Your body goes through a ton of changes when you have children and to top it all off, fine lines are starting to appear right alongside those pesky pimples that you thought would have gone away after high school.
You’re not alone. According to a 2008 report published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, more than 35 percent of women ages 30-39 and more than 25 percent of women ages 40-49 reported suffering from acne.
So what’s a girl to do? Here are some simple solutions to banish this double whammy—stat!
Use a mild foaming or cream cleanser daily, but don’t worry too much about expensive products. Since your cleanser is on your skin for the shortest amount of time of any other product you use, it’s the least important step in your beauty regimen, according to Dr. Amy Taub, a board certified dermatologist, assistant professor at Northwestern University, and founder of Skinfo and Advanced Dermatology. If your skin is oily, look for a cleanser that has salicylic acid or glycolic acid which exfoliate to unclog pores and help to stimulate the skin to prevent wrinkles.
Wearing sunscreen every day is one of the best ways to prevent wrinkles. Even small amounts of sun exposure through windows in your home or in your car add up. “We don’t realize how much sun we’re getting,” said Melissa Galloway, a medical esthetician at Summit Medical Group, in Berkeley Heights, N.J., who says most of the signs of aging are due to sun exposure. Look for products that have an SPF 30 or more and zinc oxide of at least 5 percent.
“Antioxidants are your second line of defense against damage from the sun, smoke, and pollutants in the air,” Taub said. These power houses work like sponges to soak up free radicals that do damage to your skin. Look for moisturizers and serums that have vitamins E, C, green tea, or grape seed extract.
And since wrinkles around the eyes are some of the earliest to appear, it’s important to wear sunglasses anytime you’re outside. “You really have to maintain your collagen as much as possible because it’s not an area that’s easy to treat with lasers or anything else,” said Taub, who recommends products that promote collagen and elastin like peptides and growth factors.
Prescription Retin-A and over-the-counter retinol products are the best way to treat both wrinkles and acne because they work to reduce oil secretion, unclog pores and eliminate old, damaged cells. “It sends a signal to your skin that it should start making new skin,” Taub said.
Superficial chemical peels that contain both salicylic and glycolic acid are also great options because they allow oxygen to get into the pores and prevent bacteria from growing. And because they often use gentle fruit enzymes, they won’t banish you into hiding for a week. “For most people, the superficial peels work well and it’s something they can fit into their everyday lives,” Galloway said. Professional microdermabrasion is also effective for treating fine lines and large and clogged pores.
Avoid abrasive scrubs that are granular or have beads because they can be too harsh. Instead, look for products that contain both salicylic acid and retinol together. Be sure to check labels—if retinol is listed as one of the first few ingredients, it’s likely to have a higher concentration. For some women, retinols are too harsh, so alpha hydroxy acids can work.
Sometimes a little professional Rx is needed in the form of topical solutions, prescription medications, or a variety of in-office procedures. It’s best to speak with your dermatologist who can devise a plan that works for your skin type and the type of acne and wrinkles you have.
Julie Revelant is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, health, and women's issues, a certified Spinning® instructor, and a mom. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com