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Adult Acne and Aging: Why They Weirdly Go Together

Posted by Nikki Washer on Sep 5th 2023

Adult Acne and Aging: Why They Weirdly Go Together

Acne and aging are often thought of as opposite ends of the skin care spectrum. Most people think acne is a problem that teens and young people have, while aging is only an issue for older people. So when you find yourself trying to fend off both crow’s feet and pimples at the same time, you might be surprised and more than a little annoyed. Well, prepare to be surprised again: it’s actually not uncommon for adult acne and aging to happen at the same time. And it’s not a coincidence.

Why Adult Acne and Aging Tend to Appear Together

Adult acne goes by the name “post-adolescent acne” in clinical settings – that is, acne that appears or continues after age 25. It’s generally caused by the same things that cause acne during puberty: excess facial oil (called sebum), bacteria, skin cells clogging your pores, and inflammation.

But as I mentioned, it’s not a coincidence that adult acne and aging sometimes go together. In fact, there are several factors that affect both aging and acne.

Hormonal Changes

Hormones affect so many processes and systems within your body, and one of those processes is your natural oil production. Specifically, masculine hormones like testosterone tend to increase your oil production. When women get older, we produce less estrogen, so the balance between our estrogen and testosterone changes. This is why, particularly for women, facial oil might become thicker or excessive with age, and that can spark acne.


Every era of life has its own stressors. As you get older, though, you might be under a particularly high amount of stress due to raising kids, trying to plan for retirement, changes at work, and so on. Unfortunately, stress can contribute to both facial aging and adult acne.

Stress triggers hormones that create inflammation throughout your body. Research has found that this added inflammation doesn’t necessarily cause acne but it does make existing acne worse. That inflammation and other aspects of stress can also accelerate your skin’s aging process.


Like stress, smoking can make both acne and aging worse. Most people already know that smoking speeds up facial aging. It makes your collagen (a skin-firming protein) break down more quickly and this leads to wrinkles and sagging skin. What’s lesser known, though, is that smoking increases your risk for acne too. While researchers don’t know exactly why this happens, studies have shown a clear correlation between smoking and an increased chance of adult acne.

Makeup and Skin Care Practices

I know, your skin care is supposed to help your skin. So why is it on this list?

The fact is that everyone’s skin is different and a product that could be excellent for some people may actually be harming your skin, either with regards to acne or aging or both. There are makeup products and skin care products that use ingredients that could clog your pores. They can also trigger inflammation which makes aging and acne worse. This isn’t to say that any and all use of makeup or skin care products will put you at a higher risk for acne and premature aging; only that using the wrong products will.

How to Reduce Adult Acne AND Aging at the Same Time

Now that you know why you might be seeing pimples and wrinkles side by side, let’s talk about the action steps: what you can do to solve the problem.

Use Specialized Multi-Functional Skin Care Products

Truth be told, there aren’t that many skin care products that address both acne and aging at the same time. Most people solve this problem by putting together a skin care routine that includes both acne-fighting products and anti-aging products. But there are some rare gems that actually do tackle both acne and aging together, like the Jan Marini Age Intervention Duality. This innovative cream uses two separate chambers to bring you ingredients that normally aren’t compatible in the same product.

Make Intentional Purchases

If you’re trying to navigate your way to both clearer skin and younger-looking skin, it’s important to be cautious and strategic about what you buy to put on your skin. That goes for both makeup and skin care products. Make sure you look for products that are labeled as “non-comedogenic,” “oil-free,” and/or “acne-safe,” like a non-comedogenic moisturizer.

Consider Hormonal Treatments

Hormones play a hefty role in aging and acne, particularly for women. Some women choose to balance out their dropping estrogen levels with hormone replacement therapy, and this can help to clear up your skin along with reducing the other symptoms of low estrogen. Keep in mind, though, that this is a significant medical treatment that, like any other medical treatment, has side effects. Make sure to discuss all the pros and cons with your doctor and make an informed decision based on your specific needs and medical history.

Treating Your Skin with Personalized Care

Adult acne and aging are a more common combination than most people realize, so if you find yourself fending off both blemishes and wrinkles, you’re not alone. The tips above can help you start to create a skin care plan that addresses both of those needs and lets you get back to feeling confident in your skin.