Adult Acne 101

While many people associate acne with the teenage years, adult acne is a reality and is just as difficult to cope with physically and emotionally as teenage acne. It can either linger into your 20s or flare up unexpectedly in your 30s or 40s, and can seriously affect your self-confidence. It is one of the most common reasons for dermatologist visits and affects up to 54% of women. So what causes it and what can you do about it?

adult acne

Adult acne is usually found along the jawline and neck – called the u-zone – while teen acne is most common on the t-zone. Adult acne is also more likely to be those nasty, deep cystic bumps which brew deep down and linger for what feels like forever. Treating adult acne can be more complicated because adult skin can also have issues of dehydration and sensitivity, and cell turnover is slower meaning acne takes longer to heal.


Hormonal changes are the main trigger of adult acne and can cause excess sebum production. When sebum oxidises it sets off a chain reaction which ultimately causes your pores to become clogged with dead skin cells. Combine this with the ideal conditions for bacteria to flourish, and you get inflammation.


Besides hormonal changes caused by starting or stopping contraceptives, your period, pregnancy or polycystic ovary syndrome, other factors such as stress, poor diet and damage to your skin’s natural barrier through harsh scrubs or cleansers can all contribute to adult acne. There is also a strong genetic link so if your parents had acne you’re more likely to get it too. Thanks, Mom.

The good news is that you don’t have to rely on a full coverage foundation or hiding from the world. Here’s how to treat adult acne and some product recommendations.


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