There are a lot of perks that come with being an adult. No bedtimes. Shopping sprees with no one caring what you spend. (Hello, Mansur Gavriel bucket bag.) Being able to eat peanut butter out of the jar for dinner…and dessert.
Acne is not one of them. Unfortunately, 54 percent of women older than 25 suffer from some form of acne, according to the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology. “Adult acne is definitely on the rise – we’re seeing more women in their late 20s to mid-40s developing it, often having never suffered with acne in their teens,” says Sarah Brown, skincare expert and founder of Pai Skincare.
Adult acne is partly genetic – so you can blame your parents – but it’s also the result of some habits and lifestyle choices, such as:
Picking your pimples
Even Karlie Kloss admits to doing this beauty no-no. “I know it’s tempting, but it will make them worse – increasing inflammation and driving infection deeper into the skin, potentially causing scarring,” says Brown.
Waiting too long before seeing a derm
While it’s tempting to Google-diagnosis your pimples and treat the issue with a drug-store shopping spree, don’t, says Dr. Ben Barankin, the spokesperson for the Acne and Rosacea Society of Canada. “Doing nothing, or trying over-the-counter products or cosmetics for too long allows acne scarring to set in.” Not to mention it can be a drain on the pocketbook. See your doctor for a referral to a dermatologist.
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Choosing the wrong skincare products
It’s time to stop stealing night creams and face wash from your mom’s stash. “While anti-aging products generally do not cause any acne flare-ups, some of the moisturizers that older people may start using for dehydrated skin may be a bit too thick and this could cause breakouts,” says Barankin.
Eating pimple-aggravating foods
Put down the cheese, white bread and potatoes. (We’re sorry.) There is evidence that dairy and high-glycemic (read: starchy) foods can trigger acne. Brown adds that one of the biggest culprits of bad skin is refined sugar. “It affects hormone levels, which directly influences sebum production. Excess sugar can equal excess oil, leading to congestion and breakouts.”
Too much stress
Your job, family drama, boyfriend trouble – all of these can contribute to a breakout. “In my experience, one of the most common triggers of adult acne is chronic stress levels. Continually high stress levels cause a sustained increase in the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn alters progesterone levels, leading to an increase in sebum [oil] production,” says Brown.
Your birth control
Brown says she’s noticed many customers developing adult acne after changing up their contraceptive pill or when stopping using birth control. Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait it out. “This is due to hormone changes which can take many months to settle.”
The type of makeup you use
Both Barankin and Brown recommend mineral makeup, which is oil-free and lets the skin breathe. You also want to make sure all of your products – from moisturizer to foundation – are non-comedogenic, which means they won’t clog pores.
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