Acne & Sensitive Skin: How to Deal With Acne When Your Skin Is Sensitive
Acne and sensitive skin aren’t words found in the same sentence very often, but that’s not to say it’s an impossibility. While pesky blemishes more commonly crop up on oily and combination skin types, sensitive, easily irritated skin is (sadly) not immune to them. More bad news: Coming up with a treatment plan that won’t make your sensitive skin go haywire is really, really tricky. Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide—two acne-fighting ingredients—can be drying and irritating, especially for sensitive skin types. But all hope is not lost. Below, we asked board-certified dermatologist, and Skincare.com consultant, Dr. Michael Kaminer to share helpful tips to nip acne in the bud without creating a peeling, irritated mess. Keep reading for his recos!
Be mindful of concentrations
Skin care is not one size fits all, so there’s no surefire way of knowing how your sensitive skin will react to a certain formula. Thus, good ol’ trial and error, Kaminer says, is key. “You don’t need to dry out your skin to make it less acne-prone,” he says. “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 and/or concentration and allow skin to recover. In addition, instead of using a facial wash, mask, or all-over treatment formulated with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, sensitive-skinned folks should stick to using a spot treatment formulated with these ingredients on pimples to lower the likelihood of a negative skin reaction. In other words, you don’t want to overdo it by combining too many products formulated with these ingredients, when one spot treatment might do the job.
Don’t forget to moisturize
Even though your skin is sensitive and covered in blemishes, it still needs moisture. “Reach for a light and well-formulated moisturizer,” Kaminer says. “I like to recommend formulas that have some glycolic acid—or something similar—in them.” Bonus points if it’s non-comedogenic and oil-free. After all, we’re trying to help an existing breakout, not induce a new one.
Editor’s tip: Keep the harsh scrubbing and tugging to cleaning your dishes—not your face. All chances of minimizing skin irritation will be shot to hell as soon as you aggressively rub your face. Not to mention, even ‘gentle’ formulas can show their ugly side if they’re not applied the right way. So, take it easy. Your sensitive skin will be better off.