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Dry skin and acne

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If you have acne, the chances are, you also have oily skin - acne and oily skin often go together, like some kind of unwelcome coupling at an intimate dinner party - irritating and annoying.

But some people suffer the effects of dry skin along with their acne. So why is this, and what can be done about this dual skin problem? As ever, here’s all the facts you need to know...

How can dry skin cause acne?

Oily skin can cause acne by producing too much of the natural waxy substance produced by the skin, called sebum. When sebum is in excess, it can block the pores and trap dirt and cellular debris, which will lead to the development of the whiteheads, blackheads and pus filled spots that are common among acne sufferers.

But acne can be caused by anything blocking the pores, and in the case of dry skin, tiny flakes of skin are shed and can block the pores, leading to the same acne symptoms as those with oily skin.

Why am I getting pimples when my skin is dry?

When the skin is dry, it can flake and peel, and even if you moisturise, these flakes of skin can become lodged in the pores. If you have acne prone skin, these pore blockages will lead to pimples which in turn can lead to a full acne breakout.

What should I do if I have dry acne prone skin?

The first step in looking after dry skin that is also acne prone, is to take a holistic approach. Finding out what might be causing your dry skin and acne will help you make any necessary lifestyle changes that might help to heal your dry skin without risking an acne breakout.

For skincare a good place to start looking is at our range of alkalising skincare that has been developed with skin just like yours (and, incidentally, ours) in mind.

Which face wash is good for dry skin with pimples and acne?

What is the best bar soap for dry, acne prone skin? None! We don’t recommend using a bar of soap and water to cleanse your dry, acne prone skin. Instead, we recommend a creamy cleanser that hydrates as it gently cleanses the skin of dirt, grime, oil and makeup.

Our Clean Slate Cream Cleanser has been developed using shea oil and cocoa butter, that gently lift away impurities, with added plant botanicals to soothe the skin.

What is the best moisturiser for acne and dry skin?

A good face cream for dry, acne prone skin is a gently hydrating moisturiser, free from harsh chemical ingredients that will strip the skin of valuable oils. Our Sidekick Day Cream is ideal for during the day, followed by our Midnight Feast Night Cream at night before bed.

How to hydrate really sensitive and dry acne prone skin?

These same products, developed with stressed out, acne prone skin in mind, will also help to hydrate very sensitive and dry skin. We developed all of our products to support and nourish the needs of all types of skin, especially those affected by dryness, and acne breakouts.

Is it good to exfoliate dry and acne prone skin daily?

We advise being mindful of over exfoliating and using skin products designed explicitly for acne prone skin. Over exfoliating will irritate the skin, potentially leading to further dryness. Whilst acne products are usually designed to reduce sebum production, which will dry the skin even further.

What is the best face mask for dry but acne prone skin?

Just like the best moisturiser for dry, acne prone skin, you’ll need a face mask that is hydrating, but gentle and made using natural, plant based ingredients. Avoid any designed for oily, acne prone skin, as they’ll strip essential moisturising oils from your skin.

Which concealer is the best for dry skin with acne prone skin?

It’s best to use a hydrating concealer that's lightweight and non pore blocking (known as non comedogenic) to help satisfy the dry and acne prone areas of your skin.

What is the best foundation for dry acne prone sensitive skin?

Just like your concealer, choose a foundation that supports both sides to your non conformist skin.

Why does acne appear on sensitive and dry skin?

Acne won’t always develop in dry skin conditions. But if your skin is sensitive, and dry, and you’re prone to developing acne, then you may suffer more.

The spots associated with acne breakouts will become worse on sensitive, dry skin if you use a product that is too harsh for the sensitive side of your skin. Products that contain heavy moisturising agents designed for dry skin could be too much, and lead to a clogging of the pores, and acne.

How to stop dry skin and acne?

Using our products recommended here, whilst eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, getting plenty of mood boosting fresh air and avoiding stress where possible could be the answer your dry, acne prone skin needs.

How to treat acne caused by dry skin?

However, if this combination of skincare and lifestyle changes doesn’t help and you’re still experiencing acne breakouts, then you could start to think about other acne treatments such as the contraceptive pill or antibiotics.

Our articles on acne and the contraceptive pill and acne and antibiotics provide detailed information on how these might work for you and any potential side effects to look out for.

How to get rid of acne and acne scars on sensitive dry skin?

If you’ve previously had moderate to severe acne, you may have developed some light scarring or pitting of your skin.

Treating acne scarring can be difficult if the scars are very deep, red or pitted. Many people find that glycolic or salicylic acid chemical face peels help. These work by removing the uppermost layer of skin, revealing the fresh new skin underneath. They also help to stimulate collagen production which plumps the skin from beneath, helping to ‘fill in’ scarring.

However, these products, especially salicylic acid, can be quite drying, and may aggravate already dry skin. If in doubt, speak to a qualified practitioner who is experienced in giving chemical face peels. You may find the glycolic acid, which is a little more gentle, is more suited to your dry skin.

We wish you all the best for your dry, acne prone skin! 


Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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