image credit: flikr, Crystal-Rose Mihaylo

image credit: flikr, Crystal-Rose Mihaylo

Recently I feel like I have been seeing many clients who are complaining about acne in their 30’s.  Many of these women may have even been lucky enough to not struggle with acne in their teenage years, and are frustrated and confused as to why they are experiencing acne as an adult.

There are many causes for adult acne. It can be hereditary.  If you have at least one parent who was had acne prone skin or excessively oily, there is a good chance you too will develop acne.  A few of the reasons acne may affect adults are: stress, bad cosmetic products, hormone changes due to premenstrual, pregnancy, or birth control pills, and even over washing and scrubbing of the face.

Stress can lead to acne because stress causes the adrenal gland to secrete more hormones, which in turn causes the sebaceous (oil) gland to overwork.  The excess oil can lead to clogged pores and acne. So learning a means to control or release your stress whether via yoga, meditation, a run on the treadmill or kickboxing it is important to know how to manage your stress so it won’t show up on your face.

Hormonal changes often lead to acne due to a drop in estrogen and a rise of testosterone and androgen. Androgen is a male hormone in our bodies which is largely responsible for oily skin or acne because it stimulates our sebaceous glands.  Hormonal breakouts tend to occur along the jaw line. Premenstrual woman tend to have breakouts also because the estrogen levels in their body drop causing a predominance of androgen.  This hormone change is in correspondence with the eventual loss of the egg.  This elevation of male hormones in the bloodstream begins 8-10 days before the period.  The birth control pill also causes rise in androgen in the body. Most women have breakouts when starting, stopping or changing pills because this is when the hormone change is at its greatest. Luckily we can discuss this with our doctors; there are some birth control pills that are known to improve acne.  Pregnancy has been known to both improve acne as well as cause acne due to the hormonal changes.  It is most common though for woman to have breakouts during the first 3 month of pregnancy, and they may also have flare ups after birth, after stopping breast feeding.  This all occurs due to obvious hormonal changes, but stress is also a factor.

Bad cosmetics can cause acne because they can clog the pores. This leads to a build up of bacteria, which in turn causes clogged pores and acne.  It is best to always look non-comedogenic skin care products.  Cleansers, creams, makeup can all clog the pores, leading to the small bumps on the skin, that are very difficult to extract.  So it is important to know what you are using on your skin.

Proper care for oily or acne prone skin is to receive regular (every 4-6 weeks) professional treatments to deep clean the skin.  Home care is also a vital aspect to fighting acne. It is important to clean the skin but so people can actually over wash or scrub their face.  This can damage the skin and often causes it to create more oil because you have washed away too much. It is best to be gentle when washing and only wash 2-3 times a day. Home care begins with a good foaming cleanser which is easy to wash off completely, and if the acne is sever it is best to use a cleanser with a alpha hydroxyl acid in it which will gently exfoliate the skin.  If you are not using an Alpha hydroxyl acid it is good to use a gentle exfoliant (a scrub with spherical beads or a mask) at most 3 times a week. Toner is helpful because it balances the skins ph, decreasing the risk of bacteria growth. A moisturizer which is light, such as a moisturizing gel is best to give your skin the moisture it needs while avoiding heavy creams which can be too much for an oily skin.  Also it is important to eliminate comedogenic products (clogging makeup and creams)   this is a reason mineral makeup is so popular lately because it is non-comedogenic.

Acne when we are 30 or older is annoying. But is can be managed and controlled. It is best to work with both your esthetician as well as your dermatologist to figure out what is best for your skin.  I hope you better understand this aggravating skin condition, so many of us are familiar with.

-Stephanie Keenan

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Do you have a favorite product that you use to treat your acne?

Image Credit: flikr, Crystal-Rose Mihaylo