How to Treat Acne When You Have Sensitive Skin
If you have both sensitive and acne-prone skin, dryness, flakiness and peeling are likely your reality. While oily skin types might be able to tolerate products that dry up excess sebum and target breakouts, sensitive skin types can end up feeling uncomfortably tight and irritated. To figure out the best way to treat sensitive skin suffering from breakouts, we turned to board-certified dermatologist and Skincare.com consultant Dr. Michael Kaminer. Ahead, find his advice and some of our favorite gentle acne-fighting products.
How to Treat Acne If You Have Sensitive Skin
If you have sensitive skin it’s important to avoid using products that are too harsh or drying. It’s equally as important to address acne as it is to moisturize and hydrate the skin.
Don’t Overdo It With Acne-Fighting Ingredients
“You don’t need to dry out your skin to make it less acne-prone,” says Dr. Kaminer. “Look for products with a small amount of salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to gently open pores without the side effect of drying the skin.” With salicylic acid, the percentage can range from .05 to 2 percent in over-the-counter products. With benzoyl peroxide, the percentage ranges from 2.5 to 10 percent. A good rule of thumb is to start with the lowest concentration available and slowly work your way up as your skin develops more of a tolerance. If any irritation occurs, lower the dosage or concentration and allow your skin to recover. It can also be beneficial to use spot treatments formulated with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide to target the pimple directly and minimize the chance of irritation.
Don’t Forget to Moisturize
While your first instinct may be to dry out your skin to reduce acne, this will just make your sensitivities worse. Instead, Dr. Kaminer suggests adding a “light and well-formulated moisturizer” to your routine. “I like to recommend formulas that have some glycolic acid in them,” he adds. He also suggests products that are non-comedogenic and oil-free to avoid any additional breakouts.
Our Favorite Acne Products for Sensitive Skin
If you’re searching for a face cleanser formulated with benzoyl peroxide, try this drugstore option from CeraVe. With 4% benzoyl peroxide, the foaming cleanser helps fight blemishes and prevent new ones. Meanwhile, hyaluronic acid, ceramides and niacinamide work to hydrate the skin and prevent irritation.
If you have a gentle cleanser that leaves your skin feeling balanced and soft, but want a little something extra to remove impurities and gunk from your pores, try pairing your face wash with the Clarisonic Acne Cleansing Brush Head. It removes debris and helps with acne while still being gentle enough for your sensitive skin.
This cult-favorite acne treatment is perfect if you’re looking to spot treat your blemishes. Formulated with benzoyl peroxide and micro-exfoliating AHA, this product helps clear out clogged pores and fight whiteheads and blackheads. Apply a thin layer to the affected area up to three times daily.
Want to reboot your whole skin-care routine? Add this AcneFree three-step system to your cart. The kit contains the Salicylic Acid Acne Cleanser, Fruit Enzyme Toner and Sensitive Skin Acne Lotion. The products contain a balance of acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide with hydrating ones such as ginger and oat extract to prevent irritating sensitive skin.