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Question & Answer: Acne and Aging

Posted by Dan Narsete on

Acne is…how can we put this lightly? Annoying. As a person who once suffered from somewhat extreme acne, I can say it can be frustrating and embarrassing. Some people even develop depression and anxiety over it. In my own struggle to get clear skin, I used everything from antibiotics, benzyl peroxide, Retin-A, harsh soaps and scrubs, Accutane, and even piercing whiteheads with a needle (recommended by a dermatologist). If you are struggling with acne, trust me, I get it. When acne makes it’s not so fun return as an adult, what do you do? We had with that very question posed to us and so we thought it would be beneficial to look at a few key points to help. 

Question & Answer: How do you treat adult acne and anti-aging at the same time?

 Acne & why it happens

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), up to 50 million Americans suffer from acne. So if you are someone who struggles with acne don’t feel bad! You are not alone. We all have hair follicles on our body and face. Inside these follicles are small pores (sebaceous glands) that release oil. This oil protects our skin from drying out and losing water. After all, our skin is the first line of defense in keeping out bacteria, viruses, and other harmful things from getting into our body. The challenge comes when these follicles become clogged.

When a hair follicle gets clogged with oil (and dead skin), it creates a pocket that traps bacteria and oil inside it. The bacteria inside this pocket can multiply causing a minor infection. White cells then rush to the scene and viola, you have yourself a pimple! This can be due to a variety of factors ranging from hormones and stress, diet, skin care products, and even the sun. But do not despair. It can be dealt with. For starters, we wrote two articles for you: “the top 5 treatments for adult acne,” and “practical tips to treat acne.” Both are quick reads and should be a good starting point to help you.

Aging & why it happens

On the flip side, we all age. Gravity, our own biological clock, the sun, pollution, diet, inflammation, and our water intake all have an impact on our aging. Every day we shed millions of cells all over our body and these cells need to be replaced. As we begin to age, our bodies don’t replace these cells as quickly as they did before. Skin structures such as collagen (which is part of the support framework) begins to coil instead of line straight up. Over time this causes our skin to flatten out. Our elastin, which helps the skin to have a “bounce back” buoyancy to it, becomes weathered, causing our skin to become lax. We cannot completely stop the aging process, but we can definitely slow it down. Lasers, injectables, surgery, and skin care are all powerful allies in the anti-aging world.


A large factor in both acne and anti-aging is inflammation. Chronic or everyday inflammation can cause all kinds of problems for your skin. If you cannot stop this process, your body will begin to breakdown collagen on its own using a hormone called collagenase (which can cause you to age faster and nobody wants that). Stress can also impact your hormones so let’s look at ways to cut it down.

 How to deal with both

Stopping or slowing down inflammation with skin care is doable. Here’s a short list of the top four things you can do to deal with both.

#1 cleanser

The first step is to use a medical grade cleanser that is right for your skin type. That’s right, ditch the store-bought soap. It’s part of the problem. If you have oily skin, the tendency is to over wash and scrub your face. What ends up happening is your sebaceous (oil producing) glands will respond with more oil to compensate for the loss of moisture. In order to avoid this, try cleansers with salicylic or glycolic acids in them. These acids are formulated to pull oil off your skin without drying it out.

#2 retinol

Retinoids, if used properly, are amazing for your skin. For the better part of the last three decades they have been tried, studied, and proven effective. What they do is cause your skin to turnover or “shed.” As a result, your body will produce new collagen and skin cells after 90 days which is key in promoting healthy, vibrant skin. A lot of people use too much and this results in irritation and redness and people stop using it altogether. When starting retinol, take it easy and use a “pea-sized” amount. Remember “only put retinol on at night and for the first week or two leave it on your face for about an hour then wash it off. After your skin gets used to it, you can ease into using it every night,” according to plastic surgeon Dr. Thomas Narsete, MD

#3 sunscreen

Did you know the sun can exacerbate acne? The pocket created by the clogged pores acts like a “greenhouse” for growing bacteria making acne worse. It also causes free radical destruction in your skin itself. For anti-aging there isn’t really a better product out there than using sunscreen. According to dermatologist Dr. Amy Paul, DO, “apply physical sunscreen for protection. Chemical sunscreens absorb heat so look for sunscreens that have titanium and zinc oxide. These physical sun blocks cause UV rays to bounce off them versus being absorbed by the skin.” If you are looking for the best physical block sunscreen try Colorescience’s Sunforgettable. It’s SPF 50, has both zinc and titanium, can be used for 80 minutes in the water, and it is powder! You literally “brush” it on your skin.

#4 make good habits

There are a lot of simple things you can do to help reduce inflammation in your skin and life. Stress is not only bad for your skin, it’s bad for your overall health. Try limiting your stress by exercise, drinking plenty of water, or try to find a little quiet time in the car during lunch. Small things like eating green, leafy vegetables will help reduce problems like free-radicals in your system. Drinking more water is helpful and reducing your alcohol intake. Lastly, get on a consistent skin care regimen or plan. Nothing will help you see results like a consistent, well-thought out approach to your skin care habits. With that in mind let us know how we can help you. We built a personalized skin care system using a variety of different skin care products. Try the skin care quiz to help you find the right products to help with both acne and anti-aging.

We could write a book about all of the possibilities for acne and anti-aging, but we hope this article gives you a few of the top highlights in how to deal with these two skin issues. Remember it’s important that you get into a rhythm with your skincare. And, if your skin type permits, get on a low-level retinol along with a good cleanser and sunscreen. You won’t be disappointed.

Thanks for the question and looking forward to the next one.

To clear skin,

Team Reflect

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