best skincare products for dry and acne-prone skin

What are the best skincare products for dry AND acne-prone skin?

Skincare shopping is hard enough when you’re dealing with only one problem. But dry skin prone to acne? That’s hands down one of the most frustrating skin types to deal with.

If you try to give acne the boot, you risk stripping your skin bare and drying it out worse than the Sahara. If you try and up your moisturising game, you risk clogging your pores and bringing on another breakout. It feels like you can’t win!

The trick is to use gentle products that zap that acne away without drying out your skin. But how to find them?

Worry not, I’ve done the work for you. Here are the best skincare products for dry and acne-prone skin:

sunday riley ceramic slip cleanser

Best Cleanser For Dry, Acne-Prone Skin: Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser ($35.00/£26.00)

Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser started life as a hard-core cleanser for very oily skin, but is now a gentle cream cleanser ideal for dry skin that’s also acne-prone. What a transformation, huh? The cleanser now uses very gentle cleansing agents that remove every trace of dirt, grime and makeup from the skin without drying it out. Plus, it has a tiny amount of clay that gets rid of excess oil on your problem areas, but still leave enough behind to keep your skin naturally moisturised. Once you’re done cleansing, your skin is both clean and soft.

Available at: Cult Beauty, Sephora, SpaceNK and Ulta

Related: My Full Review Of Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser

Best Exfoliant For Dry, Acne-Prone Skin: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum ($90.00/£76.00)

Dry skin loves glycolic and lactic acids. These exfoliants remove all dead cells from the surface of your skin and hydrate it to boot. The catch? They can’t get inside the pores and get rid of the excess oil + dead cells stuck deep into them – i.e. the stuff that gives you acne. That’s a job for salicylic acid (BHA). Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum has all 3 acids, so it can make your skin softer and brighter while getting rid of acne at the same time. Just don’t over exfoliate. Three times a week is all you need.

Available at: Cult BeautySephora and SpaceNK

Related: AHAs VS BHA: Which One Is Right For You?

Best Exfoliant For Dry, Acne-Prone Skin On A Budget: Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Lotion Exfoliant ($29.00/£26.00)

Unfortunately, very few exfoliants use a combo of AHAs + BHA. If you can’t afford the splurge and are forced to chose only one, go with salicylic acid. It’s not as hydrating as AHAs, but it exfoliates acne away, keeps it from coming back and has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the redness that always comes along with pimples. Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Lotion Exfoliant uses 2% salicylic acid in a lightweight creamy texture that hydrates skin, too. Win win.

Available at: Cult Beauty, Feel UniquePaula’s Choice and Selfridges

Related: Why Salicylic Acid Is Key To Spot-Free Skin

Best Moisturizer For Dry, Acne-Prone Skin: CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion ($15.49)

The last thing acne-prone skin needs is more oil. But how do you keep your dry areas happy without them? Enter CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion. It uses a blend of niacinamide + ceramides to strengthen the skin’s protective barrier and moisturise skin without adding more oil to it. Niacinamide goes a step (or four) further: it also hydrates skin, helps treats acne, fade away dark spots pimples leave behind and soothe irritations. FYI, you can use this moisturiser during the day, too.

Available at: DermstoreUlta and Walmart

Related: Why You Need To Add Niacinamide To Your Skincare Routine, No Matter Your Skin Type

Best Sunscreen For Dry, Acne-Prone Skin: EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 ($35.00)

Part mineral, part synthetic, EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 has 9.0% Zinc oxide and 7.5% Octinoxate to provide excellent sun protection without leaving a greasy residue or white cast behind. Plus, the sunscreen is fairly moisturising but far from pore-clogging. Instead than oils (a no-no for acne-prone skin), here you’ll find a combo of niacinamide and hyaluronic acid to hydrate skin. Hyaluronic acid is so powerful, it holds up to 1000 times its weight in water! Niacinamide does a bit of everything: hydrates, soothes, reduces acne and dark spots… You name it, it does it.

Available at: Dermstore and Walmart

Related: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Hyaluronic Acid In Skincare

niod modulating glucosides review

Best To Reduce Inflammation In Dry, Acne-Prone Skin: Niod Modulating Glucosides (£21.00)

Did you know that acne is an inflammatory disease? One way to reduce the inflammation that triggers it is to add soothing ingredients into your skincare routine. That’s where Niod Modulating Glucosides comes in. This baby is loaded with every anti-inflammatory ingredient you can think of – and many more you’ve never heard about. It soothes redness, irritation, rosacea, eczema, acne… You name it. While it’s at it, it also fights off free radicals before they give you wrinkles and dark spots.

Available at: Escentuals

Related: My Full Review Of Niod Modulating Glucosides

Best Spot Treatment For Dry, Acne Prone Skin: Paula’s Choice Clear Daily Skin Clearing Treatment With 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide ($18.00)

Can I tell you a secret? There’s no such thing as a gentle spot treatment. If it can kill acne, it’ll dry out your skin. That’s true of Benzoyl Peroxide AND natural alternatives, like sulfur or tea tree oil. I recommend Paula’s Choice Clear Daily Skin Clearing Treatment With 2.5% Benzyl Peroxide for dry AND acne-prone skin for two reasons. One: it has a smaller concentration of Benzoyl Peroxide than most spot treatments out there, making it a little less drying for your skin. Two: it’s loaded with soothing ingredients, like bisabolol and allantoin, that soothe inflammation. Even so, use it on pimples only.

Available at: Dermstore, Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice

Related: Is Benzyl Peroxide The Best Acne Treatment?

goldfaden md doctor's scrub

What Should Dry And Acne-Prone Skin Avoid?

So far, I’ve told you what the best products for dry and acne-prone skin are. Now, let’s take a look at what you should avoid like the plague:

  • Clay masks: They absorb too much excess oil from your skin type. If you must use them, do so only on your acne-prone areas.
  • Essential oils: If it smells too good, it’s bad news for skin and can inflame it.
  • Oil-based products: It’s true dry skin loves oils, but they can clog pores and give you more breakouts.
  • Scrubs (including Clarisonic and Foreo): They’re too harsh for acne-prone skin and don’t help get rid of breakouts.
  • Soaps: They’re too harsh and drying on the skin and strip it bare of the natural oils it desperately needs.

What do you think are the best skincare products for dry and acne-prone skin? Share your picks in the comments below.