Hair & Beauty Magazine

Adult Acne: Skin Care Q

By Jackiebernardi @JackieBernardi

Woman with acne

Q: “Dear Jackie, I am sending out a middle-aged skin SOS. When did I become a teenager again?! Lisa K., via Twitter

A: Lisa, the short answer to your question is that the universe is playing a joke on us.We finally get to a stage in our lives where (perhaps) we feel confident, sure of ourselves, maybe even love the beauty and grace that this kind of self-understanding brings. And then just as we feel were on top of our game, pimples pop up seemingly out of nowhere and mess with us. Who wants to worry about some crazy breakout when you have a board meeting to run? Seriously, or when you are about to walk down the aisle for the 2nd time (or 3rd but who’s counting). Although science has not determined the exact cause(s), here is what we do know.

Hormonal imbalance
Male Hormone

An overstimulation of androgens can be one of the causes for breakouts when we are in adulthood. Androgens are male hormones, however women’s bodies produce them as well–just in different amounts. As we age, the production of the androgens increases (this is why some women start to notice more facial hair). As the androgens increase, they stimulate the sebaceous glands, causing them to enlarge.  In turn, these glands produce more sebum which accumulates in the follicle where it can mix with bacteria and dead skin cells, ultimately clogging the pore which results in a pimple. Awesome!

Reduction in skin cell turnover

So, not only are our hormones getting wacky, but our skin is also taking longer and longer to shed its dead skin cells. The longer these dry, flaky cells remain on our skin, the more likely they will end up inside a follicle, plugging it, and adding to the potential for a breakout.

Medications and Supplements

Medication/Supplement Side Effects

Sometimes the medications and/or supplements we take can do damage to our skin while healing our bodies.  If you are noticing breakouts, and you are taking a new medication/supplement, you may want to call you doctor.  Drugs containing corticosteroids, androgens or lithium are known to cause acne.

Sensitive Skin
Cosmetically induced sensitivities

The cosmetics that we use on a daily basis could very well be the reason for our adult blemishes. First, as we age we tend to use more makeup to hide perceived skin flaws such as pigment issues (age spots), fine lines, dark under eye circles, lip lines, creepy skin, and so on. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with wearing more makeup as an adult, the problem actually stems from improper skincare maintenance.

The biggest culprit is not washing your face at night. As we’ve already discussed, our hormones are creating more facial oil buildup, our skin cells are not shedding as fast, and we are applying more product–this is a perfect trifecta for contributing to skincare issues as an adult. Cleansing your face at night does not need to be a big production, but it does need to be done if you want to avoid a whole host of skin issues.

Secondly, the more cosmetics we use, the greater the potential for contamination and increased skin sensitivity.  Each time we put our fingers into a jar of anything we risk transferring bacteria from our hands, to the products we are using. If we’re using a lot of products, chances are we are cross contaminating, and the results of that can show up as a breakout on our face.

Additionally, if you are using a lot of cosmetics, you may be layering hundreds of ingredients on top of one another. Some of those ingredients may not get along well with others, and this can create problems in the form of hives, sensitivities, redness, inflammation, and yes–even breakouts.

Adult Acne: Skin Care Q

What to do about Adult Acne

  • Pay attention to how frequently you are breaking out, if chronic, go see your Dermatologist
  • Wash your face before bed everyday
  • Be sure to gently exfoliate at least once a week
  • Make sure to regularly clean any makeup brushes you use
  • Do not put your fingers in any containers—use a disposable cotton swab instead
  • Pay attention to the ingredients you layer on your face
  • Try using a spot treatment containing ingredients to dry up the bacteria like, sulfer and salicylic acid

Do you have an adult acne horror story?

Please share by clicking “have your say” at the top of the post.


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