps in retaining the skin’s natural moisture, reducing flakiness and discomfort.
  • Allergic reactions – By forming a protective barrier on the skin, Aquaphor can shield irritated skin from environmental irritants and contaminants, helping to reduce further inflammation or reactions from allergens.
  • Diaper rash – Aquaphor can protect a baby’s sensitive skin from the dampness of diapers, reducing the risk of diaper rash. It also soothes and promotes healing in areas where a rash has already developed.
  • Poison ivy – While Aquaphor doesn’t treat the root cause of poison ivy reactions, it can help soothe the itchiness and protect the irritated skin from further environmental aggravation.
  • Tattoo Aftercare – Applying Aquaphor to new tattoos helps prevent scarring and ensures that the ink remains vibrant. The ointment works by creating a barrier that keeps out dirt and bacteria, thus promoting the healing process.
  • Slugging – Aquaphor has recently gained popularity in the skincare trend called “slugging.” Seen on platforms like TikTok, slugging involves applying a thick layer of the ointment on the face before bed to lock in moisture. This technique can help improve the skin’s overall texture and hydration. While it might not be suitable for everyone, it’s worth considering for those with dry or dehydrated skin.

Frequently Asked Questions About Aquaphor & Acne

Does Aquaphor help acne wounds heal?

Aquaphor can help accelerate the healing of acne wounds due to its occlusive properties which create a protective barrier on the skin, retaining moisture and promoting the healing process.

Can Aquaphor reduce acne redness?

Aquaphor may help in reducing acne redness by providing a protective barrier that can prevent further irritation and damage. However, it does not contain any anti-inflammatory ingredients specifically aimed at reducing redness.

Is Aquaphor comedogenic?

Aquaphor is non-comedogenic, which means it will not clog pores or cause acne on its own. If your pores are already clogged aquapohor will prevent sweat and face wash for clearing out your skin which will worsen your breakout. 

Should you use Aquaphor after popping a pimple?

Using Aquaphor after popping a pimple could help in promoting healing by keeping the area moist and protected. However, for one off treatments we recommend using an anitbiotic like Neosporin

Originally Published: October 18, 2023

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sam wood is GoodGlow's Chief Editor
Analyzed by Sam Wood

Hi, I’m Sam Wood, the chief editor, lead acne expert, and health coach at GoodGlow, as well as a best-selling author for one of the top acne books on Amazon. I struggled with acne for over 10 years, and began studying the effects of diet on skin quality while pursuing a degree in Nutrition Sciences at the University of Missouri. After shifting from mainstream skincare trends to in-depth research in medical journals, I experienced significant personal success in managing my acne. This inspired me to start GoodGlow, where I simplify complex scientific findings into easy-to-understand advice. With over 10 years in the field, I’ve helped more than 2,500 people achieve clearer skin through natural, holistic methods, and I’m dedicated to personally assisting those seeking guidance on their acne journey.

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