This post was inspired by something I saw on Facebook. The reality for many women is just as they start to see wrinkles on their skin (perhaps around the eyes or on the forehead for example) they still get an occasional pimple. This can be both frustrating and confusing. Yet it isn’t so difficult to find one solution for both skincare issues.
I would like to point out that the skincare phenomena I am writing about here is not adult acne. While adult acne is definitely on the rise, I am referring here to people who are probably in their late 30s, early 40s and are starting to see the emergence of fine lines while still occasionally experiencing breakouts (for women perhaps around the time they get their period). This is also different from women who are undergoing menopause and find that they are all of a sudden breaking out. I’ve blogged about both adult acne and menopause’s effects on the skin in the past. Those posts are listed below if you would like to look at them.
In my opinion what is happening here is simple: you are starting to see fine lines because sun damage from years before is now becoming visible, and you are still experiencing an occasional breakout because of your hormones (especially those related to your period) and/or stress. Just as I see the cause of this skincare issue as fairly straightforward so is, in my opinion, the solution: add a retinol cream to your skincare regime at night, make sure you use sunscreen daily, and use an antioxidant serum every day. Be sure not to go overboard in order to improve the appearance of your skin. Do not start using anti-acne products meant for teenagers such as Stridex or Clean & Clear. These products will be much too harsh for pretty much anyone who isn’t a teenager anymore.
Retinol is the ideal skincare ingredient for people experiencing both fine lines and an occasional breakout because it can treat both issues simultaneously. I’ve written about retinol and Retin-A before in my blog (you can find the posts below), but I’ll explain again why this is a great skincare ingredient. As Lab Muffin explains in the post Fact-Check Friday: What Does Retinol Do? :
Retinol is a form of vitamin A. Other forms of vitamin A in skincare that you may be familiar with include isotretinoin (better known as Accutane) and retinyl palmitate (another topical ingredient found in many creams).
Things retinol can help:
- fine lines and wrinkles
- skin roughness and dullness
- skin firmness
- pigmentation from age spots
Retinoids are skin cell normalizers so that means that they speed up skin cell turn-over which will help clear up breakouts, and retinoids help rebuild collagen so they will minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles over time. As such adding a retinol product to your skincare regime is the perfect solution for both fine lines and breakouts.
Just keep a few things in mind when using retinoids (I’m quoting Lab Muffin again):
Retinols can be irritating to the skin, and cause dehydration. To reduce the chances of this happening, you should introduce it into your routine slowly (don’t use it every day to begin with), and use extra hydrating moisturisers.
Retinol breaks down with exposure to light and air. Pick a retinol product in an airtight, opaque container to improve its shelf life.
Using retinol with other excellent skin treatments like AHAs and vitamin C can speed up the skin renewal process, fading hyperpigmentation and wrinkles faster. However, the activation of retinol by skin enzymes is optimal at a higher pH (5.5-6) than the pH for AHAs (3.5). While there isn’t much research on how quickly the pH of skin readjusts itself, waiting an hour or so in between applying the two is a safe bet, or even using one in the morning and one in the evening.
Retinol, much like AHAs, can make the skin more susceptible to sunburn. Wear extra sunscreen when you use retinol so you don’t completely reverse its beneficial effects!
Lastly, keep in mind that you cannot use Retin-A or retinols when pregnant or nursing.
So how would this anti-aging, anti-acne skincare regime look? I suggest cleansing twice daily with a mild cleanser, applying an antioxidant serum in the morning (such as a Vitamin C serum in order to boost the effectiveness of your sunscreen, further prevent the signs of aging, protect your skin from inflammation), and then using a sunscreen with a spf between 30 to 50 (you can also use a separate moisturizer before your sunscreen if you feel your skin needs it). In the evening after cleansing apply a retinol cream followed by a moisturizer. Pretty simple, right?
- While I am not familiar with all the recommended products in this article I like the approach of this skincare regime since the recommended products are not too harsh. Remember there is no need to buy just anti-acne products if you only experience an occasional breakout.
- Cleanser: I suggest using a mild cleanser such as CeraVe or even Cetaphil. You don’t need to use an anti-acne cleanser. That would be overkill for most people.
- Antioxidant serum: See my previous posts below for more information about why you want to use an antioxidant serum and in particular a Vitamin C serum. There are quite a few good (and even great) Vitamin C serums out there, but at the moment my recommendation is to buy one from South Korea. OST Original Pure Vitamin C20 Serum is excellent and super affordable (even when you factor in the shipping costs). I am using it now and love it.
- Moisturizers and Sunscreens: Choose your products according to your skincare needs and the weather in the area you live in. Some people may need a richer moisturizer and others not so much especially if you live in a humid climate. Now that Target is selling some of my favorite skincare lines making them accessible to all I would recommend Laneige Water Sleeping Mask as a moisturizer (don’t be put off by the name; it’s a moisturizer), particularly as a nighttime one, and any La Roche-Posay sunscreen, particularly Anthelios Ultra Light spf 60.
- Retinol Creams or Serums: There are also numerous retinol products on the market including ones from Roc and Neutrogena, but for my money I would try either La Roche-Posay Effaclar K Daily Renovating Acne Treatment (if you have blackheads and more than just the occasional breakout) or La Roche-Posay Redermic R (if you only have an occasional breakout).