Skin Care Products Improve Skin Barrier, Reduce Symptoms of Acne

acne, acne treatment
Skin care products may effectively improve the skin barrier function to alleviate the acne symptoms, or exacerbate them.

Skin care products – including oil-free cleansers, oil-free moisturizers, and sunscreen – can effectively improve the skin barrier in patients with acne and may reduce symptoms associated with conventional acne treatment, according to findings from a paper published in Dermatologic Therapy.

Cleansers represent a cornerstone of topical acne control regimens. Gentle cleansers can help reduce the secretion of sebum, the waxy substance secreted by the sebaceous gland that can ultimately lead to skin barrier damage. Cleansing should be the first step in acne care, and a twice-per-day strategy is recommended for patients with acne and oily skin. Products with active ingredients such as salicylic acid, a-hydroxy acid, and benzoyl peroxide can be effective in controlling the disease.

Too much cleansing can lead to barrier damage and dry skin, features that do not lend themselves well to the patient with acne. Overall, a moisturizer reduces the rate of trans-epidermal water loss, improves skin hydration, and helps to maintain the integrity of the cuticle permeability barrier. Moisturizer should be applied following cleansing as a means of creating a film and “traps” the water on the surface of the skin.

For some patients, it may be necessary to use moisturizers that contain plant-based anti-inflammatory substances. Agents in moisturizers such as ceramides and squalene should also be recommended as a means to replenish lipids on the surface of the skin and between the cells. This may be especially important for patients with acne, as ceramides are often reduced in the skin of these patients.

Sunscreen, which is typically delivered in a moisturizing vehicle, should also be recommended for patients with acne, particularly patients who are using ingredients that increase skin photosensitivity (eg, vitamin A and benzoyl peroxide).

The use of skin care products may also reduce adverse events of conventional therapies used to treat acne. Adverse events associated with certain conventional acne treatments include dry skin, pruritus, desquamation, and erythema. Therefore, skin care products may improve tolerability, compliance, and success of conventional therapy. Topical skin care products can also be seen as a maintenance option for reducing acne recurrence.

According to the authors of the paper, patients with acne “should choose appropriate skin care products according to the type and severity degree of acne, skin type, and use of drugs, so as to avoid aggravating acne.”


Zhao J, Wang Y, Jiang L, Mu YZ. The application of skin care product in acne treatment. Published online September 8, 2020. Dermatol Ther. doi:10.1111/dth.14287