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ADULT ACNE: 5 REASONS YOU MIGHT HAVE IT (SOME MIGHT SURPRISE YOU!)

Acne isn’t just a problem of teenage years. Unfortunately, it can rear its ugly (white)head at any age. Adult acne, or adult-onset acne, is when it occurs over the age of 25. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, women tend to have a higher prevalence and incidence of adult acne than men. It’s estimated that 50 percent of women ages 20 to 29 have acne. It affects about 25 percent of women ages 40 to 49. (1)

It is common for some women to experience acne in their 30s, 40s and 50s for the first time — having never had it during their teens. –  Sheshe Giddens

Trying to figure out what causes acne can be challenging and there often isn’t not one simple answer. Treatment that worked for you in your teen years might not work for you as an adult.

What is Acne?

person looking at pimpleMajority of acne is an inflammatory reaction when pores in your skin become clogged with oil and dead skin cells, producing pimples, blackheads, cysts or whiteheads.

Causes of Adult Acne

Inflammation-causing acne can be caused by diet, hormones, menopausal skin changes, medication, stress, products (makeup, hair, skin) and environmental factors. Regardless, there is usually one or more triggers that might surprise you.

As estrogen declines in midlife, so do collagen and elastin, meaning your skin may become thinner, drier, and looser than before. Hence, wrinkles. But estrogen decline also takes with it our skin’s ability to ward off acne, sometimes leading to acne during and even after menopause. (2)

Some surprising reasons you might still be battling breakouts:

1. Your cleansing routine might need a tweak

How often do you wash your face? What type of cleanser do you use? What is the temperature of the water you use to wash your face? These are some important questions you might want to ask yourself if you are experiencing acne and not sure why.

  • It is important to cleanse your face every day; however, dermatologists do not suggest doing it more than twice a day, generally morning and at bedtime.
  • Try to look for cleansers that are mild and won’t strip skin’s natural barrier.
  • Use warm or cool water
  • Don’t use harsh cleansing brushes.
  • Pat face dry instead of rubbing harshly with a towel.
Cream Cleansers
Gentle cream cleansers: i DEW, Peppermint Sea

2. You Don’t Use Moisturizer

Did you know that you can get more breakouts by not using a moisturizer? We get it, when your face feels greasy or oily the last thing you want to do it lather on a moisturizer. However, by skipping this step, skin becomes dehydrated and responds by overcompensating and over-producing sebum.

Regular moisturizing hydrates skin, helping to calm down skin inflammation. Look for a lightweight moisturizer that is built for acne-prone skin. 

“Moisturizing is a very important part of skin care, including skin that is acne-prone, as hydration allows sebum buildup to loosen and clear the pores.” – The Klog

3. Over-exfoliation

Exfoliation is a must for great skin. However, you can get too much of a good thing. This includes using peels, scrubs, gritty cleansers, AHAs. If you are suffering from breakouts, over-exfoliation could be the reason. Over-exfoliation can create a lot of skin concerns.

It can be tempting to scrub away at the top layer of skin when those pesky zits pop up. However, it can end up angering skin by increasing the inflammation and stripping your skin barrier.

In addition to acne, here are some other signs of over-exfoliation:

    • Redness
    • Inflammation
    • Dryness and flakiness
    • Increased oil production and shine
    • Irritated skin
Don’t Piss off your Skin

Are you over-exfoliating? Give skin a break. Stay away from exfoliating skin for a week or more. Look for products that contain ingredients that are going to hydrate and repair skin’s barrier, such as hyaluronic acid, antioxidants and peptides.

4. Exercising

Building up a sweat is great for your health and overall skin health. Unfortunately, sometimes it can also lead to post-workout breakouts. Oil, bacteria and dirt can build up and pores can get clogged.

  • Make sure you remove your makeup before your workout, pull hair off your face, and try to not touch your face during your workout.
  • Try to change out of your sweaty clothes as soon as you can and clean your face after your sweat session. Shower is the best if possible.

person washing face

5. Not Removing Makeup at Bedtime

You’re sooo tired. Is it really that bad to go to bed without washing the makeup off your face? Um… YES! Not removing your makeup can have cumulative negative effects on skin health.

Makeup residue, especially oil-based, can clog pores and cause bumps on skin. The more nights you do this, the more clogged the pores will become, attracting bacteria that cause blemishes.

Snoozing in full eye makeup puts you at risk for eye inflammation, infections, eyelid redness, and corneal abrasions. – The Healthy

Your skin rejuvenates itself while you sleep and if you leave your makeup on, it is going to inhibit this natural process. Who wants acne and wrinkles?

“Makeup can trap dirt and environmental pollutants inside the skin, and this type of environmental stress can result in increased free radicals which can cause DNA mutations, collagen degradation, and, over time, can result in premature aging.” – Dr. Wee, Byrdie

person with clear skin

 

Resources

(1) Hormonal Acne: Traditional Treatments, Natural Remedies, and More, Healthline

(2) Dealing with menopause acne: Is it prom night again? Perry, Gennev

(3) Halt the Face Acids: Here’s How to Know If You’re Over-Exfoliating, Healthline

(4) Adult Acne. Why it happens and what you can do for it. The American Academy of Dermatology Association

(5) What is Acne? The American Academy of Dermatology Association

(6) Acne. National Institutes of Health

(7) Adult-onset acne: prevalence, impact, and management challenges. Rocha, Bagatin, NCBI

(8) Adult Acne in Women: What’s Triggering Your Breakouts. Giddens, Houston Methodist Leading Medicine.

(9) How to Find a Moisturizer That Won’t Make Your Acne-Prone Skin Worse, Diaz, The Klog

 

 

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