“Once you become a full-grown adult, there’s no need to worry about acne anymore.” — completely false. Many are still under the false pretense that once you’ve fully matured into an adult, adolescent acne will stop. While that is partly true, but those adolescent acne then evolves into adult ones, and that is a whole different ball game. While you wait until your 20s to find out if the acne may not just stop there, don’t be disappointed. It’s a common concern faced by many, but definitely manageable if you have the right tools.

“In today’s world, chronic stress, hormonal changes, a busy lifestyle and an increasingly polluted environment can lead to more adult acne, congestion and uneven skin tone,” says Grace Yap, Regional Education Manager, EIG Dermal Wellness of Dermalogica. “Skin cell turnover rate slows with age, so adults are slower to heal from breakouts than they were when they were teenagers,” she added.

What are the causes of adult acne? Is it different from teen acne?

Yes, there is a difference between teen and adult acne.
Chronic stress, hormonal fluctuations, polluted environment, lifestyle habits such as smoking, under-cleansing, taking certain medications and pore-clogging makeup and skincare products, and sugar consumption are the causes of adult acne.
Teen acne is part-genetic, part-hormonal and greatly related to puberty. Teens typically break out on the face, chest and back, and have more blackheads and whiteheads than adults do. Such breakouts often arise because of androgens, the “male” hormones that both guys and girls have, surge during adolescence, causing excess production of sebum. Teens have faster cell turnover and more resilient skin than adults, which means they recover quickly from breakouts. After the teen years, acne tends to improve because teen hormonal changes have levelled off and no longer fuel breakouts.

Is the treatment for teen acne the same for adult acne?

No, it is not the same. Treatments for adult acne are focused more on soothing, calming, anti-inflammation, brightening and prevention of breakouts (skin recovery is slower if cortisol is activated).

Treatments for teenagers are more focused on cleansing, clearing, and reduction of sebum production (active sebaceous glands).

What are the key ingredients one should find when it comes to treating acne?
  • Salicylic acid is the main ingredient you should look out for, that helps clear dead skin cells. Bentonite or kaolin clay helps reduce excess sebum; which you can find in many purifying masks. There is also thymol and/or terpineol, that also helps reduce sebum and breakout-causing bacteria. Niacinamide and hexylresorcinol help fade post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. You also need soothing botanicals such as tea tree oil and licorice to reduce redness.
What steps should one take to treat acne?
  • The first step in addressing the skin concern is to assess the products used in your current skin regimen. Comedogenic and occlusive ingredients should be removed, same goes to SD alcohols or more alkaline products. Double cleansing will help, even if it’s with the same cleanser it works remarkably too. Increase exfoliation (recommended to use chemical exfoliants) to prevent cell build-up. Dehydrating products will also cause acne.
What should one NOT do when it comes to dealing with acne?

Do not pick or squeeze breakouts on your own. You risk adding new bacteria to the area and damaging the skin. This could cause even more breakouts and skin-ageing inflammation, or a scar. Extractions should be done by a professional skin therapist. Another common mistake is also leaving makeup overnight. Improve hygiene, by reducing dirt, makeup, skin debris, pollution and bacterial build-up, will reduce the impact of bacteria.

How to deal with acne scarring?
Marks can be improved by using chemical exfoliation, oxygen treatments to increase recovery rate, extraction with LED therapy and microdermabrasion treatment also helps. All of the above works for uneven skin texture too, but best to include products that contain retinol.
Jolin Lee
Unlike most modern-day millennials, Jolin does not need caffeine or alcohol to power through the day (and night). Her eye for beauty is as sharp as her eyeliner flick, and she can spot your unblended eye makeup from a mile away.