Most of us began our battle with acne in adolescence, but unfortunately it doesn’t always end there...up to 50 percent of women also experience acne in their adult lives. You may have discovered a solid anti-acne regimen in your teens, but chances are the same products won’t necessarily work now. Here are the best tools proven to beat acne in your adult years.
The best washes contain a combination of anti-bacterial ingredients as well as those that soothe inflammation, says Annet King, director of global education at Dermalogica’s International Dermal Institute. Calming botanicals like chamomile, echinacea and licorice can help with redness and inflammation. “Exfoliating agents such as the alpha and beta hydroxy acids should also be in cleansers for adult acne,” adds dermatologist Dr. Michael Gold, founder of the Gold Skincare Center in Nashville. Benzoyl peroxide is often touted as the gold standard for treating acne, but adults should use it sparingly because can cause excessive drying and irritation, as can artificial fragrances. One to wash up with: Exuviance Moisturizing Antibacterial Facial Cleanser ($28, www.neostrata.com).
Gold also is a fan of the Tanda Zap ($49, www.tandaskincare.com), an easy-to-operate, at-home device that uses blue light to kill acne-causing bacteria.
As we age, our skin tends to become dry...even those of us who are prone to breakouts. “This lack of hydration can actually lead to an increase in sebum production and more acne lesions, so moisturizing is very important,” Gold says. Make sure your chosen moisturizer is oil-free, noncomedogenic (meaning it won’t clog pores) and light in consistency. Other ingredients to avoid include occlusive agents like petrolatum and mineral oil, and botanical emollients like shea and cocoa butter. So what should a good anti-acne moisturizer be made of? Hyaluronic acid is a great hydrating ingredient for those with adult acne, as are products that contain niacinamide. Try Olay Pro-X Clear UV Moisturizer SPF 15 ($29.50, www.soap.com).
Because benzoyl peroxide products can be too harsh on dry adult skin, look for spot treatments that contain sulphur, zinc oxide or salicylic acid. You can also try zit-zapping botanicals such as tea tree oil, green tea or cinnamon, suggests King. Treatments that contain built-in concealers can also be beneficial: Try Murad Acne Treatment Concealer ($21, www.murad.com).
Prescription products: Most dermatologist-prescribed, acne-fighting topicals contain retinoids, vitamin A derivatives that help boost skin cell turnover. Because they’re classified as drugs, these products do come with certain risks and side effects, but they also offer anti-aging benefits. Retinoid products are known to improve skin texture and reduce wrinkles and age spots. One prescription product in particular, called Aczone, may be especially beneficial for adults suffering from acne, according to Gold: In clinical trials, adult females fared better with this medication than any other group being treated.
OK, it’s not a product, but it’s true: Exercise, preferably a form that helps fight stress, can prevent breakouts. Research has shown that stress—which causes an increase in stress hormones that stimulate oil production—is one of the major causes of adult acne. Any activity that helps keep your stress to a minimum, from yoga to Tai Chi, can help banish pesky blemishes, so it’s worth the investment of time and money.
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