How to Game the System so Dry, Acne-Prone Skin Doesn't Get Worse This Winter


(Image credit: @daleedasoomar)

Dealing with dry (or dehydrated) barrier-damagedacne-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 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 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 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 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 work for dry, barrier-damaged, acne-prone skin along with a few derm recs for winter, too. Keep scrolling.


(Image credit: @lefevrediary)


(Image credit: @aude_julie)

This article was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

Shawna Hudson
Associate Beauty Editor

Shawna Hudson has worked in editorial for over six years, with experience covering entertainment, fashion, culture, celebrities, and her favorite topic of all, beauty. She graduated from California State University, Fullerton, with a degree in journalism and has written for other publications such as Bustle, The Zoe Report, Byrdie, Elite Daily, Mane Addicts, and more. She is currently an associate beauty editor at Who What Wear and hopes to continue feeding her (completely out-of-control) beauty obsession as long as she can. Stay up to date on her latest finds on Instagram @shawnasimonee.