Kelley Ellis, a structural engineer in Sugar Land, Texas, wanted suggestions for an easy skin care regimen that battles aging skin and breakouts. Read on to learn what Mary Ruth Buchness, MD (a medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatologist in New York City) and Laurie Polis, MD (director of Dermatologic Services at the SoHo Skin and Laser Dermatology Group, also in Manhattan) had to say about this not-so-unusual dilemma.
Q: I'm in my 30s and want to use anti-aging products. I also need to treat breakouts, but don't want a complicated regimen. Help!
A: Buchness says:
Your 30s mark the beginning of your skin's indecisive years -- you'll get oilier and drier. The oil glands on the face actually become larger with age, which leads to large pores. But no matter how oily your complexion seems, your skin loses the ability to retain water in your 30s.
A moisturizing cleanser like CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser ($11.99) gently rinses away dirt and oil while delivering lipids, the essential fats the skin needs to retain water and keep skin cells healthy.
Daily sunscreen is the most effective tool for fighting the signs of aging. A broad spectrum formula (that blocks both UVA and UVB rays) uses the physical sunscreen titanium dioxide, which tends to deflect a wider range of UV rays and be less irritating than chemical versions. Back up your sun protection with a powder like Bare Minerals SPF 30 Natural Sunscreen ($28) for touch-ups during the day.
Wearing an antioxidant serum such as Aveeno Active Naturals Positively Radiant Triple Boosting Serum ($14.99) under your sun protection helps minimize age spots. Antioxidants also add another layer of protection from UV rays because they deflect damage and offer backup for sunscreen.
A: Polis says:
The good news for women who are battling the unfair combination of breakouts and wrinkles is that many anti-aging ingredients also fight acne. For example, a serum like L'Oréal Skin Genesis Pore Minimizing Skin Re-Smoother ($19.99) exfoliates dead cells while also absorbing excess oil, which helps prevent breakouts. I'd wear this under moisturizer and makeup.
You can't prevent wrinkles without sunscreen. Use a product like Proactiv Solution Oil Free Moisture with SPF 15 ($24.95) daily under makeup to keep skin moisturized and free of breakouts. Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Anti-Blemish Clear Skin Cream ($12.99) combines retinol with salicylic acid to keep skin younger-looking and free of acne. This is a great night treatment for breakouts, fine lines, and uneven tone.
Keeping your face clean is key. Burt's Bees Natural Acne Solutions Purifying Gel Cleanser ($9.99) balances oil control with plant oils like evening primrose, so your skin feels clean, not dried out or stripped after washing. In a pinch, keep premoistened cloths such as Olay Regenerist Micro-Exfoliating Wet Cleansing Cloths ($7.99) next to your bed to wipe away grime and gently sweep away the surface skin cells that can clog pores.
More Advanced Solutions for Acne, Wrinkles
Want more serious treatment for acne and wrinkles? Sumayah Jamal, MD, PhD, assistant professor of clinical dermatology at New York University School of Medicine, has the following suggestions:
"I can't think of anything better for fighting aging and acne than a retinoid," he says. "Prescription creams such as Retin-A, Renova, and Avage stimulate collagen production to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles, exfoliate surface skin, and fade brown spots."
"And just like the other experts, I can't stress the importance of sun protection enough. But almost as important: Back up your sun protection with antioxidants -- the chemicals that give fruits and vegetables their bright colors -- to help your body fight off damage from stress, aging, and the environment. As your skin ages, it's not able to repair itself as well.
"To make sure you're getting of plenty of antioxidants start with your diet. Eating plenty of berries, green leafy vegetables ensures you get plenty of vitamins C and E for support from within to heal and defend the skin. You can also use a topical antioxidant serum to help prevent damage from exposure to environmental toxins like pollution and UV rays and help fight redness and uneven pigmentation. My favorite is Revaleskin Intense Recovery Treatment ($130, skinstore.com), which contains coffee-berry extract, one of the most potent antioxidants available. A few drops every morning before your moisturizer and sunscreen help fend skin damage to keep you looking younger longer."
(WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment.)