We’re often conditioned to think of acne as a plight of adolescence, but the reality is that more people now than ever before are experiencing blemish prone skin well into adulthood. With so many contributing factors ranging from stress, to the wrong skincare (more on that later), to more serious underlying medical conditions such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), adult acne as a condition is complicated, frustrating and emotionally distressing.
I’ve known the struggles of adult acne all too well, having experienced it myself. As a working mum, it felt at times that acne robbed me of the control I had over my life and it was debilitatingly unfair to feel I needed to avoid the mirror each day because I didn’t like what I saw looking back at me. Believe me, I tried every lotion, potion and ‘anti-acne’ marketed product going but I just couldn't get to the bottom of what was causing my skin to be so unhappy. It didn't matter if it was high-end luxury or drugstore brand. The results were the same with more skin problems: dryness, dullness or even more breakouts.
I believe that to properly manage acne, or indeed any skin concern, first you need a basic understanding of what you’re dealing with otherwise you can end up going round and round in circles like I did. In this article, I will attempt to clear up any confusion and share my top tips for how to deal with adult acne. I am a firm believer that starting your day right starts with your face…
FIRST THINGS FIRST…
What actually is acne? Acne is characterized by the presence of comedones (also known as blackheads and whiteheads) and pustules (pus-filled spots) on the skin. Nodules (large hard lumps underneath the skin’s surface) and cysts (pus-filled lumps that can be painful) can also be present in more severe cases. Acne is most commonly identified on the face but can be found on the body too. Biologically speaking, there’s little difference in acne that affects you in your teenage years and adult acne. In both cases overactive glands secrete excess sebum (oil) which can get trapped within the pores of your skin leading to a spot forming. Unfortunately the after effects of a breakout can linger far longer in adult acne. Sadly, adult acne takes far longer to heal and has an increased risk of permanent scarring than it’s younger sister thanks to cell renewal slowing down due to that pesky thing called ageing.
WHAT CAUSES ACNE?
There are so many potential triggers for acne. Generally most causes fall into one of three main causes: hormonal, bacterial and environmental. I found it’s best to turn detective and methodically eliminate each possible cause in turn and see if it has any effect.
TRIGGER #1 | STRESS
First off I've got something to stress here (sorry), some stress in our lives is actually beneficial. A low level of cortisol in our bodies helps keep us alert, on the ball and juggling family and work commitments, the ‘but’ comes (and it’s a big one) when stress becomes unmanageable it can end up being written all over your face. Chronic levels of stress are down right toxic for your energy levels and mental health but it can wreak havoc with our skin. Stress is directly linked to our adrenal glands which produce adrenaline. An overproduction of adrenaline can stimulate your oil glands leading to more sebum production. More oil results in more spots.
It’s time to listen to your skin and (try) to slow down the pace of your life. Adopting a stress relieving activity like yoga or one evening a week to a wellness routine can do wonders for your skin. I love to give myself an indulgent facial massage with my Radixir Ice Globe Facial Massager straight from the fridge. It helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to congested areas of my skin whilst bringing down inflammation and my stress levels all in one.
TRIGGER #2 | DIET
Although foods themselves don’t directly cause acne, over indulging in certain foods can increase inflammation and raise insulin levels in the body, stimulating those oil glands. In both my professional and personal experience the worst culprits are dairy, sugar and nutrient poor fast and convenience foods. Unfortunately, when the gut is unhappy, the body and your skin are quick to follow. Whilst I would never advocate cutting out food groups or being incredibly restrictive with your diet, iIf you’re nodding along with this now would be the time to up your intake of those dark, leafy greens.
TRIGGER #3 | (LACK OF) SLEEP
We all need to remind ourselves of the importance of sleep, especially as we try and juggle five thousand things without skipping a beat. Did you know that the term ‘beauty sleep’ is actually based on science? When you’re getting adequate REM sleep your body repairs and regenerates, including your skin. So if you’re sleep deprived you’ll notice your skin starts to look lacklustre and any spots you may have will be slower to heal. If you ever needed more of an incentive to stop scrolling when the kids are in bed hopefully, this is it!
TRIGGER #4 | POOR SKINCARE CHOICES
I’ve been here so many times in the past. You get stressed about your skin so you reach for harsh active ingredients in a desperate attempt to solve the issue but just end up inflaming your skin even more. Excessive use of harsh ingredients (retinols and acids as examples) and aggressively cleansing your skin can disrupt the delicate balance of your skin barrier triggering breakouts and a whole host of other issues. It’s time to step away from the harsh ingredients and ease the throttle down on that complicated 10 step routine. Your skin prefers a quieter life and it needs a break.
SO, WHAT TO CHOOSE INSTEAD?
Introducing Radixir, bespoke skincare for blemish prone skin. I discovered that natural formulations are the key to radiant, healthy skin but I couldn’t find products with effective ingredients in a straightforward two step routine that I could fit into my busy life. I needed my skincare to keep up, so I decided to make my own. Radixir is a slice of acne targeting luxury that fits seamlessly into my day. Combining a potent mixture of anti-inflammatory (Oat Kernel, Rosewater, and Pomegranate), detoxifying (Tea Tree Oil, Allantoin, Pathenol and Jojoba Esters) and repairing (Meadowfoam Seed Oil & Shea Butter) natural ingredients helps to rebalance and heal your skin from the inside out.
Until next time,