Best Skincare for Dry Acne Prone Skin
Beauty | Skincare

This Is The Best Skincare for Dry Acne Prone Skin

Acne is one of my favorite topics to cover—and I really love writing about the best skincare for dry, acne prone skin. I’ve been dealing with it for so long, and it’s such a complex issue that so many Americans struggle with every day. It’s so mentally debilitating. I know the struggle of trying to put on a brave face when you feel like your skin is on fire. 

My skin type is complicated—I break out in hormonal acne on my chin very frequently, but have dry, very Irish skin on the rest of my face. I’d love to be able to bathe my skin in a luxe oil to combat the dryness, but that usually clogs my pores, irritates my skin, and causes unwanted breakouts in the process.  I have experimented with different vitamins that help with acne, and have also focused on eating healthy recipes for acne, too.  

However, using the right products for your dry, acne-prone skin is also important to achieving clear skin, too. It’s kinda hard to treat dry, acne-prone skin because most acne products are geared toward folks who overproduce excess oil and have oilier complexions. After all, acne is caused by an overproduction of sebum, which clogs the pores and forms a breakout. Typically, I opt for skincare products geared towards dry, sensitive skin, and then will try and spot treat my chin with products featuring acne-fighting ingredients. 

If you’re in the same boat and need some dry skin relief without irritating your acne, you’re in the right place. Below, I’ve rounded up a tried-and-true list of the best skincare products for dry, acne-prone skin that I’ve used (and loved).

Best Skincare for Dry Acne Prone Skin

Step 1: Cleanse your skin

A key factor in keeping your dry, acne-prone skin hydrating is avoiding really harsh cleansers. In my tween and teen years, I used to use a super strong benzoyl peroxide face wash to cleanse my skin day and night. It dried the hell out of my face and probably did a lot more harm than good. 

I suggest opting for a gentle face wash that doesn’t target acne. I like to use different cleansers in the morning vs. the night. 

Best Morning Cleansers:

Paula’s Choice CALM Ultra-Gentle Cleanser

Paula’s Choice CALM Ultra-Gentle Cleanser

This is such a beautifully gentle, hydrating cleanser that I like to use in the mornings. It does a great job of gently cleansing your skin without stripping it like crazy. It does not do a good job of removing makeup, hence why I think it’s more preferable for morning use than evening use. I love how much it hydrates my skin while cleansing. 

Available at Paula’s Choice ($19) 

Trilogy Rosehip Cream Cleanser

Trilogy Rosehip Cream Cleanser

I love a great cream cleanser, especially in the morning. I feel like it helps prep my skin for the day and allows my makeup to look good, too. I’ve used multiple bottles of this cream cleanser from Trilogy over the years, and I love how gentle and hydrating it is. 

This pick does contain rosehip oil in it, so if you are someone with dry, acne-prone skin who knows that oils can break them out, I would be cautious with this one. For me, this pick doesn’t irritate my skin, but it might be too heavy for some. 

Available at Amazon ($20)

Best Nighttime Cleansers:

Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser

Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser

You really can’t go wrong with Vanicream when it comes to treating sensitive and dry skin. Plus, a lot of board-certified dermatologists love to recommend this brand to folks with easily-irritated skin. This is a super gentle foaming cleanser that does a fantastic job of removing makeup and oil from the day. It’s simple, won’t irritate skin, and gets the job done. 

Available at Amazon ($9)

Naturopathica Manuka Honey Cleansing Balm 

Naturopathica Manuka Honey Cleansing Balm 

I love this cleansing balm for so many reasons. It smells heavenly, feels amazing on the skin, and does a great job of removing makeup at the end of the day. It contains manuka honey in the formula, which has well-known antibacterial properties and could be beneficial for treating acne. 

That being said, this is a thick formula that could be too heavy for some folks with acne-prone skin. If that’s the case, I would recommend using this as a first cleanse, and then using the Vanicream cleanser as a second cleanse. 

Available at Amazon ($61)

Step 2: Toner

There are a bunch of different toners I like to use, depending on how my skin is feeling that day. If it’s super dry, I will use one of the first two. If it’s not as dry and is able to handle a bit of exfoliation, I like to use the third option. 

Paula’s Choice Calm Nourishing Milky Toner

Paula’s Choice Calm Nourishing Milky Toner

This is one of the best toners I’ve tried on the market. The brand sent it to me to try for editorial consideration about a month ago, and my skin has been drinking it up every morning. It’s very thick and feels like an essence, and offers really great hydrating benefits without irritating my skin. The way it makes my skin feel is similar to that of a hydrating serum. It’s that moisturizing. 

Available at Paula’s Choice ($24)

Ultra Repair Wild Oat Hydrating Toner | Best Skincare for Dry Acne Prone Skin

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Wild Oat Hydrating Toner

I used to use this toner a lot when I lived in Boston and the winters were really rough—rough on my mental health, and rough on my face. It’s very similar to the Paula’s Choice toner, in that it has a very thick consistency and feels more like milk than water. It’s very soothing and is a great option for those with really irritated skin.  

Available at Ulta ($24) | Also available at Amazon

Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant | Best Skincare for Dry Acne Prone Skin

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

This is Paula’s Choice best-selling product because it does a multitude of things for skin. It minimizes the appearance of pores, lightly exfoliates dead skin cells to unclog pores and minimize dark spots, and allows your skin to appear brighter and dewier, too. It also directly targets acne, thanks to the beta hydroxy acids ( 2% salicylic acid) in the formula. 

I don’t use this pick too often, as I find it’s too strong for my skin in the winter (but…everything is too strong for my skin when it’s cold). I prefer to use it in the warmer months when my skin isn’t as dry and can handle more exfoliation. 

Available at Paula’s Choice ($35)

Step 3: Serum 

Sofie Pavitt Face Mandelic Clearing Serum

This mandelic serum has hands down been life-changing for my acne! It’s not too aggressive, it prevents breakouts from coming up, it smooths skin like no other, and I think it’s the one item that has been keeping my skin crystal clear for months. I am in love.

Available at Soko Glam ($54)

CALM Repairing Serum | Best Skincare for Dry Acne Prone Skin

Paula’s Choice CALM Repairing Serum

This is a lovely, hydrating serum that does the job. It’s made with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and antioxidants to moisturize skin and calm redness and irritation. I also love that it helps build your skin barrier back up, so that your skin isn’t sensitized to everything you put on it.  

Available at Paula’s Choice ($44)

Marie Veronique Soothing B3 Serum

Marie Veronique Soothing B3 Serum

This serum is on the pricier side—the brand sent it to me for editorial consideration a while ago. I’ve been slowly going through it, and I like how soothing it is to inflamed skin. It does leave a bit of a sticky feeling after you use it. However, that feeling goes away once I apply a moisturizer on top of it. 

This pick is really geared more towards soothing inflamed, acne-prone skin than it is hydrating it. The formula doesn’t feel hydrating to me, compared to other serums I’ve tried. 

Available at Credo Beauty ($115)

Step 4: Spot Treatment

As you read this list, you’ve probably been wondering, “where are the products to actually treat my acne and not my dry skin?” This is that section. Like I said previously, I prefer to spot treat my acne, rather than use cleansers, toners, serums, and moisturizers that act as “preventative.” I find that most of those products are too drying and irritating for my skin (except for the Sofie Pavitt serum!). 

Acne Spot Treatment | Best Skincare for Dry Acne Prone Skin

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Dual Action Acne Spot Treatment 

This is a highly-rated acne treatment that uses 5.5% micronized concentration of benzoyl peroxide and micro-exfoliating lipo-hydroxy acid to target acne directly. Over the years, I have found that benzoyl peroxide does a better job of treating my acne than salicylic acid does. This is a strong formula, so use it with caution. Also, make sure you wash your hands after use—benzoyl peroxide bleaches my towels all the time! 

Available at Amazon ($35)

CLEAR Daily Skin Clearing Treatment 

Paula’s Choice CLEAR Daily Skin Clearing Treatment 

This is an acne spot treatment I’ve been using for years. It’s strong but not too strong, and does a good job of targeting specific blemishes. Again, be careful of getting this onto any clothing, towels, or sheets, as it will stain them white.  

Available at Paula’s Choice ($23)

Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch Original

Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch Original

The best invention that’s ever been created for acne are pimple patches. I can’t believe how much my acne journey has changed since I discovered hydrocolloid patches. Acne patches have sped up the healing process for my hormonal acne tremendously. They also keep me from aggressively popping my pimples and leaving scars on my face. I like to use a needle to prick a pimple that has come to the surface and then let the pimple patch drain the pus.  

Available at Ulta ($13) | Also available at Amazon

Step 5: Moisturizer

Moisturizing is definitely my favorite part of any skincare routine. My skin is dry and there’s nothing better than the feeling of quenching its thirst with glorious hydration. Below are some of my favorites that don’t cause me to break out. 

Skinfix Triple Lipid Peptide Cream | Best Skincare for Dry Acne Prone Skin

Skinfix Triple Lipid Peptide Cream

This cream is a freakin miracle worker. I am obsessed with it. I’ve gone through maybe 3-4 containers of it. It does such a great job of fully hydrating my skin. It never breaks me out. And it looks fantastic under my Alima Pure Foundation every day.  

Available at Sephora ($54)

Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream 

Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream 

This is a basic AF moisturizer that hydrates skin without flaring up your acne. I use this when my skin is really acting up, and I need a bare-bones moisturizer that won’t cause any more issues. I think this is geared more for the body, but most folks use it on their face as it’s non-irritating and won’t clog pores. 

Available at Amazon ($14)

SKIN RECOVERY Replenishing Facial Moisturizer 

Paula’s Choice SKIN RECOVERY Replenishing Facial Moisturizer 

This moisturizer is gorgeous and hella thick. It’s one of the best skincare for dry, acne-prone skin on this list. I use it a lot in the winter when my skin is super dry and flaky. I’m not sure it would be good for those with oily skin types (but I guess you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog post if you had oily skin!). 

Available at Paula’s Choice ($35)

Step 6: SPF

Finding a sunscreen that doesn’t irritate my skin or cause me to break out has been a challenge for years. I find that most sunscreens cause some sort of irritation on my sensitive skin. Some of the below options I have yet to try (but I think they would be great picks for dry, acne-prone skin), while others I’ve used over the years and haven’t had any issues. 

Hydrating Oil Free Moisturizer

Paula’s Choice CLEAR Ultra-Light Hydrating Oil Free Moisturizer SPF 30

Okay, so I haven’t tried this pick yet but it has some amazing reviews on Amazon, that I think I need to test it out. It’s part of Paula’s CLEAR line, meaning it shouldn’t irritate blemishes or cause more breakouts. 

Available at Paula’s Choice ($38)

Babo Botanicals Tinted Mineral Sunscreen Lotion

Babo Botanicals Daily Sheer Fluid Tinted Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 

I like this pick for many reasons. It’s hydrating and leaves a really nice dewy finish on the skin. This formula doesn’t cause me to break out or already irritate my sensitive skin. And, it has a tint to it, which helps me cover up my breakouts in the summer, when I’m trying not to wear too much makeup at the beach or by the pool.  

Available at Amazon ($22)

Proactiv Clear Skin SPF | Best Skincare for Dry Acne Prone Skin

Proactiv Clear Skin SPF

I’m not the biggest Proactiv fan, but the brand sent this to me last summer and I loved that it didn’t break me out. The texture is nice and it works well under makeup, too. 

Available at Target ($24)

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