You're not alone if you're dealing with acne as an adult. While often associated with teenage years, adult acne is incredibly common, affecting millions of people in their 20s, 30s, and even beyond. The good news? With a little education on its causes, some easy lifestyle and skincare best practices, and a few gentle, barrier-balancing products powered by Traditional Chinese Medicine, your friends here at Karuna are here to help you through all your adult acne concerns!

What Causes Adult Acne?

The causes of adult acne are similar to those of teenage acne, but with some key differences:

  • Hormones
Fluctuating hormones, particularly in women, play a significant role. This can be due to menstrual cycles, pregnancy, menopause, or even starting or stopping birth control pills.
    • Stress
    Chronic stress can trigger the release of cortisol, a hormone that can increase oil production and worsen acne.
      • Diet
      Certain foods, like those high in sugar and processed carbohydrates, may contribute to inflammation and breakouts.
        • Skincare and Makeup
        Using harsh, stripping or comedogenic (pore-clogging) products can irritate the skin and exacerbate acne.
          • Medications
          Some medications, like certain steroids or antidepressants, can list acne as a side effect.

            How Does Adult Acne Differs from Teenage Acne?

            While the root causes of acne are similar across age groups, there are some key differences between adult and teenage acne:

            • Location 
            Adult acne often appears on the lower face (jawline, chin, cheeks), while teenage acne is more common on the forehead, nose, and upper cheeks.
              • Hormonal Influences
              Hormonal fluctuations play a more significant role in adult acne, particularly for women.
                • Severity
                Adult acne can be just as severe as teenage acne, but may be more persistent and resistant to over-the-counter treatments.
                  • Psychological Impact
                  Though taxing on all ages, dealing with acne as an adult can be even more emotionally challenging, as it can impact self-esteem and confidence in the workplace and friend circles that haven’t experienced acne since their younger years.

                    How Do I Treat Adult Acne?

                    While frustrating, adult acne is treatable. Here are some tips to manage your breakouts:

                    • Gentle Cleansing
                    Wash your face twice daily with a gentle, barrier-supportive cleanse rich in anti-inflammatory ingredients like Balancing Cleanser.
                      • Exfoliation
                      While physical exfoliants (i.e. scrubs) can be harsh on skin and rupture active breakouts, gentle chemical exfoliants like Alpha Hydroxy Acids (Lactic, Glycolic, etc) and Polyhydroxy Acids (Gluconolactone) help dissolve dead skin cells and oils that can clog pores and cause acne. We recommend Radiance Toner or Exfoliating+ Face Mask to get you started. 
                        • Moisturize
                         Even oily skin needs moisture. Choose a lightweight, antioxidant-rich moisturizer like All Day Cream to restore hydration while defending skin from harmful free radicals that can worsen breakouts and weaken your barrier’s defenses against inflammation.
                          • Anti-Acne Actives
                          Ingredients like Salicylic Acid & Niacinamide have been shown to work wonders on adult acne and are generally better tolerated by sensitive or mature skin types. If newer to these types of ingredients, an easy way to start slowing is by using a weekly sheet mask treatment like Clarifying+ Face Mask or a gentle, daily serum like Multi-Vitamin Serum.
                            • Remove & Restore
                            Your evening routine is just as important as your daytime routine when it comes to keeping adult acne at bay. Throughly removing impurities, SPF and makeup with Cleansing Oil and replenishing skin with Lights Out Cream helps the natural recovery process that occurs while we sleep.
                              • Diet
                              Consider limiting sugary and processed foods, and focus on incorporating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your diet.
                                • Stress Management
                                Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise, meditation, or yoga.
                                  • Consult a Dermatologist
                                   If over-the-counter treatments aren't working, or your acne is severe, consult a dermatologist. They can prescribe stronger medications like antibiotics, retinoids, or hormonal therapies.

                                    Just Remember:

                                    • Be patient
                                    It can take time to see results from any acne treatment or skincare routine. Be consistent and don’t give up hope!
                                      • Don't pick or squeeze
                                      This can worsen inflammation and lead to scarring.
                                        • Protect your skin
                                        Always wear sunscreen and load up on antioxidants, as UV rays and free radicals can worsen acne and lengthen the healing time.

                                          Adult acne can be challenging, but with proper care, knowledge, and a consistent skincare routine packed with clarifying, balancing, and anti-inflammatory ingredients, you can bring back the clear, healthy skin you’ve been waiting for!

                                          Are any of these products already in your daily rotation? Let us know below or on Instagram @karunaskin - we love hearing from you!

                                          Written by Ryan Nelson

                                          June 04, 2024