Adult Acne Skin Care
myth-busting solutions to effectively combat the dual indignities of acne and aging
Acne and wrinkles. Seriously? Seriously!
First, some facts:
- According to the Academy of Dermatology, 70 million adult Americans will suffer from acne—more than 50% of women and 25% of men.
- Adult acne can be a continuation of teenage woes or a new skin care struggle altogether.
- Acne occurs in people who have a genetic predisposition; if acne runs in the families of both parents, three out of four children may suffer from it.
- Adult acne can be triggered by many factors, including: hormonal fluctuations, stress, hair and skincare products, heat, friction, humidity, and pharmaceutical agents.
Regardless of where it comes from, figuring out how to best treat adult acne requires some serious myth busting.
myth-busting solutions to fight adult acne
Adult and teenage acne should be treated the same.
Myth-busting solution: When it comes to treating adult acne, you need to act your age. Adult skin is drier and more sensitive, while teen skin is more resilient and oily. So, let go of your teenage perceptions of what works and tailor your skincare treatment to the needs of your adult skin.
The best way to fight acne is to dry out the skin.
Myth-busting solution: Contrary to popular belief, drying out your skin is not the answer. Here’s why: As we age our skin loses moisture, resulting in dry, dehydrated, wrinkle-prone skin. The problem gets even worse for those suffering from acne because their skin is already inflamed and irritated. Healthy skin has natural oils that keep the skin protected and irritation free. When you dry it out, disaster ensues. In fact, when skin is too dry it can become even more susceptible to bacterial invasion. So, stay away from harsh toners or astringents because they’ll leave you high and dry.
Never use oils to fight acne, use oil free moisturizers instead.
Myth-busting solution: Most people get a bit nervous when they hear the words oil and skin in the same sentence—especially acne sufferers—but there’s no reason to get nervous. Treating blemish-prone skin with oils instead of lotions or creams may seem counter-intuitive, but it works. Here’s why:
- Oils, such as hemp, pumpkin and grape seed, are high in linoleic acid and will help balance sebum, restoring it to an optimal consistency and pH balance. When sebum is out of balance it builds up and clogs pores.
- Anti-bacterial oils, such as helichrysm and lavender, are as good at fighting acne as benzoyl peroxide, with no downside risks. Oils are good carriers of nutritive and bacteria fighting ingredients because they are able to penetrate past the surface epidermal layers.
- Oils penetrate into clogged pores, breaking up congested matter (because oils dissolve oils). This gets to the source of where acne starts and prevents it from developing in the first place.
- Unlike natural oils, oil-free moisturizers are emulsified with pore-clogging waxes, which are a major cause of skin congestion.
- If you have oily skin, applying the right oils will actually balance your oil production, not make it more oily. When you dry out your skin, you are essentially telling it to produce more oil because our skin is not meant to be so dry.
Benzoyl peroxide is the most effective anti-bacterial treatment.
Myth-busting solution: Fighting bacteria is important, but not at the risk of drying out your already dry skin—which is exactly what benzoyl peroxide does. It’s known as a skin sensitizer that can, with overuse, cause a variety of skin problems, including irritation and extreme photosensitivity. Instead, try natural anti-bacterial oils like helichrysm and black cumin seed that also calm and soothe irritated skin.
Clean your skin until it’s squeaky clean.
Myth-busting solution: Yes, it’s important to cleanse your skin, especially after exercise, but the key is to do it gently, without stripping your skin. Scrubs, harsh soaps and other drastic treatments that strip off your topmost lipid barrier do a number of things that may actually aggravate your skin. What’s more, when you strip your skin of its natural oils, it prompts your skin to produce more oils…adding insult to injury for blemish-prone skin.
The more exfoliation, the better.
Myth-busting solution: When it comes to exfoliation and adult acne, less is definitely more. Gently exfoliating 1 – 2 times a week sheds dead skin cells, unclogs pores, and reduces acne breakouts. But over-exfoliating creates sensitized, dry, dehydrated skin, and worst of all, skin that’s more susceptible to sun damage.
For more details, read Exfoliation Do’s & Don’ts
Tretinoin (aka Retin-A) is the remedy for adult acne.
Myth-busting solution: While Retin A works well for teens because it dries out and penetrates their resilient, thick, oily skin, Retinol is the best choice for already drying and more sensitive adult skin. It gently stimulates cell turnover, unclogs pores, and prevents dead cells from clogging pores, all without irritating. According to top dermatologist Dr. Eric Alden Lewis, "Retin A should never be used on adult acne. Retinol is ideal because it does not cause inflammation, it does not thin already thinning skin and it penetrates deeper than Retin A to where adult acne initiates."
Where does acne come from?
There are 4 major contributors to acne formation, regardless of age:
- excess sebum production
- colonization of bacteria
- obstruction of hair follicles by skin cells
How do pimples form?
The biggest contributor to adult acne is sebum. When sebum is out of balance it builds up and clogs pores. As congestion builds, bacteria collect and cause infection. Then inflammation sets in and the result, as the infection works its way to the surface, is a pimple.
The best way to treat adult acne
…is to treat the root cause of acne—excess sebum. In addition, it’s important to find a solution that treats acne’s residual effects, like bacterial overgrowth and excess surface oil. Unfortunately, most acne remedies on the market dry out oils on the surface of the skin. This approach is disastrous for adult acne sufferers because harsh treatments can actually accelerate aging.
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