As a teenager, I suffered from moderate acne, but somehow this wasn’t a big deal to me at the time. I was sure my acne was going to disappear in a few years and then I’d sail into adulthood with perfect skin. Instead, my skin got worse in my twenties—a seriously distressing turn of events. Wasn’t this supposed to be over by now? I’m in my early thirties now and I finally have my acne under control with an awesome regimen of skin care products (and the discipline to follow a skincare routine).
Now, of course, I’m faced with a double-dilemma: how do I slow the signs of aging while keeping my skin clear? I think that this is an issue that a lot of people are dealing with, and one that deserves some attention. After all, these worlds—acne and aging—intersect for many people. Instead of wandering down two distinct paths, our skin sometimes follows a double road, twisting and overlapping in ways that can seem bewildering—particularly when we’re trying to pick out skin care products. I’m often asked questions about the acne and aging issue, and there are two important themes that have emerged (among others). Let’s talk about Alpha Hydroxy Acids ( AHAs) and Beta Hyroxy Acids (BHAs) as well as the importance of proper sun protection.
AHAs and BHAs
Exfoliation! If your acne is inflamed, avoid exfoliating with any type of scrub. Instead, substitute your regular cleanser for a cleanser that contains an AHA such as Glycolic Acid (you’ll want to do this two or three times a week). What’s exciting about products that contain AHAs is that they work to fight both acne and signs of aging. A Beta Hydroxy Acid (like Salicylic Acid) is also a good choice because it is similarly effective against acne and aging. (Let’s note that other ingredients, including Sulfur, are effective in treating acne without compromising anti-aging strategies).
We talk a lot about sun protection, and for good reason; there is no single better way to delay the hallmarks of aging than avoiding the sun. And despite what many people believe, tanning does not clear up acne breakouts; rather, it perpetuates a cycle that actually exacerbates acne. Let me confess that I spent a large part of my twenties visiting the tanning salon, and my skin began to show signs of aging fairly quickly. The good news is that I stopped tanning and started seriously working to protect my skin, and the damage has been halted. My sun-related hyperpigmentation is slowly fading, and-- mercifully-- all signs of wrinkling from that time are gone. Whether you start early or start late, it's always a good time to embrace the fact that the sun will age your skin and take proper precautions.