“It is easy to display a wound, the proud scars of combat. It is hard to show a pimple” ― Leonard Cohen, “The Favorite Game”
When you were a teenager going through puberty, acne was heartbreaking. Fast forward to your adult years, and you’d assume that your acne would disappear. If it hasn’t, take heart, because you’re certainly not alone. Adult acne is very common, especially for women. Hormones have a lot to do with it, but there are some things you can do differently that will help reduce your breakouts.
Don’t be so touchy feely
During the course of the day, you touch hundreds of things. Your keyboard, phone, and coffee mug. And let’s not forget the pen at the bank and the key pad at the grocery store. Now, how many other people also touched all those same things? Way too many to count. In fact, an article published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene revealed that people touch their face 15.7 times per hour, including their eyes, lips, and nose. Yuck! No wonder we break out (and get sick) so often. Unless you’re constantly using antibacterial gel, you’re probably transferring all sorts of nasty bacteria to your face every time you push up your glasses or scratch an itch.
If you’ve been washing your face both morning and night in the hopes of reducing your acne breakouts, you may be doing more harm than good. When your skin is irritated (or has blemishes that are healing), you want to be extra gentle with it. Washing in the evening with a gentle cleanser that removes sunscreen, makeup, and grime will generally be plenty and will give your skin a chance to renew itself overnight. In the morning, if you feel oily, try sweeping a cotton pad soaked in cleansing water over your face instead. You may find that just a quick rinse with tap water is also enough.
Make friends with acids
Before you panic, we’re not talking about doing drugs or using an actual acid to burn off your acne. AHAs and BHAs help improve your skin’s texture while unclogging your pores. AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids), like glycolic acid or lactic acid, gently exfoliate the surface of your skin. If you have bumps or clogged pores, a BHA (beta hydroxy acid), like salicylic acid, will help clear them while also exfoliating. You can use both on the same day, just remember to allow 10–20 minutes in between applications to let them do their thing.
Reach for retinol
A lot of acne sufferers get good results by adding a retinol product to their routine. This Vitamin A derivative helps increase cell turnover, so your skin rejuvenates faster. The process can be irritating for some skin types (especially those with dry skin), so it’s important to use retinol with caution and a light hand. Since you’re helping speed up the renewal process, you need to be especially diligent about using sun protection. You don’t want to injure that soft new skin, so if you’re adding retinol to your routine, do so slowly, just a couple times a week, then you can work up to more consistent usage.
Use (yes, use) a better moisturizer
We know, we know. The popular approach to treat acne is to use super harsh products to dry out your pimples. Sounds like a good plan, but this actually makes your skin produce more sebum because it knows you need moisture. To keep things in balance, you need a light, hydrating product that is non-comedogenic (so it won’t clog your pores). Skipping moisturizer only makes things worse, and we can help you pick the right one.
Change those pillowcases
At the end of a long day (or night), the last thing you worry about is whether or not your pillowcase is contributing to your latest breakout. Well, think again. If you sleep on your side or your stomach, your sweat and sebum are cohabiting with your pillowcase. That alone may not be causing your acne, but the friction that occurs when you roll back and forth cause skin irritation. And don’t forget about your hair. It attracts oil and dirt just like the rest of your body and transfers it to your pillowcase as well, so wash those sheets regularly. They’ll smell and feel better, too.
Ask the experts
Even though all of these tips can help you deal with your adult acne, you may still want some additional input or guidance. We can help you choose a cleanser, guide you on proper exfoliation techniques, and even help you building a skin care routine that specifically addresses your personal skin needs. All you need to do is ask us.
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