By Ama Kwarteng, @amakwarteng
People often assume that oily skin is what causes congestion and those annoying, occasional breakouts. But the reality is dehydrated, dry skin is often the real culprit, which makes congestion tricky to solve. Congestion is the result of excess oil, but reducing oiliness by drying the skin out will often make things worse. This is because the body can overcompensate by producing more oil, says dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick. That said, there are ways to reduce oil, but it should be done in conjunction with products that help to keep the skin moisturized as a way to maintain the balance and prevent overly drying out the skin.
How to Tell if You Have Dry Skin
Dry, dehydrated skin is when your skin lacks hydration (aka H20). According to Dr. Garshick, dry skin can appear in a couple different ways. It can be red, flaky or dull, sometimes with the skin feeling tight. It can also feel itchy, burning, or sensitive.
Whether your skin type is balanced, combination, dry, or oily, you can suffer from dehydrated skin. It’s caused by a lack of water retention in the upper-most skin layer. And what exactly causes skin dehydration? Using (or overusing or misusing) skincare products that contain harsh ingredients, weather, environment, and diet, says Dr. Garshick. Harsh ingredients and weather can be irritating on the skin and dry the skin out, damaging the skin barrier and then making it difficult for your skin to retain water. This can lead to your skin looking dull and rough, feeling tight or stretched, and, over time, more obvious fine lines and wrinkles.
How Dry Skin Causes Congestion and Breakouts
Dry skin can lead to congestion and breakouts in a few ways, says Dr. Garshick. When your skin is dry, it triggers your body to create more oil to help your skin retain H20, which can lead to clogged pores and congestion. Clogged pores (congestion) are visible as blackheads, and sometimes redness and irritation. Dry skin can also lead to breakouts by clogging pores because of excess skin shedding, which is a perfect environment for bad bacteria to thrive. If you are prone to breakouts and use products that clog pores while trying to address excess oil, it can lead to worsened congestion and breakouts as this combo is worsening the underlying cause - dry skin!
How to Treat Dry/Dehydrated Skin That Is Congested and Breaking Out
First of all, you want to avoid typical drying acne treatments—they can make the situation worse. According to Dr. Garshick, you want to focus on products that will help repair the skin barrier and prevent clogged pores with non comedogenic, nourishing ingredients like:
Sea Buckthorn Oil
Vitamin C + B3
Exfoliating is another great way way to prevent congestion. Dead skin and excess sebum are the main components of congested skin, and exfoliation targets both of these and gets them off your skin. Using a nourishing and gentle chemical exfoliant — like the Hibiscus Exfoliating Mud— also has the bonus effect of helping your skin barrier repair itself and improves water retention.
You should also consider your internal health when trying to treat your congestion, says Dr. Garshick. A good diet and hydrating properly can all help your skin’s state. But keep in mind, sometimes just drinking water is not enough. Your body might be low in potassium, which makes it difficult for cells to retain water.
We’ve put together a simple, nourishing skincare routine specifically for dehydrated, congested skin. Shop our Nourish Ritual here.