How to Treat Dry Skin and Acne at the Same Time

Here's how to battle acne and dry skin.

How to treat dry skin and acne naturally at the same time
Credit: Photo by Mike Fox on Unsplash

Remedying dry skin with an intensive moisturizer or appeasing blemishes with a spot treatment is fairly straightforward, but what about when you are suffering from both at the same time? Often, people think of oily skin as being most blemish-prone, but those with dry skin can also suffer from acne. In fact, acne often appears alongside dry skin, especially due to the high amounts of drying products people use to treat trouble spots. It’s even possible for your skin to be oily and dehydrated at the same time, where oil is produced in the pores, while the surface of the skin remains dry.

We sat down with Holly Harding, O’o Hawaii Founder and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, to get to the bottom of this skincare woe. She gave us her top tips for caring for dry acne-prone skin, both internally and externally.

Tackle Skin Problems from the Inside Out

Your skin health starts with what you eat. Consuming a balanced diet can aid in clearing up your complexion, as well as ensuring it stays hydrated and radiant. Of course, you’ve heard how important drinking enough water is, both for the health of your body as well as that of your skin. Holly Harding also recommends adding more hydrating foods to your diet. According to Harding, “if you eat lots of cruciferous veggies, fruit, and even olive oil, your skin will be much more hydrated versus if you consume lots of dry, packaged and processed foods. Eating those ideal foods in as raw of a state as possible will also provide your skin with more hydration.”

She also recommends adaptogens such as Ashwagandha, which can balance hormones and reduce stress, another major cause of acne (always see a functional medicine practitioner to assess your personal hormone levels before adding adaptogens to your diet!).

The bottom line for a clearer, healthier complexion is to add more whole foods to your diet and cut down on processed foods as much as possible. A balanced diet is at the forefront of skin health and will give you a solid foundation before turning to additional products to treat your skincare concerns.

Equip an Arsenal of Topical Products to Treat Problems Externally

Even a balanced diet and sufficient amounts of water can’t always give you the skin you want. That’s where topical treatments come in. When it comes to hydration, Harding recommends “using skincare products with no fillers and small molecules.” She told us that hyaluronic acid doesn’t actually absorb topically, but sodium hyaluronate (the salt of hyaluronic acid) has a much smaller molecular structure and does absorb, actually locking in hydration. So next time you see the buzzword “hyaluronic acid” on a product, be sure to double check the ingredients list so you know what you’re getting.

When it comes to acne, Harding once more stresses the importance of finding products that are filler free. She also recommends avoiding mineral oils and any drying ingredients. Contrary to popular belief, drying out your skin can actually cause more acne. According to Harding, “acne can be created when the skin dries out and, in an effort to self-hydrate, the skin produces oils that clog the pores.” When treating blemishes, hydration should be top of mind rather than grabbing that drying spot treatment.

Our Favorite Products for Treating Dry Blemish-Prone Skin

After our chat with Holly Harding, we did our research to find the best products that treat breakouts, while still supplying hydration. Now go pour yourself a glass of water and revamp your skincare routine to survive another cold, dry Winter.


O’o Hawaii Birdbath Antioxidant Cleansing Balm $65

This gentle cleanser effectively removes dirt and bacteria, softens skin, evens out skin tone, promotes collagen production, and moisturizes. It’s brimming with antioxidants and superfoods, like coffee berry extract, Hawaiian red algae, and pineapple enzymes to give your skin the nutrients it needs while fighting off free radicals. The formula is cruelty-free, vegetarian, non-GMO, and paraben-free, and its packaging is recyclable.

Susanne Kaufmann Cleansing Gel $45

This cleansing gel employs alpine herbs, ribwort, and masterwort, known for their antibacterial and calming properties. The formula also contains sodium hyaluronate to promote moisture retention and provides a deep clean that doesn’t strip the skin, making it ideal for clearing out pores while still being gentle on dry skin.


Intelligent Nutrients Detoxifying Glycolic Gel $68.50

Glycolic acid is a gentle exfoliant that removes dead skin cells, unclogs pores, and prevents future breakouts. This gel uses a glycol derived from sugar cane, where most conventional products use harsh chemical propylene glycol, making it especially gentle and perfect for dry skin. Just be sure to always follow with a good moisturizer to further prevent dryness. The formula is Leaping Bunny certified, gluten-free, and vegan.

Cecilia Wong Skincare Blemish Peel Mask $68

Using only the purest oils and organic herbs and botanicals, this mask is certified natural and boasts being able to even skin tone and brighten the complexion, while still moisturizing. Sage and spearmint work to remove toxins while kaolin clay clears out the pores and pomegranate imparts essential fatty acids to aid in dryness. It’s gentle enough to use 3-4 times per week but is still a peel, so remember to moisturize after use.


Herbivore Botanicals Jasmine Green Tea Balancing Toner $39

We love this toner because it’s calming, refreshing, and balancing all in one. Witch hazel works to cleanse and reduce excess oil production, while aloe vera soothes and hydrates, and jasmine tea refreshes and delivers antioxidants. The result is a delicate floral jasmine scent and a beautifully balanced complexion. It’s vegan and gluten-free, Leaping Bunny and PETA certified, and free of synthetic fragrances.

Odacité Rose + Neroli Hydra-Vitalizing Treatment Mist $39

For a little extra hydration, this toner does wonders. Aloe vera is the top ingredient, working to hydrate and protect from environmental aggressors, while rosewater works to balance sebum production, reducing oiliness. Aspen bark works as a powerful astringent, minimizing the appearance of pores, while neroli oil fights blemishes and imparts a beautiful glow. Sodium hyaluronate is also high up on the ingredient list, further promoting hydration.


O’o Hawaii Golden Nectar Brightening + Firming Ferulic Serum $130

Ferulic acid is a powerful antioxidant, used here to fight free radicals and reduce oxidative stress. The formula is also full of vitamin C to brighten your complexion, sodium hyaluronate to retain moisture, and pineapple enzymes to gently exfoliate. This serum is free of parabens and GMOs, is cruelty-free and vegan.

Nazan Schnapp Celestine Balancing & Calming Azulene Rich Face Oil $112

You may have heard of blue tansy, an amazing ingredient touted for its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. It’s employed here to balance and calm skin, alongside other powerhouse ingredients such as yarrow, camellia, rice, rose otto, and chamomile. Together, these ingredients effectively balance and moisturize, making it perfect for dry blemish-prone skin.


Cecilia Wong Oily Skin Moisturizer $68

If you suffer from oily and dry skin at the same time, this is your ideal moisturizer. It’s lightweight and uses a blend of neroli, pumpkin, rosemary, and orange peel to balance oil production and improve skin texture while calming acne and delivering important nutrients. The formula also contains lactic acids and pumpkin enzymes to gently exfoliate and clear pores, while licorice root evens out the complexion and brightens dark marks. The result is hydrated skin with clean pores and smoother skin texture. Organic and certified natural.

O’o Hawaii Brilliant Feather Beauty Balm $98

This balm does it all, from deeply moisturizing and fighting free radicals, to plumping skin and minimizing blemishes. Cruelty-free and vegan, the formula is free of parabens and GMOs and uses ingredients such as elderberry fruit extract and rose extract to clean pores and regulate sebum production, as well as manuka honey and marula oil to hydrate and calm irritations.

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