Adult Acne: Causes and Prevention

If you’re considered an “adult”, chances are your plate is full of responsibilities. There are bills to pay, a career to launch, a home to manage, and possibly an education to finish. Not to mention taking care of a pet or other human(s)! Throw in a social life and some self-care and there just aren’t enough hours in the week. Adulting is difficult enough without having to deal with adult acne! I know what you’re thinking too. “I’m not a teenager anymore, why am I still having to deal with acne?!” Truth be told, there are quite a few reasons why you may be facing those pesky bumps. Nonetheless, part of eliminating an issue is understanding the underlying causes. Then we can craft some solutions and preventive measures.

The truth is, teenage acne can persist well into adulthood. Conversely, some people who didn’t have acne during the teenage years find it inexplicably emerging as adult acne in their 20s. Regardless, adult acne can persist through the 30s and even the 40s. While adult acne is far more common in women than men, it’s intensely frustrating and embarrassing for all. Rest assured, you’re not alone. According to a study published in The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, adult acne is present in 51% of women (versus 43% of men) aged 20 to 29 years and in 35% of women aged 30 to 39 years. This figure creeps down slowly as the ages grow.


#1 Your Hormones

In women, adult acne can appear (or persist from teenage years) as a result of hormone fluctuations. According to The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, this can include: 

  • Around their periods 
  • During pregnancy, perimenopause, and menopause
  • After discontinuing (or starting) birth control pills 
  • Chronic health conditions such as PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)

Of course, the same testosterone that causes acne in teenage men will continue to inflict its marks in adult men.

We’ve written extensively on hormones and how they influence our skin. For more information see our blog posts here and here.

#2 Your Products  

Often times a key player in clogged pores is what we put directly on our skin. This includes our cleanser, moisturizer, SPF, and makeup. There are an abundance of skin care and makeup products on the market that contain ingredients that clog pores, including some very expensive ones. These products may be perfectly harmless on people who aren’t acne-prone, but may wreak havoc on those who are.  Other everyday items that come in contact with your face such as your phone, pillowcase, hats, etc. can transfer all kinds of grime too!

#3 Your Skincare Routine 

Once we spot a pimple on the horizon, many of us have a tendency to do a few things. First we cleanse, and cleanse again. Next, maybe we scrub with some exfoliator and douse our face with a strong toner. Finally, we drown that area in spot treatment. Often several times per day. Many women may also apply several layers of pore-clogging concealer to cover up this mess! I’m here to tell you, none of that is going to make your bump disappear any quicker. In fact, you may be inviting it to stay a bit longer or even worse, grow. Over cleansing, spot treatment gone wrong and exfoliating too often or too aggressively is likely to dry you out and destroy the natural balance in your skin. In return, this encourages your pores to revolt with more oil production. It is best in these scenarios to stick to your guns and use your day-to-day gentle cleanser twice a day. Nonetheless, if you want the right products to fight the breakout you should pay a visit to your aesthetician. Clinically Clear in particular will provide you with a schedule for when to exfoliate and use spot treatment after your consultation with us. We want our clients to not only have the right products for their skin, but also to know how often and how much of each to use. Book an appointment here to get started. 

#4 Your Stress Levels 

I am sure this one probably hits home. With everything you have going on, how can you NOT be stressed, am I right? For acne prone individuals, however, stress can be compared to adding fuel to the fire. How? Because when you do not properly manage that built up stress, it aggravates your immune system and normal inflammatory response. In English, stress triggers androgen hormones which in turn leads to oil production. Thank you, sebaceous glands for your contribution. While stress is not the only factor in your adult acne, it does play a part. Manage your stress by finding a channel or an outlet that works for you and embrace it. 

#5 Your Family History

There’s a reason not every stressed-out individual is walking around with acne. Adult acne is hereditary. If one or both of your parents had acne in their adult years, you’re more likely to be battling the same. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make it better. What follows are some tips and tricks to prevent and manage adult acne. 

Prevention + Treatment

#1 Product Precaution 

We are constantly ambushed by over the counter products. The commercials are endless, the celebrities claim they use them, and we see them every time we step foot in any sort of store. As a result, this can lead to uncertainty about which products actually work and more importantly, which products work for you. For example, while “organic” and “natural” skin care products may be all the rage, some natural oils such as cocoa butter and coconut oil can be among the worst ingredients acne-prone people can put on their skin. In contrast, products claiming to be “oil free” doesn’t mean they aren’t going to cause breakouts. 

We could write a novel about how to navigate the ingredients in each of your products, but instead we’ll sum it up with two main takeaways. First, ALWAYS patch-test any new product you’re considering adding to your skin care routine. By this, we mean to apply a small amount on a small area of your face for two-to-three weeks. If you break out, toss the product. This requires patience, but it’s a far better approach than wondering why you have a face full of pimples three weeks later. Second, take the time to see an esthetician who can recommend products specifically for your skin, and whose ingredients have been vetted by experts. You will be thankful you did. 

#2 Topical Treatments

Clearing acne requires a combination of at-home and in-office tactics. For at home, there are six topical treatments that work proactively together to clear your skin. We did a deep dive into each of these six and what they do to help last week on the blog. To learn more information about it, click here

#3 Professional Assistance 

If you feel like you can’t catch a break, you don’t understand skin care, or you just have a burning passion to take care of you, then make an appointment with a professional. I can’t speak for all of Atlanta’s acne specialists. However, I can say that Clinically Clear Acne Treatment Solutions is a service that exists simply to assist you. Our trained aestheticians are dedicated to helping people find more confidence in their own skin. Furthermore, the first facial treatment and consultation is complimentary, so there is nothing else standing in between you and clear skin. Take the leap!

With proper attention and products, adult acne is something you can tackle just as easily as your to-do list in everyday life. We hope the tips and tools we outlined above help you discover how to encourage healthy, clear skin at home. Take the next step to invest in yourself and visit us at Clinically Clear. It is important as you tackle these obstacles that you have an Atlanta acne specialist you can rely on and trust. Still not convinced? Take a look at our website for more information. Can’t wait to see you soon! 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *