Essential Skincare Products for Dry, Sensitive, Acne-Prone Skin

My skin is unusual because it is sensitive and dry, yet also acne-prone in the absence of much oiliness. This can make it hard to buy skincare products because acne treatments often target oiliness, products for dry skin are developed with the assumption that people with dry skin can’t also be acne-prone, and products for sensitive skin aren’t strong enough to fight acne.

I’ve tried many different skin routines and products over the years but very few have come up to scratch, either because they break me out or irritate my skin. So in this first post I’m going to cover the main skincare products I’ve discovered that don’t aggravate sensitive skin. However, bear in mind that everyone has different skin so just because a product is fine on my skin doesn’t mean you won’t react to it.


Olive Oil followed by Neutrogena Clay Mask/Cleanser.

I first attempted to use olive oil as a cleanser when I was a teenager, but I didn’t stick with it because it left my face overly oily afterwards (unsurprisingly!). However, olive oil is simply fantastic at removing make-up because the oil particles literally stick to the make-up particles. So when I started wearing Mac foundation (which if you didn’t know, is basically paint) a few months ago and found it was taking me 10 minutes to remove all the slap from my face, I returned to the trusty olive oil. I’ve discovered the secret is using a proper thick cleanser, like Neutrogena’s Clay Cleanser, afterwards to remove any residue oil. You can use any kind of olive oil, I personally use food-grade olive oil because I take the viewpoint that if it’s good enough to go in my stomach, it’s good enough to go on my skin.

Eye-make-up Remover

Johnson’s Daily Essentials Facial Cleansing Wipes (for dry skin)

I’ve tried every liquid eye make-up remover under the sun, but they all leave my sensitive eyelids red and irritated, and my eyes tearing until the next day. Johnson’s cleansing wipes are the only irritation-free way I know to fully remove eye make-up. Just be careful not to rub or drag your skin too much; try and have the patience to go for the careful press-and-hold technique.



Cerave Moisturising Cream

Most moisturisers break me out (the recent culprit was Clinique Moisture Surge Intense which resulted in THREE deep cystic spots one day later on the area of application, and I very rarely get spots like that!) or do absolutely doing for my dry skin, therefore I used to simply leave moisturisers out of my routine. However, Cerave Moisturising Cream is unique in that it contains ceramides, well-known moisture-capturing lipids normally only found in expensive moisturisers like Elizabeth Arden. By applying Cerave when my face is still slightly damp after washing, I end up with extremely soft, supple skin. Cerave Cream is also a fantastic base/primer for foundation, as the ceramides provide a layer for it to stick to. Unfortunately, Cerave is only sold in the USA, so if you live outside the states you will have to order it on Amazon or eBay.

Freederm Moisturiser: I started using this because, since I turned 21, I have been  suffering pretty bad cystic acne. The Freederm product range contains an active ingredient (nicotinamide) that fights acne. Since moisturisers can exacerbate acne by making your skin greasy and clogging pores, using a moisturiser with anti-acne ingredients seems smart, assuming it cancels out the increased acne factor whilst giving you hydrated skin.


Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant: This is something I use quite rarely (e.g. once a month), just when my skin starts looking yellowish and dull. I don’t think it’s good to use too many chemical exfoliators, but when I do use this product my skin looks amazing and glowing. The exfoliators it contains are Lactic Acid (alpha hydroxy acid) and Salicylic Acid (beta hydroxyl acid). Both are linked to anti-aging but can be irritating to sensitive skin. I have personally had no problems, but I try not to leave it on for too long (around 10 minutes, then rinse), and I only use it infrequently.