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Acne and Skin Aging Combination

By Cynthia Bailey MD.

best products to treat acne and aging skin together

Some people outgrow acne after the teenage years, but many others don’t. If this describes you, know that you are not alone.

Since acne products are often designed for teen complexions, they may not be right for your complexion after adolescence.

That’s because acne products designed for teens are often made to fit a very oily complexion and formulated with the highest concentration of acne fighting ingredients. These types of formulations may be too drying or irritating for your skin after adolescence. Your skin's needs, as well as its tolerance to acne products, change with age.

The good news is that some great acne ingredients can also help fight skin aging.

dermatologist dr cynthia bailey's tips to treat acne and anti-aging skin concerns together

If you use the right concentrations of ingredients that fight acne and skin aging then you will get a double benefit - anti-acne products that also fight the signs of skin aging. Dr. Cynthia Bailey

I’ll help you combine goals and build a complete customized skin care treatment routine that fights both skin aging and acne at the same time.

To battle acne and slow down the effects of aging on your skin, and get it done right, it will take more product layering. A Dr. Bailey Complete Skin Care Routine gets the best and fastest results. It always involves these 4 skin care steps for healthy skin:

  1. best skin care for acne and skin aging treatment

Some products are multi-taskers and can function for more than one step.

What is the best skin care routine to fight both acne and anti-aging concerns?

Create Complete Skin Care with products that,

  1. Clean skin to remove oil, dirt, product residue and debris to enhance penetration of treating ingredients. 
  2. Contain ingredients that fight blackheads, treat skin germs that cause pimples, brighten dull skin and correct uneven skin pigment, and that also stimulate collagen renewal. Collagen renewal will fight wrinkles, skin thinning and acne scars.  
  3. Moisturize skin with oil-free, non-comedogenic formulations that prevent skin dryness to protect from product irritation.
  4. Include a broad spectrum sunscreen used daily for anti-aging sun protection and to fight acne scar hyperpigmentation (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation).

The Best Products for Your Morning Skin Care Routine to Fight Acne and Skin Aging


Best skin cleansers for acne and aging skin

The first part of your morning acne treatment and anti-aging regimen is to cleanse your skin so that the products you need to correct your acne and skin aging can penetrate into your skin. Use a medicated cleanser and you will both cleanse and begin to correct acne and skin aging. Your best skin cleanser and soap options include:

My top choice facial cleanser for adult acne which is Foaming Acne Treatment Cleanser.

best acne and skin aging combination face cleanser

Foaming Acne Treatment Cleanser is pH balanced and perfect for all skin types. It cleanses while providing a full 2% salicylic acid to deeply penetrate into oily or clogged pores, and 2 or 10% glycolic acid. I recommend the 10% (Extra Strength) cleanser for addressing the changes of skin aging. This is my top choice for adult acne and the 10% glycolic acid starts the age-fighting skin care process because it will brighten skin and stimulate collagen renewal to fight fine lines and acne scarring. Extremely oily complexions with tenacious clogged pores or blackheads benefit from a second cleansing step with my Acne Treatment Pads

Other excellent facial cleanser options for adult acne include: 

best facial cleanser for fungal acne, rosacea and seborrhea

Calming Zinc Bar Soap ® if you have Pityrosporum folliculitis (a type of 'fungal' acne often seen first around the jaw and hairline) or acne rosacea.

Another acne treating option is Foaming Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment Cleanser which provides a full 10% benzoyl peroxide to kill the C. acnes germ that causes acne.  This is a great choice if you struggle with a lot of pustules and want just one product with benzoyl peroxide.

best facial cleanser for acne and skin aging concerns

Triple Action Exfoliating Cleanser  includes 0.5% salicylic acid (BHA) to penetrate into pores along with 10% glycolic acid (AHA) to help loosen clogged pore debris and blackheads. Gentle eco-friendly exfoliating beads help lift off dead cells when massaged onto your skin - a highly effective skin brightening cleanser because the beads combined with the BHA/AHA ingredients give you the perfect daily exfoliation. This is a very popular cleanser for those wanting to tackle acne and skin aging.  

If you have very sensitive skin, I recommend a pH balanced basic gentle cleanser such as my Extremely Gentle Foaming Cleanser for sensitive or dry skin. If you want a simple and totally natural cleanser you could use my Naturally Best Bar Soap, which is ideal for normal complexions. 

best exfoliating facial scrub for acne and to brighten skin

Twice a week, alternate you regular cleanser with an exfoliating scrub, such as my Bamboo and Clay Thermal Exfoliating Scrub. The clay will help pull debris from clogged pores while the bamboo granules massage away dull dead cells to really brighten your complexion.

Alternatively, you may want to use a Facial Exfoliating Sponge to brighten your skin or Clarisonic Skin Cleansing System to help clean deeply into pores. 


Best products to treat acne and skin aging

If you used a medicated cleanser then you already started to correct acne and tackle skin aging. Continue the process after cleansing by layering additional products to correct the issues associated with acne and skin aging.

I always recommend Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy for adult acne.

green tea acne and skin aging top choice

Green tea has also been shown to reduce sebum production and fight acne. It also calms skin redness and inflammation while reloading the skin's antioxidant reserve (depleted by acne inflammation, sun, and environmental stressors).

Apply benzoyl peroxide to areas prone to acne to kill the acne causing bacteria called C. acnes. Benzoyl peroxide is better than prescription antibiotics at controlling this important cause of acne. Ideally you want to apply a product such as my Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment Cream over the entire area to prevent acne.

benzoyl peroxide is the best to kill C. acnes

Alternatively, many people prefer to spot treat pimples after they have formed. Either way, benzoyl peroxide is an important part of acne treatment. 

Then fight wrinkles, blackheads, clogged pores and uneven pigment by using glycolic acid by applying my Glycolic Acid Anti-Wrinkle Face Cream. Glycolic acid over 10% in a clinical grade product stimulates collagen renewal to fight skin aging.  

glycolic acid best ingredient to fight aging skin and acne

Pro tip: If hyperpigmentation is a big problem (think acne scars, melasma, sun spots) consider using my Pigment Fading Pads before layering these other correcting products. 

Step Three: HYDRATE

Best moisturizers for acne and anti-aging skin care

If you are using the Glycolic Acid Face Cream you don't need a moisturizer because this product has a lightweight moisturizing oil-free base. If you did not apply the Glycolic Acid Cream, you must use another good moisturizer to ensure that your skin hydration is balanced and protected from dryness.

best moisturizer for acne

My top choice is my Daily Moisturizing Face Cream for Oily to Normal Skin. It's ideal! This is a good moisturizer for around the delicate eye area, too. 

Step Four: PROTECT

Best sunscreens for acne and anti-aging skin care

You will not fight premature skin aging without a sunscreen. It's that simple! Protect your skin 365 days a year from the sun using a broad spectrum mineral zinc oxide sunscreen. They look and feel great, now come in invisible oil-free formulations, some are matte to absorb oil, and a tinted product can double as makeup or a primer.

Choose your sunscreen based on your skin type and product preference.

The best sunscreens for acne-prone skin to fight skin aging

My Sheer Strength Pure Physical SPF 50+ sunscreens are designed exactly for your combination of skin issues. Plus, they are oil free, fragrance free and feel ultra-light on your skin. Choose from:

Sheer Strength Pure Physical Tinted Matte Sunscreen SPF 50+ oil absorbing and tinted with 4% iron oxide to block visible light that can darken melasma and other pigment problems, and to help hide complexion flaws. This is my top choice facial sunscreen and the product I wear on my face every day.

best facial sunscreen for acne and to prevent skin aging

Sheer Strength Pure Physical Invisible Sunscreen SPF 50+,

best untinted zinc oxide sunscreen for acne to prevent skin aging

Sheer Strength Pure Physical Spray Sunscreen SPF 50+ moderately water resistant for sweaty activities and easily applies into hairy skin such as a man's facial hair! 

best water resistant sunscreen for acne


The Best Products for Your Evening Skin Care Routine to Fight Acne and Skin Aging


best nighttime cleansers to fight acne

It is important to cleanse your skin again in the evening. Sleeping in makeup and product will clog your pores, even if your products are non-comedogenic and oil free. Plus, you need to wash off germs, dirt, oil and debris so that you can apply acne and age fighting product that will be well absorb into your skin.

Choose one of the cleansers I listed for use during the day. Alternate one of the other cleansers to incorporate additional acne treating ingredients into your routine. For example, if you used the Foaming Acne Treatment Cleanser during the day you may want to use the Calming Zinc at night. 


best products to treat both acne and skin aging

Next you need to treat your acne-prone skin and use the opportunity to boost collagen renewal while you sleep. Your product options include:

Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment Cream (especially helpful if you suffer from pimples and cysts). As mentioned above, it can be applied to acne-prone areas to prevent new breakouts or it can be used to spot treat zits.

Benzoyl peroxide can break down ingredients such as retinoids if you mix the together in a product but this won't happen if you let it dry before layering your next age-fighting products! This is an important 'Pro-Tip'!! 

Best night products to fight both acne and skin aging.

Night creams are powerful acne and skin aging multi-tasking products. Fight both skin problems while you sleep!

My top choice is to use Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream followed by either the Daily Face Cream or the Glycolic Acid Anti-Wrinkle Face Cream.

best retinol to fight skin aging and acnebest glycolic acid AHA to fight skin aging and acne


Both retinol and glycolic acid will help stimulate your skin’s collagen renewal, reverse fine lines and wrinkles, unclog pores, and lighten uneven skin pigment from acne scarring. They can both be irritating to sensitive skin, however, and many complexions can’t be rushed into using both of these ingredients at the same time. 

Be patient and add one, see how your complexion adjusts, then add the other when your skin is ready. I provide a lot of information on how to do this on the product pages.

Step Three: HYDRATE

best moisturizers to fight acne and skin aging

If you used the Glycolic Acid Face Cream described above you may not need to layer an additional moisturizer. If you need to layer an additional moisturizer, the Daily Face Cream for Oily to Normal Skin is an ideal, non-comedogenic moisturizer for acne-prone skin.

The good news is that acne and anti-aging skin care routines are often very similar.

Create a Dr. Bailey Complete Skin Care Routine that fights both, be certain to use a broad spectrum sunscreen daily, and your skin will defy the clock; you have the potential to maintain a youthful and healthy complexion for your entire life if you create a smart skin care routine now. 

Need help starting out?

I have Skin Care Kits that include product bundles to make your choices easier:

Ultimate Pigment and Sun Damage Kit which includes retinol, glycolic acid, pigment treatment pads, sunscreen, moisturizer and a great cleansing system. It's the 'Full Monte' to fight acne, pigment problems and skin aging!


best treatment for acne and skin aging
Men's Face Care Kit combines pyrithione zinc to fight fungal acne with glycolic acid cream and sunscreen. I created it for men but it works just as well for women. 
best men's face care for acne and antiaging
best glycolic acid products for acne and skin aging combination
Pityrosporum Folliculitis Kit to fight this type of 'fungal' acne.
best fungal acne and skin aging combination routine

Saric S, Notay M, Sivamani RK. Green Tea and Other Tea Polyphenols: Effects on Sebum Production and Acne Vulgaris. Antioxidants (Basel). 2016;6(1):2. Published 2016 Dec 29. doi:10.3390/antiox6010002

Al-Niaimi F, Chiang NYZ. Topical Vitamin C and the Skin: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Applications. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2017;10(7):14–17.

Philipp Babilas, Ulrich Knie, Christoph Abels, Cosmetic and dermatologic use of alpha hydroxy acids, J. of German Society of Dermatology, 2012; 10:488–491

Leyden J, Stein-Gold L, Weiss J. Why Topical Retinoids Are Mainstay of Therapy for Acne. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2017;7(3):293–304. doi:10.1007/s13555-017-0185-2

Mukherjee S, Date A, Patravale V, Korting HC, Roeder A, Weindl G. Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety. Clin Interv Aging. 2006;1(4):327–348. doi:10.2147/ciia.2006.1.4.327