It seems counterintuitive that dehydrated skin breaks out, but my combination complexion is dry AF this winter—and I’m also having a serious case of acne. What gives? Well, when temperatures drop, so too does the humidity—and most of us are using our heaters at home and in our cars. Wind, dry climate, plus processed heat is a recipe for parched and pained skin. And when our complexion gets too dry, our oil glands actually start producing more oil to balance things out. Herein lies the problem: the top layer of our skin is dry so the oil is getting trapped underneath, hence the breakouts.
To get your skin in check, it’s imperative to go back to the basics. Leave out the oil-stripping products, add back in healthy moisture, don’t pick (easier said than done, I get it), and give your skin time to heal. Results won’t happen overnight. Patience—and some hero products—is key. Here are my 10 dry-weather acne tips.
1. Use a humidifier. Adding moisture to your room and thus your skin is a simple and effective way to combat a case of dryness. If you’re not doing this yet, this is your reminder.
2. A pH-balancing face wash is a must. I know, you think a harsh face wash will dry out the acne, but remember, your skin is already so dehydrated and in desperate need of some gentle love and affection. A pH-balancing face wash will clean the debris without stripping the skin. I’m using Peach & Lily, IS Clinical, and Living Libations Frankincense Honey Mask, which is also a great all-natural cleanser, all on rotation.
Frankincense Honey Mask
3. Use toner to remove excess pore-clogging debris and makeup. It’s so important to get your skin entirely clean, but just as important not to strip it. So stay away from the intense acids (glycolic, salicylic, etc.), and instead try a pH-balancing toner like Living Libations Frankincense Face Tonic or just good old-fashioned fragrance-free witch hazel.
Frankincense Face Tonic
4. Exfoliator or retinol—but don’t use both! I prefer a retinol (try Root Science Botanic-A; I use a prescription-strength retinoid from the dermatologist), but a chemical exfoliator is great too. Use a few times a week, work your way up to every day, and slough that dry skin away, without aggressive scrubbing. Absolutely no physical exfoliators when you’re having an acne bout. A physical exfoliant can potentially spread the acne-causing bacteria to other areas of your face.
5. Moisturize without comedogenic oils. Your first instinct may be to slather any oil on your skin, but comedogenic oils aren’t kind to breakout-prone complexions. I like ingredients like jojoba oil, which is balancing, and hyaluronic acid, which holds 100 times its weight in water and is so gentle. Try Living Libations Best Skin Ever Seabuckthorn. Just add a few drops to our Hora x Poosh Hyaluronic Halo for serious moisture sans breakout-inducing ingredients. I then seal it all in with a super basic, oil-free moisturizer.
Best Skin Ever Seabuckthorn Cleaning Oil
6. Give your skin love from the inside. This means supplements. We wrote an entire article about the best ones to combat acne, but our Blueberry Lemon Collagen Vibes is a must for a daily dose of collagen and hyaluronic acid, internally.
Blueberry & Lemon Collagen Vibes
Vital Proteins x Poosh
7. Skip the random products or the 10-step routine. When acne rears its head, less is more—I call it going back to basics. This is not the time to play around with that one product that’s been sitting on your shelf all season. And if you are going to introduce new products, make sure to do one at a time to allow your skin the ability to adjust.
8. If you’re going to mask, multi-mask. Don’t cover your entire face in the Root Science Detox Mask; instead, use the mask on the areas of your skin that are more breakout-prone like the T-zone, and use a hydrating mask like Living Libations Frankincense Honey Mask on the other areas—mouth and eyes. Or opt for Eluo Forma Floris to Soothe on raw areas of the face and Eluo Forma Viridi to Balance on the breakout-prone sections.
Forma Floris to Soothe
Forma Viridi to Balance
9. Use blue light therapy. And even some red light, too. Blue light helps to kill bacteria while red light helps to heal inflammation. I’ve been using both lights daily with our DMH LED Light Shield.
LED Light Shield Mask
10. Spot treat finicky pimples, but not the entire face. I’ve been using the Living Libations Zippity Dew Dab directly on the zit. You can add to your moisturizer, but as I said above, I’m keeping things really simple and limiting active products to a minimum, so spot treatment is more my speed right now.
Other dry skin anti-acne tips: remember to change your pillowcases daily, wash your face AFTER you condition your hair, use a non-comedogenic shampoo and conditioner (like the SEEN Fragrance-Free ones), use a new washcloth after each cleansing, and don’t scrub dry, raw, acne-prone skin. You’ll just infuriate it more and risk spreading the acne-causing bacteria. Always pat your skin dry.
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