Dry skin but moisturizer makes me break out, what to do

All skin types need moisturizer, it’s important for your skin to get moisture in order to prevent breakouts as well as prevent premature ageing.

This is especially true for dry skin. Dry skin needs the moisture because it is prone to wrinkles if not moisturized.

So what do you do if you have dry skin and all the moisturizers that you use are breaking you out? It’s a pretty sticky situation.

“Dry skin but moisturizer makes me break out”. If this is you then I have a solution.

Dry skin but moisturizer makes me break out, what to do

Can moisturizer make you break out?

Yes, a moisturiser can break you out if you’re using the wrong moisturiser for your skin.

You may have dry skin but it may be dry acne-prone skin. In that case, any moisturiser that is oil-based, comedogenic or too heavy for your skin will break your out.

There are moisturisers that are gel-based, lightweight, non-comedogenic and oil-free that will still hydrate and moisturise your skin well. This one is non-comoedogenic and moisturises well.

In addition, many moisturisers are made up of a variety of chemicals which your skin may be reacting to.

The moisturisers that you are using may contain some of the ingredients mentioned below.

Note: the moisturizer that you’re using doesn’t necessarily have to contain all of these indigents for them to break your out. They can contain one or two and still be the reason for your breakouts.

Synthetic fragrance: This is an ingredient that is very irritating on the skin and when the skin feels irritated it can develop breakouts.

Solvents: These are found in moisturising products, they dissolve ingredients in the moisturizer.

They ensure that the moisturizer maintains its texture and functionality, unfortunately, if you apply a moisturiser which contains solvents on your skin you may break out.

Parabens: There has been a wave of brands giving up the use of parabens in their formulas, and I applaud them for that, sadly some still use it.

This ingredient is a preservative and can also clog your pores causing you to break out.

In addition, they are harmful because they can lead to reproductive toxicity and cancer.

What is a good moisturizer for dry acne-prone skin?

A good moisturizer for dry acne-prone skin is the CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion.

This is a lightweight moisturising lotion developed by dermatologists, this product can be used on dry acne-prone skin.

It will hydrate your dry skin very well as it contains hyaluronic acid and ceramides.

Hyaluronic acid is a great hydrator and ceramides will keep your moisture barrier healthy and intact. Making sure that you don’t lose moisture from evaporation.

The product also releases moisture into your skin over many hours making sure your skin is moisturised throughout the day.

It will work well on your acne-prone skin as it is non-comedogenic (it won’t clog your pores and it is oil-free as well)

On top of that it is fragrance-free and non-irritating.

Alternatives to moisturisers:

If you don’t want to use moisturiser a good alternative to use is a hydrating hyaluronic acid serum then sealing with an oil.

The hyaluronic acid serum will hydrate your skin and the oil will seal in the hydration and moisturise.

This hyaluronic acid serum works quite well. Some good oil options are:

Olive oil:

This is a great moisturiser that has been used through the ages to moisture skin and hair. The antioxidant benefits of this oil is an added bonus.

These will help protect your skins natural moisture barrier from external impurities.

The natural acids in this oil will also strengthen the skin. This is a favourite olive oil.

Shea butter:

If you need a moisturizing option that has vitamin A and F then this is the option for you.

This butter will alleviate your dry skin while keeping it looking soft and supple. This comes in the form of a solid. When you rub it into our skin it turns into an oil.

This is a well-loved shea butter

Jojoba oil:

This oil will mimic the natural sebum we have on our faces without breaking you out.

It is deeply nourishing and rich in nutrients that your skin will happily soak up. I’m sure you’ll love this jojoba oil

Almond oil:

Almonds are not just good for eating they are also used to create an amazing oil for your skin that contains vitamin A, E and D. This will keep your skin glowing and healthy-looking all day long. It’s also an oil that penetrates deep into the skin moisturising many layers. This is a favourite almond oil

Avocado oil:

This is another favourite for dry skin. It will moisturize and penetrate the various layers of your skin giving you a deeper moisturisation.

This oil is also rich in vitamin A and E. Which are fantastic for anti-ageing as well. This is a well-loved avocado oil

Benefits of using these oils:

  • These oils will not clog your pores, they are not comedogenic.
  • They won’t make your face look greasy or shiny. They absorb into your skin moisturizing and not sit on top of your skin.
  • Note that if you decide to use the oils you should use a very small amount. A good amount to use is about 3-4 drops for your whole face.

Here is an article on the oils you should use for your legs if they are dry.

Other factors that can break you out:

If all the moisturisers that you try are breaking you out you need to make sure that there isn’t an underlying factor that is causing you to break out.

Reading this article on face mapping. It will help you figure out if it is indeed the moisturizer or something else that is breaking your out.

You need to also make sure that your skincare routine is appropriate to your dry skin.

All face products are made with a specific skin type in mind, you might be using the wrong moisturizer or the wrong skin products in general.

Make sure all your products say they are made for dry skin,

How can I hydrate my skin?

You need to hydrate your skin with a good moisturiser that contains humectants and occlusive.

Humectants are molecules that can hold onto water and deposit it into your skin. These include glycerine, hyaluronic acid honey and read more here.

One of the best humectants to use is hyaluronic acid, it is able to hold 6 parts of water to one part of hyaluronic acid.

Unfortunately, because humectants enter deeply into your skin very easily they can exit your skin very easily as well.

That is why you need something to seal the hydration, you need an occlusive.

Occlusives are ingredients that seal hydration in your skin, they are sometimes oils but not always.

You also need to make sure you drink lots of water to keep your skin hydrated from the inside.

You should only use lukewarm water when you shower and you use a humidifier in your home to keep the air humidified and not dry.

How do you treat dry acne-prone skin?

You need to be quite gentle with this skin type.

To avoid irritating your skin you need to be using a cleanser that is gentle on your skin but is effective in targeting your acne. 

You need to use a moisturiser that is hydrating yet lightweight. You need to exfoliate gently with a chemical exfoliator which will unclog the pores without irritating your skin and you need to be careful when you start using acne treatments.

A good treatment to use is retinol, this is a great retinol cream you can use.

Retinol will help speed up cell turnover in the skin and bring up all your dormant acne. When this dormant acne heals you’ll be left with clear even skin.

Note: you’ll need to be sure to be using very moisturising products along with the retinol because retinol is drying.

Here is a guide on how to manage your skin while on acne medication.

Dry skin but moisturizer makes me break out

What kills acne?

Benzoyl peroxide is what kills the acne-causing bacteria on your face, salicylic acid unclogs your pores and your pimples.

When used together these two get rid of acne and prevent more acne from forming on your skin.

Salicylic acid chemically exfoliates your face getting rid of acne by breaking up the bonds between the dead skin cells clogging up your pores.

Benzoyl peroxide kills of the acne-causing bacteria and makes sure you don’t develop more acne in future.

Why does salicylic acid make me break out?

Salicylic acid can cause you to break out even more if you already have dry skin.

The ingredient can cause your dry skin to become irritated and even drier.

This then leads to your skin producing excess sebum and causing breakouts. This acid can also cause skin irritation and redness.

Can I use salicylic acid every day?

Yes, if you don’t have dry skin or sensitive skin then you can use a product that contains salicylic acid every day.

When it agrees with your skin it really agrees with your skin and you can expect some good results from using it.

Note: You should make sure you do a patch test on your skin before using a product that contains salicylic acid in it.

You should also be sure to start off with a product that contains a small percentage of salicylic acid then work your way up if your skin need sit.

This is a good cleanser to start off with

Should I moisturize at night if I have acne?

Yes, you should moistures at night if you have acne.

Keeping your skin moisturised at all times regardless of what skin type you have is very important.

The skin produces sebum (the skins natural oils) in an effort to moisturise the skin and prevent it from drying out.

If you don’t moisturise your skin well, even if you have acne, you can trigger your skin to produce and an excess amount of sebum in an effort to moisturise itself.

The excess sebum produced will mix in with your dead skin cells and acne-causing bacteria on your face and cause more acne. Moisturising will prevent your skin from trying to produce excess sebum

The night-time is the best time to cleanse and moisturise your face because it will prep the skin for when you sleep.

Your skin works the hardest when you’re asleep, rejuvenating cells and improving your skin’s health.

Giving skin proper moisture at night will create a desirable environment where your skin will thrive as it works. Read more about good skincare and good sleep here.

Is Vaseline good for acne?

Vaseline can be used on acne if you want to seal in a moisturiser that you’ve applied on it. The moisturiser you choose to use can be a serum, moisturiser or any other acne treatment.

When you apply the Vaseline over a product it works like a barrier protecting the product and pimple underneath.

This allows the acne to heal faster, this also lowers the chances of you touching your acne.

Users of Vaseline in this way have noted that it left the skin less red, softer, smoother and with less irritation.

The Vaseline will not clog your pores because the molecule is too large to even enter your skin giving it no chance to clog your pore in the first place.

Does coconut oil help acne?

Some people love coconut oil on their face and others hate it.

If your face is not prone to breakouts you can use coconut oil as it contains lauric acid. Lauric acid is great at killing any acne-causing bacteria on your face.

It’s a great sealant like Vaseline is but be warned the generic coconut oil that goes hard at room temperature is comedogenic (pore-clogging) this is called unfractionated coconut oil.

There is a variety of coconut oil called fractionated coconut oil, this variety doesn’t clog pores. This one works well

That’s it for my article on what to do if you have dry skin but moisturisers break you out. I hope that this article was helpful and informative to you.

I hope that this article helped you figure out what the problem was. If you enjoyed this article please share it.

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