by Alexandra Nicole Nuralam

Here’s What to Do When You Have Acne and Dry Skin

Image via @skin__essential

You might think that acne only happens to those with oily skin types, but let it be known that dry skin can break out too—acne in dry skin types isn’t as uncommon as you might think. Since many standard acne treatments have been known to cause dryness and flaking, how then should you approach treating acne if you have dry skin?

Caring for dry, acne-prone skin requires a delicate balance between nourishing the skin while clearing up breakouts in a gentle way. Here are our tips to help you improve both your dry skin and acne.

First off, how does dry skin cause acne?

Of course, everyone knows that excess sebum is a contributing factor to acne, but dry skin can play a role as well. Dryness can prompt your skin to produce more oil, which can lead to clogged pores, and you guessed it, acne. As we age, acne can also start to increase due to hormonal imbalances, stress, diet, environmental factors and genetics. More acne breakouts can start when your skin gradually gets drier—it’s a tough combination to beat.

That’s not to say it’s not treatable; it just takes a certain amount of knowledge—and effort!—to make sure you’re not drying out your skin while trying to get rid of zits. This is where an appropriate skincare routine comes in to help banish acne while addressing dryness.

How can I prevent breakouts when I have dry skin?

Here are some tips to keep in mind when treating breakouts if you struggle with dehydrated skin:

#1: Stick to a regular skincare routine

Find what works—and stick with it. Stick to a consistent routine of cleansing, treating and moisturising. Introducing a new acne product into your routine every few days may seem helpful, but it can actually worsen acne. Acne treatments need time to work. Using a different product every few days can also irritate your skin and cause new breakouts; your skin might end up being caught in a vicious cycle of breaking out and then being too dry.

If a treatment works for you, you should notice some improvement in 4 to 6 weeks.

#2: Opt for a gentle cleanser

Loving that post-cleansing, squeaky clean feeling? It’s bad news for your skin. Harsh cleansers won’t help clear acne faster but will cause dryness. Pay attention to how your skin feels; tight, dry, or itchy skin after cleansing is a sign it’s not the right product for you.

It’s important to choose gentle cleansers that effectively cleanse without stripping the skin. If you’re already using a topical acne treatment, don’t use an acne treatment cleanser (unless your doctor tells you otherwise), since it can cause dryness. Look for hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to help soothe your dry skin.

#3: Choose the right moisturiser

Moisturising is a key step in any skincare routine, but some hydrating products for dry skin may feel too rich for your acne-prone skin or might contain ingredients that can clog your pores. Look for labels like “non-comedogenic” and “non-acnegenic”.

Dry skin and skin with acne have also been associated with lower levels of ceramides that play a key role in the skin’s protective barrier, so keep a lookout for ceramides in the ingredient list.

#4: Beware of stripping your skin

Be careful not to overwhelm your skin with stronger, active ingredients. Hold off on using products with AHAs and BHAs while starting retinols. You can slowly incorporate them into your routine again only when your skin is already tolerating retinols. 

Another tip: Stay away from drying, astringent products, like alcohol-based toners, which can dry out your skin and do little for acne.

How can I treat breakouts when I have dry skin?

It’s best to banish pimples with a targeted treatment so as not to dry out the rest of your skin. Look for spot treatments with antibacterial ingredients like sulfur and zinc oxide.

If over-the-counter treatments aren’t clearing your acne, you may need to seek the help of a dermatologist, who can offer prescription acne treatments.

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