Help! Why Do I Still Get Pimples?

Advice // 12WBT Staff

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Gah, pimples! Not just the skin curse of hormonal teenagers, breakouts can happen to adults, too. Here’s everything you need to know about adult acne and how to send those pesky pink spots packing.

How Common are Adult Pimples?

Common! According to Emma Hobson, Education Manager for the International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica, over 40 percent of adults aged 20-40 are diagnosed with persistent acne and oily skin. “Getting breakouts in adulthood is more common than many people may think,” she says.

What Causes Pimples in Adults?

A few things, but a major aggravating factor is stress, according to Emma. “Chronic stress increases hormone levels which stimulate an increase of oil production,” she says. This increase of skin oil, combined with dead skin cells, leads to blockages and breakouts. Emma also points out that if you combine stress with other triggers such as cosmetics containing comedogenic ingredients and skin irritants, as well as hormonal changes such as ‘that time of the month’ for women, you have the perfect breeding ground for adult acne.

What is Adult Acne?

According to Emma, adult acne is more persistent than teen acne and scarring is more prevalent, due to the skin losing its ability to repair itself. “Adult acne is common on the neck and under the jaw as well as running along the hairline and more randomly dispersed over the face,” she says.

So How do I Treat It?

You can head to the beauty salon, where the professionals will design a bespoke acne treatment plan for you to combine with home care, or you can treat acne at home.

When treating your outbreaks at home, Emma warns not to strip your skin. “Harsh cleansers, clarifying lotions and toners that contain SD alcohol, may dry your skin temporally but they can sensitise the skin and encourage it to produce more oil,” she says.

If you head to the salon, Emma advises you look for customised skin treatments, “specifically tailored for adult acne and ensure the treatment includes professional exfoliation. Try a light-therapy treatment (LED) using ‘blue light’ which targets acne breakouts,” she says.

Steps for Keeping Your Skin Pimple-Free

1) Cleanse: Emma advises cleaning your skin twice in the morning and twice in the evening, first with a cleansing oil, and then with an antibacterial facial gel wash or a clay-based cleanser. ”Remember to cleanse into the hair line and around the ears and down the neck focus on areas of congestion,” she says.

2)    Exfoliate: Exfoliating helps to keep the skin from becoming congested. “I’d suggest using hydroxy acids, in particular salicylic acid,” says Emma who says these products are great for blackheads. She also recommends a daily leave-in product which contains ‘digestive enzymes’ – such as pineapple or papaya.

3)    Apply a mask: “I’d recommend using a deep-cleansing sebum-controlling mask at least once or twice a week,” says Emma. “Try using a clay-based mask which draw out impurities, absorb excess oil and help decongest the skin.”

4)    Apply targeted acne treatments. Emma advises opting for overnight clearing gels, purifying wipes, targeted spot treatments, mattifying lotions and moisturisers that control excess sebum.

A Word on Sunscreen

If you are prone to acne, don’t ditch the sunscreen! “There are some amazing sun protection products that double up as a moisturiser, are non-comedogenic and designed specifically for oily skin with congestion and breakouts,” says Emma.

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