So you turn 40 and suddenly, your skin starts acting like a petulant teenager. “What is going on?”, you ask as you start frantically analyzing all the ingredients on your favorite anti-aging cream, looking for the pore-clogging culprit. The reason is the same for you as for your moody teens: hormones.
Changing hormone levels that start around age 40 trigger an increase in oil production, leading to pores becoming blocked, which in turn allows dirt and bacteria to build up and cause a nasty blemish! Add the challenge of fighting off those tiny lines that have started to appear and you have a real skincare challenge.
It’s tempting to do what you did as a teen and buy the harshest cleansers available and wash all that yuck away, but the trouble is that doing so will rob your skin of the moisture it needs to stay looking young. (And let’s face it, that strategy didn’t really work when you were a teenager.)
This is where you need an age-specific approach that addresses both problems: controlling the blemishes AND preventing wrinkles. To do that, you need to know your ingredients and experiment with what works for your specific skin type.
How to Banish the Over 40 Blemishes [Ingredient Guide]
Tea Tree Oil — Useful for mild to moderate breakouts, tea tree oil has natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that help combat the acne-causing bacteria and reduce inflammation. Look for soaps, cleansers and topical creams with a minimum concentration of between 5% and 15% tea tree oil.
Benzoyl Peroxide — A tried and true method for getting rid of blemishes, benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria that cause acne. The downside for using it for over 40 breakouts is it can cause irritation and dryness so start with a 10% strength and combine with a moisturizer like Jojoba oil (see below).
Retinol — Helpful for moderate to severe acne, retinol works by unclogging the pores, increasing the effectiveness of other medicated creams. It also stimulates the production of collagen and helps fade age spots. Start with a 1% or 2% strength and use every other day as retinol can cause redness and peeling.
Salicylic Acid — Ideal for milder breakouts, salicylic acid is an exfoliating agent that helps reduce the swelling and redness and unclog pores, but it does not kill the acne-causing bacteria. It must be used continuously to have any effect so choose a daily cleanser, toner or cream that contains about 2% salicylic acid.
Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) — A must-have for all skin types, alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) works by removing the dead skin cells that make your complexion appear dull, reducing breakouts and promoting firmness. Always use a sunscreen when using AHA as it can increase photosensitivity.
Jojoba Oil — While technically not for controlling breakouts, jojoba oil is perfect for managing the side effects of products, like retinol, benzoyl peroxide and tea tree oil that can cause drying, because it does not clog pores. Use as needed to minimize dryness and peeling.
Sample Anti-Aging/Hormonal Breakout Skincare Routine:
Everyday: Cleanse with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide cleanser, morning and evening. Spot treat blemishes with tea tree oil or retinol as needed. Apply jojoba oil to maintain moisture and counteract dryness.
Every 2 to 3 Days: Use an exfoliating cleanser with alpha hydroxy acid. On alternate days, apply retinol cream before bedtime, followed by jojoba oil. Adjust both according to your skincare needs.
Weekly: Follow up regular skincare routine with an anti-aging mask containing alpha hydroxy acid.
The most important thing to remember is you must balance blemish preventing with anti-aging ingredients and avoid using anything too harsh that can deprive your skin of the moisture it needs to maintain its youthful appearance. Experiment with different product lines and combinations until you find the one that works for you!