When we were teenagers, acne was a fact of life. If you didn’t have at least one day when you were fumbling around your locker looking for concealer, you were a lucky teen, indeed.
But what about when you experience acne in your 30s, or your 40s?
Wait a second, I thought I was done with this!
As frustrating as it is, adult acne is actually extremely common. According to one study, as much as 22% of women in the United States experience acne, while men make up only 3%.
And while some women are lucky enough to find that “miracle product” for their skin, it simply doesn’t work like that for everyone.
There are a number of reasons why you’re experiencing acne in your adult life, and we want you to know that it’s not because you have poor hygiene, and it’s not your fault.
If you’re experiencing persistent acne, consulting your doctor or dermatologist is always the best course of action. However, it may be possible that a lifestyle factor is the cause of your acne, meaning it could be something you have control over.
Common Causes of Acne
So, let’s talk about some of the most common culprits behind acne, and what you can do to reclaim your skin!
Keep in mind: the process of clearing your skin may take some time, but it’s worth it to go slow and steady, and get to know the way your skin reacts in the future.
If you’re experiencing blemishes along the jawline that are deep and feel sore to the touch, it’s very possible that you’re experiencing hormonal acne.
Hormonal acne occurs when there’s an increase in androgens in the body, leading to the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum and the pores to increase in size. And while hormonal acne is often associated with adolescence, women can experience it well into their 30s and 40s.
It’s normal for anyone to experience hormonal acne, but if you’re experiencing it frequently, it’s heavily encouraged to consult your doctor or dermatologist. They may be able to determine the root cause of your hormonal imbalance, and they may even prescribe medication that can significantly reduce it, such as birth control or prescription retinol.
You’re Over-Washing Your Face
Back in the day, we were told that washing your face was the key to keeping blemishes at bay, and if you did have acne, it was because you weren’t washing enough.
However, this is actually not true; in fact, over-washing your face can strip your skin of the natural oils that keep it healthy and hydrated. And when your skin becomes stripped, this can actually cause the oil glands to kick into overtime, resulting in excess oil and clogged pores.
When you were a teen, you might have been warned that chocolate would give you acne.
And while that’s not entirely true, there are studies showing that certain foods may make acne worse, especially carb-rich foods like bagels, bread, and potato chips.
And while the research is limited, it has been suggested that dairy may induce acne in some individuals. Because it is a mucous-producing food, it tends to be harder on the body to digest, and especially in the case of those with lactose intolerance, this may lead to cystic acne.
If you believe that something in your diet is causing acne, try forgoing the food in question, and see if it has an effect on your acne. Remember: while your acne may not immediately clear up, it’s still a good sign if it doesn’t worsen!
If you’ve been feeling extra stressed out lately, stress may be behind your worsening breakouts.
While stress isn’t necessarily a direct cause of acne, it certainly isn’t helping it.
Research has shown that when our bodies are under stress, they heal wounds at a slower rate, and this includes acne. When pimples heal slowly, they remain on the skin longer, risking the chance of only getting worse.
Minimizing stress isn’t easy—if you’re undergoing a major project or life changing event like moving, feeling overwhelmed is going to happen at some point.
But during these times, practicing stress management strategies can be extremely helpful. When you’re undergoing a stressful period, make sure you’re taking time in your day to decompress by meditating, exercising, and doing things you love, and make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep at night.