From the Aegmora archives: April 20th, 2012 (Updated)
A silent epidemic sweeping through adults in their 20s and 30s. Many are too ashamed to talk about it, but use futile attempts to cover it up with spackle, suffocate it with toothpaste, or desiccate it with ProActiv. Unfortunately, all of these tactics used against the blemishes tainting your flawless complexion will only make the situation worse. Many of the products on the market are designed to battle teen acne, fueled by over oily skin, which is not always the case in adults.
I have ESP and can hear you ask “why is this even happening to me?!” Hormonal imbalances (yes, even past puberty) and a myriad of other factors can increase sebum production in your pores, clogging them, attracting bacteria and leading to inflammation. It’s the inflammation that culminates in those uninvited blemishes showing up to the party.
The treatment of adult acne is nuanced, a process involving much trial and error. I also am a victim of adult acne and will outline the regimen that has worked wonders for me personally.
- The skin must maintain a very specific pH balance and using harsh cleansers +/-exfoliants to rid yourself of acne through sheer force is not the answer (just say NO... to St. Ives apricot scrub). I use a gentle cleanser in the AM to reduce disruption of this delicate skin balance. I am currently using Purifying Cleansing Gel from Africology, which cleanses my face beautifully, without drying it or leaving a residue.
- There is a bacterial component to acne and using a cleanser with benzoyl peroxide (BPO), which directly kills the little suckers, has worked wonders for me. Panoxyl with 10% BPO is a staple in my regimen, I use it just once daily in the evening. Benzoyl peroxide can be a irritating to some, so salicylic acid- based cleansers, like Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash, are gentler alternatives.
- The linchpin to getting rid of your acne is a retinoid, which encompasses Differin (adapalene), Retin-A (tretinoin), and Tazorac, to name a few. This helps regulate how your skin cells divide, making them less sticky and less likely to clog up your pores, thus preventing white heads, blacks heads, and painful inflamed bumps from forming. Before this year, you had to visit your friendly neighborhood dermatologist to get your hands on this medication, but hallelujah, Differin is now available over the counter.
- Remember, this is a preventative treatment and NOT a spot treatment. Apply a pea sized amount to your ENTIRE FACE, up to once a day, and after 1-2 months, you will notice a smoother, more divine complexion staring back at you in the mirror. It’s all about the delayed gratification. If you get too dry/flaky, don’t be discouraged, just apply a moisturizer on top or back off and just use it every other day.
Of course, everyone is a unique gem and has different skin needs. This is just a starting point with products available to you at the drug store. If it's not getting better after a few months, consider paying your local dermatologist a visit.
Acne is truly THE WORST, but we have the tools to fight it. I hope this helped clarify some of your burning questions, but if not, check out this resource.