Being a teenager was fun, it was first loves and first tastes of freedom – but it was also greasy foreheads and relentless acne. “How do I get rid of my adult acne?” is a question few of us have ever even thought of — we’re done with that part of our lives. When you finally grow out of those pimples you breathe a sigh of relief thinking the pimples and blemishes are just another awkward teen memory.

What Causes Acne in Adults? (TOP Causes of Adult Acne & Breakouts)

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But for many of us, adult life brought with it not only the stresses and freedoms of adulthood, but also adult acne. What causes acne in adults and why is it different from the acne many people have as teenagers? What are some of the major reasons for adult acne and how do you treat it? Let’s start by talking about what makes adult acne different from teenaged acne.

Adult acne causes — why it’s different from pubescent acne

Unlike adult acne, adolescent acne tends to happen along the T-zone (the forehead, nose, and chin) and are generally caused by the sudden fluctuation of hormones of puberty. That is why that type of acne tends to just go away on its own after puberty has passed.

Adult acne, too, can be caused by hormonal fluctuations (especially during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, menopause or on certain medications) but these breakouts are more common along the lower part of the face. Adult acne on chin, cheeks, below the cheekbone, and the jaw line are extremely common.

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One of the biggest differences in acne in adults and acne in teenagers is that most teenagers will suffer from blackheads, whiteheads, larger pustules and cystic acne. Adult acne will appear in any and all of those forms, but adults are also prone to the added joys of rosacea (but that is an entirely different conversation).

Now that we understand some of the differences between teen acne and adult acne let’s talk about what the major causes of acne in adults are. As I said before, hormones certainly play into adult acne. Other culprits could be stress, imbalanced diet, makeup and skincare products, and even your hairstyle!

Adult acne treatment at home

Treating adult acne is a little different than treating adolescent acne because the causes are not the same. Adult hormonal acne is commonly the culprit because stress releases hormones that cause your body to release other hormones to counteract them. Sometimes, the hormonal flood can often send your complexion into a tailspin.

Acne in adults is surrounded by plenty of misconceptions. Many people mistakenly assume that one of the main causes of adult acne is greasy food. Studies have shown that is not really the case – the major culinary criminal in the case of adult acne is actually the sugar in candy, as well as high-glycemic-index carbs like white bread, pasta, and potatoes. The wrong foods can spike insulin levels, leading to a chemical imbalance and, in turn, acne.

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So what is the best acne system for adults –what about topical acne treatments? Well, here’s something that will surprise you.
Traditional adult acne creams and lotions contain an ingredient that can actually irritate your skin and make problem worse. That’s right, your efforts to get rid of adult acne may actually be adding fuel to the fire. These products disrupt your skin’s natural acidic pH, chip away at your skin’s protective layer and actually trigger production of sebum.

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To avoid these types of adult acne products, I prefer gel or gel-cream type formulations that avoid harmful ingredients like PEG’s, Glycols and soap-based emulsifiers (often listed as Self-Emulsifying Wax or Polysorbate).

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