When we’re in our teens, we almost expect to get pimples or suffer from acne, and most of us did at some stage English for a proficiency lecture. Once we reach our twenties and thirties however, we also expect our skin woes to be over. For an increasing number of men and women though, acne remains a problem well into adulthood, and can even become an issue for people who never suffered from it in their teenage years.
So what causes adult acne? Often, it’s an over-production of androgen or oestrogen hormones, which is common during pregnancy and menopause. However, adult acne does also have other common triggers that you might not have considered:
• Hair care products: If your skin is already oily, then serums or gels that you use on your hair could be making your outbreaks worse. Try and avoid using anything other than a natural shampoo and conditioner on your hair and see if it makes a difference.
• Changing your skincare products too regularly: Our skin cells turnover every 4-6 weeks, so that’s really the minimum amount of time you should give yourself to see if a product works or not. Often, we get frustrated when we don’t see immediate results (and even more so if we’re using costly products), but be patient and don’t be too quick to change products. One of the keys to great skin is a simple, but consistent morning and evening skincare regime that includes gentle cleansing and moisturising.
• Using too much of a product: If you’re using a harsh acne-fighting cleanser, toner, moisturiser or spot treatment then you could actually be doing more harm than good by upsetting the delicate pH balance of the skin and causing it to dry out. In turn, this makes the skin produce more sebum which clogs pores and causes further outbreaks. Be gentle on your skin.
• Not removing your make-up properly: Mascara, foundation, powder, blush – that’s a lot of product you’re putting on your face every day. So, make sure you use a dedicated make-up remover and cleanse your face twice in the evening to make sure all your make-up is removed. If you have very sensitive skin, then wash your face once with a gentle cleanser and rinse a few times with water.
• Sunscreen: It’s a catch 22 really because we know we should be using sunscreen every day to help protect our skin from aging and keep it looking its best. However, some sunscreens can make acne worse or cause outbreaks. This is because there are two active ingredients in most sunscreens: chemical agents and physical agents. Chemical agents protect the skin against ultraviolet rays, while physical agents create a sun shield and ‘sit’ on your face. It’s these latter agents that you need to watch out for. Physical agents include zinc or titanium oxide and cause sweating under the product, which in turn can cause acne. Next time you’re shopping for sunscreen for your face, watch out for these products and rather opt for a sunscreen which contains chemical ingredients such as avobenzone, oxybenzone, methoxycinnamate or octocylene. You can also try using a gel formula, as they don’t clog the pores as much as a cream does. Look to see if your products say that they are non-comedogenic, which means that they will not cause acne or block pores.