Unfortunately, acne isn’t always something you outgrow. In some cases, individuals experience their first bout of acne as an adult – oftentimes during menopause, when fluctuating hormones disrupt the skin’s balance. Whether your skin is sensitive or oily or somewhere in between, this article will help you understand how adult acne is different from teen acne and where to start with treatment efforts.
Clear skin begins with the right information, and when it comes to acne, there are a lot of misconceptions. Breakouts can occur for many reasons. Transitional times like menopause can cause blemishes to appear, as well as using the wrong products for your skin type. One of the most common mistakes is using acne treatments designed for teens.
According to Good Housekeeping, one important distinction between adult and teen acne is that teens often break out in the oilier areas of the face, which include the forehead, nose and chin – known as the “T-zone.” Women tend to break out in what Good Housekeeping calls the “V-zone”: the jawline, cheeks, neck and chin. While teens require more aggressive treatments to treat these oilier areas, adults should use a gentler acne treatment on the drier, more sensitive V-zone. In this article, you’ll learn about lifestyle changes and product choices that fight acne without compromising more sensitive adult skin.
Start at the root of your breakouts. While what you see is lumps and bumps on the surface of your skin, breakouts start deep within the pores, long before they reach the surface. What this means to your treatment efforts is that prevention is everything, so clearing your pores of oil and debris is crucial. Read more about your pores and how to keep them clear and healthy here: Clearing Plugged-Up Pores to Prevent Acne.
Blame your hormones. One side effect of menopause is acne breakouts, so if your skin seems to have changed overnight, hormones may be responsible. As estrogen levels decrease and testosterone levels increase, oil levels in your skin can also increase, which can clog pores. Learn the specifics about addressing menopausal acne, as well as a similar condition called rosacea that’s also common during menopause, in this article: Menopause and Your Skin: Acne and Rosacea.
Switch from your physical exfoliant. Trying to unclog pores? Aggressively scrubbing acne-prone skin is not the answer. In fact, it will only make matters worse. Acneic skin is sensitive by nature, and when skin is irritated it becomes inflamed and can trigger breakouts. Use an exfoliant designed for sensitive complexions. Read this article for more on choosing your ideal formula: Exfoliation 101.
Let skin breathe. When you have acne, your first reaction might be to cover up with heavy makeup and concealer – but this can clog pores. Try a lighter oil-free formula, or use mineral makeup. According to New York dermatologist Neal Schultz for WebMD, mineral makeup is “much less likely to cause a reaction in women with sensitive skin. And because it doesn’t contain oil, it won’t aggravate acne-prone skin." All mineral makeups are not created equal, so choose a high-quality formula like the award-winning bareMinerals Original Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15.
Don’t retire your sunscreen. It’s easy to be wary of using sunscreen if your former go-to SPF product was thick and overly moisturizing – but skipping sunscreen is a bad idea. According to Oprah.com, "[Acne] breaks down your defense to deal with the sun.” An oil-free, broad-spectrum SPF product should be an integral part of your daily regimen. Try Peter Thomas Roth Uber Dry Sunscreen SPF 30.
Exercise right. You know that exercise is important for your body, but unfortunately, it can contribute to acne and clogged pores. If you notice breakouts along the hairline or body acne on the back and chest, there’s a good chance it’s caused by built-up sweat and oils. Try these quick prevention tips:
Treat body acne differently. Acne on the back and chest requires a different and stronger treatment than facial acne. Murad Clarifying Body Spray contains anti-bacterial agents to prevent infections while hydrating and soothing irritation. A combination of triclosan, retinol and salicylic acid offers maximum treatment for stubborn body blemishes. For more on how body acne differs from facial acne and how to treat it, try this article: Causes and Treatments for Adult Body Acne.
Reconsider your hairstyle. The season’s stylish bangs and face-framing layers may be cute, but they can also contribute to those bumps and breakouts along the hairline – even when you’re not working out. Try a swept-back style that leaves your face free of stray hairs. And don’t forget another possible acne culprit: your everyday hairstyling products. Learn how to find styling products that won’t cause blemishes by reading more here: Hairstyles, Hair Products and Acne.
Choose the right ingredients for your skin. You’ll find the same variations of ingredients in all acne treatment products, so it pays to understand which one to look for. Generally, you should skip benzoyl peroxide unless your skin is very oily, as it’s better suited to treat teenage skin. Salicylic acid and glycolic acid are great for adult acne. Read about these effective yet gentle ingredients here: Acne Products: Understanding the Ingredients. Or, for an advanced ingredient that treats multiple skin concerns, look into the powerhouse acne and anti-aging ingredient retinol: Acne-Fighting Retinol: Transform the Way You Treat Acne.
Don’t struggle alone. Are over-the-counter treatments not cutting it? Don’t waste any more time or money – instead, make an appointment with a specialist. Although you may think the initial price tag is high, you’ll be saving money in the long run, especially considering that some over-the-counter products actually cost far more than prescription treatments. Find tips how to plan for your visit here: 5 Key Questions to Ask Your Dermatologist.
Don’t have insurance? Try an esthetician, who can treat skin with acne-fighting peels or facials and recommend products for your skin type and condition. However, if you have a more severe condition like cystic acne, you’ll need to see a dermatologist rather than an esthetician – this type of acne can cause serious scarring if not treated correctly. Read more on cystic acne here: Bumpy Breakouts: Cystic Acne.
Dealing with acne can feel discouraging and frustrating, especially as an adult. But this condition is common for teens and adults alike, and fortunately you can find a wide array of product options formulated specifically for adult skin. The most important part of your treatment plan should be patience, because it can take weeks or months to see an improvement in your skin. But rest assured that through trial and error, and perhaps a little help from a dermatologist, you’ll soon find the right combination of products that lead the way to clear, glowing skin.
Complete Acne Handbook
Menopause and Your Skin: Acne and Rosacea
Acne Treatment for Dry and Sensitive Skin
Tips for Treating Adult Acne
Causes and Treatments for Adult Body Acne