We all have friends whose skin perpetually looks like it has a smoothing filter on it, even IRL. They go about their lives as if they’ve never had to cancel dates because of a breakout. How lucky are they to be #blessed with good genes? Meanwhile, you’re held hostage by your skin,
so unlucky to face blemishes every month, no stranger to postponing plans. Not fair.
In reality, acne doesn’t care about what’s fair. Acne doesn’t even care about luck. Acne cares about opportunity, and the best opportunity for acne to thrive is when pores get clogged with excess oil and bacteria. Luckily for you, you can take charge to reduce these opportunities for adult acne to appear.
What Is Adult Acne?
“When I grow up, I’ll grow out of these blemishes and life will be perfect!” pubescent you might’ve once thought. Yet, as an adult you still regularly wake up with pimples that threaten to ruin your day. On the other hand, some teens are lucky enough to never face breakouts, only to make up for lost time in adulthood. Either way, you’re not alone: According to the American Academy of Dermatology up to 15% of women have acne, and this prevalence has shown an increasing trend over the past few years. Broken down into age groups, recent research by the Dermatology & Skin Care Center has found that adult acne presents in about 50% of women in their 20s, 30% of women in their 30s, and 25% of women in their 40s.
As adults, our blemishes look the same but our breakouts are different from what we might’ve faced in high school. Whereas teen acne typically appears along the T-zone on the upper half of the face sitting at the skin’s surface, adult acne is usually along the jawline appearing as cysts, which can’t be drained.
It’s easy to blame genetics. Maybe your parents or another close relative also had adult acne—you might’ve inherited these unlucky genes. Maybe you’re facing an undiagnosed health condition that can resemble acne or lead to breakouts, such as rosacea (redness in the face), keratosis pilaris (bumps formed because of excess keratin), perioral dermatitis (rash encircling your mouth), or polycystic ovary syndrome (aka PCOS, a hormonal disorder triggering acne flare-ups). Consulting with a dermatologist can help clear this up for you, figuratively and literally, helping you identify the proper skin concern and how to deal with it. But there are plenty more non-genetic reasons for adult breakouts.
Adult Acne Triggers
Your everyday hair and skin products may be guilty of provoking pimples. Especially oil-based products like shampoo and conditioner, styling products, leave-in treatments, makeup, and face creams. Selecting products that are non-comedogenic (a fancy term meaning it doesn’t clog pores) can reduce your risk of breakouts. Our Miracle Clear skincare line is specifically formulated for acne-prone skin so you can cleanse, tone, and moisturize your face without worrying about excess oil levels.
Sometimes, however, it’s what we put into our body that impacts what shows up on our face. Not talking about “junk food” or sweets—the jury is still out on whether a cleaner, healthier diet directly translates to clearer skin. We’re talking about medications including corticosteroids, antidepressants, and epilepsy treatments that have been linked to breakouts. Additionally, some hormonal birth control methods are used to treat acne, whereas others can cause it. Discuss with your healthcare provider if you notice an increase of blemishes when starting a new prescription to determine if alternative treatments could be as effective without inflaming your skin.
Speaking of how our bodies can impact our faces…Are you feeling physically taxed? Extreme weather, lack of sleep, illness, pain, dehydration, and environmental irritants can put extra strain on your body, triggering hormonal changes, weakened immunity, and inflammation leading to breakouts. While you can’t control the weather, you have greater control over creating an environment where you can physically thrive and boost your health. Keep plants in your space to filter the air, and a refillable bottle of water within arms reach to stay hydrated. Wear a heating patch when muscle cramps strike, and make your bed as cozy as possible so you can enjoy as much deep sleep as you need to properly recover from the day and restore your health.
Or are you emotionally stressed? Consider minimizing your stressors and adopting some calming coping mechanisms like yoga or journalling where you can transfer all your anxieties on the page. Cortisol levels can increase with stress, leading to increased sebum production and more inflammation, which can trigger or worsen acne. Our bodies also produce more androgens as a stress response, a hormone that stimulates oil glands and hair follicles in the skin, which can lead to an ideal buildup for breakouts. Speaking of hormones…
What Is Hormonal Acne?Along with hormones fluctuating with stress, we can generally expect hormonal balances to fluctuate throughout our menstrual cycles—even moreso for women experiencing irregular periods with PCOS—and during menopause.
One major causative factor of hormonal acne is testosterone, which increases as a part of puberty. The glands that secrete sebum are sensitive to testosterone, so when excess testosterone accumulates right before your period, increased sebum production at the follicle creates a suitable opportunity for acne to appear.
As we reach menopausal age, the natural decline of our reproductive hormones results in an end to menstruation. During this time, women can experience acne due to a drop of estrogen levels or an increase in androgens like testosterone, even with hormone replacement therapy that introduces progestin to replace the estrogen and progesterone your body loses. This synthetic form of progesterone actually activates androgen receptors, ultimately making your skin more oily and prone to acne.
Taking Charge of Your Own Skin Luck
Whether our surroundings, consumer products, or natural bodily cycles are responsible for acne flare-ups in adulthood, it’s clear that having a flawless complexion is not about the luck of great genetics but rather your ability to manage all the acne triggers you may face.
Remember that acne thrives when your skin produces excess oil, regardless of whatever genetic makeup you were lucky to be born with. This oil buildup can be triggered by external factors including cosmetics and environmental pollutants. Or a weakened immune system may make you more prone to acne inflammation. Or medications and your menstrual cycle can prompt your hormones to produce oily conditions that trigger acne.
Remember that acne thrives when your skin produces excess oil and when dead skin cells clog pores, regardless of whatever genetic makeup you were lucky to be born with. This buildup can be triggered by external factors including cosmetics and environmental pollutants. Or a weakened immune system may make you more prone to acne inflammation. Or medications and your menstrual cycle can prompt your hormones to produce oily conditions that trigger acne.
Whatever the case may be, keep your oil levels balanced with a daily skincare routine designed for acne-prone skin, like our Miracle Clear 3-step system. Using the naturally antimicrobial power of Succinic Acid, you can gently exfoliate dead skin cells to refresh pores, absorb excess oil and reduce shine, and strengthen your skin’s barrier against future breakouts—all without stripping your skin. Who needs genetic luck when you’ve got nature working for you.