As an aesthetician and skincare expert, this is one of the questions I’m asked most often: “How do I care for my skin when I have both both wrinkles and breakouts? I’m way past my teenage years and I’m still getting acne. Help!”
When people get out of their teens and into their mid-20s, most breakouts will start to subside. However, as hormones fluctuate, starting in your early 30s and well into your 40s and 50s, it’s not uncommon to get all types of breakouts, but particularly cystic blemishes (those hard, sore bumps under the skin that linger for weeks). When an adult starts to experience this, their first thought is to change up their products and start using ones specifically made for acne prone skin.
The problem with this strategy is that these products are formulated to dry up oil and excessive breakouts, but for an adult who may only be getting one or two breakouts at a time, these products will leave their entire face dried out and irritated. Yes, they can dry up the individual breakouts but they are simply too harsh and can cause damage in the non-broken out areas. This certainly isn’t favorable for preventing lines, wrinkles, and other aging concerns. On the flip side, if someone is using products for anti-aging (often formulated for dry skin) and then starts to experience breakouts, most of these anti-aging products won’t do anything to clear and prevent blemishes.
So, what’s an adult with breakouts to do? Here are five of my expert tips to help clear up your adult breakouts.
1. Use a gentle product with salicylic acid.
Assuming you have only one or two occasional adult breakouts, my recommendation is to stick with your normal routine but introduce an anti-bacterial serum with the ingredient salicylic acid to use underneath moisturizer a few nights per week. The benefit of using salicylic acid is that it gets into the pore lining and helps to destroy acne-causing bacteria to prevent breakouts, yet it’s also effective for fading down discoloration (brown spots) from hormones, sun and age and well as exfoliating the skin to keep it looking smooth. Exfoliation and keeping the skin even-toned are definitely requirements of aging skin, so a product like this will address it all. Salicylic acid is truly one of my favorite ingredients to use to fight breakouts while still addressing the needs of aging skin. Be sure to look for formulas that are alcohol-free and do not dry out the skin. I recommend my clients use BHA Clarifying Serum. This is a non-drying, alcohol-free serum that uses just the right amount of salicylic acid, as well as skin-smoothing glycolic and lactic acids to keep the skin clear while revealing a newly-refined smoothness. By including this in your routine a few nights each week, you’re addressing breakouts, but you don’t run the risk of over-drying your skin. You should still always use a moisturizer over the serum, however, at times of peak breakouts, you may want to switch to a lighter moisturizer at night.
2. Take chelated zinc.
I recommend for my clients to take chelated zinc found at a health food store. Taking one of these daily may help act as a natural anti-biotic to potentially prevent new breakouts.
3. Get to know the different types of breakouts and learn how to treat them.
Not all breakouts are equal and each require special care when they appear. If the breakouts you tend to experience are cystic (hard, sore and painful bumps underneath the skin that rarely come to a head), apply an Anti Cyst Treatment to reduce inflammation quickly. Regular blemish products are designed to dry out the surface of the skin, which leaves you with flakiness on the surface and still with a bump underneath. A spot treatment like this can truly address stubborn cysts and help you avoid the other alternative for treating them, which is to get a cortisone injection from a dermatologist.
If the breakouts you get are ones that come to the surface as a whitehead, then the best course of action is to leave it alone until the infection is visible. Waiting until it comes to the surface will allow you to effectively control the the blemish without as much damage to the skin. Once the whitehead is truly visible, you can gently squeeze out the infection with your fingers wrapped in tissue and then apply a drying spot treatment like Night Time Spot Lotion. This will work its way into the pore lining to eradicate any infection that is leftover. If you apply a spot treatment before the whitehead has surfaced, it will simply dry out the skin, keeping the infection trapped under the dead cells longer.
Left with a dark or red scar? Fade it quickly with Post Breakout Fading Gel.
4. Drink hot lemon water in the morning.
Before you eat or drink anything else, a hot cup of water with just enough lemon juice added so you can taste it may help clear out bacteria in your small intestine—an area that can grow excess bacteria linked to acne.
5. Schedule a deep pore cleansing facial or chemical peel.
Aestheticians and other skincare professionals have access to all sorts of peels and procedures that can be truly effective for clearing out the pores to prevent blemishes, as well as destroying acne-causing bacteria. For adult acne, I often use a 25% salicylic acid peel, along with Bio Brasion (the next generation of micro-dermabrasion) and this combination can really get blemishes under control while still offering anti-aging benefits for smoothing lines and wrinkles.
Consult with a skincare professional (try searching Charlotte’s Book of experts for someone in your area) to make a plan for the best treatments to balance the needs of your skin. I certainly understand what it means to break out in your adult years, as my skin does the same, but by occasionally adding in a few blemish-fighting products, you can give your skin the balance it needs to be clearer, healthier and more beautiful.
Renée Rouleau, Celebrity Aesthetician, Charlotte’s Book Expert