Submit your skincare questions to Dr. Agnes, CEO of Herborium and natural medicine expert
When you’re still battling acne into your adult years, you’ve probably asked yourself this question many times - WHY?! Because so many tend to view acne as a teen problem, the issues surrounding adult acne aren’t commonly explained as well and addressed. This can be both frustrating and actually jeopardize your efforts to regain clear skin.
To choose an effective and efficient treatment for adult acne, it’s important to understand what causes the condition before you can begin searching for a solution. Reason being that acne is an internal issue that manifests itself externally.
To help you with this process, we’ve compiled a list of the top five causes of adult acne and included steps that you can take to make sure acne doesn’t become a permanent problem that plagues you, and your skin!
Hormone Imbalance. Whatever the type of acne that ails you, be it in adolescence or adulthood, the fluctuation of hormones is almost always the culprit. Female sex hormones can play their part in the formation of acne, yet these are androgens, male sex hormones such as testosterone, that do the most damage. These hormones can affect the sebaceous glands, and push them to over produce sebum, the oily substance needed (in normal quantities) to hydrate and moisturize the skin. Free testosterone in the blood is metabolized to dihydrotestosterone, which causes the sebaceous glands to enlarge and increase sebum production. Normally, about 2% of androgens freely circulate in the blood. When this amount increases, other organs are affected, including our skin. When sebum is produced in excessive amounts, pores can become clogged, which can lead to acne. In acne sufferers, the sebaceous glands over-respond to androgens, sometimes well into adulthood. Androgens can also contribute to acne flare-ups in women, and are commonly associated with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, post-pregnancy and when you stop using oral contraceptives. Because this is the first step in the acne cascade, it is important to address the problem here, at its source, if you want to achieve lasting, acne-free results. (*A note to AcnEase® users-your treatment is already working as a buffer between hormones and sebaceous glands to ensure only the necessary amount of sebum is produced. So rest assured, it does not directly affect your hormones.)
While looking for a solution to hormonal acne, steer clear of any products that directly affect hormones. This should ONLY be done under the careful supervision of your doctor and can cause serious damage to your body if not monitored properly. Please be sure that you are educated about all possible side effects.
Genetics. Unfortunately for some, acne is a result of genetics, inherited from a parent or grandparent. In this case, it is especially important to treat your problem from within and as early as possible, as no amount of washing will undo a generation of acne-prone genes. If you notice that acne runs in your family, try looking into what exactly causes or triggers theirs.
It is important to recognize that oily skin, blackheads and whiteheads are an early stage of acne and the treatment and prevention for those with genetic acne predisposition should start at this phase. Regardless of the reason, there is sure to be an AcneEase® solution for any skin type.
Stress. Adulthood comes with its fair share of stressors in all areas of our lives, and this stress can show up on your skin if you don’t keep it in check. Stress can actually elevate the level of specific hormones, including adrenaline and noradrenaline. Working along the pathway of testosterone, these hormones can result in an overproduction of sebum, which can lead to acne. Getting a good night’s sleep, and taking a few moments to alleviate some of the stress of the day by exercise, walking or even reading a good book, can go a long way in terms of how it affects the skin you’re in. Even if you don’t have the time or space to devote to an all-out meditation practice, taking a few mindful breaths can make a big difference, both in your day, and your skin.
Clogged pores. Whether you realize it or not, bacteria plays a key role in acne. The bacteria that are present in your pores love when excess sebum meets with dead skin, dirt or debris, and the body naturally treats this bacteria as an infection (inflammation), sending in white blood cells to fight off the disease. Unfortunately for us, this inflammation appears on the surface of the skin as pustules, papules or cysts, otherwise more advanced forms of acne. Treatment for this condition should be addressed as a one-two punch, combining a systemic solution to combat the overproduction of sebum, with a topical cleanser or cream to keep skin clean and pores unclogged and as bacteria free as possible. (P.S. - AcnEase® does just that, working from within to eliminate existing breakouts while preventing new ones from forming). A gentle cleanser with a low-dose of acne-fighting ingredients such as witch hazel or small amounts of olive oil or sulphur can work to lightly exfoliate the surface of the skin, keeping it clean and germ-free. A DIY acne exfoliator papaya mask can also help eliminate dry skin, and a non-comedogenic moisturizer will keep the skin supple and less flaky.
Over-dry skin. Most topical acne products are marketed toward a teen audience, and as an adult, if you see that it works for teens, then why wouldn't you try it, right? Wrong move! Many of these products are formulated to address oily skin symptoms in an aggressive and short-term manner and the chemicals used in these items can be harsh and drying on the skin, especially on mature adult skin. When skin becomes dry and flaky, these dead skin cells can begin to clog pores from the surface. Paired with extra sebum, these two factors can meet within the pores where bacteria can form, leading to an inflammatory response, otherwise known as acne. In order to prevent flaky skin, hydration and moisturizing from both within and on the surface of the skin are essential. An acne-friendly diet can be essential in your journey, so always make sure to get enough water, eat fruit and veggies to get your glow on from the inside-out, and use a non-comedogenic, oil-free moisturizer to apply to clean skin morning and night.
We want to hear from you! What do you do to deal with your adult acne? Tell us in the comments below!