An acne-prone skin is prone to bacterial buildup when sebum (skin’s natural oil) bunches up around the cells and causes inflammation.
A sensitive skin can develop redness, rashes, peeling or allergic reactions such as inflammation (swelling) when it comes in contact with an irritant. The cause of such irritation is usually fragrance and harsh chemicals.
Those with sensitive skin need to use products with the least amount of irritants in them. Products marked hypoallergenic work well for sensitive skin.
In India, beauticians and sales assistants (even dermatologists) frequently recommend products meant for sensitive skin to those with an acne-prone skin. Raise your hand if you have been told by a well-meaning aunt to use only Dove or Pears for your acne and pimples. Or to use only water to wash your face. Or by a pushy sales assistant how their latest product is suitable even for sensitive skin.
Why is this bad? The problem is, products meant for sensitive skin are invariably loaded with emollients meant to soothe irritation. These emollients can be highly comedogenic (pore blocking, acne causing) in nature. Using such a product on a pimple prone skin can be a recipe for disaster.
For example, Oilatum Light Liquid Paraffin Emollient. This emollient bath liquid can be a God-send for those with sensitive skin. So you’d think it should work wonders for your acne-prone skin, right? Wrong. Oilatum comes with a clear caution mentioned on the pack – do not use if you have acne or greasy skin.
Another example, Cetaphil Cleansing Lotion for Sensitive Skin. This emollient liquid can be used to wash face and body. Those using it swear by its effectiveness in cleaning their skin while not causing pimples.
So two sensitive skin products, but only one is suitable for acne-prone skin.
An acne-prone skin can be sensitive, but that does not mean products meant for sensitive skin will not break you out.
Wherein lies the problem? The problem lies in ignorance. People who do not know the workings of acne, confuse acne-prone skin with sensitive skin. While mild, hypoallergenic, fragrance-free might be good things in a product, they may not be necessary or sufficient for acne-prone skin.
Always check the label to rule out comedogenic ingredients and do a patch test on a part of your face before using any products on your acne-prone skin.