Skin Deep: Adult Acne

For the last 10 to 20 years, adult acne has been increasing. In fact, approximately 54 percent of women 25 and older are reporting blemishes, with some experiencing breakouts right up to menopause. Since treatments that work for teen acne can cause dryness and irritation in more mature skin, you’ll want to think twice before you pile on the salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Prime yourself with these adult acne-busting tips and advice from our experts Annet King, Senior Director of Global Education for Dermalogica and the International Dermal Institute, and Lydia Sarfati, founder and CEO of Rêpechage. Understanding the landscape will help you develop effective solutions for clearing up your clients’ skin. 

How does adult acne differ from teenage acne?

“Adult acne can be more inflamed than teen acne and tends to have less comedones. It’s also more persistent. The affected areas are primarily around the lower face: mouth, chin and jawline,” says King. “It’s a common problem for adult women in their 30s, some of whom have never suffered with acne in their teens. It’s difficult for them to navigate what to do as they also want to address the signs of aging.”   

Why does adult acne happen?

“Hormonal fluctuations are the main cause of adult acne. They can be brought on by menstruation, pregnancy, starting/discontinuing birth control and perimenopause,” says Sarfati. “Stress also greatly contributes to acne, causing hormones to stimulate sebum production. Excess sebum is often associated with enlarged pores, a tendency towards follicle congestion and an oily T-zone. We can treat acneic skin by controlling the excess sebum production and maintaining proper moisture levels.”

What in-spa treatment options address adult acne?

“Adult acne clients usually find success receiving a series of professional peels like the Dermalogica BioActive Peel coupled with specialized treatments like the Dermalogica IonActive Treatments that use specialized serums, cooling gelloid masques and blue LED,” says King. “An approach that takes the bacteria and inflammation into account is key. Rather than a cookie-cutter protocol, customize a program for the client that incorporates peel series, specific product selection, home care, diet, lifestyle and possible supplement recommendations like probiotics and zinc.”