How to Treat Acne & Wrinkles


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When you have wrinkles and acne, choosing a skin care routine can be difficult because you're treating two very different problems at once. Do you use products labeled as anti-acne or labeled as anti-wrinkle? How do you fight acne and wrinkles without making your face feel either dry or flaky, which makes wrinkles worse, or too greasy and creamy, which makes acne and blackheads worse? The answers are truly easier than you think—if you are using the right products!
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Products for Acne & Wrinkles

The Plan to Fight Acne & Wrinkles

Acne breakouts or wrinkles can be challenging enough when you're dealing only with one or the other. But, when you're struggling with both at the same time, it can be frustrating and confusing. If you follow our list of the type of products needed to help you fight wrinkles and breakouts at the same time, you will find your skin looking radiant, clearer, and smoother in just a few days—really!

We've outlined the 5 essential products you need for treating acne and wrinkles at the same time.

Step 1: Gentle Cleanser

Acne doesn't need drying cleansers or bar soaps; these actually make matters worse. "Medicated" cleansers aren't helpful either, because the active ingredient, even if it's effective, is just rinsed down the drain. On the other hand, just because your skin is showing signs of aging doesn't mean you need a rich cleansing cream; the emollient ingredients in these types of cleansers can clog pores and make breakouts worse. Instead, wash your face twice daily with a silky, but effective, water-soluble cleanser formulated with gentle, soothing ingredients, and at night use a soft washcloth to be sure you get all your makeup off. If you haven't used this method before, you'll be amazed at how much better your skin will look and act, just from this small change!

Step 2: BHA Exfoliant

Exfoliating with a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA or salicylic acid) product is the most effective way to improve breakouts and fight signs of aging at the same time. Salicylic acid exfoliates the skin's surface as well as inside the pores, where clogs (such as white bumps or blackheads) occur. It also reduces redness and stimulates collagen production for firmer, more youthful skin. This single ingredient is the #1 secret weapon for anyone struggling with breakouts and wrinkles! In fact, many people see results overnight. For best results, apply at least once daily, after cleansing (and toning, if your routine includes a well-formulated toner).

For more stubborn acne: After applying a BHA exfoliant, you can treat acne breakouts with a leave-on product medicated with benzoyl peroxide. This topical disinfectant kills the bacteria responsible for creating red, inflamed breakouts. Used in combination with a BHA exfoliant, you can achieve even better results for breakouts. Be sure to look for products that contain 2.5% benzoyl peroxide, as this strength is a great balance of gentle yet effective.

Step 3: Treatment Serum

Most treatment serums are lightweight (which is great for use on breakout-prone areas), and the best ones are loaded with the kinds of ingredients all skin types need to look and act younger and healthier and to help heal red marks blemishes often leave behind. Such ingredients include antioxidants, skin-repairing substances, and cell-communicating ingredients. These not only help repair signs of aging and stimulate collagen production, but also reduce redness from breakouts while helping skin heal and fight inflammation (a major component of acne). Talk about win-win! For best results, apply twice daily, including around the eyes, after cleansing, toning, and exfoliating.

Step 4: Lightweight Moisturizer

The challenge in finding the best antiaging/anti-wrinkle moisturizer for blemish-prone skin is that it must hydrate and nourish skin without feeling thick, creamy, or greasy (all of which can increase breakouts). Generally, this means you want to use a moisturizer with either a very light thin lotion feel or a gel texture loaded with antioxidants and skin identical ingredients! Your skin needs to get beneficial ingredients such as antioxidants to stimulate collagen production, anti-irritants to reduce red marks and help reduce patches of dry, flaky skin, and softening ingredients to diminish the appearance of wrinkles. Apply at night after exfoliating and after applying your treatment serum.

Dry skin around the eyes? Then the type of moisturizer described above won't provide enough moisture. For your eye area, consider a more emollient moisturizer (it need not be labeled "eye cream").

Step 5: Sun Protection

No skin-care routine is complete without daily sun protection. It is essential to use a product rated SPF 25 or greater. But, did you know that protecting your skin from further sun damage helps combat breakouts, too? It's true! By preventing the inflammation sun damage causes, you're strengthening your skin, allowing its immune response to help heal breakouts (and the red marks they can leave) faster! Those with breakouts and wrinkles need matte-finish sun protection from a product that smooths and hydrates without making breakouts worse. You can also consider a foundation and a pressed powder with sunscreen as your daily facial sun protection, too. Just make sure it's rated SPF 25 or greater. Layering like that can feel more comfortable if you also have combination or oily skin. Make sure sunscreen application is the last step in your morning skin-care routine!

The bottom line: With the right mix of products, you can take control of breakouts and signs of aging—all at the same time, and without spending a fortune.

The Best Skin of Your Life Starts Here: The same type of in-depth scientific research used to create this article is also used to formulate Paula’s Choice Skincare products. You’ll find products for all skin types and a range of concerns, from acne and sensitive skin to wrinkles, pores, and sun damage. With Paula’s Choice Skincare, you can get (and keep) the best skin of your life! See Paula's Choice Products for Acne and Paula's Choice Products for Wrinkles.

About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and helping you solve your skincare frustrations with research-supported expert advice—so you'll have the facts you need to take the best possible care of your skin.

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