We have some bad news: Acne can pop up at any stage of life, whether you’re going through puberty in your teen years, taking care of your family in your 30s or dealing with menopause in your 50s. It’s even possible to experience adult acne if it was never a problem for you as a teenager. Thankfully, there are acne treatments that can get you back to the clear, smooth skin you love. Read on to find out exactly what’s triggering your acne and discover the best acne products for adults.
What is adult acne?
If you’re over 25 and still experiencing breakouts, that means you have adult acne. It can take a few different forms, depending on the level of severity. You may experience any of these symptoms:
- Whiteheads, a.k.a. clogged pores that are closed
- Blackheads, or clogged pores that are open
- Papules, or small red bumps
- Pimples (or pustules), which are small red bumps that contain fluid or pus
- Nodules, a.k.a. large, solid bumps under the skin that can be painful
- Cystic acne lesions, or nodules filled with pus
Causes of adult acne
Like teen acne, adult acne is the result of excess oil production, skin cells that clog pores, bacteria and inflammation. These four factors can be caused by a range of things—from genetics, stress and overuse of hair and makeup products to a diet that’s full of high-glycemic foods (although more research needs to be done on this last one). There are three causes of adult acne that tend to differ from teen acne:
- Hormonal fluctuations: Hormones in adults are generally more stable than those of teens, but fluctuations can cause blemishes to appear at random times. Your menstrual cycle, a pregnancy or menopause are three situations that can cause hormones to change, but the sudden onset of stress can play a role as well.
- Health conditions: Some conditions—think polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and adrenal hyperplasia—may have acne breakouts as a symptom.
- Medications: There are a few medications that can impact skin quality, such as corticosteroids, lithium, anticonvulsants and barbiturates.
As its name suggests, hormonal acne refers to acne that’s triggered by changes in hormones; and is the predominant type of acne. You may experience it around your period, during pregnancy or as your reproductive hormones decline during perimenopause and menopause. There are mild forms—say a breakout or two before menstruation—or you might even develop more severe acne such as cystic acne, which is inflamed.
Best adult acne care
Whether you have acne or not, your face will benefit from a consistent skincare regimen. But if you’re prone to blemishes, make sure you look for products labelled “non-comedogenic,” which means they won’t clog pores. You may want to start with a cleanser, toner and serum formulated specifically for acne-prone skin, and then add your favourite moisturizer and sunscreen.
La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar range was formulated for oily and acne-prone skin, and these products are particularly suited to adult acne:
- Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel uses zinc pidolate to reduce excess oil and unblock pores without causing dryness or irritation. You can even use it if you have sensitive skin. Gently massage the gel into damp skin (face or body!) twice a day—morning and night.
- Effaclar Astringent Lotion is a face toner that’s formulated with lipo-hydroxy acid (LHA) to gently exfoliate the skin to refine texture and unblock pores. After cleansing, gently press a cotton ball or pad soaked with the astringent lotion into your skin. You can use it morning and night.
- Effaclar Ultra Concentrated Serum turns to a tri-acid complex of salicylic acid, glycolic acid and LHA to lightly peel the skin and improve the look of acne scars, pores, uneven texture and fine lines. Apply the serum before bed as your third skincare step. You can follow it up with your favourite moisturizer if you prefer, and don’t forget to protect your skin with a sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30 in the daytime.
Check out this article for even more of the best acne treatments for adults.
And if you wake up one morning with a big zit, try these pimple remedies for a quick fix.
Lifestyle changes to reduce adult acne
Even though you can’t escape periods and menopause, there are some changes you can make to your routine and habits that may help prevent or reduce breakouts:
- Be sure to remove make-up before bed, using a cleanser formulated for acne-prone skin
- Do your best to reduce stress by getting enough sleep, exercising, meditating and finding other healthy coping mechanisms.
- And if you’re still experiencing issues—especially cystic acne—visit a dermatologist for additional recommendations such as light therapy, chemical peels and prescription acne treatments.
This range of articles also has plenty of tips and tricks for acne-prone skin, no matter your age.