Let’s face it: nature can be cruel sometimes. Just when you’re starting to notice some fine lines forming around your eyes, another unwelcome visitor arrives: acne.

Yeah, you thought you were past that.

But now you’ve got skin that somehow belongs to a teenager and a middle-ager at the same time. Now what?

Or maybe you’ve been struggling with acne for decades, but your maturing skin doesn’t respond to acne-fighting products the way it used to.

Either way, maturing skin has different needs than teenage skin, and acne-prone skin is no exception.

Fortunately, many anti-aging products are beneficial to acne-prone skin as well.  Read on to learn about adult acne and the best anti-aging products for acne-prone skin.   

Adult Acne: What is to Blame?

Dermatologists will tell you that adult acne is on the rise1.  There are two basic types of adult acne: 1) acne that starts in adolescence and never fully goes away, and 2) adult-onset acne.

If you fall into the first category, you may have assumed that your teenage acne would eventually subside. Instead, it has continued to flare up well into your 30s, 40s, and even 50s. 

On the other hand, more and more adults (especially women) are suddenly developing acne for the first time in their life.

So what is to blame for your blemishes?

The culprits behind adult acne are much the same as those behind acne in adolescence: hormone fluctuations and stress.

Women in particular experience broad hormonal shifts during their adult years that can contribute to acne.  This is especially true of the hormonal changes that occur with menopause.

These changes can cause excess oil production, which can lead to clogged pores.  Add bacteria to the mix and you have a recipe for acne.

Stress and sleep deprivation can have the same effect on hormones and oil production. Both are likely responsible for the increasing prevalence of adult-onset acne. After all, who isn’t stressed these days?

Additionally, some medications and supplements can cause acne, as can certain health conditions.

So, if you’re suddenly experiencing a bad case of acne for the first time, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor to rule out any underlying health issues.

But no matter the cause, here are some tips you can try – and some important things you should not do – to prevent and/or reduce the severity of acne breakouts.

Acne do’s and don’ts – you may be surprised!

When it comes to fighting acne, there are a couple of foes you should be aware of.

One harmful element that many people are unaware of when it comes to skin care is fragrance. Fragrances are used in many skin and hair products (including cosmetics) and are very irritating to the skin.  This is especially true of mature skin.  

When the skin becomes irritated, inflammation increases. This can contribute to and worsen acne.

We hate to say it (we love that fruity floral scent in our lotions and shampoos, too) but you’ve got to ditch the fragrances.

The same applies to mechanical exfoliants.  By mechanical, we mean brushes and other rough objects meant to buff the skin.  This includes products made with particles like microbeads or walnut shells. 

While these types of exfoliants can give you a squeaky-clean feeling and make your skin feel instantly smoother, they cause a lot of microscopic cuts to the skin.  This damage only makes breakouts even more likely.  

It’s also counterproductive if you’re looking to lessen the signs of aging.

Using your fingers to cleanse your face is sufficient, especially if you are using a chemical (not mechanical) exfoliant.

Chemical exfoliants use acids to loosen dead skin cells that can clog pores.

Acids? Isn’t that even worse than those little microbeads?

No!

There are two types of acids used in skin care:

1. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are found in foods like fruits and sugar cane.  They are known to reduce mild pigmentation and fine lines and wrinkles, correct uneven skin tone and improve the skin’s texture 1.  Glycolic acid is the AHA most commonly used in skin care products because its small molecules easily penetrate the skin.

2. Beta hydroxy acid (BHA) is an organic compound derived from willow bark that is listed in skin care products as salicylic acid.  This acid is oil soluble and able to penetrate and clear pores.  It has also been shown to reduce inflammation.

If your skin is dry, glycolic acid is your best bet, as it sloughs off dead skin and helps retain water in the top layer of the skin.  This also makes it a good choice for mature skin, which tends to be dry.

If your skin is oily, try a product containing salicylic acid. It will help to unclog pores and reduce breakouts.

Acne-prone skin can be dry, oily, or both, so pay attention to your skin’s texture when choosing an exfoliant.

One of the worst things you can do if you have mature, acne-prone skin it to dry it out.  This will only increase inflammation and encourage your skin to produce even more oil.

This leads us to another habit to avoid: over-cleansing.

When you have acne-prone skin, it’s tempting to wash, wash, wash.

But too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

Cleansing your skin too often (and using harsh cleansers) will only increase dryness and inflammation.

Instead, choose a gentle cleanser and only wash your face once or twice a day (and after you work out).

Our Age Defy Exfoliating Cleanser acts as a cleanser and exfoliant in one. It’s a great choice if you want to tackle acne and aging skin at the same time.

It contains glycolic acid to remove dead skin cells and while reducing fine lines and wrinkles.

Plus, it’s formulated with several antioxidant plant extracts to replenish and heal the skin.

Valice products are fragrance-free, so they won’t irritate your skin and lead to further damage.

Yes, you need to moisturize your acne-prone skin

After cleansing, it’s important to follow up with a good moisturizer. This is especially important for mature, acne-prone skin.

A lot of people who struggle with acne will shy away from moisturizers because they worry that their skin is already oily enough.  

However, keeping the skin properly moisturized will actually help to reduce oil production and inflammation, as well as lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

If you do have oily skin, stay away from products that contain cocoa butter, mineral oils, paraffin, or petrolatum. 

These will only lead to more clogged pores.  Instead, opt for a light-weight moisturizer (like a gel-based formula) that contains hyaluronic acid.

Moisturizers that contain hyaluronic acid are a good choice for both oily and dry skin because they are superior at retaining moisture without clogging pores.

You won’t have to look very hard these days to find a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid, but a good place to start is with Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Water Gel.

This product is great for all skin types because its lightweight formula will hydrate the skin without feeling greasy or clogging pores.

For a hydrating product that also has anti-aging properties, try Valice’s Collagen + Peptide Complex.

This powerful formula helps to smooth the appearance of expression lines, stimulate collagen production, and improve the skin’s overall complexion.

And now for the really powerful stuff

If you’re suffering from breakouts even after sticking with a simple routine of cleansing, exfoliating and moisturizing, then you might need to add some other active ingredients to the mix.

Many of the same products typically used for adolescent acne will work for adult acne.

Why?

Mature skin is different than teenage skin. It tends to be drier and more sensitive.

One standard, over-the-counter ingredient for the treatment of acne is benzoyl peroxide. This antibacterial ingredient targets the bacteria that causes acne and helps to unclog pores. It’s widely available and affordable.

Benzoyl peroxide is highly effective at treating mild to moderate acne, but it can be very drying to the skin. So, if you already have dry, sensitive skin, you may want to use benzoyl peroxide in moderation or avoid it altogether.

Looking for something proven to fight wrinkles and acne at the same time?

Try a retinoid.

Retinoids are another gold standard acne treatment for mature skin. These vitamin A derivatives come in different forms and have varying strengths. The strongest, tretinoin, is highly effective but also quite harsh. It is only available with a prescription.

Gentler forms available without a prescription include adapalene, retinol, and the even milder retinyl palmitate.

The great thing about reitnoids is that they are multitaskers. In addition to clearing blemishes, they are incredibly effective at combating the effects of aging.

How?

Retinoids increase collagen production to keep the skin smooth and firm. They can also reduce the appearance of pores, fade under-eye circles and acne scars, and improve the skin’s overall tone.

Yeah…wow.

In other words, retinol or another vitamin A derivative is an ideal ingredient for those who want to treat acne and the signs of aging at the same time.

It is important to note that retinoids can be very irritating to the skin, so it’s best to start slowly. 

And, like any product, you’ll need to use it consistently for several months before your start to see a significant difference in your skin.

Keep in mind that if you think you need something ultra-strong like tretinoin, you’ll need to visit a dermatologist.

But for a very effective over-the-counter retinoid, try adapalene, sold under the brand name Differin.

While this product is designed to treat acne, it also stimulates collagen production. This means it will also help diminish wrinkles and improve overall skin texture.

Be forewarned that using adapalene can irritate the skin and may take several months to produce results, but it’s definitely worth the time if you want to clear your skin.

If, on the other hand, you only have mild acne and are looking for a product that will be gentle on your skin while also targeting the signs of aging, you should consider a traditional retinol.

There are literally hundreds of retinol creams and serums on the market, so you can find one that fits your needs and budget.

Our pick: Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream

Murad is known for its line of acne treatment products, but it also carries several retinol products for anti-aging.  Users love the night cream for its hydrating effect and for the fact that it is friendly to acne-prone skin.

What about acne scars?

Treating acne doesn’t end when blemishes are gone.  Acne sufferers are often left with dark marks on their skin.

Known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, these spots often fade over time.

However, there are several ingredients that have been shown to fade hyperpigmentation and brighten the skin’s overall tone.

Retinoids once again come in handy in this situation, just as long as you are careful not to inflame your skin even more with improper use.  

Another, gentler ingredient that can fade dark spots is vitamin C.

Not only does it lighten hyperpigmentation (without effecting the surrounding skin), but it also inhibits the production of melanin in the skin. 

Plus, vitamin C is an antioxidant, so it has a variety of other anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties.

Want to know more about this safe and effective ingredient? Check out our article dedicated to vitamin C here: https://valiceskincare.com/benefits-of-vitamin-c-for-skin-care/

We also suggest you check out our C, E Ferulic + Brightening Complex.   This formula contains vitamins C and E, plus ferulic acid (another antioxidant) and niacinamide.

Also known as vitamin B3, niacinamide can lessen the appearance of pores, brighten dull skin, and defend against environmental toxins.  

Finally, azelaic acid is another ingredient that has been shown to lighten dark spots2.  In fact, in its prescription form, azelaic acid is used to treat acne and rosacea.

More recently, however, it has been popping up in over-the-counter skin care products to help brighten the skin.

Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster  contains both azelaic acid and salicylic acid, so it’s a good choice for acne sufferers wanting to target blemishes and the dark spots they leave behind.

Some final words of advice

When you’re dealing with both acne and aging skin, it can be really frustrating to find products that address both of these concerns.

Fortunately, there are number of products and ingredients now on the market that are perfectly suited to people with mature skin and adult acne.

Now that you’ve got an idea of what to look for when it comes to the best anti-aging products for acne-prone skin, you can start building your own routine.

Having said that, be sure to start slowly when trying out new products, especially those that are more potent.

Some products may not interact with each other very well and could worsen acne or lead to irritated skin.

Our advice is to add one product at a time, see how your skin reacts, then gradually add new products to your routine if you need to.

Be patient, because some products can take several months to start revealing clearer, smoother, more youthful-looking skin

Oh, and one more thing:

Some of the ingredients mentioned can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so be sure to wear a good sunscreen.

Thanks for checking out our guide on the best anti-aging products for acne-prone skin. Be sure to bookmark this page for future reference and sign up for Valice’s email list so you can receive 15% off your next order.

Article references:

1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONWUnQacc8g

2. https://practicaldermatology.com/articles/2013-mar/new-insights-into-azelaic-acid