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Dealing With Adult Acne

Posted by Dan Narsete on



“If I have to draw attention away from some hormone-induced acne on my chin, I put on a lot of mascara.” -Olivia Wilde

It’s finally here. You’ve been planning a weekend getaway with all your girlfriends and your skin decides to throw you a nice little curveball and you start breaking out.  Or maybe it’s that time of the month and your skin looks like it did when you hit puberty (don’t you love it when that happens?) We’ve all been there. Today we’re going look at some causes and solutions for blemishes.

Why we get it

To understand how to deal with adult acne we need to look at the underlying causes. Sebum is an oily substance produced by our sebaceous glands in our skin. It’s our own natural moisturizer that helps our skin stay hydrated. Sometimes these sebaceous glands get clogged with dead skin. This dead skin traps in bacteria and causes a mini infection we call acne.


Believe it or not food can impact acne. According to Dermatologist Dr. Amy Paul foods that “can cause inflammation such as milk can exacerbate acne.” To help with acne, Dr. Paul explains, “try eating good healthy foods that are low in sugar, full of anti-oxidants and fiber. Green, leafy vegetables and fruits are always good choices.” Making smart choices in your diet is not only good for your body but great for your skin too.

Washing your hands and pillows

During a recent study by the National Institute of Health, it was determined that people touch their faces an average of 3.6 times per hour. They also found that people touch various common items 3.3 times per hour. That is a lot of bacteria and skin being pushed all over the place (insert gross visual here). Combine that with laying on the same pillow every night and you have a great recipe to clog some pores.

AHA and BHA Cleansers

Not to despair, help is here. Two cleansers that have either alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) ,or a combination of these two chemicals can really help clean off excess sebum and dead skin cells. The most common AHA is glycolic acid which is excellent at breaking up dead skin cells. It is also used to improve texture and appearance. Salicylic acid is the most commonly used BHA and is both an anti-inflammatory and has oil-attracting properties to it. This makes salicylic acid very helpful in the fight against acne. Keep in mind not to over scrub your face when using an AHA or BHA. We want the right amount of oil production on our face--not too much, not too little.


Though it’s not the best for every skin type, retinol can be a powerful agent in preventing acne. Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A which helps skin to shed. This shedding is good for unclogging pores and it also helps smooth skin out (which is always a positive).  Keep in mind people with sensitive or dry skin should avoid or only take the lowest levels of retinol. It can irritate the skin and cause your skin to flake if you use too much. Just like anything else you don’t want to overdo it.

Moisturizer is still your best friend

Believe it or not if you leave the skin bare the body will kick that sebum production into play. This overproduction of oil is a great recipe for acne. A light, occlusive barrier cream that is non-comedogenic is a great way to keep your skin hydrated while maintaining that ideal amount of oil production your skin needs.

Moving forward

It’s easy to see with a little bit of knowledge that fighting acne is completely doable. Cleaning your face, pillows, and using medical grade skincare are all proven tools to use in the fight against adult acne. Like anything else, you will want to ease into a solid regimen and eat as healthy as you can. Should you ever need help picking out a regimen, let us know as we create personalized skin care programs for people on the go

To clearing your acne,

Team Reflect

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