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11-19-14 | Posted by

I thought that once I was out of my teens and early adulthood, the only thing I’d have to be on the lookout for complexion-wise would be fine lines and wrinkles. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. “Many people (women in particular) find pimples popping up well into their late 20s and beyond,” says Montclair, N.J.-based dermatologist, Jeanine Downie, M.D. She adds that while there are different types of pimples, both adult and teen acne “have the same process of clogged pores creating the optimal environment for the bacteria linked to acne, P. acnes, to flourish.” Here, she gives BITB readers the lowdown on adult acne as well as causes and treatment options:

What’s the difference between teen and adult acne? Adult skin is less oily and more prone to dryness than teenage skin, and adult acne tends to occur on the neck and jawline whereas in teens it’s usually on the nose, chin, forehead, and cheeks. It’s also typically more cystic than that of teens.

What causes adult acne? Fluctuating hormones (including pregnancy), stress, family history, sometimes certain foods and drinks (especially dairy or foods high in sugar) and pore-clogging products can be to blame. Mineral oil based products (found in some makeups) can also clog your pores and break you out.

When should someone see a derm for acne? If you have been using an over-the-counter treatment for 2 weeks and you haven’t experienced improvement, make an appointment with your dermatologist. There are some great new over-the-counter regimens (such as Benzac, a potential game-changer for people who suffer from mild to moderate acne), plus many effective prescription treatments available.

What are the best OTC, prescription, and in-office treatments for adult acne?

  • OTC: I recommend an acne treatment regimen of cleanse, treat, hydrate plus an SPF of at least 30, all year round, rain or shine. 
  • Rx: As far as prescription treatments go, I like retinoids. Epiduo is a powerful prescription that contains adapalene (a retinoid) to unclog pores and decrease redness, swelling and inflammation, and benzoyl peroxide to kill acne-causing bacteria, p. acnes. In clinical trials, Epiduo started working to reduce pimples in the first week of treatment. Another prescription acne treatment that I recommend is Aczone because it causes minimal irritation.
  • In-Office: Glycolic acid or salicylic acid peels are superficial peels that work for all skin types to help clear and excavate dead skin cells from the surface of the skin and deep in the pores. I like to do these monthly for my acne patients. Three to six are typically the number of peels to see optimum results. 

Is it okay to cover up acne with makeup? If so, what do you recommend and why? Rule #1 is to check the label of your makeup to ensure that the concealer or foundation you’re using won’t exacerbate breakouts with ingredients such as mineral oil or waxes. 





Galderma Benzac Acne Solutions ($36, available 12/29/14) — a new over-the-counter favorite of Dr. Downie — is a 3-step regimen that features a Skin Balancing Foaming Cleanser to gently exfoliate and remove excess oil without over drying the skin, an Intensive Spot Treatment to neutralize and calm blemishes, and a Blemish Clearing Hydrator to control excess oil, moisturize, and prevent blocked pores. All contain the powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial pure, pharmaceutical-grade East Indian Sandalwood Oil and salicylic acid to unclog pores. Also formulated with skin brighteners, super-antioxidants, essential minerals, and more.



Dermalogica Breakout Control ($46) treats adult acne without Benzoyl Peroxide, which can sometimes irritate those with sensitive skin. It’s formulated with an Azelaic Acid derivative to regulate sebum, Lactobacillus Ferment to gently remove plugs which lead to infected impactions, Colloidal Silver to eliminate acne bacteria which thrive on cell debris and can collect in congested pores, and contains Tea Tree oil that works in tandem with Zinc Sulfate to reduce redness and minimize irritation. Non-tinted so it blends invisibly into the skin, use as a spot-treatment or as an all-over treatment to absorb oil, loosen early-stage impactions, and soothe inflammation. 




Tria Beauty Acne Clearing Blue Light ($299) offers dermatologist results with this FDA-cleared device that targets acne causing bacteria and eliminates it deep beneath the skin’s surface to clear skin and help prevent future breakouts. 



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