A breakout is a breakout is a breakout, right? Wrong. Your skin changes as you age and that includes your acne. This news is not revolutionary. But even though most of us are well-aware of the fact that our skin’s needs have changed, we don’t act like it—at least not when it comes to acne. When we break out, we still reach for the same products we turned to 10 years ago. Celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau says something’s not right with this picture. To help us make sense of our post-high school breakouts, we asked Rouleau to give us all of the details on adult acne.
Read on to find out what changes you need to make!
Stop Over-Using Drying Products
In your teenage years, you probably used products formulated with drying, antibacterial ingredients to fight breakouts. “As you progress into your late teens and early 20s, most people will outgrow their breakouts, but in their mind, they think it’s the acne products that made their breakouts go away,” Rouleau says. Guilty as charged. “The problem with using acne products in your adult years is that you’re drying out your skin and leaving it in an unhealthy state—and that’s compromising preventative skin aging.” The fix is to cool it with the dehydrating ingredients and use products that prevent acne while encouraging cell turnover instead. Use a cleanser with salicylic or glycolic acid like Tria’s Skin Perfecting Foam Cleanser ($28). “Salicylic and glycolic acids exfoliate and destroy acne-causing bacteria from the skin.” Perfect if you’re out of your teens and still getting breakouts, but no longer need harsh acne products.
Treat Today’s Skin Concerns
“It’s very important to treat your skin for what it is doing today and not what it did in the past,” Rouleau says. For the majority of the population, the acne you deal with in your adult life is not as severe or widespread as it was in your younger years. Rather than applying an acne treatment to your entire face, zap the occasional blemish with a spot treatment that’s formulated for the type of breakout. “In your 30s, breakouts can often occur in the form of cystic acne, those hard, sore underground blemishes that linger for weeks. The Renée Rouleau Anti-Cyst Treatment ($40) is designed specifically for these types of breakouts.” With spot treatments, you can address the problem area without over-drying healthy skin.
Exfoliate and Hydrate
“Another tricky part of dealing with adult acne is that adults also need to address the signs of aging,” Rouleau says. The key to tackling breakouts and addressing aging concerns is two-fold: exfoliation and hydration. “By exfoliating your skin—using both chemical and physical exfoliators—you’re able to unclog pores underneath the dry skin cell buildup, while also stimulating new, healthy, and fresher skin cells.” Peter Thomas Roth’s Laser-Free Retexturizer Exfoliating Scrub ($38) combines enzymes and AHA with jojoba beads for dual-action exfoliation. “To hydrate, use lightweight, non-pore-clogging products to plump up the skin cells, and give your skin a smoother, softer appearance,” Rouleau says.
Calm the Inflammation
Another crucial change between acne in your teens and acne later in life is the role that hormones play. “As they get older, many women find they get more blemishes before their period and stress-related breakouts due to hormonal shifts in the body,” Rouleau says. “When estrogen drops, the androgen hormones stimulate sebaceous glands to produce more oil and therefore, breakouts. Since estrogen is a natural anti-inflammatory, the skin and breakouts are more inflamed than the acne you would get in your teenage years, so many will benefit from using calming ingredients on the skin like white tea and beta glucan.” White tea, like that found in Origins’ A Perfect World Antioxidant Moisturizer with White Tea ($41), is a powerful antioxidant that protects your skin from free radicals. Beta glucan supports your skin’s natural defense system and improves its repair capabilities. And to round out your prescription for adult acne treatment, Rouleau suggests you get plenty of sleep and limit stress as much as possible.
How have your acne-fighting tactics changed with age?