It’s not just you: More than ever, adults are seeing the breakouts that plagued them throughout their teen years reappear later in life. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Women’s Health found that 45 percent of American women between the ages of 21 and 30 had acne, as well as just over a quarter of women between 31 and 40 and 12 percent between 41 and 50.
The difference between the acne you have now and the acne you had when The O.C. was on the air comes down to the factors that trigger excess oil production in your pilosebaceous glands, which kicks off the pore-clogging sebum buffet for P. acnes bacteria. While teenage acne is usually the result of a rapid increase in hormones during puberty, adult acne can be caused by such things as pollution, stress and medications, in addition to, yes, fluctuations in hormones.
“Hormones can be endogenous, like those produced in the ovaries or during pregnancy, or exogenous, like those related to the birth-control pill or hormone replacement therapy,” explains Dr. Lisa Kellett, a Toronto dermatologist who says she is seeing an increasing number of adult-acne patients. (When should you turn things over to a professional? If your acne isn’t responding to over-the-counter products, it’s time to consult a derm.)
6 at-home products to help you deal
1. Tria Positively Clear Acne Clearing Blue Light
Before anyone knew better, sunlight was prescribed as an acne treatment. The reason: blue light, a P. acnes-destroying wavelength within the visible light spectrum. “It essentially causes the bacteria to self-destruct,” says Dr. Zakia Rahman, clinical associate professor of dermatology at Stanford University. “When you go outside, however, you are getting visible light, but you are also getting ultraviolet light, which can cause damage that is precancerous.” (Needless to say, this is no longer a recommendation.) Targeted blue-light devices, like the Tria Positively Clear Acne Clearing Blue Light, provide the same bacteria-eradicating benefits without exposing skin to any damaging UV rays. And while some derms offer professional blue-light treatments, it just isn’t as effective as doing it yourself, says Rahman. “P. acnes bacteria double every five hours; you’re not going to drive to my office every day for a treatment,” she says. “So, in this case, having the device to treat at home is actually more beneficial.” Cue up the Netflix and call it a night. Tria Positively Clear Acne Clearing Blue Light ($220), at triabeauty.ca.
2. Renew Life FloraSMART Ultimate Flora Ultra Potent 100 Billion
“There is emerging scientific evidence on the use of probiotics in the treatment of acne,” says naturopathic doctor and Renew Life Canada spokesperson Sara Celik, who points to findings, like those published by the American Academy of Dermatology in 2014, that probiotics directly inhibit P. acnes bacteria. For patients who are taking an antibiotic for acne, like tetracycline, or using a topical treatment, Celik recommends a multi-strain probiotic with 100 billion active bacterial cultures. Try: Renew Life FloraSMART Ultimate Flora Ultra Potent 100 Billion ($53), at noahsnaturalfoods.ca
3. NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer
Backstage at Rodarte’s spring/summer 2017 show, makeup artist James Kaliardos extolled the virtues of this creamy high-coverage concealer for its ability to stay exactly where it’s placed. We love it for the spherical-shaped powder in the formula, which refracts light (from your LuMee, for example), effectively blurring whatever lies beneath. NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer in Dark Coffee ($38), at sephora.ca.
4. Tata Harper Clarifying Moisturizer
Willow-bark extract, a natural source of salicylic acid, exfoliates skin, while botanical ingredients like Tazman Pepper and sea fern reduce redness and discoloration, respectively, in this mattifying moisturizer. Tata Harper Clarifying Moisturizer ($140), at beautymark.ca.
5. Philosophy Clear Days Ahead Fast-Acting Salicylic Acid Acne Spot Treatment
Salicylic acid is paired with 2-percent glycolic acid to remove dead skin cells, and an antimicrobial peptide destroys acne-causing bacteria. Philosophy Clear Days Ahead Fast-Acting Salicylic Acid Acne Spot Treatment ($25), at sephora.ca.
6. Sunday Riley U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil
Licorice root brightens, tea-tree and black-cumin-seed oils clarify and camomile and neroli oils soothe in this 1.5-percent salicylic-acid dry oil. Sunday Riley U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil ($100), at sephora.ca.
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