Dry Acne Prone Skincare Guide

Dry Acne Prone Skincare Guide

By Gina Cartwright and Elizabeth G Stratte, MD
Edited By Maren Stratte

When we think of acne, we automatically think of oily, hormonal skin; however, not everyone with acne has oily skin. Dry, acne-prone skin can be frustrating to deal with, and in an effort to dry out your acne, you can end up stripping your skin. This in turn, can disrupt your skin’s barrier function, leading to more acne. It quickly becomes a vicious cycle, but there are ways to help this type of skin. It can seem like a lot of acne fighting products are designed for oily skin types, so here is a guide to address dry, acne prone skin.

Causes of Dry Skin and Acne

Acne and dry skin is very common, yet not commonly talked about. One cause of acne is a skin barrier defect. A compromised skin barrier can appear as dull, textured, with little red bumps, as well as full on "zits", also knows as comedones, and pustules. Products designed to address acne are exfoliants that are meant to cut through oil to address the breakouts including topical acne prescriptions, benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. These can be very drying if used too often but they’re helpful due to their anti-inflammatory properties to treat acne. It’s important to use your products as directed, applying them to the skin too often causes a disrupted skin barrier.


Combat the Dryness

Continue to cleanse twice a day but consider using a gentle, moisturizing cleanser at least once a day like the Obagi Gentle Cleanser or Avène Antirougeurs Clean Refreshing Cleansing Lotion. Sure you may be recommended to use an acne-preventing cleanser such as PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash Benzoyl Peroxide 4% or 10% or Dr. Stratte's favorite drug store buy, Neutrogena Oil-Free Salicylic Acid Acne Fighting Face Wash but using an exfoliating product too many times a day isn't for those with dry skin.

Moisturize... Moisturize…Moisturize!

A common misconception we hear is "moisturizer caused my acne." Not all moisturizers cause acne, it depends on the ingredients that are inside of them. Non-comedogenic is the term to look for on all of your products. It’s important to support your skin barrier with a gentle yet nourishing moisturizer.. Our newest favorite is Avène Tolerance Control Cream. It has a rich, smooth texture that's perfect for those with acne.

If your current moisturizer isn't enough to get rid of the dryness, try adding a hydrating serum before your moisturizers to bring your skin to the moisture level it is needing. A go to in our office is Obagi Daily Hydro-Drops, it has non-comedogenic ingredients like Abyssinian and Hibiscus Oil, plus Niacinamide to address redness and support a healthy skin barrier. For irritated, or itchy skin, we recommend Skin Ceuticals Phyto Corrective Gel. The blend of botanicals help to calm the skin and restore moisture balance.

Alcohol Free Makeup

Some makeup products contain alcohols that are very drying, look for sensitive skin friendly alcohol free, non-comedogenic makeup products such as our preferred brand Jane Iredale. Ingredients to avoid include coconut oil (or coconut anything), lanolin, and mineral oil.

Use the Right Acne Fighting Products For You

Acne looks different on everyone, continue to consult with your Esthetician or Dermatologist as they know what active ingredients and treatments would be the best to try. You cannot rely on a moisturizing skincare routine alone to solve your acne, it's a delicate balance of incorporating both acne fighting and moisturizing products.

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