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  • Adulting with Acne


    | Acne Advice: Your adult acne could be an underlying problem that you are overlooking. Here's how to figure out why you've got more spots than a boy going through puberty.


    What is it like navigating the world as an adult, when you have with skin like a teenager? Having struggled with terrible skin over the past few years, I've been musing over the trials and tribulations of being stuck in a prepubescent nightmare while walking (read: scrolling) amongst millions of people with seemingly PERFECT skin and feeling at worst inadequate and hopeless, and at best just grumpy and frustrated.

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    Why do we get acne as adults?

    The definition of acne is a common skin disease characterized by pimples on the face, chest, and back. It occurs when the pores of the skin become clogged with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. But lets get this straight: there are two distinct types of acne: the type we get as teenagers is rampant because during puberty, the skins sebaceous glands start producing oil and sebum. While as adults, stubborn spots, zits and blackheads are primarily caused by our regular hormonal cycle.

    So, while both are mostly related to hormones- as well as, of course, skincare routine, diet and lifestyle- they can present very differently and affect us in different ways.

    As teens, the T-zone, especially the forehead, is hit particularly strongly, as well as the chest and back, and because the skin is supple, thick and constantly producing more oil, teen acne treatments tend to be extremely aggressive, and therefore usually pretty effective. Adult acne usually flares up mainly on the cheeks and chin, and can be much harder to treat and manage unless directly controlling hormones, for example with the regular birth control pill, but that doesn't work for everyone, so it can be difficult to find the right exterior treatment.

    How does adult acne impact mental health

    Being covered in spots can genuinely cause anguish in daily life as it attacks our self-confidence to sometimes unbearable lows. It can make us feel childish and stupid; embarrassed to still be dealing with such a problem. In short, having to deal with these unwanted beats on our faces makes us feel like we cannot be taken seriously as adults.

    According to Professor Rino Cerio, consultant dermatologist at the Royal London Hospital, "Adult acne is increasing in prevalence in women in particular. I’m seeing people come to me tearful, frustrated and with very poor self-esteem." So, we get stressed/depressed, we get spots, then we get more stressed/depressed because we have spots... the cycle continues, and it can be a vicious one.

    But there is hope!

    How to treat adult acne

    Here are just a few effective treatment options worth giving a shot before you hit up the doctor or dermatologist for more serious options like hormone therapy, tablets, lasers or injections:

    • Try products with ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and retinoids. I recommend The Ordinary by Deciem as a brand for a huge range of science-led skincare solutions.
    • Cut out dairy from your diet- milk products contain excess insulin and high levels of hormones which has been proven to make us break out in zits. Try reducing your dairy intake and you might be surprised at the results.
    • Remove any unnecessary stress factors from your lifestyle, it has proven time and time again that stress leads to poor skin, and overall health. Easier said than done, I know, so what about short term quick fixes?

    How to cover up adult acne

    Here is my routine featuring the best face make-up to cover up those nasty red spots when you really need to look your best for that important meeting or special night out:

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    Good luck on fighting your adult acne battle!


    Author image
    Ruth MacGilp is an award​-winning blogger and freelance writer with a focus on ethical and sustainable fashion.
    Edinburgh Website