The 14 Best Products for Dry, Acne-Prone Skin

Dealing with dry, barrier-damaged, and acne-prone skin during the winter can be a challenge, to say the least. As someone who’s tried just about everything out there to clear their skin, I can finally say I have a few solid pointers for those who may be dealing with the same woes this season. Keep in mind that everyone’s skin is different, so what works for me may not work for you, but I can tell you a little bit about mine in the hopes that if yours is similar, I can at least point you in the direction of a few products that have finally worked well.

Ironically enough, my skin hates most “acne-fighting” products. Anything that contains higher percentages of salicylic acid or other harsh actives actually makes my skin break out more or they’re just too drying. At this point, I’ve actually found that sticking to formulas that are hydrating and made for sensitive skin actually clear my skin up pretty quickly. Not to mention the fact that I used Tretinoin for years to clear my skin up, but I didn’t realize that it was destroying my skin barrier in the process. Let me tell you, some may say that drying out your skin and acne is the answer to clearing it up, but it’s most definitely not. Skin barrier damage can create opportunistic “holes” in your skin for bacteria and other pollution to enter it, exacerbating your acne even further.

Even though I’ve learned all this and it’s been imperative on my own skin journey, I still turn to the experts for further advice since we know skincare never works as a one-size-fits-all approach. Marisa Garshick, MD has a few tips. “It is important that even those with acne-prone skin remember to use a moisturizer to prevent the skin from becoming too dry or irritated,” she says. “Additionally, if the skin feels tight or is dry and flaky, it may be needed to skip a day of any acne treatments to allow the skin to recover. For those with dry, acne-prone skin, it is especially important to introduce active ingredients slowly, starting off just a few times per week and gradually increasing the frequency.”

Below, you’ll find a mix of products that have worked for my dry, barrier-damaged, acne-prone skin along with a few derm recs for winter, too. Keep scrolling.

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