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Adult Acne: Why It Happens and How To Treat It

Junk food, chocolate and fried foods have long been believed to trigger acne. The explanation, as proven by recent studies, is that the high-glycemic load foods like the ones mentioned above aggravate acne by causing internal inflammation and imbalances which can ultimately lead to excess oil production on your skin.
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I experienced a sense of relief while watching the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. In this episode, Yolanda Foster (married to the famous Canadian David Foster) expresses dismay at the prospect of having another skin breakout right before her anniversary dinner with her hubby David.

Why did I feel relief after viewing the show? For the past 20 years I have been under the impression that my own adult acne would magically disappear. I had thought by a certain age that there would be no more spots and I would have this beautiful clear mature skin.

Instead, my skin seems to have come to this crossroads of aging, occasional acne and now dark circles under my eyes.

Now that I know I am not alone.. I wanted to find out more tips on how I can minimize the acne and have the freshest skin possible. I spoke with Anca Apostu at Murad skincare to provide the best tips for adults wanting to have smooth harmonious skin. Acna shared with me some of her knowledge.

What causes acne?

Dermatologists have linked acne to several factors that can trigger breakouts:

•Hormones and hormonal balance






•Cosmetic products


For the most part, genetics and hormones determine your complexion in the long-term, while the other factors are more likely to cause short-term issues.

Adult Acne Myths

MYTH: Acne is curable

As there is no single cause for acne, there is no single cure. Acne is a chronic condition that affects millions of teenagers and adults in the entire world. While it can't be cured, it can be kept under control with proper topical and internal care.

MYTH: Drying out your skin will clear blemishes

Drying your skin and stripping it of its natural oils consistently will not reduce acne. In fact, it weakens skin's ability to repair itself, it can cause irritation and even more breakouts. At the same time, the excessive dryness can accelerate aging and bring out fine lines and wrinkles. Hydration remains vital for affected skin, in any circumstance: for oily skin, it helps balance oil production and for dry skin, it restores moisture levels and optimal functions.

MYTH: Oily skin causes acne

Oily skin is not the root cause of acne. It can however contribute to acne if the skin's ability to shed dead skin cells is reduced (hormonal imbalances, among other factors, can slow down this process as well). When dead skin cells clump together in an oily environment, they can form plugs which block the pores of the hair follicles. In the presence of P.acnes bacteria, the blocked pores get inflamed and appear as breakouts on the surface of the skin.

Usually it's dry skin that has a slower dead-cell shedding process and that's why it is important to maintain optimal moisture levels. For oily complexions, it is essential to exfoliate skin regularly in order to remove the dead skin cells and keep pores clean and clear.

MYTH: Acne is caused by poor hygiene

The major factors associated with acne breakouts are genetics and hormones, and these are things you can't control easily. This doesn't mean you should skip washing your face regularly. While dirt doesn't play a direct role in the formation of acne, it can cause irritation and lead to breakouts once the skin's barrier function is compromised by inflammation. To maintain clean skin, follow a simple daily skincare regimen and wash your face once to twice daily.

MYTH: More product means faster results.

In skincare, the general rule is 'less is more'. Especially with acne products, which in most cases are medicated treatments, the recommended quantity for one application should not be exceeded. Common side effects of excessive use are dryness and irritation, which can slow down the healing process.

Top tips for adult acne:

Follow a skincare regimen that is right for your skin.

There is no cure for acne, but with constant care and medicated topical therapy, it can be kept under control. Consistency is key for getting great results. A simple 3-step regimen with a cleanser, toner and treatment is easy to follow. Benzoyl peroxide, Salicylic Acid and Sulfur are the main over-the-counter acne medications approved by FDA. These acne-fighting medicines should always be in your skin care arsenal if you suffer from acne.

An oil-free moisturizer should also be part of everyone's daily routine while a gentle exfoliator is necessary to remove the dead skin cells from the surface.

Get enough sleep

Even if you're using acne treatments, not getting enough sleep can sabotage your efforts to clear breakouts and can eventually exacerbate your acne condition. Lack of sleep can trigger your adrenal glands to get over-productive during the day and this can lead to excess oil production. Coupled with a slow skin cell turnover, this leads to clogged pores and blemishes on your skin.

Don't sleep with makeup on.

Always take off your makeup at night and clean your face thoroughly and moisturize before going to bed. At night, skin loses more water and produces less oil while it repairs itself more intensely than during the daytime. If you sleep with your makeup on, certain ingredients from your makeup can cause irritation or pore clogs and hinder skin's natural cell renewal process.


Hydrated skin is healthy skin. Healthy skin has the ability to repair itself and fight inflammation which is the main culprit behind the unaesthetic look of acne lesions.

Moisturizing is essential for any skin type: oily complexions benefit from added moisture to balance the oil production and dry complexions get the extra moisture then need in order to function properly. For acne prone skin, always use oil-free, water-based moisturizers that absorb easily into the skin. If you have sensitive skin, use a gentle moisturizer without fragrance.

Maintain a healthy, balanced diet.

Skin uses the nutrients from your diet to repair and rebuild itself in order to function properly. That's why what you eat shows on your skin. While you increase your intake of fruit and vegetables and healthy fats (omega fatty acids) to support your skin's functions, it is also recommended that you avoid consuming high-fat, high-carb and processes foods as much as you can.

Junk food, chocolate and fried foods have long been believed to trigger acne. The explanation, as proven by recent studies, is that the high-glycemic load foods like the ones mentioned above aggravate acne by causing internal inflammation and imbalances which can ultimately lead to excess oil production on your skin.

Another culprit for internal inflammation is represented by food sensitivities and allergies, subsequently triggering acne breakouts. Food sensitivities and allergies can be detected by specialized blood tests.

Wash pillowcases, makeup brushes, and hats.

Dirt and bacteria can build up on your pillowcases and other fashion accessories that come into close contact with your face every day. This can trigger inflammation and acne breakouts. It is recommended that you wash and clean your pillowcases, sheets and other accessories like hats and headbands at least once a week. As for makeup brushes and sponges, these need to be washed and cleaned properly every day or every other day and replaced completely every 4 weeks.

Protect your skin

Wear sunscreen every time you go out and avoid sun burns and extreme temperatures that can cause skin imbalance and slow down skin's proper functions. Sun exposure and getting a tan is known to exacerbate acne by damaging skin and causing irritation in the upper layers.

You are invited to share your experiences in the comments section below and if you have a question, I will do my best to get an expert answer for you.

Keep your eye on my blog, as I continue to look for ways to feel and look your best after 40!


Gina Rodriguez

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