Don’t I Ever Outgrow Adult Acne?

When I think about what things were like when I was a teenager I can’t help but make this strange expression that looks like something in between a smile and a grimace. I’m sure most of you make the same face. Being a teenager was fun, it was first loves and first tastes of freedom - but it was also greasy foreheads and relentless acne. When you finally grow out of those pimples you breathe a sigh of relief thinking the pimples and blemishes are just another awkward teen memory.

Then, for many of you, adult life brought with it not only the stresses and freedoms of adulthood, but also adult acne. What is adult acne and why is it different from the acne many people have as teenagers? What are some of the major causes? How do you treat it? Let’s start by talking about what makes adult acne different from teenaged acne.

As teenagers the breakouts most of people have tend to be located along the t-zone (the forehead, nose, and chin) and are, for the most part, caused by the sudden fluctuation of hormones of puberty. That is why that type of acne tends to just go away on its own after puberty has passed. Adult acne, too, can be caused by hormonal fluctuations (especially during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, menopause or on certain medications) but these breakouts are more common along the lower part of the face like the cheeks below the cheekbone, the chin, and the jaw line.


Most teenagers will suffer from blackheads, whiteheads, larger pustules and cystic acne. Adult acne will appear in any and all of those forms but adults are also prone to the added joys of rosacea (but that is an entirely different conversation).

Now that we understand some of the differences between teen acne and adult acne let’s talk about what the major causes of adult acne are. As I said before, hormones certainly play into adult acne. Other culprits could be stress, imbalanced diet, makeup and skincare products, and even your hairstyle!

Stress releases hormones that cause your body to release other hormones to counteract them, the hormonal flood can often send your complexion into a tailspin. Many people mistakenly assume greasy foods or chocolate cause acne. Studies have shown that is not really the case - the major culinary criminal in the case of adult acne is actually the sugar in the candy bars or other candy, as well as high-glycemic-index carbs like white bread, pasta, potatoes, etc. Yes, the wrong foods can spike insulin levels, leading to a chemical imbalance and, in turn, acne.


What about topical acne treatments? Well, here’s something that will surprise you. Traditional acne creams and lotions contain an ingredient that can actually irritate your skin and make problem worse. That’s right, your efforts to clear your skin may actually be adding fuel to the fire. These products disrupt your skin’s natural acidic pH, chip away at your skin’s protective layer and actually trigger production of sebum. To avoid these types of products, I prefer gel or gel-cream type formulations that avoid harmful ingredients like PEG’s, Glycols and soap-based emulsifiers (often listed as Self-Emulsifying Wax or Polysorbate).

For DIY/chemical-free skin care product recipes, more advice or to ask a question, visit www.JustAskDavid.com