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Honestly, since exiting my early 20s, it feels like my skin has become drier and drier each year! However, I obviously still get some breakouts. Who doesn't? If you don't: I'm very jealous. I often find that products intended to tackle breakouts are very much aimed at oily, more acneic skin types, but I've found a few gems that help with these spots and congestion without being harsh or stripping on my skin. So, let's talk about them today...
Generally, I don't have spot-prone skin, so this post probably isn't for you if you have acne. I tend to break out like clockwork about a week before my period and can get quite congested. When I can remember, I try to switch to these products when I (as someone on the combined pill) am entering the last week of my pill pack. Sometimes though, if I'm busy or I've been away or I'm just not on the ball; I do have to deal with the breakouts on a more reactive basis. We're all human!
The key ingredients we are looking for are sulphur and salicylic acid, as well as some nice, light textures. Sulphur absorbs excess oils, so I recommend using it as a spot treatment rather than all over your face, as you obviously don't want to dry out the parts of the skin that are already dry. Salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliant that can jump right into your pores and clear out debris, as well as reducing the redness of the spot and making it less likely you'll get a scar once the inflammation reduces. Obviously don't apply everything in this post all at once, I'm just showing you a few options on how to incorporate spot-fighting ingredients into your routine so you can find a formula and texture that works for you.
Let's start in the bathroom. A really simple thing to do if you're already breaking out is to reach for something like the Super Facialist Salicylic Acid Pore Purifying Clay Mask* | £9.99. This isn't one of those masks that sucks all hydration from your skin, but at the same time, if you're dry: most of your face probably doesn't need a clay mask. Focus this on the areas that are suffering with the breakouts and congestion, leave it on for around about 10 minutes and then rinse. I use this in the evening and by the following morning, I find this helps reduce the redness and angriness of big spots and can even clear some of those smaller whiteheads.
If you prefer a cleanser, the Skingredients Sally Cleanse | £25 | full review | is one of the only salicylic formulas I've tried that isn't too foaming or drying. I would personally use this in the evening as a second cleanse and it can be left on the skin for a couple of minutes to really help it get into those pores. This is something I do more as a preventative step if I've had the foresight to get on top of things before I'm actually getting some spots come through. I will switch to this at the right time of the month for me and it just helps clear that congestion. Sometimes I just get these angry little red bumps that, ok, don't look that noticeable on my personal complexion but they feel sore and irritated - this is amazing when that happens just to clear everything out as opposed to focusing on larger spots.
A toner I can incorporate really regularly is the Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner | £31 | full review. So, if you experience more irregular breakouts that you can't alway see coming: this is for you. You can apply it couple of times a week and there are a few things that make it great for dry skin that's breaking out. The first is the fact that this pairs your oil-soluble BHA with PHAs, which work more on the upper layers of skin and have hydrating properties, meaning they can make quick work of dry cells on the surface of the skin. Additionally it's in a base of soothing, hydrating glycerin, cucumber, aloe and hyaluronic acid. It also has this slightly weightier texture that makes it super-hydrating and it never feels drying.
The next product I'm going to talk about is the Inkey List's Succinic Acid Blemish Treatment* | £6.99 | full review. I suspect the sulphur and salicylic acid are doing much of the heavy-lifting in terms of fighting spots (as opposed to the eponymous ingredient), but either way: this works for me! It's formulated with hyaluronic acid and fatty alcohols to balance the slightly drying effect of sulphur. This isn't a drying-out spot paste, so it doesn't make everything disappear overnight, but it gentle helps speed up the life-cycle of a spot. I apply it as a reactive measure to the affected area in the morning and evening before any serums, making sure I give it some time to sit on the skin before layering anything over it (I also pat rather than swipe on my products near the areas I've used this so I'm not moving it around too much).
Something you can actually use in conjunction with any of the products in this post is the Dr Dennis Gross B3Adaptive Stress Rescue Super Serum* | £75. This is a lightweight, hydrating milky serum with antioxidant sources but also niacinamide, which helps regulate oil production in the skin, calm angry breakouts and support the skin barrier. We also have squalane in here, which is a plant-based, skin-similar oil that's amazing for replenishing dry skin types. This isn't a quick fix or a direct blemish treatment, it's just supporting skin clarity whilst hydrating dry skin.
If you prefer your salicylic acid in serum form, I really like the PSA Skin Liquid Clarity BHA & Bakuchiol Blemish Recovery Booster* | £27 | full review. I love that this comes in a lightweight, hydrating base and it's something you can incorporate into your routine a couple of times a week. Zinc calms down the surface 'anger' of breakouts whilst salicylic acid helps clear them and bakuchiol has properties that fight against hyperpigmentation to help avoid any scarring. It's anti-inflammatory and helps slowly reduce breakouts and congestion.
The next product I have here isn't an active, it's more something that's going to support your salicylic acid or sulphur treatment. If you're breakout out and experiencing overall congestion, you probably don't want something really heavy and occlusive trapping in all of that bacteria, at the same time; if you're generally dry, you don't want the rest of your face to suffer. For me, the Murad Hydro-Dynamic Ultimate Moisture* | £65 | full review | is the perfect balance. It packs shea butter, hyaluronic acid, avocado oil and lots of other good stuff into a super-light and breathable gel-cream. You can then follow it with a moisturising mineral sunscreen if you like, as zinc oxide can be anti-inflammatory.
Lastly, as a dry-skinned person: you're probably not scared of an oil! And, the good news is that salicylic acid is oil-soluble, so you can get it in an oil delivery system. I personally love the Sunday Riley UFO Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil* | £68. This is more of a dry oil, so doesn't feel heavy or greasy but it's still adding that moisture. A couple of drops of this before moisturiser can clear general congestion overnight and does a great job of minimising angry breakouts without feeling at all harsh on my skin.
How do you navigate breaking out if you're on the drier side?
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