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Like most women, you probably thought the days of worrying about blemishes faded along with memories of the senior prom. Yet, post-pubescent breakouts are as common as the all-too-fast-appearing signs of aging. According to Dr. Lisa Kellett, a Toronto-based cosmetic dermatologist, nearly half of North American women over 25 have to battle with adult acne and crow’s feet.
Adult acne can mean one small pimple during the menstrual cycle or constant breakouts along the chin, jawline, temple areas and/or the T-zone. “The presence of blackheads is the first grade of acne. This is where it starts,” says Kellett. She describes blackheads as the black dots of oil-clogged pores on the nose, chin and cheeks. Other breakouts include whiteheads (small bumps filled with white pustules) and papules (closed-over pores that are red and bumplike). Painful cysts or nodules (filled with oil) are hard bumps with deeper inflammation than pustules. According to Leanne McCliskie, Dermalogica’s education manager, acne can range from grade one to grade four. Grade one is mild and includes blackheads and whiteheads; grade four is more serious, including papules, pustules, cysts and nodules.
To combat both wrinkles and acne, choose skin care products that multi-task. Try the Yves Rocher Pro-Retinol 100% Vegetal Anti-Wrinkle Anti-Blemish line, which combines pro-retinol (to minimize lines) and salicylic acid (to zap zits). “Look for water-based, oil-free products,” advises Kellett. Water-based products are optimal as hydration smooths out wrinkles and washes away impurities. Avoid mineral oil, fragrances and/or products with a creamy texture because these can irritate the skin and lead to breakouts, even if they’re non-comedogenic. Jennifer Cueto, head aesthetician for Concepts Salon & Spa in Toronto, suggests cleansing with bead-infused exfoliators and spot-treating blemishes with bacteria-fighting ingredients, such as benzoyl peroxide. “However,” says Kellett, “if your skin is irritated or if there’s no improvement after one month’s use of a new product, consult a dermatologist.”
Cueto recommends professional exfoliating and deep-cleansing spa facial treatments once every four weeks. She suggests AHA peels for fair complexions with more sensitive skin, glycolic acid peels for medium sensitivity and micro-dermabrasion peels for thicker, darker-hued skin. These services increase wrinkle-plumping collagen and elastin and keep pores free of acne-causing bacteria. Again, if any redness, swelling or other irritation occurs, see a dermatologist, advises Kellett.
Finally, drink water! “People with deep facial lines and acne can have dry skin,” says Kellett. “The body needs lots of water to help create better-looking skin.”