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Post in Acne-Prone Skin
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Skincare help!!!!!

I need some serious help finding a skincare line for dehydrated acne prone skin (hormonal acne). I’m in my 30’s and I’m still dealing with acne and now wrinkles. I would love some insights to skincare lines that tackle acne, large pores, dry skin and fine lines. 
thanks so much!!!! 

Re: Skincare help!!!!!

Hey @chickiee ! If your hormonal acne is cysts deep below the skin that never come to a head, then see a dermatologist or your primary doctor. Cystic acne is hard to treat with topical products that can’t get deep enough into skin to reach that crud. Your doc might prescribe oral medication or a prescription-strength topical product. 

 
Otherwise, you could try a retinoid like adapalene sold OTC as Differin or La Roche-Posay Effaclar. Adapalene can help with milder hormonal acne, as well as wrinkles. So can other retinoids. 
Spoiler
I mentioned adapalene first because it’s commonly recommended by dermatologists for acne. But another derm favorite is tretinoin, which requires a prescription. Theres also Rx-strength adapalene and a couple other Rx-only retinoids like tazarotene and isotretinoin (aka Accutane). 
 
OTC retinol and retinaldehyde products are also effective. They just work slower than tretinoin. (Your skin cells must convert retinol and retinaldehyde to retinoic acid before they’re useful. Tretinoin’s already in retinoic acid form, so no conversion’s needed. Retinaldehyde needs one conversion step; retinol needs 2 conversions.) I currently use Avene RetrinAL 0.1 Intensive Cream; it contains 0.1% retinaldehyde. But I didn't start with that product. 2 years ago, I started with First Aid Beauty FAB Skin Lab Retinol Serum 0.25% Pure Concentrate 1 oz/ 30 mL , then moved on to The INKEY List Retinol Anti-Aging Serum 1 oz/ 30 mL (contains retinol + granactive retinoid) and used that for a year or so. I tried a stronger retinol product, then switched to Avene RetrinAL per my derm's recommendation. But there are plenty of effective retinol products out there, including some from Paula's Choice and The Ordinary. 
Retinoids can cause irritation, excessive dryness, and/or purging (lots of new acne; think of it as the retinoid kicking all that crud out of your skin) within the first month of use. To reduce irritation and dryness: 
Spoiler
Start slow: use it once-a-week use for the first few weeks, then increase to 2 or 3 times a week for a while, and gradually increase usage until you’re at a comfy rate—perhaps nightly or every other night. 
 
Amp up your hydration and moisturization game while using a retinoid. My finicky mostly-dry combo skin is 49 years old and I use retinaldehyde nightly. My skin’s favorite hydrating products (that are currently available): 
 
  • The Ordinary Buffet Anti-Aging Serum 1 oz/ 30 mL - I use it most mornings; it’s a mix of hydrating peptides, hyaluronic acid, and amino acids
  • COSRX Pure Fit Cica Serum - used on mornings when my skin’s got red inflammation 
  • It’s Skin Power 10 Li Effector - used each night; it’s a hydrator and skin soother in one bottle 
  • COSRX Centella Water Alcohol-Free Toner - used day and night between skincare steps to keep my skin from drying down; also helps my inflammation issues 
  • Timeless Matrixyl 3000 Hydrating Spray with Cucumber Extract - a new love; I use it mostly on mornings I don’t use Buffet 
 
Since you mentioned having dehydrated skin, consider some of those products even if you don’t use a retinoid. Or look at other products that contain hydrators like hyaluronic acid (or one of its various forms, like sodium hyaluronate), honey, PCA or sodium PCA, polyglutamic acid, peptides, urea, trehalose, carrageenan (may be listed as chondrus crispus), saccharomyces ferment filtrate (fermented yeast), and even niacinamide. 
 
Apply the retinoid over your moisturizer. It won’t stop the retinoid from doing its job. It will ensure your skin’s well hydrated and moisturized, and can buffer some of the retinoid side effects. What moisturizer do you currently use? 
For enlarged pores, a BHA (salicylic acid) exfoliant used 1-3 times a week can definitely help. And niacinamide can help with pore maintenance. 
Spoiler
Note that if your pores are normally visible, you can’t erase them or make them invisible—and that’s okay! Pores are a normal feature of human skin. But BHA can clear out gunk that’s stretching your pores wider and making them look bigger than usual. BHA also attacks acne-causing bacteria, so it’s good for acne (unless you’ve got cystic acne, in which case you should see a derm). I’m a big fan of Paula’s Choice BHA products. Most people’s favorite is Paula's Choice Mini Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant 1 oz/ 30 mL . Also consider The INKEY List Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) Blemish + Blackhead Serum 1 oz/ 30 mL . 
 
As for niacinamide: it’s probably already in some of your skincare products, so skim your ingredients lists. You can use a separate serum like The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Oil Control Serum  , The INKEY List Niacinamide Oil Control Serum 1 oz/ 30 mL , or Paula's Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster. Or you can use any product that contains niacinamide plus other good stuff. One of my faves is Good Molecules Niacinamide Brightening Toner, which also contains some good hydrators. Another good option is Neogen Dermalogy Real Ferment Micro Essence. I alternate between these and use them as hydration steps in my routine. 
And of course, your best anti-wrinkle and longterm preventative anti-aging product is a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30, applied each day your skin’s exposed to sunlight (even if you’re indoors or in a car) and reapplied every couple hours, regardless of weather or season.
Spoiler
Many “signs of aging” are caused by sun damage. That includes some wrinkles, though they’re also caused by repeated facial expressions—which is why I personally don’t freak out about the lines under my eyes. (Psh, I earned those lines after decades of laughter and tears, and I have no plans to stop smiling.) You can't completely avoid wrinkles unless you opt for cosmetic procedures like Botox injections and other options a derm can discuss with you. But consistent sunscreen use can help stave off some lines. Slather it on ALL exposed skin: eyelids, inner and outer corners of your eyes, front and back of ears, nape of neck (if it's exposed), hands, wrists, ankles, feet, etc., because skin cancer (the far more important reason to use sunscreen) can happen pretty much anywhere on your body. 
 
My current favorite facial sunscreens are Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 PA+++ , OMI Verdio UV Moisture Essence SPF 50, Canmake Mermaid Skin Gel UV SPF 50 (clear version), and Saie Sunvisor Moisturizing Sunscreen SPF 35 . If you have a medium-deep to deep skin tone like I do: Saie Sunvisor's tint works surprisingly well with my skin tone, causing no white/grey/purple cast. I also like some CoTZ mineral sunscreens, especially on exposed body skin. I sometimes use a Eucerin SPF body lotion on my body, though I'm not a big fan of its typical sunscreen scent. 
Oh, and I understand the frustration of adult acne. My acne's occasional and not severe, but I'm annoyed to still get it this late into my 40s. My retinoid and BHA routine definitely help manage it. I can't use benzoyl peroxide (I'm allergic to it), otherwise I'd also add that to the mix since it's actually more effective than BHA. I forgot to mention that earlier but yeah, also consider benzoyl peroxide for acne. Paula's Choice CLEAR Daily Skin Clearing Treatment with 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide 2.25 oz/ 67 mL looks promising and I wish I could use it! 
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