Best Antiaging Products For Acne-Prone Skin

What are the best anti-aging products for acne-prone skin? Treating acne is your top priority. Red, inflamed breakouts are stealing your confidence and you want to get rid of them ASAP. But, you don’t want to wait until the acne is gone to start tackling fine lines and wrinkles. *sighs* Acne should have been a thing of the past by now… Isn’t there a way to deal with both? You’re in luck. Some of the best anti-acne ingredients double up as wrinkle fighters. Here’s where to find them:

Why Do You Get Acne?

Acne starts with overprotective sebaceous glands. When your hormones go into overdrive, your skin produces too much oil (your skin’s natural moisturiser). This is why acne is more likely to happen during puberty. menopause or any other times when stress goes through the roof.

A little sebum is necessary to hydrate skin. But when your skin produces too much, the excess gets stuck in your pores. Here, it mixed with dead skin cells, forming a gooey mixture P. Acnes (the bacteria that causes acne) finds delicious. The bacteria feeds on this mixture, causing inflammation. Hello, pimples! *sighs*

How Do You Treat Acne?

The best way to treat acne is to use a multi-pronged approach that target multiple causes:

  • Increasing cellular turnover: Dead skin cells get stuck in your pores, mixing with excess sebum. By increase the speed at which dead skin cells shed, you prevent them from getting stuck in the pores in the first place.
  • Kill bacteria: If your skin has a lot of acne bacteria, you want something that kills them and restores the balance.
  • Reduce inflammation: Inflammation is one of the main causes of acne. Soothe it and you’ll see the acne lessen. If you use a lot of harsh ingredients, you’ll notice your skin gets better as you switch to gentler alternatives.
  • Reducing oil production: You don’t want to completely stop oil production or your skin will dry out. You want to reduce it to its normal level, so you can get hydrated skin without pimples.

Why Does Your Skin Age?

Aging is a process that naturally happens as you get older. As the years go by, your skin exfoliates itself less often, produces less collagen and elastin, and gets drier… This is called intrinsic aging and it’s responsible for only 10% of wrinkles and sogginess.

The remaining 90% if extrinsic aging, i.e. aging caused by external factors. The main one is unprotected sun exposure. Studies show that UV rays cause up to a whooping 90% of premature wrinkles and dark spots! Other factors include pollution, smoking, an unhealthy diet…

All these things generate free radicals, the nasty molecules that destroy collagen, elastin, cellular DNA… all the things your skin needs to stay firm, elastic, and look younger.

How Do You Treat Aging?

Here’s what really works to slow down and reverse premature aging caused by extrinsic causes:

  • Boost collagen production: Collagen is the protein that keeps skin firm. The more collagen your skin has, the fewer wrinkles you have and the shallower they are. Retinoids are the best at the job. They’re the only topical active scientifically proven to reduce the wrinkles you already have. Plus, they prevent new ones from forming too.
  • Fight free radicals: Antioxidants, like Vitamin C, destroy free radicals before they wreak their damage on your skin. They can only prevent wrinkles, not treat them.
  • Sun protection: Wearing sunscreen every day, rain or shine (UV rays can get through clouds and windows and get reflected on snow). Wearing hats and sun-protective clothing. Using a parasol or staying in the shade when it’s very sunny and hot outside. The more UV rays you can stop from hitting your skin, the slower you will age. This is the MOST important thing you can do to treat aging. You can use all the best products on this list, but if you don’t wear sunscreen every day, you’re sabotaging your routine and throwing the money you’ve spent for all those anti-aging products down the drain.

What Are The Best Anti-Aging Ingredients For Acne-Prone Skin?

Next time you go shopping for anti-aging products for your acne-prone skin, look out for these actives:

  1. Retinoids: A catch-all term for forms of Vitamin A, from OTC retinol to prescription Tretinoin. Retinoids boost collagen to firm skin, fight off the free radicals that cause premature wrinkles, and speed up cellular turnover to treat acne. The catch? They’re irritating. Start with a small concentration twice a week and build up both dose and frequency gradually. I recommend you start with Granactive Retinoid, a gentle retinoid proven to reduce acne, then slowly move onto retinol, and finally go either with Differin or a prescription retinoid.
  2. Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate: Did you know there are lots of different types of Vitamin C? For acne-prone skin, I recommend Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate. It brightens skin, fights free radicals, and boosts collagen – just like all other types of Vitamin C. But it goes the extra mile for acne-prone skin: it reduces sebum oxidation (a main cause of acne and inflammation) by up to 40%! It’s also more effective than 5% benzoyl peroxide and 0.1% differin.
  3. Hyaluronic Acid: Hyaluronic Acid is a moisture magnet on steroids. It attracts and binds to the skin up to 1000 times its weight in water! All that extra moisture plumps up skin, so wrinkles look smaller. It’s also a great way to keep skin hydrated without adding more pore-clogging oils to it. Win win.
  4. Niacinamide: Also known as Vitamin B3, niacinamide is a do-it-all. It reduces water loss to keep skin hydrated, it improves skin elasticity to make skin look firmer, it soothes irritations, it brightens the skin tone, and it helps treat acne. There’s truly nothing it can’t do!
  5. Sunscreen: I know sunscreen is NOT an ingredient (duh!), but I had to add it to this list. It doesn’t matter what UV filters you use, sunscreen is by far the best anti-aging product on the market. UV rays are responsible for up to 90% of premature aging. Skip sunscreen because you’re afraid it’ll clog your pores and you’re sabotaging your entire routine.

Related: 5 Anti-Aging Superstars You Need To Add To Your Skincare Routine

Struggling to put together a skincare routine that fights both acne and wrinkles? Download your FREE “Best Skincare Routine For Acne + Aging Skin” and get started today (it features product recommendations + right application order):

The Best Anti-Aging Products For Acne-Prone Skin

Best Anti-Aging Exfoliant For Acne-Prone Skin: Paula’s Choice Resist Daily Pore-Refining Treatment With 2% BHA ($33.00)

I know you want to use glycolic acid because you’ve heard it’s the best thing for wrinkles. But it’s NOT the best thing for your skin type. Acne-prone skin needs salicylic acid (a.k.a. BHA). Unlike salicylic acid, it gets inside your pores and removes all the crap that’s clogging them up and giving you breakouts. It treats pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, you name it… Like all exfoliants, it also brightens and smoothens your skin tone. I recommend Paula’s Choice Resist Daily Pore-Refining Treatment With 2% BHA for acne-prone skin because it’s also loaded with antioxidants and anti-irritants to soothe inflammation and slow down premature aging. Glycolic acid isn’t the only (or even best) way to fight wrinkles. 😉

Available at: Cult Beauty, Dermstore, Paula’s Choice, Sephora, and SpaceNK

Active ingredients: 2% Salicylic Acid, antioxidants, and allantoin.

Benefits: Exfoliates skin, reduces acne, and soothes the inflammation that causes pimples and premature aging.

Cons: Texture feels a little tacky.

Skin type: Oily and acne-prone.

Fragrance-free: Yes.


  • FaceTheory BHA Exfoliating Serum S3 (£18.00): A 2% Salicylic Acid exfoliant to unclog pores and reduce blackheads and acne, enriched with green tea to fight wrinkles and chamomile and aloe vera to soothe irritations. The lightweight texture sinks quickly into your skin, too. Available at FaceTheory.

Related: Paula’s Choice BHA Exfoliants Comparison: Which One Is Right For You?

Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum

Best For Preventing Wrinkles: Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum ($33.99)

Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum uses Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, a form of Vitamin C that prevents wrinkles while fighting acne. Plus, it has a bunch of antioxidants, including Vitamin E and ferulic acid, that supercharge Vitamin C and help it do its anti-aging job better. Hyaluronic Acid is in here to add a much-needed hydration boost. Its lightweight texture sinks in quickly into your skin and dries to a matte finish.

Available at: iHerbMad Hippie and Ulta

Active ingredients: Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Vitamin E, ferulic acid, and Hyaluronic Acid.

Benefits: Brightens skin, fights free radicals, and helps prevent wrinkles.

Cons: If you don’t have acne-prone skin, you’ll see better results from L-Ascorbic Acid (the pure form of Vitamin C).

Skin type: Oily and acne-prone.

Fragrance-free: Yes.


  • Artnaturals Vitamin C Serum ($12.99): A hydrating Vitamin C serum for oily skin, it fights free radicals, brightens your complexion, and reduces sebum oxidation to keep acne at bay. Available at Target.
  • Paula’s Choice Resist Anti-Aging Clear Skin Hydrator ($37.00): A lightweight, gel lotion loaded with antioxidants to hydrate oily skin and fight premature wrinkles. Available at Cult BeautyPaula’s Choice, and SpaceNK.

Related: My Full Review Of Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum

paula's choice super-light daily wrinkle defense spf 30 review

Best Sunscreen For Acne-Prone Skin: Paula’s Choice RESIST Super-Light Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 ($33.00)

Paula’s Choice Resist Super-Light Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 is the best sunscreen I’ve tried so far – and it’s especially suitable for acne-prone skin. Zinc oxide protects from the entire UV range – and in this tinted, lightweight form it leaves NO greasy residue or white cast behind. The silky texture dries to a soft matte finish that keeps your skin oil-free for a few hours. Did I mention it has its fair share of antioxidants to slow down premature aging, too?

Available at: Cult Beauty, Dermstore, Paula’s Choice, and Sephora

Active ingredients: Zinc oxide 13% and antioxidants.

Benefits: Provides broad spectrum protection, prevents sun damage, and slows down premature aging.

Cons: Bottle is small so prepare to buy it often.

Skin type: Oily and acne-prone.

Fragrance-free: Yes.


  • Murad City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 PA++++ ($69.00): A 100% mineral sunscreen enriched with antioxidants to protect your skin from UV rays and prevent premature aging. It goes on smoothly and doesn’t leave a greasy, white mess behind. Available at Cult Beauty, Look Fantastic, Murad, and Ulta.

Related: My Full Review Of Paula’s Choice Resist Super-Light Wrinkle Defense SPF 30


Best For Treating Wrinkles: The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion (£8.00)

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion is the perfect introduction to retinoids for anyone who has never used them before. This emulsion uses both hydroxypinacolone retinoate, a new generation of retinoids that fights acne without irritating skin, and tried-and-tested retinol to reduce both wrinkles and breakouts. Retinol often causes irritations. To minimise that, here it’s micro-encapsulated. That’s a fancy way of saying it’s released over a period of several hours, making delivery way more gentle on your skin. Bisabobol and Tasmanian pepperberry soothe skin, making retinol more tolerable. What’s missing? The oily base of the other The Ordinary retinoid products. If you can’t stand that, you’ll love this emulsion.

Available at: Beauty BayCult Beauty, and Ulta

Active ingredients: Granactive retinoid and squalene.

Benefits: Fights acne and prevents wrinkles.

Cons: Oily base.

Skin type: Oily and acne-prone.

Fragrance-free: Yes.


  • La Roche Posay Retinol B3 Serum (£36.00): This serum features 0.3% retinol, a form of Vitamin A that fights both wrinkles and acne. It can be drying and that’s where B3 comes in. It’s also called niacinamide and hydrates skin, soothes inflammation, prevents wrinkles, and reduces acne. It also helps skin better tolerate retinol. Available at Boots, Cult Beauty, Look Fantastic, and Sephora.

Related: The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion Full Review

Best For Reducing Oil-Production: The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% (£5.00)

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% isn’t an acne treatment. But, it helps keep both acne and wrinkles at bay. Niacinamide is a multitasker that hydrates skin, fights wrinkles, soothes inflammation, and helps reduce the appearance of skin blemishes and congestion. Zinc helps absorb excess oil, so it won’t get stuck in your pores and cause breakouts in the first place. The catch? This combo is drying. Use it only if you have oily (not dry) AND acne-prone skin.

Available at: Beauty BayBootsCult BeautySephoraSpaceNKThe Ordinary, and Ulta

Active ingredients: 10% Niacinamide and 1% Zinc.

Benefits: Absorbs excess oil, reduces inflammation, and helps treat acne.

Cons: Drying.

Skin type: Oily and acne-prone.

Fragrance-free: Yes.


  • Revolution Skincare 10% Niacinamide + 1% Zinc Blemish & Pore Refining Serum (£6.00): This simple, no-frills, lightweight serum helps to absorb excess oil, mattify skin and reduce the appearance of acne. Available at Beauty Bay, Look Fantastic, and Revolution Beauty

Related: Are They Dupes?: Paula’s Choice Niacinamide 10% Booster VS The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

The Bottom Line

Who said you have to choose between treating wrinkles and acne? There you have it, the best anti-aging products for acne-prone skin, so you can look younger as you get those nasty pimples off your face.