Question for the Derm: Should Acne-Prone Skin Use an Oil-Free Moisturizer?

January 22, 2021
Question for the Doctor: Should Acne-Prone Skin Use an Oil-Free Moisturizer?

Dr. Zenovia Skincare seeks to address every hormone-related skincare concern, from acne and dryness to skin aging with science backed by research and clinical trials. In our new series, “Question for the Derm”, Dr. Zenovia will be answering your top questions about hormones & skin. Below, Dr. Zenovia shares if acne-prone skin should opt for an oil-free moisturizer.

Acne-Prone Skin

When it comes to dermatology, acne is one of my favorite things to talk about because it's infectious, inflammatory, and psychologic. Acne is not a singular issue problem. It is a multifactorial, systemic disorder. A lot of patients ask me about the products they should use for acne, but it's not a straightforward question because acne isn't all the same in every patient. Some patients have t-zone oiliness and early congested blackheads while others have deep, cystic jawline acne. Both patients have acne but are experiencing very different forms of the disease.

Oil-Free Skincare & Acne-Prone Skin

Patients with oily or acne-prone skin often ask if they should use oil-free topical skincare. The answer is sometimes. Oil-free skincare is great for patients that have excessively oily skin and are producing ample sebum and excessive oils. If you wash your face in the morning and by the early afternoon you can swipe your nose and you’re oily, that means you have oily skin. Oily skin is producing those natural oils and stimulating the sebaceous glands, so you don’t really need additional oil in your products. In fact, it may help to use oil-free skincare. However, if you have skin that tends to be dry, flaky, or irritated (or if you have a rosacea component to your skin where it's inflammatory with a bunch of little red bumps), you could probably benefit from oil in your skincare products. Oil-free skincare is therefore great for people that have excessive oiliness. Oil-based products that have some emollients, however, can benefit some acne patients that have a tendency for dry skin.

Moisturizer & Acne-Prone Skin

Having acne is not a reason to skip moisturizing. No matter what skin type you have, the epidermis requires moisture! How much moisture or what kind of moisture to apply are the real questions. You must examine your skin, and ask yourself: when I apply new products do I get sensitive and rashy? Then you have sensitive skin. Are you the type of person that even when you wash your face twice a day, you are still oily? Well, then you have an oily skin type. Depending on where your skin is at on that spectrum- that’s how you determine how much moisture your face needs. 

It is important to note that skin type relates to our hormone levels and can change with age, climate changes, or even over the course of a monthly cycle!

For dry skin, the moisturizers I love most are humectants. Humectants are ingredients that draw fluid into the tissue. Aloe vera is an amazing humectant and molecule that draws water into the skin and hydrates the tissue. Applying fatty molecules onto the skin like an oil or lipids is also important for skin barrier protection but doesn’t moisturize the skin. As you can see, there is a very complicated chemistry when you talk about moisturizing versus hydrating. With the formulation of Dr. Zenovia Skincare, I created moisturizing topicals as well as products focused on barrier protection.

The Aloe Vera Blemish Soothing Moisturizer is amazing for patients with acne because it doesn’t add a ton of oils onto the skin, but serves as a very effective hydrator. The aloe vera we use is pure and medical-grade, sourced from high-grade medical suppliers. The aloe vera mucopolysaccharides molecule absorbs a thousand times its weight in water and is a very effective hydrator for people that need hydration even if they produce excess oil or have oily skin.


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