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Let's Break Down Breakouts - 10 Things You Need To Know

Can’t understand why your skin is suddenly breaking out, even though you’re way past your teenage years? Adult acne is becoming more and more common, especially in women, so, we don’t know about you, but we reckon it’s time to take charge of this whole post-adolescent acne business…

Adult acne is a real thing. Why, then, did nobody tell you that as a teenager when you were constantly plagued with a spotty chin and slick forehead. “But you’re so lucky, dear. Having oily skin means you’ll have far fewer wrinkles when you get older,” they said. Such half-truths. Yes, oily skin is generally stronger, more resilient and ages more slowly, but nobody ever mentioned that alongside these pros, there was a big fat downer waiting in the sidelines. Acne could return. At any point. 

And even if you had beautifully clear skin back in the day, adult acne can still rear its unruly head for a number of reasons which we take a look at below. Because around half of women will suffer with acne at some point during their adult lives – even if they didn’t have it as a teenager. Frustrating? Yes. But treatable? Absolutely.

But not with picking. Before we move on please take note that prodding, picking, pricking and poking a pimple is all very bad news. As tempting as it may be, avoid at all costs. You will push the bacteria further into your skin, making things much worse. Breaking the protective seal of a pimple not only exposes the area to even more bacteria and potentially infection, but it also increases your risk of permanent scarring.

So, now we've sorted that no no, here’s ten more things you need to know about adult acne and how to tackle it head on…without the picking...

1. What is Adult Acne?

Just like teen acne, adult acne occurs when your skin produces too much sebum (the skin’s natural oils). This excess sebum gets trapped in your pores along with dead skin cells, where they combine with bacteria and become inflamed. Depending on the type and depth of this inflammation, these blocked pores may turn into either blackheads, whiteheads, pimples or cysts. Adult acne mostly takes the form of the latter. Joy.

But that’s not all. Your skin can be easily aggravated but other factors too. Food sensitivities, hormonal imbalances, pore-clogging make-up, laundry detergents, hair care products, washing with hot water, and even friction from clothing or an abrasive face cloth. We take a look at all of these below and what you can do to tackle them.

2. Where Does Adult Acne Typically Appear?

Adult acne can appear anywhere on your face, but, unlike teen acne which is often more prevalent on your forehead, nose and cheeks (the t-zone), it most frequently appears around the jawline and neck. It can even rear its head on your chest and back too. So pay attention to cleansing your décolletage and however far you can reach across the back of your shoulders. Bacteria gathers there too.

3. Why Me?

So, why does one person’s skin produce more sebum than the next? Because, genetics. If your parents had oily skin and suffered with acne, chances are you will. OK, so this was almost forgivable throughout puberty when your hormones were raging and spots were practically a given. But later in life, when there are other skin concerns like lines, wrinkles and dark spots to contend with? That’s just rude. Indeed. Sadly, it’s still true.

But don’t be tempted to over-wash your face to remove excess oil. This can upset your skin even more by encouraging even more oil production. Better still, stick to your usual two washes a day, making sure you don’t over-scrub and use lukewarm water, never hot because this also messes with your natural pH levels. 

And this may sound crazy but consider adding a facial oil into your routine, like Organic Age-Defying Facial Oil. Madness, not. Why? Particularly for oily skin, if it is stripped of natural oils, it will go into overdrive and over-produce sebum, causing more sebum buildup. Fact.

4. Women Are More Susceptible

Women are more likely to suffer with adult acne than men. The reasons for this are unclear, but most experts believe that changes in hormones during menstruation, pregnancy and the menopause, coupled with high levels of emotional stress are primarily to blame. Hormonal changes play havoc with your sebaceous glands, making them produce more sebum to clog up those poor old pores. 

Oral contraception and hormone replacement therapy are very effective options for keeping your hormones under control, however, so ask your GP about suitable options that could work for you if you’re struggling to get your skin under control.

5. Watch Out For What Else Touches Your Skin

Anything that blocks your pores is going to be bad news for build up. Heavy foundations, or any foundation for that matter, likely contain pore-blocking ingredients that literally stick to sebum. Perfect for unwanted build up. If you must wear a foundation, use it sparingly and don’t over rub it into your skin.

Better still, opt for a sheer tinted moisturiser like Organic Tinted Moisturiser with SPF 25 for the best of all worlds. It’s non-comedogenic and actually contains clever ingredients that help to unblock your pores!

Make-up brushes too are breeding grounds for bacteria. If you use them, wash them regularly, once a week would be good. And face cloths, anything too abrasive or oil-stripping will aggravate your skin. Cotton muslins are great when used gently (no need for a lot of pressure), and again, only use lukewarm water. Wash your face cloths regularly too of course.

Hair care products like shampoo and conditioner can also irritate your skin, especially if your hair regularly touches your face and even across your hairline. Always choose natural where possible, like Natural Impact Shampoo and Conditioner. They’re less likely to cause irritation and the onset of angry breakouts. 

Take a look at your fabric detergent too … if you're baffled about your breakouts and have tried everything, consider the ingredients of what you wash your pillow cases and face cloths with. Masks too for that matter. Harsh chemicals of course anger your skin, but did you know fabric detergents contain waxy substances which cling to your skin and block your pores. Not to mention irritating unnatural fragrances.  8 hours’ kip on your sweet-smelling pillow case might just be a clue for you.

Now, sunscreen, don’t be put off by what you read and absolutely do not dodge it because UV can also make your skin angry! It’s all about choosing the right one. Yes, it’s probably best to avoid water-resistant on your face and troublesome areas because of the sealing properties (aka pore blockers).

Unnatural fragrances can also irritate your skin. Always prepare your skin as you would do normally before applying your sunscreen so your skincare can still get to work underneath that important protection. And look for sunscreens that are free from nasty  silicones and sodium lauryl sulphates. There are plenty out there!

6. Exfoliate With Care

Speaking of what you put on your skin, be careful with harsh scrubs that can overstimulate the epidermis and cause further irritation. Exfoliation is a great way to boost cell turnover and remove dead skin cells, but your skin becomes much less resilient as you get older, so too much of a good thing is, well, more of a bad thing if truth be told. The good news is that while our Natural Luminosity Scrub will effectively deep clean, exfoliate and remove impurities from your skin, it’s so gentle, you can use it every day. 

7. Diet Can Be Part Of The Problem

You might also want to think about your diet. Dairy products (milk in particular) contain loads of hormones, and carbs like pasta, rice and bread are also believed to heavily impact your own hormone levels. Whilst it’s not widely proven, soy products have been known to interfere with estrogen levels for some, which can be linked to causing breakouts. Indeed, any food sensitivity or intolerance could upset your skin. 

Try keeping a food diary if you suspect it might be something you’re eating. You might want to consider reducing your intake or swapping for alternatives if all else fails. Always speak to your GP or a dermatologist first to see if cutting down or eliminating these from your diet might help the condition of your skin.

8. Not All Acne Is The Same

If your spots are predominantly on your chest, shoulders or back, chances are they’re a different kind of acne beast called acne mechanica. Acne mechanica is caused by constant friction or pressure on the skin – usually from tight clothing – which irritates the follicles and causes a build-up of oil, dirt, sweat and bacteria.

To reduce this, make sure you shower immediately after exercising and wear clean, loose-fitting cotton clothes as much as possible. 

9. Maskne

We can’t ignore this. It’s very real and affects a lot of people. Acne mechanica can also appear around your cheeks and chin if you wear a protective face mask on a daily basis. This used to be something only those in the medical business were aware of, but due to the recent pandemic, many of you are still masking up at work 24/7 and suffering with frustrating breakouts as a result.

The best way to prevent ‘maskne,’ as social media have coined it, is to ensure you cleanse your skin thoroughly, gently and regularly (but not to over-wash). Crystal Cleanser and Diamond Toner are ideal for delicately but effectively keeping your skin clean, clear and moisturised day and night.

What’s more you can get them both and save money at the same time with our Cleanse And Tone Pack. Result! And again, take note of what you wash your face mask with. Use sensitive and natural where possible.

10. Don’t Pile On The Concealer

Finally, of course it’s tempting to want to hide behind your breakouts, but in all honesty, we bet your spots are nowhere near as bad as you think! Plus, heavy make-up might further clog your pores and aggravate your skin.

Liquid foundation, for example, can be full of pore-clogging oils that normal skin types can get away with just fine. But oily skin types? Not so much. The wrong ingredients can cling to your natural oil as it produces even more oil in desperation.

Instead, try our Organic Tinted Moisturiser With SPF 25 which is non-comedogenic so far less likely to clog your pores than many other tinted moisturisers we don’t like to mention…. In fact, ours contains acai berry extract and pomegranate seed oil to help unclog your pores. It’s the perfect way to even your skin tone, protect you from UV damage and give you a gorgeous glow.

Finally, don’t let your breakouts get you down. Yes, they are frustrating, but equally there are so many things you can do to tackle angry skin. It might take time and a bit of trial and error but at least you’re now kitted out with lots of tricks and tips to make a start!

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