Thanks to hormonal fluctuations caused by peri-menopause and exacerbated by stress, many women in their thirties and forties are finding themselves battling the oil and pimples they thought they’d left in the rearview mirror, says Jaliman. If this is your skin type, here’s your goal: to cleanse thoroughly each day and use products that speed up skin-cell turn-over, both of which will minimize the likelihood of pore clogging. To reduce sheen, prevent pimples and fight the signs of aging, your routine can be as simple as one, two, three: a cleanser plus one product for day and another for night.
THE OILY MINIMALIST
CLEANSE Begin with an exfoliating wash that contains lactic or glycolic acid. These cleansers eliminate grime and dead-skin buildup but are typically less drying than salicylic acid, an ingredient in many teen acne products, says Los Angeles aesthetician Kate Somerville. If you do opt for a salicylic acid wash (because it is easier to find than lactic and glycolic acids), make sure it also offers hydrating ingredients to buffer the drying effects. USE AM AND PM.
HYDRATE AND PROTECT Even oily skin needs to be hydrated, especially as we age (remember: Oil and moisture are two different things). Moisturizer will help prevent fine lines and keep skin healthy, firm and smooth. Your best bet? A light formula that both moisturizes and contains sun-screen, so you don’t have to layer multiple products on skin already prone to feeling tacky. Also, beyond cancer prevention, sunscreen is important because UV rays can cause acne spots to hyperpigment, especially in darker skin. USE AM ONLY.
TREAT A prescription-strength tretinoin such as Retin-A or Veltin (a new tretinoin that contains an antibiotic for blackhead prevention) will check two boxes: First, it fights breakouts by controlling oil production and increasing skin-cell turnover, minimizing the potential for clogged pores. Second, that speedy turnover provides anti-aging benefits, helping skin tone appear more even, says Fredric Brandt, MD, a Manhattan- and Miami-based dermatologist with a new skin-care talk show on SiriusXM satellite radio. For those unable to tolerate tretinoin (it can be irritating initially, an annoying stage some can’t endure), there are effective over-the-counter options that contain retinol, tretinoin’s gentler cousin. Brandt concedes that retinol ultimately does the same work as tretinoin—it just takes a little longer to reach the finish line. USE PM ONLY.
If you’re willing to pull out all the stops—and be rewarded with faster, more dramatic results—follow the Oily Minimalist regimen, then add as many of the steps below as you like.
THE OILY MAXIMALIST
CONCEAL AND HEAL A mattifying-lotion or primer applied after your sunscreen-moisturizer in the -morning keeps shine at bay. For a one-two punch, follow with an oil-free treatment foundation (most likely it will contain a drop of salicylic acid or -antibacterial tea tree oil) that complements the pimple-fighting properties of your skin care. USE AM ONLY.
BOOST EYE MOISTURE Even if the rest of your skin is oily, the area around the eyes probably isn’t—at least not if you’re over 30. A very light eyehydrator, used only at night, will help keep that thin-skinned area moist, minimizing the deepening of fine lines. USE PM ONLY.
AMP UP EXFOLIATION In addition to using an exfoliating cleanser and a tretinoin or retinol product, you can speed up skin improvement witha third exfoliating product two or three times a week. For skin prone to breakouts, most experts suggest a chemical exfoliator (e.g., glycolic, lactic or salicylic acid) rather than a physical exfoliator (like a scrub), since the granules in a scrub can irritate pimples, making them slower to heal. Somerville recommends that you use either pads (think old-school Stridex, but with a formula suited to aging skin) or a lotion that you can alternate with your tretinoin/retinol night product or layer under it. USE AM OR PM.