Most individuals anticipate and accept that acne is part of growing up. As adults, though, they expect to be free of this ailment and often revel in coming out of puberty relatively unscathed by it. While pubescent acne affects more males than females, adult acne is more prevalent in females. Acne can hit adults in their 30s, 40s or even 50s, and as adults it is much more difficult to treat.
5 factors that may contribute to adult acne
For many females, acne is due to changes in hormones and often occurs around the mouth area and on the chin. Hormonal fluctuations leading to breakouts occur around monthly menstrual cycles, during pregnancy, starting or ceasing the use of birth control pills and when going through perimenopause and menopause.
Four basic skin changes contribute to acne, and they all involve the pilosebaceous unit or hair follicle: increased sebum production from the sebaceous gland, clogging of the duct, increased bacterial activity and inflammation. Since acne presents as different types of lesions (blackheads, whiteheads and inflamed lesions), then one or more of the factors may be involved depending on the resulting change in the skin.
Sensitivity to Skin Care Products
Some skin products may also contribute to acne, because some ingredients have a greater potential to clog pores. Identifying products that have been tested for comedogenicity and/or acnegenic city may be helpful. Sometimes individuals are simply more sensitive to certain ingredients.
Stress can instigate acne flare-ups1 and trigger the production of corticoid hormones, causing an androgen response in the body. Sebaceous glands are stimulated by androgens, ultimately causing more production of oil or sebum. This provides an environment in the skin follicle that supports more bacterial activity, resulting in acne. Taking time to relax may help mitigate this underlying cause.
Historically, the belief that what we eat influences acne has fluctuated, but recent research has shown a correlation may exist between acne and high glycemic diets2 9 (diets of carbohydrate-containing foods). Thus, eating less sugar and more complex carbohydrates and fiber may help reduce acne breakouts.
To help you cope with the symptoms of acne and sensitive skin, we put together some smart acne skin care tips:
- Create a daily skin care routine with the right products for your skin type. Use an effective, yet gentle skin care system that is free of irritating ingredients and harsh chemicals.
- Use a gentle cleanser for your skin type and wash your face every night before bed and again in the morning. Ingredients capable of emulsifying oil soluble impurities are needed. Thus, cleansing the skin helps to keep pores clear, and daily washing helps the skin look refreshed.
With the right information and guidance, you can regulate your breakouts and decrease the signs of a flare-up. Remember, with acne, knowledge is power. So, keep reading.
The Best Skin Care Products For Acne
Treats and cleanses the skin in one simple step. This dual-action skin care system helps to gently, yet effectively exfoliate skin while providing a deep cleansing. It leaves the skin invigorated through its proprietary Micro-pulse Oscillation technology while helping to draw dirt, oil, makeup, toxins and more from pores leaving them looking tight.
Specially designed to use together with ageLOC® LumiSpa® device, is a mild formula that contains 0.5% salicylic acid to help clear pores and reduce most breakouts. It is low-foaming to prevent additional skin irritation. It also contains Carnosine to provide antioxidant protection and Epilobium Angustifolium Flower/ Leaf/Stem Extract that can help calm and support acne prone skin.
Specially designed to use together with ageLOC® LumiSpa® device, is a gel cream formulated with a mild surfactant system. It is fragrance free to provide a gentle and mild cleansing experience.
Know Your Skin
Though products for "acne-prone skin" are currently available in the market, skincare products cannot be one-size-fits-all magic potions.
It is important to know and understand what type of skin you’re working with; it’s the first step in discovering an effective way to take care of your skin.
When you misdiagnose your skin type and use the wrong products, it can cause excess oil, irritation, dry skin and breakouts.
Although everyone’s skin is unique, there are five main types:
Note: There’s a difference between skin type and skin concerns. Skin concerns can be temporary dryness, aging, or wrinkles and span across all skin types. The environment can affect skin concerns, which change with time. For instance, in summer your skin can be more oily while it requires dollops of lotion in winter. Keep this distinction in mind when you choose skin care products.
How To Identify Your Skin Type?
With just a few simple tests, you can determine your skin type.
Step 1: Use a gentle cleanser to wash your face and get rid of all the dirt, oil and makeup
Step 2: Pat your face dry and leave your skin bare. Leave it like this for an hour and resist the temptation of touching your face with your hands.
Step 3: After an hour, closely observe your skin’s quality. What do you see?
Feels good and even, not too dry or oily
Is shiny and feels greasy, especially in the T-zone
Feels tight and itchy and has some flaky patches
Sometimes gets red, irritated, inflamed or itchy
Dry or normal on the jawline and cheeks, but oily in the T-zone
Now that you’ve determined your skin type, deep dive a little more and learn what you can do to keep your skin on the right track.
Know Your Acne Type
All acne is not created equally. Simply knowing the different types of acne and a plan of attack for each puts you way ahead in the clear-skin curve.
1. Hormonal Acne (Non-Inflammatory)
What You See
An unexpected number of zits around the jawline and chin.
Do those pesky zits appear around the same time every month, just before you get your period? If yes, your acne is the work of see-sawing hormones. Your oil production can go into an overdrive, thanks to the hormones. With this, the odds of an overabundance of oil settling in your pores and causing zits are high.
2. Whiteheads (Non-Inflammatory)
What You See
A regular zit, except it has a white dot in the middle.
Whiteheads are a combination of dead skin cells and sebum in one tiny, white package. You can safely blame your clogged pores for them. Whiteheads form when your skin cells stick together and block the opening of the pore. It’s called a whitehead because of the white you see on top, which is the blocked pore.
Whiteheads typically show up on oily skin types. When the oil mixes with the bacteria and grime, it causes inflammation, which ultimately turns into a swollen, red bump (pimple).
Note: However tempting it might be to pop whiteheads, don’t! Picking at your skin is one of the major reasons for acne-related scarring.
3. Papules (Inflammatory)
What You See
Patches of tiny, red-colored pimples.
Technically, any small, raised bump on the skin is known as papule. In terms of acne, they’re actually an inflammatory acne caused because of bacteria.
When the bacteria on your skin grows, it causes inflammation and results in red, tender acne bumps. These bumps tend to be quite painful.
4. Pustules (Inflammatory)
What You See
Inflamed red zits filled with yellow or white liquid.
While they vaguely resemble whiteheads, they’re a bigger, more inflamed version. It's a zit that has come to a head, forming a bubble on top, filled with pus. Unlike a whitehead that is a plugged hair follicle, this is a zit caused by bacteria. 
5. Cystic Acne (Inflammatory)
What You See
Multiple, large, infuriated pimples.
You’re probably experiencing cystic acne if your pimples are big, red and painful. It’s one of the more severe types which typically arise due to hormones or genetics.
Typically, they may be worse than other types of acne, simply because they lie deep within the skin and the blocked pores cause an infection, making them painful and slow-healing.
A few things you can do to keep it under control is to keep the area clean, use chemical exfoliators and fight the infection. It’s best to seek the help of a dermatologist who’ll give you proper guidance. 
6. Blackheads (Non-Inflammatory)
What You See
Small, dark-colored spots that plug your pores.
Akin to whiteheads, blackheads are caused by blocked pores due to the buildup of bacteria, skin cells and sebum.
Blackheads have a larger opening which means air can enter and oxidize the oil that sits inside the pore, making it even darker and hence the name blackhead. 
Tip: If you’re experiencing blackheads, don’t skip out on exfoliation.
7. Blind Pimples (Non-Inflammatory)
What You See
Subtle bumps under your skin which are painful.
As the name suggests, blind pimples aren’t visible to the eye, but you can feel them. This kind of pimple lies under the skin, it’s like a tiny balloon with nowhere to go. The pressure continues to build up, making it painful or sensitive to touch.
Don’t squeeze or pick them, this will only make them worse. They usually disappear by themselves in a few days.
The Best Products For Acne Treatment
Nu Skin Clear Action Toner
Keep your complexion calm and shine free.
Calms angry, red skin and manages oil levels with licorice extract (soothes irritated skin), zinc PCA (helps control sebum levels), and a special blend of vitamins C and E
Nu Skin Clear Action Night Treatment
Minimise the visible signs of breakouts while you sleep.
Nu Skin Clear Action Night Treatment features salicylic acid, retinol, and patented alpha lipoic acid to diminish the appearance of remnant marks associated with past breakouts.
Nu Skin Clear Action Day Treatment
Protect and revitalise your complexion.
Mandelic acid erases the signs of past breakouts as it quickly fades dark spots on the skin’s surface.
Salicylic acid works to penetrate pores and dissolve the clogs that cause breakouts.
Until recently, my acne routine consisted of spironolactone (the ~ miracle ~ acne pill, if you ask any beauty editor) and spironolactone only. It was the only thing that had managed to clear up my stubborn hormonal acne after years of trying every cream, serum, and spot treatment on the market. But back in early March (actually, it was March 10th at 10 a.m., and I know this because I'm a proud, vain human who keeps a detailed skin diary in my Notes app), I chose to quit spironolactone cold-turkey, wanting to see how my skin would do without the help of a daily drug.
Once I stopped taking the medication, though, I realized something sorta crazy: My actual skincare routine was…non-existent? I was a beauty editor with no real skincare regimen, because I hadn't needed one; my daily dose of spiro kept my face totally breakout-free, even if I didn’t wash it, exfoliate it, or moisturize it. Which was great for me, because I happen to be really effing lazy.
But with spiro out of my system, I suddenly needed to become unlazy really damn quick. And because I wasn't about to start some intensive 10-step routine (sry, but I'll never stick to that), I hit up a few of my most trusted derms to come up with this ridiculously simple—yet totally effective—routine for acne-prone skin like mine.
FWIW, I’m currently on week six of this little routine and my skin looks really clear and calm, which is kinda shocking considering we’re living in, like, the un-calmest of times. So, if you're like me and naturally too uninspired/tired/stressed to commit to any skincare regimen that takes more than three minutes or involves more than three steps, I 10/10 recommend you give this lazy routine a try.
Your Skincare Routine For Acne In Morning
STEP 1: Wash your face
You already know (I hope?) that you need to wash your face at least once a day — especially if you have acne — BUT did you know you don't actually need to use an acne-fighting face wash to do it? Shocking, I know. But the truth is, most acne cleansers are waaaay too harsh and drying, so rather than healing your face, they just screw with your skin's protective barrier, leaving you more vulnerable to breakouts after each wash. Instead, stick to a gentle, sulfate-free cleanser—it'll dissolve excess oil, dirt, and bacteria without stripping your skin or leaving it tight and irritated.
STEP 2: Moisturize
Listen: Oily and acne-prone skin 100 percent need moisture. Without it, your oil glands go into overdrive and end up producing more sebum (oil) to compensate, leading to clogged pores and overly shiny skin. So, you know, the opposite of what you want. Keep your skin balanced and hydrated with a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer (go with a lotion formula if your skin is dry/combination and a gel formula if your skin is oily) that contains hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and/or ceramides.
STEP 3: Wear SPF
You know those annoying marks and scars that linger for weeks—sometimes months—after you get a pimple? Welp, UV exposure from the sun makes them even worse (and, reminder, can also lead to both premature aging and skin cancer). So pls, for the love of all things beauty, slather your face with sunscreen every morning.
Make sure the formula you use (1) contains SPF 30 or more, which is the daily minimum recommended by dermatologists; (2) provides broad-spectrum protection against both UVA rays (the damage-causing kind) and UVB rays (the cancer-causing kind); and (3) is non-comedogenic, which means the formula has been tested to not clog your pores. Sound like a lot? It's fine—I did the hard work for you.
Your Skincare Routine For Acne In NIGHTTIME
STEP 1: Wash your face
IDC how tired you are. You need to wash your face before bed—and no, a sad little face wipe doesn't cut it (and can actually lead to more breakouts on acne-prone skin). Use the same cleanser you used in the morning to remove all the gunk that accumulated on your skin during the day.
Side note: If you're a makeup wearer, I highly suggest the K-beauty art of double cleansing — which is when you first use an oil-based cleanser to break down your foundation and eye makeup (don't worry; the oil won't clog your pores), and then use your gentle cleanser to rinse everything away. It's way more effective at cleaning your pores than a face wash alone.
STEP 2: Apply an acne treatment
And by acne treatment, I mean any serums or gels with active ingredients (aka the ingredients that are going to "actively" treat your acne) like the ones below:
- Adapalene: a type of over-the-counter retinol formulated specifically for acne. It regulates cell turnover, reduces oil production, and calms inflammation
- Salicylic acid: a BHA (beta hydroxy acid) that dissolves the excess oil and dead skin cells that lead to clogged pores
- Benzoyl peroxide: an ingredient that kills acne-causing bacteria on the skin and in your pores
- Niacinamide: a vitamin (you may know it as vitamin b3) that reduces inflammation and discoloration, while balancing oil production
In general, if you're dealing with blackheads, whiteheads, go with adapalene or salicylic acid, and if you're dealing with inflammatory acne, like pustules, try benzoyl peroxide or niacinamide. As for cystic acne? Adapalene is your best bet, though be aware cystic zits are notoriously difficult to treat on your own, so make an appointment with a dermatologist (even virtually!) who can help clear your skin fast.
As for how to use these treatments, start slow. With adapalene, apply a pea-size dab to clean, dry skin two nights a week for two weeks, three nights a week for three weeks, then every other night or every night indefinitely. Salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and niacinamide can usually be used daily (and, on non-sensitive skin, sometimes twice daily), but start out using them every other night, gradually building your tolerance to every night and/or morning.
STEP 3: Moisturizer
Wait a minute or two for whatever acne treatment you've just applied to sink into your skin, and then layer the same moisturizer (remember, your skin needs all the hydration it can get) you used in the morning right on top. And before you ask, the answer is no, you don't need a separate night cream. Most night creams contain active ingredients, and your skin should already be getting what it needs for acne from step two. Plus, mixing and matching too many actives can lead to irritation—or even render your products ineffective if the ingredients don't play well together.
Let's talk about the results
Not to be a buzzkill, but this routine—or any routine for that matter—won't transform your skin overnight. Most acne treatments take anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks of consistent use before giving you any visible results (big emphasis on consistent here—using your products here and there won't rly make a difference). But just stick with it (unless you have some crazy-bad reaction, and in that case, hit up your derm for a telemedicine sesh) and I promise you'll be glad you did.