One of the major gripes people have about skin is spots and breakouts. Even after teenage years have been and gone, spots can be unexpected and breakouts can flare in adulthood. This is known as “adult acne” (and boy, it can be extremely painful!) We get to grips with a few technical terms in order to learn how treat our adult pimples appropriately.
What are breakouts?
Skin Therapist Dermalogica Jane explains that breakouts typically consist of “pustules,” which are white or yellow head pimples, and “comedones,” which are also known as “blackheads” and are much darker in appearance.
Jane explains that blackheads exist where “oil is trapped in your pores or hair follicles,” so your pores may appear enlarged if this type of breakout affects your otherwise healthy complexion. Yet generally, adult acne has fewer comedones or blackheads and instead adulthood breakouts are characterised by mild spots that occur frequently and constantly.
Dermalogica Naomi calls these types of breakouts “papules” and describes them as “hard, red bumps” underneath the skin. These blemishes usually occur in the lower half of the face, around the chin area or on your jawline. Naomi explains that papules can turn into boils if they are not treated properly or if they are popped forcefully. You may also experience scarring if you squeeze or blister this spot type.
Are breakouts caused by oily skin?
Adult acne is not restricted to an oily skin type – so even if your skin does not produce excess oil through it’s pores or hair follicles, you may still get pimples and breakouts way into your 40’s +. It is highly important to understand what activates a breakout so that you can deal with your spot type effectively and avoid scarring.
What causes adult acne?
You’ve probably experienced hormonal breakouts, during early teenage years. That’s because, around that time, puberty hits and your androgynous hormones kick in (the male hormones that exist in every human being!) These hormones trigger excess oil production – they literally switch on your sebaceous (oilproducing) glands, like water pouring from a tap!
On a monthly basis, your female hormone levels decline, resulting in a higher concentration of the androgynous hormones – therefore spots develop on your skin. This is why monthly breakouts are so common for a female skin. Your hormones may also fluctuate if you are stressed, causing breakouts to flare.
Breakouts that are painful
Skin Therapist, Dermalogica Naomi, tells you that hormonal adult acne is usually “very sore,” especially in your 40’s +. This is because, as your skin ages, it naturally regenerates new and healthy skin cells at a slower pace that in your 20’s. When hormonal acne is triggered, your androgynous hormone levels produce more oil in your skin’s layers. Yet, if new skin cells are not quickly regenerated, this oil can get trapped amongst dead skin cells. If you do not exfoliate your skin, spots group underneath your skin’s surface and can throb painfully.
Breakouts and menopause
Dermalogica Naomi explains that this is why sudden surges of sebum can collect in the chin area. Naomi further explains that similarly blackheads are “down to a dehydrated skin.” In the period leading up to menopause, your female hormone production rapidly declines and your skin loses its water content. Without water, your skin finds it difficult to shed dead skin cells and appears dull and often flaky. In this instance, oil collects underneath the dead skin cells and blackheads appear prevalent.
Can genetics play a part?
Another reason for adult acne is simply “genetics,” comments Dermalogica Skin Therapist, Jane. All skin is oily to some extent because skin produces sebum through sebaceous (oilproducing) glands, in order to naturally moisturise our skin. It’s super clever!
However, in some cases your skin’s sebaceous glands are naturally enlarged due to genetics. If your oil producing glands are larger, you will produce more oil on your skin. Oily skin often suffers adult acne and frequent spots, especially if it is not cleansed properly.
Dermalogica’s Skin Therapist, Jane, tells you that if an oily skin wears excess makeup and does not clean makeup from the skin’s pores, breakouts can trigger fast. You mustn’t leave makeup on at night or when exercising at all, but if you have a genetically oily complexion and leave any trace of makeup, SPF or debris on your skin in these instances, you will notice a flare up or breakout.
Treatment for adult acne
Dermalogica’s Skin Therapist, Jane, instructs that the first protocol for reducing breakouts is “cleansing.” Jane explains that “as long as your skin is clean of bacteria” and excess oil, then “you are limiting your chances for breakouts.”
Special Cleansing Gelgentle foaming cleanserSkincare500ml: £41.30
Three Stages of Treatment
There are ingredients that we can use to do this but you will need to deal with adult acne from every angle so it’s important to:
Exfoliate dead skin cells
Reduce Oil - Double Cleanse
In order to reduce oil it is advised that you double cleanse, first using an oil-based cleanser like Dermalogica’s Precleanseand second with a treatment cleanser of your choice.
Make sure that you follow through with exfoliation 3 times a week. Skin Therapist Jane explains that if you squeeze a spot your heal time doubles, which means that you are going to get darkened pigmentation and uneven skin tone that will need to be treated.
Remove Bacteria - Avoid the urge to squeeze!
Jane explains that instead of squeezing a spot you should instead let the blemish run its course and use a spot treatment like Dermalogica’s Medibac Breakout Control. This can be applied directly to the area of adult acne that you are concerned with. It will reduce the bacteria and maintain a healthy and even complexion.
Our resident Jersey Beauty skin therapist, Christine, comments that “salycilic acid” is a skin ingredient that “treats bacteria underneath the skin and actually helps remove the bacteria, rather than you having to burst a spot.” This is a key ingredient to apply, if you suffer adult acne. You can find salicylic acid in Dermalogica’s Special Cleansing Geland the entire Dermalogica Medibac range.
Tips for dealing with skin prone to breakouts
You must double cleanse your skin AM and PM in order to remove debris, excess bacteria and oil from your skin’s pores. This will ensure clear, spot-free skin.
Exfoliation is a crucial skincare step, if you want to avoid under the skin spots. Exfoliate twice weekly and encourage your skin’s cells to renew so that oil doesn’t clog under the skin’s surface.
However tempting it may be you must never pick a spot or blemish! Simply use a product containing salicylic acid, which will treat bacteria underneath the skin, without scarring.