You've got a job, a mortgage, furniture that isn't secondhand and a car with a fully functioning muffler. You've clearly crossed the threshold into adulthood... so why are you still dealing with zits, blackheads and other teenage skin issues?
"Adult acne is fairly common and often under-recognised," according to Dr. Anatoli Freiman, a Toronto-based dermatologist and Medical Director of the Toronto Dermatology Centre.
If you're one of the unfortunate ones who's still popping pimples in your 30s, don't fret — we've asked experts for advice on how to make your skin act its age.
Develop Good Skincare Habits
If you're neglecting your skin, you can't really blame it for backfiring on you with a breakout, can you? If you haven't already, get into the habit of cleansing, toning and moisturizing twice a day, and make sure to exfoliate regularly. But don't consider the twice-a-day rule to be gospel.
"You should also always wash your skin as soon as possible after you have been sweating," advises Dr. Frieman. Furthermore, "always use a gentle, non-irritating cleanser."
You should also consider investing in some sort of sonic cleansing system. "I'm a big fan of the Clarisonic cleansing system," says Dr. Debra Jaliman, a New York dermatologist and author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets From a Top New York Dermatologist.
"They make a special brush head for acne that really helps get rid of all the dead skin cells that clog pores as well as the bacteria on the face. It works much better than washing with a cloth." Clarisonic products are available from Sephora for between $150 and $200.
Cleanse With Care
You cleanse your face to get rid of dirt and bacteria, but if you're not careful, you could be making the problem worse.
"Don't use your fingers to wash your face there are bacteria under the nail which will aggravate acne," says Dr. Jaliman. "And if you use a washcloth, you should change it every time you wash your face."
Be Skincare Savvy
There are lots of over-the-counter products out there that claim to help prevent zits, but before you buy into their marketing hype, make sure you read the ingredients.
"Over-the-counter salicylic acid in concentrations from half a percent to 2 per cent can be very helpful in unclogging pores," says Dr. Jaliman, but cautions, "if you have more sensitive skin look for the lower concentration." She also recommends products with benzyl peroxide, glycolic acid and retinol.
Go Au Naturel
"To keep your skin clean from acne, wear as little cosmetics as possible," advises Dr. Freiman.
When you do wear makeup, make sure it's safe for acne-prone skin. "Choose products that are oil-free, water-based and non-comedogenic because they won't cause whiteheads or blackheads," says Dr. Freiman.
And while we know it's tempting to hit the hay as is after a big night out, make sure you always wash your face before bed. No exceptions.
Watch What Touches Your Face
Your face comes into contact with more things than you know, and these could be the culprit behind your breakouts.
"Cellphones can harbour a lot of bacteria, so it is important to clean your phones frequently and to use headphones," points out Dr. Jaliman.
Watch your own habits — you may be subconsciously touching your own face without realizing it.
Get Creative With A DIY Remedy
The interweb is full of zit-zapping remedies that you can make using items in your medicine cabinet or kitchen. For instance, Pepto Bismol is reported to be a great product to give yourself a facial with because it contains salicylic acid, and it even gives you a nice pink complexion afterwards. Advil Liquigels are said to be a fantastic spot treatment for your problem areas, and baking soda mixed with distilled water supposedly makes a great overnight pimple-bainsher. Of course, we can't vouch for the effectiveness of these home remedies, but it can't hurt to try them.
Know What Works For You
"Knowing how to take care of acne-prone skin can go a long way in helping to limit acne outbreak," says Dr. Freiman. If you've been using the same cleanser for years and have always had problems with breakouts, it might be time to try something new. Likewise, if you find something that works well for you, stick with it. Your diet can also sometimes have an effect on your skin's condition — you might want to try cutting out dairy and/or nuts for a while to see if it helps.
More Tips On Conquering Adult Acne
No doubt, you've heard this one before, but it bears repeating. While it's tempting to pop whiteheads and blackheads, overzealous picking can lead to scars and marks on your skin (and remember aging skin takes longer to regenerate, so those tell-tale, picked over marks are likely to hang around for weeks or even months). "Popping also spreads bacteria from your fingers to your skin, causing even more pimples to form," warns New York-based dermatologist Craig Austin, M.D. <br><br> <strong>More from YouBeauty.com:</strong><br> <a href="http://www.youbeauty.com/skin/sc/body-skin-guide" target="_hplink">Your Best Body Skin Guide</a><br> <a href="http://www.youbeauty.com/face/sweat-proof-makeup" target="_hplink">How to Wear Makeup When You Exercise</a><br> <a href="http://www.youbeauty.com/quizzes/body-skin" target="_hplink">QUIZ: Is Your Body Skin Healthy?</a>
Beware Drying Out Skin
Teenage acne accumulates around the oily T-zone area (forehead, nose and chin) so alcohol-based astringents are a teen's treatment of choice. In contrast, adult acne clusters along the jawline (which isn't typically oily), so you'll want to stay away from that bottle of Sea Breeze. "Skin generally becomes drier as we age, so harsh exfoliating and drying ingredients found in most acne medications are far too aggressive," says Fusco. She recommends using a salicylic acid-based cleanser and to avoid irritation, to keep your product numbers low. "You wouldn't want to use a face wash for oily skin and then layer an anti-aging medication that deeply exfoliates over top," Fusco adds. <br><br> <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/perfectoinsecto/2203281641/" target="_hplink">Perfecto Insecto</a></em>
Steer Clear Of Pore-Clogging Makeup
Breakouts caused by makeup are so common there's even a name for it -- acne cosmetica. If you're suffering from spots, Linwood, New Jersey-based dermatologist Coyle Connolly, M.D. suggests opting for a non-comedogenic, mineral-based makeup line like Jane Iredale. "These products are oil-free, so they don't exacerbate acne but offer full coverage," Connolly says. And be sure to wash makeup brushes each week to rid them of acne-causing bacteria, recommends Jennifer Peterson, M.D., a dermatologist in Houston, Texas. Fancy cleaners aren't necessary: A mixture of water and baby shampoo will do the trick. <br><br> <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sashawolff/3098910792/" target="_hplink">SashaW</a></em>
Don't Skip The Sunscreen
Slathering on a thick, creamy sunscreen may seem counterintuitive, but Peterson stresses that sun protection needs to be an important part of your daily skincare regimen to help prevent both acne and wrinkles. "The sun's rays break down collagen, causing lines to form," she explains. "They also dry out your skin, which prompts the sebaceous glands to overcompensate by pumping out more pore-clogging oils and causing breakouts." He recommends using a lightweight formula designed for acne-prone skin. <br><br> <strong>More from YouBeauty.com:</strong><br> <a href="http://www.youbeauty.com/skin/sc/body-skin-guide" target="_hplink">Your Best Body Skin Guide</a><br> <a href="http://www.youbeauty.com/face/sweat-proof-makeup" target="_hplink">How to Wear Makeup When You Exercise</a><br> <a href="http://www.youbeauty.com/quizzes/body-skin" target="_hplink">QUIZ: Is Your Body Skin Healthy?</a> <br><br> <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/booleansplit/3488882849/" target="_hplink">Robert S. Donovan</a></em>