Breakouts are normally a trait that's aligned with oily, acne-prone skin. If you're experiencing breakouts, you're likely told to immediately use salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to help minimize and diminish the appearance of pimples.
Not surprising, dry skin can experience breakouts, too. However, the way it's treated has to be a tad different, being that the aforementioned ingredients have a tendency to cause further dryness and irritation, especially when used in higher concentrations and inappropriate formulas for drier skin. But the question that we want to truly know is: why does dry skin experience breakouts if our skin is already...dry? And, how do we treat them without causing more dryness and damage?
Read on to learn the truth behind your breakouts and how to best treat them while having dry skin.
1. First, they're not really "breakouts" most times.
We like to call these "pseudo-breakouts", because what we think may be a horde of pimples attacking the surface of our skin is actually an inflammatory response to your skin being, well, dry. When skin is dry, it's lacking the sebum needed to keep cells lubricated and hydrated to function and defend the skin and internal organs properly. What happens is, your skin tries to make up for the lack of oil and water that it has, thus, overproducing sebum. This is what causes the tiny pimples that we experience and what leads us to think we have combination skin or oily skin.
The treatment here is to focus on a routine that truly provides hydration in every step. Cream cleansers, essences, and oils are your best friends throughout your skincare journey as they are work synergistically to provide hydration and moisture to restore your skin's lipid barriers and help keep the cells balance to make sure they function properly with balanced sebum production and regulation. It's all about creating and maintaining balance.
2. You're not exfoliating properly, or at all.
If you have dry skin, you likely steer clear from all things with the words "exfoliation" associated with it. Products of the past that helped to exfoliate the skin normally consisted of tiny beads, walnuts, or apricot shavings (St. Ives anyone?) and caused more damage than good. The friction that it caused the skin often caused further irritation to already dry skin.
Fear not, as there are better exfoliation options and it is essential to the skin. As we age, our skin cell turnover rate, or skin regeneration––the speed at which our skin's cells shed to reveal newer cells––starts to slow down and occurs slower than usual, taking up to 60 to 90 days for our old cells to shed and the newer cells to shine through. When the skin cells aren't shedding the way they're supposed to, build up of dead skin cells occur and rest atop the surface of the skin. This in turn causes uneven skin tone and texture, and trapped debris, oil, and dirt between the old and new layer of skin. This inevitably causes pimples to occur in dry skin.
The best way to handle this is to use a gentle chemical exfoliant as opposed to a physical exfoliant, especially if your skin is sensitive, as well. Opt for something like Lactic Acid instead of Glycolic Acid, as LA is more gentle for drier skin types and actually hydrating and restorative. You can opt for a cream cleanser, like the Savant Cream Cleanser with 5% Lactic Acid for safe daily use in your morning and night routine.
3. Your hair products could be the culprit.
We don't necessarily bat an eye at the thought that the things that we put in our hair and use in our hair regimen has a direct effect on our skin. But, the thought should cross our minds more, especially if you're noticing on a consistent basis that you have little pimples across your forehead close to your hairline and on the sides. If you've noticed that each time you reach for your favorite co-wash, shampoo or serum and your face starts to freak out about a day or two afterwards, start looking at the ingredients in your hair care products to understand what may be the source of the issue.
A lot of products contain heavier oils or emollients that are great for our strands, but not so great for our skin, being more comedogenic a.k.a. more likely to cause clogged pores. Look for ingredients like baobab oil, coconut oil and derivatives (in the form of caprylic/capric triglycerides), babassu oil, silicones, and castor oil. Especially if they have fragrance and dyes. Switch out for cleaner products and also, stick to your skincare regimen to get rid of the residue from the hair products.
4. Your pillow isn't being washed, or your pillowcase.
Our pillowcases and pillows live with us throughout our lives and are a big part of our nightly routine. We sleep on it, sweat on it, have sex on it, eat on it, well...you get the point. With all of this, it holds all of the dirt and residue from those activities and kind of, festers. Without cleaning our pillows and pillow cases on, at minimum, a weekly basis, we're doing our skin a disservice by laying in the same spot and allowing bacteria and grease to make its way back onto our skin, causing inflammation.
If you want, we suggest stocking up on at least 5 sets of pillowcases to switch out every week so you can have fresh pillowcases each time and not wait for the next wash cycle. And of course, make sure they're silk or satin. We prefer white or cream cases to reduce the dye that often rubs off from the different colors.
5. You're stressed.
Stress is a huge factor in our lives and affects everything from our mental to our physical state. Our skin is not discriminated against when it comes to the effects of stress, either. When our bodies are in fight or flight mode, it sends an inflammatory response throughout the nervous system. That can sometimes show up on our skin and be in the form of itchy, red hives on the body, and little cysts or pimples on the face. Even worse, stress can cause further dullness and dryness of the skin.
The easiest solution is to reduce the amount of stress in your life and really try to relax more. This can be in the form of removing clutter from your life in your skincare routines and sticking with the basics to restore your skin's health, getting more sleep through the night, taking a moment to truly wind down after work or with tending to our families, or simply going for a walk.
Dry skin has some of the same problems that oily, combination, and normal skin types face and there's no discrimination with it comes to acne for anyone.
The above are things to think about when it comes to creating preventative measures for reducing the amount of pimples that pop up on your skin. It's all about simple maintenance and awareness of self, maintaining a proper routine that focuses on hydration and moisture in every step, and not being afraid of gentle exfoliation, to help our skin function as it should.
Get on a proper skincare routine with our Starter Rituals set to help you establish an effective routine of care for sensitive, dry skin.