This is the first of a series of 3 parts on the issue of acne management.

The aim of these series is to educate our consumers of the possible causative factors responsible for acne breakouts. This is because, I believe that when we are aware of the reason “a thing happens”, then we are better able to:

  1. Prevent it from happening in the future
  2. Understand the reasons it happens and not be alarmed if it happens again

So before we go into the topic, I would like us to be familiar with these very important premise when it comes to managing acne:

  1. Acne is an inflammatory disease

  2. Acne is individual

  3. Acne is multifactorial


Our usual perception when it comes to acne is that acne is a skin condition that emerges mostly due to overproduction of oil (sebum) in the skin, therefore acne has indirectly come to associated with oily skin types, however as can be deducted from the above premise, any form of inflammation can cause acne, and acne can be caused by many different factors and is different for each person. Therefore acne is not solely caused by overproduction of sebum in the skin, there could be other factors responsible and acne is not only possible with oily skin types.

Hence the question “Can dry skin types develop acne?”

Hold that thought….

We are going to answer it by going into the topic for today, by the time we are done, you will have the answer..

3 secrets of acne management:

Part 1: Physiological condition of the skin and acne

At times the cause of acne can just be skin deep, on the epidermal level and will have absolutely nothing to do with the internal workings of your body—this is actually the easiest type of acne to treat.

“Physiological condition of the skin”, simply means the physical state of the skin ( epidermis).  We will be discussing factors responsible for acne,  based on the physical condition of the epidermis.

The first factor we will look at is the Barrier structure of the skin

1.Barrier structure of the skin

  • Maintaing the barrier structure of the skin is really important for healthy skin.
  • The skin is composed of layer upon layers of cells called keratinocytes connected by an oily network which holds them together in layers and upon each other
  • The best way to describe the skin is with brick and mortar analogy.
  • This whole set up  forms a physical barrier on top of the skin that prevents moisture loss from the skin, and toxins from entering as well

What happens when this barrier is broken?

  • Skin becomes dehydrated and inflamed, as a result of excessive evaporation of moisture from the skin and possibly entrance of toxins.
  • Remember, our ground rule for acne …
  • Acne is an inflammatory disease, so once dehydration sets in , our immune system will respond to the imbalance and that will cause inflammation and possibly acne or rashes will follow.

What can cause an impaired barrier structure?

  •  Excessive use of alcohols / alcohol based products in skincare
  • Use of high alkaline soaps in people with dry skin
  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Using bad or wrong skin care products like using acne products on rashes caused by skin dehydration… this simply makes matters worse

What to do when this happens

  • Treat skin with moisture infusing and hydrating products that can promote the lipid initiation process
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Repair skins natural barrier structure.,
  • Here are some ingredients that can help :Niacinamide, Lactic acid, Urea, Hyaluronic acid, Glycerin, Resveratrol, Ceramides etc.

2. Skin’s natural microbiome

  • Our skin surface is covered with millions of micro organisims
  • These micro organisims like the barrier structure of our skin form a protective layer or covering for our skin
  • This colony is made up of both good and bad bacteria, maintain a balnace that protects the skin against foreign bacteria, fungi, mould virus etc. from the environment
  • Any imbalance that leads to a proliferation of bad bacteria, would lead to inflammation and possibly acne as well other sorts of skin conditions

Reasons for disruption of skin’s natural microbiome

  • Contact with harsh detergents and soaps
  • Poorly formulated creams, moisturisers and cosmetics
  • Temperature
  • Uv rays
  • Humidity
  • Air quality
  • Ventilation
  • Indiscriminate use of antibacterial cosmetics

What to do when this happens

  • Topical application of prebiotic and probiotic skincare ingredients
  • Prebiotics provide a conducuive environmaent for bacteria to thrive
  • Probiotics are live cultures of bacteria
  • There might be a realtionship between oral intake of probiotics and skin helath??
  • Avoud excessive scrubbing and exfoliation
  • Proper moisturising
  • Avoid using antibacterial skincare products excessively and unnecessarily

3. Skin’s natural acid mantle

  • Ph is a measure of acidity or alkalinity
  • Skin has a natural acidic PH 4.5-5 that is very important for mainting the balance of commensal microbes on the skin
  • Skin PH and the microbiome go hand in hand
  • If skin PH drifts too high, then there is a preponderance of bad bacteria on the skin.
  • Too low  ph also literally burns the skin
  • Both cases can lead to irritation and inflammation
  • Remember our ground rule… inflammation causes acne

Factors that cause a drift in skin’s ph

  • Consistent use of highly alkaline products like cold process soap
  • Poor moisturising .. dehydrated skin

What to do when this happens

  • Use Ph balance products especially cleansers
  • Avoid  cold process soap,
  • Reduce frequency of washing or taking very long baths
  • Proper hydration of the skin

4.Retention Hyperkeratosis

  • The skin naturally sheds its top layer routinely every 4 to 6 weeks
  • However, in retention hyperkeratosis, the skin cells do not shed but rather pile up on top of each other, coated  with sebum
  • This causes the walls of the hair follicles to thicken and leads to clogged pores
  • Clogged pores provide an ideal environment for anaerobic bacteria to thrive, and this can lead to acne

What to do when this happens

  • Use of chemoexfoliants (AHA, BHA) to break up  current impactions, flush the follices and loosen dead skin cells
  • Proper cleansing methods
  • Double cleansing  the skin when wearing makeup or suncreen

Remember the question we asked at the beginning?


As we can see, none of the factors mentioned above had anything to do with oil production or sebum,

In fact none of the physiological factors for acne break out had nothing to do with oily skin types, but that,,, surprisingly… Dry skin types..


So Yes.. It is possible to have acne, even if you have dry skin!