Isn’t it enough to have to worry about fine lines and wrinkles as we age? Unfortunately, many of us continue to suffer from adult acne that seems to have lingered since we were pre-teens. However, the cause of your adult acne has likely changed since your youthful hormones were raging. Here are some of the most common causes of adult acne, and how to combat it:


When the skin is under stress, either the mental or physical kind (like a sunburn), the white blood cells rush to the surface to fight off the offenders. This causes pus to develop into those dreaded blackheads or whiteheads. Your best defense is to increase your intake of anti-inflammatory foods that are known to improve the skin (like dark, leafy greens and berries) and perhaps treat breakouts with moderate amounts of benzoyl peroxide.

Too Much Sebum

This is the natural oil that develops in the skin’s sebaceous glands. At healthy, normal levels, sebum plays an important role in protecting the skin from the elements and keeping it naturally hydrated. However, when too much sebum develops, it clogs the pores and pimples can form. Over-the-counter alphahydroxy acids can help to regulate it.

Backed Up Oil

When sebum is blocked and cannot reach the skin’s surface, it oxidizes and turns black or dark brown, in what’s commonly referred to as “blackheads.” Ask a trained esthetician for help with extracting these, as once they’re removed, they’re gone for good – until new ones develop.


Too much sebum paired with grimy environmental issues (like pollution and cigarette smoke) are a breeding ground for bacteria on the skin’s surface. Keeping the skin well cleansed is the key to keeping bacteria at bay. Be sure you’re washing your face at night and change your pillow case regularly to stop adult acne from forming.

Clogged follicles When the follicles deeper within the skin get clogged up, the resulting blemish is usually hard to the touch and take quite some time (even a few weeks) to heal, as the inflammation is more pronounced. Hormone imbalances can be to blame as well as allergic reactions to beauty products. You may need a dermatologist’s help to eliminate these. He or she may prescribe a salicylic acid to heal your skin.

Overly Processed Foods

If you’re eating lots of pre-packaged foods that aren’t organic or fresh, you’re likely to start seeing more pimples through the center of your face, like your forehead, between your eyebrows, nose and chin. Try swapping out some packaged foods for fresh fruits and vegetables and organic, fresh meat.

Dead Skin Cells

As we age, our cell turnover slows and this can lead to an excessive amount of dead skin cells on the surface of the face – and voila – a bad case of adult acne. Gentle, regular exfoliation once or twice a week will help a great deal. Try making a homemade scrub with olive oil and sugar instead of abrasive exfoliating scrubs from the beauty supply store. Be sure to scrub gently in a circular motion – if you do it too rigorously, you’ll just push bacteria deeper into your skin.

Heavy Makeup

Cosmetics that are oil-based or simply very heavy will suffocate your skin and push bacteria and oil deeper into your complexion, which can lead to blemishes. Check the ingredients, and look for water-based or mineral makeup that says it’s “noncomedongenic.”