5 Things You Need To Know If You Have Dry Skin AND Acne

Be kind to your sebum. And stock up on honey.
Publish date:
June 20, 2014
dry skin, honey, manuka honey, face masks, acne, acne awareness month, face peels

If you're like me, you spent your teenage years (and beyond) scooping up any and every beauty mag with coverlines that promised “Clear Skin in 7 Days” or “52 Zit Zapping Tricks!”

But all of the advice was geared toward vacuuming up every trace of evil sebum in my skin. Too bad it wasn't until nearly a decade later that I realized I have naturally dry skin--which can, indeed, get acne--that didn't respond well to conventional, sebum-sucking acne treatments.

Here are five truths I've learned about my dry, acne prone skin:

1. Honey Is The Ultimate Hydrator/Antibacterial

I know you’ve read it a thousand times before, but honey is seriously the best for acneic, dry skin. It's the most super hydrating player in the game, thanks to its humectant properties and soothing antibacterial. I’ve never used anything that works so well at reducing redness and fighting zits while leaving my skin so soft and happy afterwards. Manuka honey may be worth a shot if you want even more antibacterial power (look for a UMF of 16 or higher), although, I find that the regular old clover honey that I pick up at the farmers' market works just as well.

2. Masks Are So Nice You Should Do Them Twice

Sometimes you need an extra powerful acne-fighting treatment, which is where double masking swoops in and saves the day. Most masks aimed at reducing acne are clay-based and designed to suck all the oil and gunk out of your pores. I’ve been testing out Glamglow’s Supermud Mask recently, and while it does a brilliant job of Hulk-smashing my sebaceous filaments, my skin feels mega-dry and tight afterwards. That’s why I like to follow it up with a hydrating sheet mask. I've been really impressed with the Karuna line of masks newly available at Sephora. I’m with Alle in my love for their Clarifying + Face Mask, which soothes and heals breakouts, thanks, in part, to honey (told ya). I’m also loving their hyaluronic acid- and aloe-packed Hydrating + Mask that calms and moistens skin. Using this one-two mask punch lets me reap the benefits of clarifying clay masks without exacerbating my dryness and in turn causing more breakouts.

3. Peels Are Your Friend (Your BEST Friend)

I’m a huge fan of AHAs to treat acne, but it annoys me that most AHA products come in the form of toners and light serums. In theory, you would follow them with a night cream, but you’re supposed to wait a minimum of 20 minutes before moving on to the next step of your routine so you don’t mess with their effective pH range. And since my lazy butt leaves getting ready for bed until the last possible second, I’m already passed out in bed before it’s time to layer that moisturizer on. Wake up looking like one of those creepy desiccated apple dolls a few times and you start looking for another solution, you feel? Enter peels. These things are the best because you leave them on for about five minutes and then wash off and are free to moisturize right away. You get the power of acne fighting acids without having to sacrifice dousing your skin in occlusives ASAP. Makeup Artist’s Choice 25% Mandelic Acid Peel will always be the best skincare product that has ever existed, in my book.

4. To Seal Moisture, Apply It In Layers

I know I just talked about smearing heavy face creams on your mug, but if you’re a fellow dry-skinned acne sufferer, you know that moisturizers come with their own set of problems. Most of the heavier lotions your skin drinks up are made by binding water together with oils using waxes to emulsify. On the other hand, oil-free formulas are often packed with silicones to provide the occlusive factor. Both waxes and silicones are common triggers for clogged pores and acne. Womp womp. Instead, I’ve found success by moisturizing in two separate steps to avoid those clogging binders. First, I spritz on a hydrating mist. My fave is still Thayer’s Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner, which contains soothing rosewater and humectant glycerin. Then, while my skin is still damp, I smooth a few drops of passion fruit oil on top. Bam. Moisture sealed in, skin happy, and no zits.

5. Never Underestimate The Power Of Leaving Things Alone

My last tip is one I’m still learning to follow myself. I know it can be tough, but sometimes the best treatment for acne (with any skin type, really) is to leave that ish alone! My urge is always to slap on as many acne treatments as possible, plus I always have new products I want to try. But putting your skin through the wringer does more harm than good. I’ve learned that the hard way. The more you dry out and irritate your skin with multiple treatments, the more you’re going to break out. So breathe, be patient, and let your skin do its job and heal itself.

All my dry-skinned honeys, what’s your favorite acne treatment?