Difference Between Acne-Prone Skin and Oily Skin?

There are three main skin types, but I will concentrate on oily skin and acne-prone skin in this review. The main difference between the two is that if you have oily skin, your face will be smooth without any breakouts, but for acne-prone skin, you’ll have breakouts.

Keep reading to know the differences between oily and acne-prone skin and how to tell what skin type you have between the two.

Oily Skin vs. Acne-Prone Skin

I have done a lot of research about different skin types and what I have learnt so far is that the most common skin condition is acne. It affects millions of people every year.

People always assume that having acne means you have oily skin. One cause of acne development is indeed excess sebum production, but you can have acne-prone skin without being oily.

All skin types, including oily skin, can develop acne. Although if you have oily skin, you’re prone to acne, breakouts aren’t given.

If your skin’s pores lubricate the surface without getting clogged, you might have a clear complexion—acne forms when sebum gets trapped within the pores leading to irritation and inflammation.

Over the years, I’ve also learnt that other factors like your environment, skincare routine, an influx of hormones, stress and diet can cause acne. How acne develops, but the main thread is how it happens.

Acne will occur whenever the sebaceous follicles of the skin get clogged by sebum, debris and oil. The normal flora (bacteria that lives on the skin) multiplies rapidly, leading to inflammation and irritation.

How do I Know My Skin Type: Is it Oily or Acne-prone?

To identify and take care of your skin correctly, you have to know your skin type. There is a small procedure that will help you determine your skin type.

Wash your face using a cleanser, don’t apply anything else. After some hours, closely look at your skin texture and tone.

If it’s shiny, it means you have oily skin; if it appears red, flaky or irritated, you have dry skin. If your face is already inflamed, you might see some reddish colour and, at times, swollen patches, a clear indication of acne-prone skin.

Another main difference between the two skin types is that oily skin is more resilient, and you can tolerate different products and medicines such as benzoyl peroxide. However, acne-prone skin doesn’t tolerate many products or medications.

Such products will be too irritating and might even worsen the breakout.

There is also a minor difference in the skincare routine for the two skin types.

For oily skin, you don’t need a lot of sunscreens when indoors. But, for acne-prone skin, you might need to apply sunscreen all the time.

That’s because you’re still subjected to harmful rays and conditions that might tough on your skin, making the breakout worse.

So, How do I Tell if I Have Oily Skin?

You can easily tell you have oily skin if your face keeps glowing throughout the day. Also, makeup and skincare products don’t stay put after application.

What About Acne-prone Skin?

It’s simple; if you often have breakouts, you probably have acne-prone skin. As I explained earlier, it means that your skin pores clog easily, making you susceptible to blackheads and whiteheads.

Note that you can have oily or dry skin and still be prone to acne. But, you have to differentiate between acne and blemishes. Some distinctive signs of acne include thickened skin, stinging, or flushing from time to time.

Acne is mainly associated with oily skin, but other skin types can also get breakouts due to poor skincare routines and pollution.

People also have some myths about oily skin and acne-prone skin, which must get cleared up. If you have oily skin, you shouldn’t apply moisturiser for starters.

This is a common myth about oily skins. You are free to use moisturisers, but you should pick one that’s meant for your skin type. Failing to moisturize your skin might change its health and state, leading to more oil production, which might cause breakouts.

Purging is always confused for acne. Purging is the process when the skin gets rid of toxins, resulting in breakouts or pimples. It is more common when you start using a new skin product that your body doesn’t agree with, and in this case, you should stop using it immediately.


As you’ve read in the post, oily skin and acne-prone skin are different in the sense that the former is mostly glowing and smooth, while the latter has breakouts.  But keep in mind that even people with oily skin can get breakouts when their skin pores get clogged.

Hopefully, you know the differences between oily skin and acne-prone skin, and you’re able to tell where you belong.