Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, shall we?
Remember when you were just bursting into teenhood and those first few pimples started to appear? Everyone said, “I know it feels bad now, but by the time you’re 25 it’ll be a distant memory!”
Lies. All lies.
Here I sit at 30, still worrying that a massive blemish will pop up before an important event. The only difference is this time it’s family photo sessions and client meetings, not prom.
As I’ve discovered, I’m not alone. It turns out that not only is acne the most common skin condition in the US. but it affects around 15% of adult women according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Don’t worry, though. I’m not just here to lament about my facial misfortune. In the past month, I’ve made serious headway against whiteheads. Being the generous gal that I am, I’m here to share what I’ve learned.
First, let’s take a look at why it’s such a struggle. It may seem like the same problem you dealt with at 15, but fighting acne as an adult is quite different.
Your Skin is Different
You know that fear we all have of breaking out before an important day? There’s a reason that happens. Your hormones play a big role in your complexion, including the hormones associated with stress. Oh nature, you cruel beauty.
Thanks in large part to hormones, your skin is different today than it was when you were a teenager. During puberty, our skin produces more of a natural oil called sebum. That extra sebum is often to blame for teenage acne because it clogs the pores.
In a cruel twist of fate, sebum also creates ideal conditions for another common acne culprit: Demodex mites. These microscopic mites are present on everyone’s skin, but they thrive to the point of overpopulation when you have enough sebum, which leads to more acne.
As you get older, your skin chemistry changes. You stop producing so much sebum and dry skin tends to set in. That dryness can lead to acne too. If your skin is dry and flaky, the flaking skin cells get stuck in your pores and clog them. Boom: acne.
Your Skin Has Different Needs
When you’re a teen, acne is usually your only skin problem. It’s a lot easier to fight a battle when there’s only one front to prioritize.
By the time you reach your late 20s (or your late late 20s, as I’m choosing to call my 30s), you have another major skin woe: aging. Maybe you’ve started seeing crow’s feet next to your eyes or lines on your forehead. The war against wrinkles has begun.
Neither acne nor aging are easy issues to conquer. When you’re facing them both at once, it’s a whole different ball game. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to overcome both.
How I Beat Adult Acne
When I finally decided I’d had enough of playing trial and error with every acne product in my local drug store, I cut to the chase. I scheduled a visit with a dermatologist.
As my dermatologist explained, I was making a few key mistakes in my DIY approach to skincare. She had a few recommendations.
Stop Trying to Treat Adult Acne the Same as Teenage Acne
As I mentioned above, acne in your 20s and up may look like the same problem you had when you were 15, but it’s usually caused by different factors.
Because extra sebum is the key issue for teens, most acne products are meant to reduce the amount of oil on your skin. That’s all well and good until you hit adulthood and your acne comes from dry skin instead. By stripping away what little moisture-holding sebum you have left, those products will do more harm than good.
Instead, look for products that aim to clear acne while also hydrating your skin. For example, Credentials Facial Cleansing Gelee gets rid of pore-clogging debris while protecting your skin’s moisture barrier.
Get a Professional Evaluation
You heard all those motivational assemblies at school when you were young: every person is unique and special. Cue a collective “aww!” The same goes for your skin.
While most teen acne is caused by the same thing, adult acne is more varied. Heck, some adults who think they have acne really have the early signs of rosacea instead.
A dermatologist or experienced aesthetician will be able to take a close look at your skin and identify the most likely culprits. They’ll also be able to recommend the best products to treat your acne on top of your other skin care goals. One common favorite is a collagen rejuvenation serum from Citrix, which tightens your skin and gives you a youthful glow but is designed not to irritate acne-prone skin.
A Happy Ending
When I visited my dermatologist, I learned that I have the problem so many other people my age do: dry skin. And all these years I thought I still had acne because I was a walking glob of grease. Go figure.
She recommended the Avene cleansing cream along with washing my face after every workout instead of waiting until bedtime. By the time I was a week into this new regimen, my skin had turned a serious corner.
I come to you now after a month of following the skin care advice of a pro and using products that fit my skin, and the difference is incredible! I may get a spare pimple or two at times, but you could no longer mistake a close-up of my cheek for a view of the Andes Mountains.
If you’re out there feeling the pain of adult acne, I am your voice of hope. My advice is to consult a professional and be willing to invest in skin care products that actually work. Your skin impacts your look every day. Trust me: it’s worth it.