Overcoming the Unique Challenges of Adult Acne

Overcoming the Unique Challenges of Adult Acne

Overcoming the Unique Challenges of Adult Acne

Dealing with acne is a common struggle that many individuals face, but when it persists into adulthood, it can bring about a unique set of challenges. Today, adult acne is currently estimated to affect 40% of the population. Acne is the most common problem presented to dermatologists in the United States. When it comes to adult acne, many feel frustrated in seeking a true cure to their acne or treated within the same structure of teenage acne.  The good news when it comes to getting lasting results in treating adult acne, innovations in science are driving the way for predictable results and streamlined skincare systems. In this blog post, we will delve into the complexities and solutions for combatting adult acne.

Understanding Adult Acne: More Common and More Complex Than You Think

If you thought acne was just a teenage dilemma, think again. This frustrating skin condition doesn't discriminate based on age, and many find themselves navigating the complexities of breakouts well into their 40’s, 50’s and even into their 60’s! Many women may even experience adult acne for the first time when they go through menopause.

Adult acne is multi-faceted and can be influenced by hormonal changes, stress, genetic factors including gender, medications, sleep, skincare, makeup, and potential past damage to the dermal barrier. To deepen the challenge treating adult skin with traditional harsh, anti-acne systems can be harsh on the skin and worsen the problem.

All these factors lead the body to produce more sebum, the thick waxy substance our skin produces to keep our skin hydrated and protected.  In addition to producing more of this sebum, people suffering from adult acne may also have a qualitative change to the composition of their sebum that can lead to triggering acne and inflammation. Did we mention that adult acne is complex?

Because adult acne is so complex, treating and curing adult acne can often feel even more complex.  In a sea of misinformation and a slue of skincare solutions, many feel overwhelmed with options and even more frustrated with the lack of long-term results. Sound familiar?  If so, keep reading, go deeper and will share some solution options.

Beyond the Surface: The Emotional Impact of Adult Acne

If you are dealing with adult acne, the journey extends far deeper than the visible breakouts and scars it can leave behind post-breakout. Acne weaves into the fabric of our emotional wellbeing, often leaving invisible marks that can often be felt more profoundly than what is seen. People navigating this terrain, confront not just the physical discomfort of acne but a tumultuous inner world filled with self-doubt and vulnerability.

Adult acne can leave a heavy cloak of shame, that can often lead to assumption that skin is “unclean”. As individuals seek treatment options, many fall victim to over-scrubbing or over-exfoliating their skin, damaging their skin barrier in the process.  This damaged skin barrier making skin even more susceptible to breakouts, irritation, flakiness, and dullness. 

As individuals seek more and more treatment options that don’t seem to work this can compel individuals to withdraw from social engagements and moments that once brought joy. For some it could mean skipping out on taking photos with friends or declining an invitation to the beach for worry about makeup coverage. Yet for others, the impact can be deeper and impact personal relationships, have professional ramifications, and wreak havoc on self-esteem.  In fact, in a peer-reviewed study, people noted four distinct areas that acne had influence in their lives: self-esteem, disturbance from symptoms of acne, feelings of unworthiness in their relationships, and unpleasant treatment. It’s a poignant reminder of the profound impact skin health can have on mental health, underscoring the importance of fostering an environment where discussions about adult acne transcend superficial solutions.

By shining a light on these shared emotional struggles, we pave the way for a support system that uplifts and encourages, reminding everyone affected that their worth is not diminished by their skin's condition. This lens also helps us approach treatment more holistically evaluating a highly personalized option designed for our personalized path, not a one size fits all approach that is so common when treating adult acne.

Navigating the World of Treatments: What Really Works?

Embarking on a quest to find the right treatment for adult acne can feel like navigating a labyrinth, each turn presenting a new array of remedies promising clear skin. Yet, the path to discovering what truly resonates with your unique skin needs is deeply personal and requires patience, understanding, and a touch of scientific curiosity.

Start with medical guidance from a board-certified dermatologist or physician that specializes in treating adult acne. The key here is to look for a dermatologist that specializes in treatment adult acne. The easiest way to do this is to simply ask Google using this search string, “best dermatologists for adult acne in (insert your city).  Working with a dermatologist can help guide you on getting a better understanding of your acne type and identify possible underlying causes through basic bloodwork or labs. Additionally, dermatologists can also be a great first-line place to get recommendations on advanced laser treatments like the new AviClear laser, as well as oral and topical prescription treatments like Aldactone (Spironolactone) or Retinols (Retin-A).

If you have been down the medical path and you have not seen results, a great option is to enhance your support with acne facials offered by a licensed esthetician who specialize in treating acne. Not only are facials relaxing, which helps the stress correlation, seeing the right esthetician can work wonders on helping clear active blemishes from the skin through gentle extraction, reducing the potential for scarring. They can also offer in-office treatments such as peels to help gain faster results. Again, like selecting a dermatologist it is important to select an esthetician that specializes in supporting adult acne. They can also help you select the right skincare routine for your specific acne type.

Selecting the Best Skincare for Adult Acne

Speaking of skincare, this is where your scientific curiosity is needed.  Your daily skincare routine will have a large impact on your results, so finding the right products and the right routine that you will stick to consistently is key. You know your skin better than anyone else and what works for some may not work for you.  There is a lot of misinformation out there and we mean A LOT, so remember to apply your own internal compass to any product or routine.  Here are a few common things to think about when selecting the best skincare routine for adult acne:

  • Medical Grade vs Non-Medical: Medical grade products require clinical documentation on their claims and can be wonderful for acne-prone skin.  Many medical grade skincare products are founded on years of research and proven ingredient formulations to back claims of efficacy.  However, when it comes to selecting a skincare routine, there are many non-medical grade products that have shown to have a positive effect on acne.  Well researched ingredients like niacinamide, azelaic acid, and salicylic acid can be found in both types of products and are backed by various studies.
  • Keep It Simple: Often simplifying your routine is best when struggling with adult acne. Paring down your skincare routine can often help restore your skin barrier while also helping to isolate potential congestive products. If you struggle with adult acne, at night all you need is a makeup remover, cleanser and an effective night treatment designed with adult acne in mind and a moisturizer. For morning, rinse your face and use a clean moisturizer with SPF. 2-3x a week, gently exfoliate with a gentle exfoliant either topical or chemical (retinol).
  • Be Consistent: Keeping a consistent routine in your skincare routine is critical and changing out your skincare too often can be a promoter of acne more than a helper. When using a skincare product, plan to use that product for at least 90 days, unless you notice irritation or deep cystic blemishes.  Sometimes, skin can purge when using new products which means you may experience a few blemishes in the first 30 days or so.  What’s the difference between purging and breaking out?
  • Skin purging is likely to be in a predictable location or area where breakouts are common to you. Typically, the blemish style will also be like common breakouts to your skin.  Skin purging is usually temporary and should subside within a week or so of using a new skincare product.
  • A Breakout often occurs in unfamiliar places and is usually a different style than normal breakout styles. Often times, breakouts can be larger or more cystic than a purge which tends to bring up smaller whiteheads or blackheads.
  • Know Your Ingredients: This can be frustrating for many people struggling with acne, especially when ingredient lists can be long and full of complex ingredients that go by multiple names. Add to it that some ingredients we want to love, like sweet almond oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, etc. can be a disaster for acne-prone skin. We have compiled a comprehensive list of ingredients commonly known for their comedogenic and acnegenic triggers


  • Take a Deeper Look at Your Makeup: Foundations, concealers, and even cream-based blushes can trigger breakouts.  Common ingredients like lanolin, silicones, parabens, DC red dyes, and isopropyl palmitate can congest skin and make acne worse.  Opt for acne-friendly formulations especially for full face products like foundations and powders.  If you continue to struggle with acne and you are doing all the above, it’s time to check your makeup ingredients to see if your daily wear is actually the culprit for your ongoing acne.  Oh, and this is a good PSA to clean your makeup brushes. #wink

Lifestyle Tweaks: Small Changes, Big Impact

In the intricate dance of managing adult acne, the steps we take in our daily lives play a pivotal role, often overlooked amid our search for the next skincare miracle. Simple lifestyle adjustments can serve as a powerful ally in this journey, creating an environment where our skin can thrive. For instance, prioritizing a balanced diet rich in whole foods and low in sugar can help regulate hormone levels, a known culprit in the saga of adult acne. Getting proper hydration, too, plays a big role as we know drinking ample water throughout the day supports the skin’s elasticity and helps flush out toxins that may contribute to breakouts.

But let’s talk stress!  The impact of stress on our skin's health cannot be overstated. Finding moments of tranquility in your day is critical to glowing skin.  There are numerous ways to embrace balancing stress and reducing stress. 

Here are some of our favorite ways to decompress and help to manage your daily stress:

  • Grounding Daily- use a grounding mat, take a walk on the beach, or stretch your toes on the grass.
  • Create a Night Routine to Boost Sleep- reduce blue light at least an hour before bed, take a bath or warm shower, read, meditate, or journal before bed to create a beauty sleep routine. Ensuring a restorative night's sleep consistently can work wonders, as it's during these quiet hours that our skin undertakes its most critical healing processes.
  • Move Your Body- the benefits of regular exercise extend beyond skincare but one major contribution of exercise on your skin is increasing blood flow throughout the body which can nourish the skin and carry away damaging free radicals.
  • Cold Plunge Therapy- cold plunging has numerous benefits for helping reset the nervous system, reducing cortisol levels while improving energy while reducing inflammation systemically.

Moreover, the benefits of regular exercise extend beyond cardiovascular health; by increasing blood flow, exercise helps nourish skin cells and carry away damaging free radicals. Embracing these lifestyle adjustments doesn't promise an overnight cure, but it lays the foundation for a healthier skin journey, fostering a harmonious balance that nurtures both body and skin.

Say Goodbye to Adult Acne Once and For All

There is no one size fits all treatment for acne but with today’s innovations in treatment options, targeted skincare, and lifestyle adaptations you can cure your acne once and for all.  It may take some time and it will require consistency, but it is possible. 

We would love to hear your thoughts on this blog and to welcome you to our KICK PEACH community!  Follow us on Instagram, we would love to get to know you and your story.

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