4 Actives That Treat Both The Signs of Ageing and Acne

It’s a real conundrum - you’re still getting hormonal breakouts on your chin every month. But you’re also aware that skin just isn’t as snappy as it used to be…..nor is it as bright or resistant to sleep deprivation as it used to be.


I’ve been there.


Trying traditional (and high-priced!) anti-ageing products often gave me more spots because they’re not formulated with blemish-prone skin in mind. And old-school anti-blemish formulas were just too drying and made any wrinkles look so much worse.

But the good news is there is a handful (a bundle??) of ingredients that are exactly the right thing when you have both issues.

Retinoids - your skincare hero

Retinoids are a category of skincare ingredients derived from vitamin A. Words like ‘powerhouse’ and ‘superstar’ abound because they influence so many aspects of skin function. They are the mainstay of acne treatment and they’re the most effective anti-agers we have - and they help with pigmentation too. What’s not to like?

What do Retinoids Do For Your Skin?

They’ll unclog pores, help keep them perky and petite whilst also keeping your collagen supplies abundant. An absolute win in this situation.

Azelaic Acid - the multi-tasking wizard

It reduces inflammation in the skin by its effect on the activity of Toll-like receptors, which sense our environment for danger, helping activate our skin’s defenses. In redness-prone skin these sensors are turned up too high and azelaic acid helps bring them back under control.

It also acts as an anti-bacterial and reduces the tendency for our skin cells to clog up our pores, so these actions together combine to make it very helpful in acne.

As if that wasn’t enough it also inhibits the action of tyrosinase, reducing the tendency for our skin to develop pigmentation. This means it’s helpful in post-acne marks, sun spots and melasma. It’s the ultimate multi-tasker.

Can You Use Azelaic Acid Every Day?

It can be used daily, up to twice a day. In fact, i can actually reduce skin sensitivity over time, so I’ll often find it easier to add in other ingredients after doing this in those with more sensitive skin. It’s why I added it to both my Flawless Brightly and Nightly Serum - it’s that helpful!!!

Niacinamide - the gentle giant

Niacinamide is one of the most sociable actives as it plays so well with others. It’s also easy to formulate with, so it can be added to serums, moisturisers and even sunscreen.

What does Niacinamide do to your skin?

It has 2 helpful actions when it comes to combining with retinoids - it boosts ceramide production, an essential component of the epidermis’ bricks and mortar structure, which makes skin more robust and tolerant of irritants. It also has an anti--inflammatory action, which helps minimise the impact of starting retinoid, which can trigger the release of inflammatory mediators in the skin. And it’s helpful in boosting collagen and suppressing hyperpigmentation. In a short - it’s amazing.

Bakuchiol - the newbie

Bakuchiol is hailed as a plant-derived ‘natural’ alternative to retinol and it’s appearing in a lot of new launches. Understandably, it has us quite excited.

Is Bakuchiol as good as retinol?

When used twice a day, 0.5% Bakuchiol was as effective as 0.5% retinol used nightly in women with photo-ageing in their late 40s - they both improved wrinkles and hyperpigmentation to a similar extent.

In addition, the retinol users experienced more stinging and scaling than those who used Bakuchiol so it seems tolerability may well be better. And, it doesn’t break down in UV nor does it photosensitise, another advantage over retinoids meaning it can be used alongside them in your morning routine.

And again, like retinoids, it seems to tackle multiple points in the acne pathway, hence it will help both treat active blemishes, prevent new ones and reduce the dark marks left in their wake.


Bringing It All Together

And of course, to sit alongside your carefully chosen actives, you’ll need a non-clogging skincare foundation of cleanser, moisturiser and sunscreen. Remember, SPF is vital - choosing the right one is key as so many acne sufferers skip this as they’re nervous of breaking out but it’s THE most important anti-ageing tool in your arsenal so lean in!!!

In the end, putting together an effective regime isn’t difficult when you’re armed with knowledge about what ingredients work well on both concerns - and the great news is they all play well together. They’re the cornerstone of the Dr Sam System and you can find yours by completing our easy-peasy Routine Finder to remove the guesswork and deliver great skin days!

Introducing Dr Sam's