Do we need to moisturize acne prone skin? Won’t oily skin get greasier if we apply a moisturizer?
The answer is: YES! We need to moisturize the skin with acne, even if it is oily or greasy.
Unfortunately, applying emollients on acne skin is one of the most overlooked steps in our daily care. Why that? The greasy feeling left by many products which are not specific to seborrheic skin prevents many people from using moisturizers. But if we manage to find the optimal products for our skin, a hydration can work wonders even on oily acne skin.
Oily skin can also be dehydrated, without realizing it. There is a vicious circle of the seborrheic skin, which once dehydrated stimulates an increased secretion of sebum, thus becoming an even more oily skin, with the risk of clogging pores. The natural response of dry skin is to compensate for this dryness with more sebum. Accentuated cellular detritus (debris) of dehydrated skin together with excess sebum will block the pores and will predispose to the formation of microcomedones and as a result to the formation of inflammatory and non-inflammatory pimples.
Are dry skin and dehydrated skin the same thing? No! Dry skin is skin that cannot produce enough sebum to optimally hydrate the skin, while dehydrated skin is skin that does not have enough water in its layers. Therefore, it may look like oily skin, but may actually be dehydrated.
If you have acne or acne-prone skin, it is very important to check on the packaging of the moisturizer if it says that it is oil-free, noncomedogenic or does not clog pores. Most of the time, it should not have a very greasy texture, but a light one that penetrates the skin quickly. However, if you use anti-acne treatments that dry the skin very much, slightly softer, greasier textures may be needed to properly restore the modified hydrolipidic skin barrier by these treatments.
Most anti-acne products used for treatment, in addition to their beneficial role, have the disadvantage of exfoliating and irritating the skin, sometimes excessively. In their case, optimal hydration is required. In the same way, the very fashionable exfoliating products during this period – alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids – will have a beneficial effect by light exfoliation of the surface layers of the skin, but will generate a transepidermal water loss from the skin layers. Failure to restore the skin’s hydrolipidic barrier with a moisturizer can aggravate pre-existing acne.
Emollients can be divided into 3 categories depending on the way of action – moisturizing, occlusive and emollient. Moisturizing substances have the role of attracting water to the surface layers of the skin like a sponge from the dermis. Occlusive agents form a film on the surface of the skin and block the evaporation of water from this level. Emollient agents will smoothen the surface layers of the skin by inserting themselves between the cells at this level, the purpose being to restore the natural lipid matrix. Moisturizers will contain different proportions of these substances to provide the optimal level of skin softening and to restore the skin’s hydrolipidic barrier. For example, moisturizers alone can increase water loss from the skin, but combined with occlusive agents, this water will remain blocked in the skin. For the best possible result, it is recommended to use moisturizers immediately after cleansing the skin to block the water absorbed by the skin during washing.
So, even if you have acne, your skin needs optimal hydration and for this you may need to adapt your daily skin care routine by introducing a moisturizer that meets your current skin needs, which can be more hydrated or dehydrated depending on the season and other anti-acne treatments, whether applied topically or taken orally.
Dr. Anastasia Coman
Clinica Derma 360