Living with adult acne can be emotionally exhausting. Not only does it
have a significant impact on our confidence and the way we perceive
ourselves, but it can have an even greater impact on our relationships
with others. Although it can be embarrassing tackling pimples and pustules when we’re way out of our teenage years and starting families of
our own, it’s nothing to be ashamed of: it effects one in five women
aged 25-40. However, there’s a difference between an unsightly spot
every so often and a serious issue that needs slightly more care and
attention. Continuing my ‘top googled beauty questions’ series, here is a simple explanation of why you may be experiencing acne and what you can do to tackle it.

Despite the common perception that pimples, breakouts and acne are a result of dirty or uncleansed skin, adult acne is often caused because of excess sebum production and follicles becoming blocked with debris.  Our skin is covered with tiny little hair follicles that are there to keep us warm; sebaceous glands lubricate the skin to stop it drying out by producing an oily substance called sebum, but when too much sebum is produced the follicles can become blocked. The excess sebum mixes with dead skin cells (or makeup/build-up) and both substances form a plug in the follicle. If the plugged follicle is close to the surface of the skin it will bulge outwards, creating a whitehead – if the plugged follicle is open to the skin it creates a blackhead. Although not removing your makeup, SPF or cleanser properly can cause little pimples, for the majority of acne sufferers it’s a much bigger issue that’s harder to control than just using a simple spot treatment. So how can you ensure you’re managing your acne in the best possible way?

1. Don’t Over Wash
Washing your face more than twice a day can irritate skin, over-stimulate oil production and dry out sensitive areas of the face. Don’t assume that more cleansing means less spots, because it doesn’t. I’ve seen so many cases of acne being caused because of doing too much, rather than too little.

2. Be Delicate
Avoid harsh scrubs that include almond or apricot kernels that can tear and irritate skin. Our face is extremely delicate, so using alcohol-filled toners and cleansers will only cause the skin to start producing more oil to compensate. This will only exacerbate the situation.

3. No Picking
Fiddling with spots will only cause further inflammation and cause bacteria to be driven into pores, making the situation worse. As soon as a little bacteria gets into the follicle it’s game over; it’s so easy to transfer bacteria around your face so keep your hands where we can see them!

4. Use The Right Makeup
It’s a ‘Catch 22’ situation as we want to conceal imperfections, but covering them often only makes them worse. Ensure you’re using ‘acne friendly’ makeup (i.e. oil-free and as natural as possible,) which will help to soothe the problem rather than aggravating it.

5. Clean Your Brushes
Something I repeat over and over, but dirty brushes will only transfer nasty bacteria onto your skin every time you use them. Make it a rule to clean your brushes thoroughly at least once a week to minimise the possibility of bacteria transference.

6. Take It Off
Removing your makeup before bed is the number one rule (and I don’t mean with a face wipe, which will barely touch the surface.) Invest in a cleansing balm or cream that will remove all impurities from the skin, ensuring it can replenish and work to repair itself as you sleep.

7. Eat Right
Fish oils help to keep skin supple, egg and avocado help to improve blood circulation and zinc is a natural immune system booster. Eating the right food will help to give your body and skin a fighting chance against those dreaded pimples. Do your research, make informed choices and invest in some supplements.

8. Stop Smoking
We all know it’s bad for us, but smoking plays a huge contributing factor in all types of acne. It prevents the cells and circulation from performing effectively, leading to all kinds of skin problems – acne is exacerbated by lack of effective cell turnover so that cigarette is only making it worse.

9. Don’t Stress
When we get stressed our body responds by flooding our blood with glucose, which in turn triggers excess oil production. It’s this that can mix with dead skin cells and bacteria to cause spots. Taking time out once a week to re-align may do wonders for more than your mental health.

10. Visit A Dermatologist
Seeking specialist advice ensures you’re not only using the correct products, but that your routine enables your skin to look its best. An expert will be able to recommend treatments and ongoing care to fundamentally solve or manage the problem. Unfortunately the NHS isn’t set up to manage the ever growing adult acne issue, so opting for private care may have to be a serious option.

Have you ever suffered from adult acne? Do you have any additional top tips for managing breakouts?

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  1. Kiss & Make-up
    May 13, 2015 / 9:02 am

    Yeah, yet again I have learned the hard way that overwashing and using products that are too strong isn't the way to go.

  2. Amy x
    May 13, 2015 / 5:17 pm

    I literally do everything I can and yet I still get spot after spot on my chin, mixed with giant milia. I feel like i'm treating my skin well yet nothing will rid me of them. :((((((((((

  3. Sabrina Jaine
    May 13, 2015 / 6:19 pm

    Thanks for this post! I have fairly bad, but not major adult acne which I'm fairly sure is hormonal, meaning no matter what products I use or how clean I make sure my skin is, I always break out :/ it's very frustrating! But as a tip I would say just keep things simple and treat acne-prone/oily skin as if it was sensitive, not using too many products and not skipping moisturiser just because you think your skin doesn't need it! xxSabrina Jaine

  4. Vanessa Bernadette
    May 13, 2015 / 10:55 pm

    I suffer with adult acne due to my hormones. I take evening primrose oil and vitamin B6 supplements to try and control it as best as I can. Clay face masks can work really well at absorbing the excess oils & exfoliating regularly helps with the dead skin cells that also clog the pores. I have also been trying to drink as much water as possible and when I get the full amount that I need daily on a regular basis – my skin benefits hugely from it.Thanks for sharing.Best wishes,Vanessa

  5. Katherine L
    May 14, 2015 / 12:15 am

    I love the advice, with the exception of the last point. I feel like when in doubt, people always say to refer to a dermatologist when they have skin problems, specifically acne, they don't know how to deal with. However, dermatologists generally have a one to two step solution on how to deal with acne, which really isn't going to help individual matters any: here's a topical cream, and if this doesn't work, then go on accutane, which has an insane amount of horrible side effects. Seeing an acne specialist, or better yet, keeping a diary of what you've been eating and how you're mood has been in relation to the condition of your skin is really a better option. When a derm. lets you down, you feel like that was the last resort and that you skin is destined to be horrible, when in fact, they rarely care to treat the condition. Katherine || The Green Bows

  6. j0najum
    May 14, 2015 / 5:08 am

    I love this article! Thanks for taking the time to put this together. I already do a few of the things you mentioned but I am excited to add a few more things to my routine!xoxocollagen and elastin

  7. Lubna
    May 14, 2015 / 9:11 am

    You definitely have to pick the right beauty products for your skin – I've found a back-to-basics approach has really helped to keep my skin clear, or at least stop it from getting worse. Also, agree with the general hygiene tips, i.e washing make up brushes and another imporatant one is PILLOW CASES – make sure you change your bedhseets reguarlaly and wash on a 60 degree cycle.I'm more of a fan of natural products now, which I wrote about on my blog: "Are Expensive Cosmetics Ruining Your Skin?" – Lubna

  8. susan1375
    May 14, 2015 / 8:00 pm

    My skin is stressed due to a long term health condition and the effects of medication. I find my skin looks less Vesuvius like if I use pixi glow every night and alpha h liquid twice a week.

  9. glenka
    May 15, 2015 / 10:05 am

    I was having a terrible time with my skin last year, I was trying everything I could find to help it but my skin just got worse and every product made my skin so sore, it was really making me feel bad about myself so in the end I had to get some medication from the doctors and now after using that for a while my skin has never been better. This may not be what everyone would want to use but it is worth a try.

  10. Beauty Bird
    May 24, 2015 / 8:01 am

    Great post Hayley. I'd also recommend changing your pillow case regularly – when I started changing mine daily I noticed an improvement to the spots I was getting on the left side of my face (I always sleep on my left side!). I also noticed a big difference when I cut out dairy xxRamblings of a Beauty Bird | Beauty Blog

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