Dry Skin But Breaking Out? Here's What You Need To Know

Breakouts are a common problem most of us have experienced in our lifetime (and some more than others) and as annoying as they are, it’s completely normal. 

I have dry skin but I’m still breaking out! I thought acne only occurred with oily skin?

Dry, acne-prone skin is frustrating to deal with, especially when you try to strip your skin in an attempt to dry out those breakouts (we don’t recommend doing this!). Acne can be caused by a number of factors, but when you can identify what is causing those annoying little breakouts, you’re one step closer to clearer skin days.

Luckily for those with dry, acne-prone skin, there are a number of ways to treat and care for your skin. Read on for our top tips on how to combat this common skin concern. 

What causes acne and dry skin?

Acne occurs when hair follicles get clogged with oil, debris and dead skin cells. 

Acne can be caused by a number of factors. Some common triggers are:

Dead skin cells 

A build-up of dead skin cells on the skin can block pores leading to breakouts.


Hormones can play a big part in acne flare-ups. They occur at the most hormonally active times in our lives like puberty, pregnancy, periods and with the use of certain contraceptives. This is normal to our lives and while we can help regulate hormones, we can’t fix them.

Diet and lifestyle

A bad diet can contribute to triggering acne. Consuming highly processed and sugary foods have been implicated in being bad for the skin. Foods rich in antioxidants, whole grains, clean proteins, vegetables and fruits are great for the health of the body and the skin.

Acne can appear as little bumps on your skin or have larger inflamed red spots. They can come in many different shapes and sizes and it is common to have more than one type of acne at the same time. Still confused? See our in-depth guide on causes and types of breakouts for more details. 

The difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin

People are normally born with dry skin as it indicates your skin’s lack in sebum production. You want to avoid using products that will strip your skin of its natural oils and drying and irritating ingredients such as alcohol. The more you strip your skin, the more your skin will try to overcompensate with producing more sebum and in short, can cause drier skin AND breakouts!

Dehydrated skin, on the other hand, is caused by a lack of water and not oil. This can be triggered by unbalanced diets, smoking, lifestyle factors like poor sleeping habits, environmental factors and really anything that will suck the water content out of your skin. 

Some ways to identify if you have dry skin are:

  • Your skin feels overly sensitive or tight throughout the day or after cleansing
  • You have flaky/dry patches in some areas
  • Fine lines form through any repeated movements
  • Makeup doesn’t sit well and tends to crack easily

dry skin

How to treat dry skin that breaks out

Acne and dry skin affect a number of people, and can make you feel defeated! In this guide, we’ll break down the causes of acne and dry skin and how you can treat both without aggravating either. 

1. Get skincare advice from the experts

    We know that when you’re desperate for your skin to look and feel better, it’s tempting to rush out and try the first thing you can get your hands on! Getting quality advice from professionals can steer you down the right path - from what treatments to try and what products to avoid. At Caci, we offer free consultations where our expert team gets to know your skin and can make personalised recommendations for you.

    2. Try a gentle Murad Blemish Control Facial

    Dry and acne-prone skin is likely in need of a good cleanse to clarify and break down build-up.

    A Murad Blemish Control Facial will open clogged pores and calm inflammation. This skin conditioning treatment is designed to reduce blemishes and improve skin clarity, while soothing redness and inflammation. 

    This a 30-minute treatment includes:

    1. A double cleanse and tone to prepare the skin for treatment.
    2. The Murad Blemish Control Facial product is applied to the skin for 10 minutes and then removed. This features: 
      • Papaya and Pineapple enzymes that dissolves congestion and polishes away dull skin cells.
      •  Ginkgo Biloba Extract that provides antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits.
      • Bitter Orange Extract improves skin hydration and strengthens skin’s barrier.
      • Matricaria Flower Extract helps to comfort and soothe skin.
      • The Murad Clarifying Mask is applied to the skin. It features Kaolin and Bentonite clays that purify and deep-clean by drawing out and absorbing impurities.
      • A moisturiser suited to your skin needs is applied to rehydrate the skin.
      • Lastly, we apply SPF protection to protect and defend your skin against the New Zealand sun.

    This is a hydrating facial treatment and doesn’t strip the skin, so is perfect for dry, acne-prone skin. 

    3. Say goodbye to harsh cleansers

    When acne and breakouts happen it can be instinctive to scrub the heck out of your face! This can, in many cases make inflammation worse and strip your skin of its oils, causing your skin to produce more oil which can lead to breakouts while leaving other parts of your face dry. 

    Put down the scrubs and foaming cleansers and opt for balms or cream cleansers.

    Our favourites include: 

    • Murad Clarifying Cream Cleanser: A gentle, non-foaming cream cleanser that treats and prevents blemishes as it calms, soothes and conditions without stripping skin of vital moisture. This cleanser has encapsulated salicylic acid that releases immediately and over time to extend clearing benefits beyond rinse-off.
    • Skinsmiths Purifying Gel Cleanser: Formulated with chamomile extract, burdock root extract and cucumber extract, this cleanser is great for that deep clean feeling without drying out your skin.

    4. Consider LED Light Therapy

    LED Light Therapy

    This treatment is a dream for dry skin that’s prone to breaking out! LED Light Therapy is a gentle, non-invasive treatment that works to soothe, while stimulating the skin’s natural regeneration process. There are two types of light used dependent on what’s best suited for your skin:

    • Blue light helps fight against acne-causing bacteria while helping with skin cell turnover and calming inflammation.
    • Red light enhances the skin’s natural defence mechanisms to help speed up healing and encourages happier, healthier skin (that’s less dry!)

    The treatment itself is painless (in fact it is downright relaxing) and you can expect to see results after a few regular treatments.

    5. Take a look at your lifestyle factors 

      It’s not just about how you care for your skin on the outside, dryness and acne can be impacted by a number of environmental and lifestyle factors, from stress, sleep, change of season, diet and water intake. While there are a number of myths and truths about what contributes to healthy skin (good news, chocolate doesn’t actually cause acne) there’s no denying that when we look after ourselves, it shows on our faces.

      Try to make a few changes, like eating less processed food and more foods that support healthy gut bacteria, getting your beauty sleep and drinking lots of water to give your skin a helping hand. 

      6. Exfoliate gently to clear pores and dead skin


        Exfoliating is the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface of your face and can be done in a number of ways. 

        Exfoliation methods are not created equal! Harsh physical exfoliators and scrubs may aggravate or further inflame your skin and acne or strip your skin of its sebum, so are best to avoid if you’re trying to combat a breakout. 

        Chemical exfoliator

        Exfoliate with a chemical exfoliator like Murad’s Daily Clarifying Peel, one of the latest additions to the Murad family. This alcohol-free solution blends a resurfacing retinoid and glycolic acid with salicylic acid to gently yet effectively help clarify pores and improve surface cell turnover for smoother skin. Hydrating ingredients have also been infused in this peel to prevent dryness and promote balanced skin.

        After cleansing, shake the Daily Clarifying Peel and dispense onto a cotton pad. Sweep over the face, neck and chest and do not rinse off. Follow with your choice of moisturiser and an SPF if using during the day.


        Get a truly deep cleanse and advanced exfoliation with our Hydradermabrasion treatment. This treatment deeply cleanses, exfoliates and stimulates the skin through our Skinsmiths Detox Solution, electroporation (that helps penetrate the detox solution for better absorption) and a diamond exfoliating tip to remove dead skin cells.

        The Skinsmiths Detox Solution was developed specifically to work with Caci’s Hydradermabrasion treatment to cleanse, exfoliate and clarify the skin. The solution includes Green Tea Extract, for antioxidants that work against the signs of ageing and soothes the skin, Aloe and Chamomile to soothe and calm irritation during the exfoliation and Hyaluronic acid that helps hydrate skin and draw in moisture.

        Your skin will be feeling fresh, clean and hydrated afterwards!

        7. Reach for retinol

          Retinol is a powerhouse skincare ingredient that encourages renewal, getting deep in the skin and improving it from beneath. It should be used carefully if you have dry skin so it’s a good idea to go slow. Start with a small amount once a week and work your way to two to three times a week as your skin can tolerate it if using a strong retinol product.

          Retinol in a moisturising product will be what you’ll want to reach for - like Murad’s  Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream which is intensely hydrating. Gentle on skin, this can be used every night and helps strengthen and protect the skin’s protective barrier while helping to minimise the signs of ageing.

          8. Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise

            When looking after dry, acne-prone skin, hydration is your friend! Acne products can often be very drying which can be the opposite of what you want when you have dry skin. 

            Look for products that have calming and hydrating ingredients that will lock in moisture and soothe your skin. Great ingredients known for their moisturising properties include green tea which has great calming and anti-oxidant properties, hyaluronic acid which is a common ingredient for hydration and boosting moisture, and squalane which helps lock in moisture. 

            Avoid products that contain alcohol as these can be very drying - the opposite of what your dry skin needs. It’s also best to avoid rich ingredients like shea butter and coconut oil which can sit on the surface of the skin, mixing with dead skin cells and sebum causing more breakouts. 

            Some of our fave moisturisers for dry skin include:

            • Murad Hydro-Dynamic Ultimate Moisture: A luxurious, lightweight cream that instantly relieves dry skin. It has advanced hyaluronic acid technology that enhances the skin’s ability to retain water deep within its surface.
            • Murad Nutrient Water Gel Cream: A hydrating, oil-free water gel with a nutrient-charged blend of peptides, vitamins and minerals that helps instantly lock in moisture.

            Banish blemishes and improve dry skin At Caci

            Breakouts can be frustrating but we all experience it and it’s completely normal! It can be persistent but with the right treatments and products, it can be manageable and you’ll have clear, glowing skin in no time.

            At Caci, we have a number of skin conditioning treatments formulated to help control breakouts as well as our Blemish Bootcamp which was specifically designed to target those breakouts.

            Next steps? Book a free consultation today to get personalised advice. There are no strings attached when it comes to your free consultation so treat yourself and your skin right with tailored treatment plans at Caci.