Does Improving The Skin Barrier Function Improve Acne?

The ESK blog

Does Improving The Skin Barrier Function Improve Acne?

20 July 2021

The answer is yes. The skin barrier helps prevent Trans Epidermal Water Loss (TEWL) keeping moisture in your skin. So many people think that oily skin can’t be dry skin- but it is indeed. In fact, TEWL is partly to blame for the acne itself. In fact some studies suggest that the worse the TEWL, the more severe the acne. So ironically, treating TEWL can help improve acne. 

Unfortunately, many acne treatments containing benzoyl peroxide and some forms of vitamin A like tretinoin, tazarotene and isotretinoin actually increase TEWL and yet play a huge role in treating acne. So if you are using them, restoring skin barrier function becomes even more important.


1. Moisturise;

Studies of emollient and moisturising skincare products for acne show they improve skin irritation, redness and skin dryness. And most experts recommend non comedogenic moisturizers as part of your anti-acne regime. 

But moisturizing isn’t enough. You will want actives in your skincare. 

  • Vitamin A. Vitamin A helps regulate skin turnover (reducing pore blockages) and reduces inflammation and any post inflammatory pigmentation. Retinal is, according to the evidence, the most effective and is the least irritating form of Vitamin A. ESK’s Ultimate A and Ultimate A+ night-time moisturisers are our hero products for treating acne effectively.

Ultimate A

Ultimate A

Vitamins A and B. High strength. Effortlessly improves skin texture and tone for skin that is soft smooth and supple. Also effective in managing acne. 

  • Rebuild collagen
  • Increase skin elasticity
  • Reduce hyperpigmentation

Ultimate A+

Ultimate A+

A Vitamin A (Retinal – 0.1%), B3 (Niacinamide – 4%) and AHA (Glycolic Acid – 2%) based night cream. Vitamin A is the ingredient with the strongest anti-ageing evidence and Retinal is the most effective and least irritating form of Vitamin A. 

  • Niacinamide AKA Vitamin B3. This skincare active effectively not only reduces inflammation but helps combat overproduction of sebum (or oil) in the skin. ESK’s B Calm has 5% Niacinamide in a soothing but moisturizing cream, ideal for acne-prone skin. 

B Calm

B Calm

Calm sensitive, oily or acne prone skin with this light-weight vitamin B3 moisturising cream that glides on like silk.

  • Improve skin's barrier function
  • Manage the skin's oil production
  • Improve acne and rosacea symptoms. 

2. Avoid things that can make skin barrier function worse!

  • Avoid soap which irritates skin and impairs skin barrier function. Cleansing is really important to remove excess sebum but go for a soap free cleanser like ESK’s Calming Cleanse or Hydroxy Cleanser to gently remove dirt and excess keratin.

Hydroxy Cleanser

Hydroxy Cleanser

A soap free, lightly foaming cleanser.

  • Leaves skin feeling clean and soft
  • Doesn't strip natural oils
  • Perfect for normal/oily skin

  • Avoid UV damage. UVB and UVA rays both can cause inflammation and reduced skin barrier function. So opt for a broad spectrum non-comedogenic sunscreen with low irritation risk. Zinc oxide based sunscreens are ideal and tick all the boxes. You can find this in ESK’s Zinc Shade which gives you a matt finish and can be used under make up. 

Zinc Shade

Zinc Shade

Zinc Shade – UV Protection Skincare Product

Zinc Shade based daily moisturiser providing you with the protection you need from both UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) rays.

  • Protects from UVA and UVB protection
  • Can be used under make-up
  • Rated SPF15


Maintaining the best skin barrier function you possibly can will actually help with your acne. Avoid soap, protect yourself from the sun and use a good comedogenic moisturiser.