get rid of acne quickly

Say It Ain’t So: Does Dry Skin Cause Acne?

Does dry skin cause acne? When people think of acne, they think of oil. They think of oily skin and oily foods.

So by that line of thinking, dry skin could be good for acne.

However, it’s a basic fact of dermatology that dry skin causes acne. In short, it’s important to keep all parts of your body and physiology in balance. This means your skin should have a healthy moisture, neither oily nor dry and flaky. That’s because an out-of-balance body will grow acne. In other words, dry skin does cause acne. Because your skin is dry, your body’s sebaceous glands (those that produce sebum, a type of natural oil) go into hyperdrive and produce too much sebum. That is what causes acne. To put it another way, people with oily skin may have started out with dry skin, only for the body to overcompensate.

Oil and Your Skin: An Overview

We have to talk about the skin’s natural oils for a couple of reasons. First, we need to understand that dryness is not a guard against acne, so we need to look at oil vs. the lack of oil. Second, we have to look at how excessive oil and excessive oil production harms your skin. This is because of what we’ve just established, that dry skin ultimately leads to acne, since dryness triggers hormones that lead to too much oil.

First off, your skin does need some oil. It comes in the form of sebum, from sebaceous glands. Sebum lubricates the skin and waterproofs it—all mammals produce it. The problem, though, is too much sebum. It causes acne in the following way: first off, when too much oil goes to the surface of your skin, often on your face, it will end up clogging your pores. Clogged pores are more direct than dry skin in causing acne, and we’ll get into that later.

In any case, oily skin causes acne in another way—it promotes the growth of a bacteria called Propionibacterium, and that is what causes acne. In fact, we’ll explain this process in a bit more detail in a minute.

Now that we know how oil damages skin, it becomes clear that doing something to promote oil is disastrous. That’s why allowing your skin to get too dry cannot happen.

How Does Dry Skin Cause Oil?

At the beginning of the article, we mentioned that dry skin actually causes acne by triggering the production of too much oil. Here’s how. Well, as we’ve learned, the skin needs a healthy amount of moisture. It keeps the skin strong, keeping bacteria out. What happens when your skin gets too dry? Well, it flakes, the surface of your skin becomes blotchy, not smooth and solid. This is a huge problem because, as explained on acneeinstein.com, your body’s immune system feels it’s being attacked.

With the surface of the skin and its protective barrier broken, more tiny foreign objects and impurities can get in. Feeling threatened, your body’s sebaceous glands produce far too much oil, and all the bad things above cause breakouts of acne. When your skin is dehydrated, it becomes acne prone.

Dry Skin and Clogged Pores

Let’s be clear. Dry skin causes acne for more reasons than just triggering sebum production. It’s so important to moisturize your face, with acne or without, because otherwise, breakouts will get worse. Dry skin causes acne-causing clogged pores. Obviously, flakes of dry skin will jam up pores. Well, while some of the excess oil formed in the process makes it to the surface of your skin, some of it also gets stuck in clogged pores. An article explains that this clogged oil “becomes compacted and dries out” and that if it “hasn’t oxidized it appears yellow or white” whereas if it has become oxidized it appears black, which is why we use the term “blackhead” for acne that causes some self-esteem problems in sufferers.

So, to review, dry skin ultimately results in two things: first destruction of the skin barrie, and second, clogged pores. The dryness cracks and breaks the skin, and this cuts down on the protective barrier. The boy’s response is too much oil. Second, clogged pores trap oil, which causes chemical reactions that turn the oil into acne, whether it be cystic acne or other forms of acne caused by dry skin.

Be Sure Not to Dry Out Your Skin

The Sun and Acne

You may have heard advice to spend time in the Sun if you have acne-prone skin. In fact, far from dry skin causing acne, you may have heard that drying out your skin is actually the cure. This is the reason people say the sun is good for acne.

However, if you’ve been reading up until now, it’s painfully clear that dry skin is not the way to go. The purpose of this section is to dispel the myth that using the sun to try the skin is actually be beneficial.

Basically, as bioclarity.com tells us, because the sun dries the skin, it of course causes sebum production. A fun day at the beach, even with sunscreen, will result in clogged pores, acne, etc.

Now, people get confused, because they think their skin looks better after Sun. But bioclarity.com further explains that “the bronzing effect of the sun’s UV rays are first degree burns.”

That should clear up confusion about whether you should dry out with your skin with the sun—since dry skin causes acne, so does too much skin exposure.

Sunscreen for acne prevention?

Even though we’ve outlined problems with excessive skin exposure, that doesn’t mean we’re recommending that you stay inside your whole life. It’s just important to wear sunscreen. Now, could it be that there are problems with sunscreen? Who knew dry skin causes acne? Maybe sunscreen does too. Here are a couple of things it would be good to know about sunscreens.

  • Mineral vs. Chemical—there are two major types of sunscreens, mineral vs. chemical. In short, mineral sunscreens have, yes, minerals in them, namely titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Chemical sunscreens have oxybenzone and avobenzone. Mineral sunscreens are better to make sure you don’t get the kind of dry skin that causes acne.
  • Broad Spectrum—The reason mineral sunscreens are better is that they are broad spectrum screens, meaning that they block both UVA and UVB sun rays. Further, mineral sunscreens don’t clog pores like their chemical counterparts. We’ve clearly explained why clogged pores cause the dry skin that causes acne.
  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids- When you go to pick a sunscreen, recognize that a good sunscreen can actually be a home remedy for dry skin. While some sunscreens might make your skin oil, others are perfectly suited to fighting acne. Those are the ones that have alpha hydroxy acids. These acids are found in foods—examples are lactic acids, found in fruit, glycolic acid, found in sugar, and have been used for rejuvenation for centuries. Well, WebMD explains, “these products work by drying up whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples and causing the top layer of your skin to peel.” So look for these acids in any sunscreen you choose.

Products that Fight Dry Skin


Many people have fallen for the common misconception that important hygiene products dry out the skin, a situation that would, as we’ve learned, cause acne. But we’ll explore the way in which many of these products are actually products for acne, helping in the fight in a variety of ways.

The first product type is the moisturizer. Now, dry skin causes acne, not moisturized skin. Moisturizer will not and cannot contribute to acne unless you use it incorrectly or buy only the cheapest, greasiest variety.

So, which type should you buy? Well, you’re looking for three main classes of ingredients in moisturizers that won’t cause dry skin or acne. These are emollients, occlusive, and humectants.

  • Emollients—These help your skin by sealing in moisture. Examples of emollients are jojoba oil and shea butter, just to make them clear in your mind. Sealing in moisture is the emollient’s way of making sure your skin is moist enough. This, as we’ve seen, prevents your body from getting scared and producing the kind of excess oils that are the culprit. That’s how, paradoxically, dry skin causes acne. A simple skimming of the list of ingredients on a tube of moisturizer will let you know whether or not it has emollients, and ones that do aren’t very hard to find.
  • Occlusives—Occlusives work by forming a little seal on top of the skin to keep your skin at the right level of moisture. Because dry skin causes acne, a person who regularly uses moisturizers with occlusives should be fine. Examples of occlusive are zinc oxide and silicone, and you’ll see these on the list of ingredients of many moisturizing products.
  • Humectants- Lactic Acid, Glycerol, and Hyaluronic Acid are humectants. These work differently from the others. They actually pull in H20 molecules from the air and place them on your skin, and that’s how they guard against the dry skin that causes acne. These are not only available in moisturizers, but in makeup products of all kinds, including korean skincare for acne and BB creams.

Various Cosmetic Products that Won’t Dry your Skin

Your parents probably taught you to be careful about washing your face too much so you wouldn’t dry your skin. We now know that this is well-intentioned advice in ways they may not have known, since dry skin causes acne. However, it’s not really a good idea to try to skimp on cleansing your face. WebMD assures us that cleansing one’s skin “can help rid your skin of the bacteria that make their way into clogged hair follicles and lead to breakouts.” The article also tells us that “a through cleaning also removes dead cells on the surface of your skin, which makes it easier for your acne medication to be absorbed.”

So, you have to keep your face clean, and soaps these days are much better than in your parent’s day. Soaps and body washes are now made to not only not dry your skin, but to moisturize it. There are cleansers that are made specifically for acne and acne-prone skin.

Also, people, justifiably, wonder if they should use certain cosmetics, under the doctrine that glopping a lot of product on will basically wreak havoc on their skin. Again, we’re fortunate to be living in a time when companies are careful to make all sorts of products, toners, retinol creams, powders for acne, and even makeup removers that cater to the task of not promoting acne.

Wrap Up

Well, we’ve given you an awful lot of information—hopefully not too much. You will probably be successful using this article as a reference to come back to as you try to avoid dry skin causing you acne. The main takeaway is that you need to provide your skin with a good, healthy moisturization, keeping at it on a regular basis.

During the winter particularly, it’s important for you to not neglect your skin in a way that might lead to acne. Happy moisturizing!

Elisabeth Hasselblad

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