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Why Your Dry Skin Has Breakouts — And How to Treat Them

We spoke to a top skincare expert on how to treat those pesky breakouts surrounded by dry, flaky skin.
Why Your Dry Skin Has Breakouts — And How Treat Them
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Photo: Luca Cannonieri/

In our Q&A series, beauty experts address your most bewildering issues. Have a beauty-related quandary of your own? Submit your question in the comments below or via Twitter.

Q: Now that it’s winter and my skin is dry, I thought I could expect a break from acne — but the blemishes are still coming. How can my skin be dry and have acne? And what’s the best way to treat it?

A: “The problem with super dry skin is that the sebum [our skin’s natural oils] can’t get out,” says Lori Terwilliger, a spa and wellness professional. When the sebum can’t reach the surface of skin, the pores get clogged, causing blemishes. Terwilliger recommends exfoliation to remove the dry skin. “Use an exfoliator, like Skin PHD AHA 7 Fruit Amidroxy Exfoliator, once a week. This allows the sebum to be released, avoiding blocked pores.” This gentle exfoliator is also a serum, no rinsing required.

Light moisturizers can be applied directly over a blemish, but any thick creams should be placed around a blemish to avoid clogged pores. However, if you’re using a spot treatment, you should apply it to clean skin and avoid adding moisturizer on top. Other products may interfere with the treatment’s active ingredients — salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.

Another cause for acne: your scarf. Believe it or not, the hairs from a scarf will get onto the skin and cause irritation and breakouts. They also trap the oil around your neck and jawline. So wash your scarves often and wear only when necessary.

Read more: 5 Ways to Reduce Skin Redness This Winter

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