Far from being a teenage problem, statistics show cases of acne are on the rise among women in their late 30s and beyond, with a near 200% increase in those seeking help for the condition. We caught up with skin expert Nichola Joss to debunk common adult acne myths and get her top tips for a clearer complexion...
MYTH: Only Teenagers Get Acne
TRUTH: If blemishes blighted your youth, there’s a chance acne could return with age. At the same time, acne can lie dormant for years and even if you didn’t have acne when you were younger, this doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t affect you in later life.
MYTH: It’s All Down To Your Hormones
TRUTH: Adult acne arises due to a hormonal imbalance around 70% of the time. Hormones can be affected by so many different things, but if you’ve recently come off the Pill or changed your contraception, this could be playing a part. Post-childbirth and pre-menopausal acne is also surprisingly common too.
MYTH: Only Skincare Makes A Difference
TRUTH: Gut health plays a major part too – an increasing amount of studies have proven it. Whether your gut health has been affected by a poor diet (dietary triggers such as sugar can wreak havoc on the gut) or stress levels, try taking a good-quality probiotic such as Symprove, from £79, can have a significant effect on the clarity of skin.
MYTH: You’re Stuck With Scars
TRUTH: Thanks to new advancements, there are so many ways of dealing with acne scarring – from lasers and derma rolling to topical solutions and supplements. Stila’s Correct and Perfect palette, £32.50, is also amazing at covering scars and unwanted blemishes.
MYTH: The Stronger, The Better
TRUTH: Acne-prone skin types should never use harsh products or be aggressive with their complexions. Many products claiming to give ‘clearer’ skin can actually worsen acne – stripping the skin damages its natural barrier and triggers more oil production. Instead, use gentle, non-comedogenic products alongside an acid or retinoid.
Alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs), salicylic acids and retinoids all help boost cell turnover for a clearer complexion. Salicylic acid actually works to reduce levels of bacteria deep within the pore and retinol (a vitamin A derivative) has been proven to tackle even the most stubborn of cystic acne. But remember – stronger still isn’t better, so start with small doses of weaker formulas and build up to daily use as your skin adjusts.
MYTH: Never Touch Your Face
Truth: While you should never touch your face with dirty fingers, when it comes to working product into the skin – especially at the end of the day – it really pays to take the time to massage serums and creams into the skin. A gentle facial massage can help to improve the tone and texture of the skin, reduce swelling and congestion, stimulate the lymphatic system and draw away toxins and impurities.
MYTH: Juice Cleanses Can Help
TRUTH: Fad diets and drastically cutting calories and/or food groups can send your hormones into overdrive, which will do nothing to help your skin. Instead, try to look at your diet as a long-term lifestyle, which includes clean and organic plant-based produce and avoids mainstream animal meats and dairy. While life is all about balance, it also pays to cut back on toxins such as sugar, alcohol and nicotine.
MYTH: Removing Blackheads Prevents Breakouts
TRUTH: If you have a pustule (a spot with a visible white or yellow bump of pus in the middle) it’s okay to very gently put your fingers on each side of the spot and pull away gently. But it’s better to avoid squeezing blackheads and cysts (red bumps under the skin) – picking these can cause bruises and scarring, and force bacteria deeper into the skin; turning tiny blemishes into big infections.
MYTH: You Can Fix Spots Overnight
TRUTH: Beware of products claiming to be ‘overnight fixes’. As a skin cycle is around six weeks, it may take that long for you to see an improvement – so be patient and don’t lose hope. Not all blemish treatments were created equal, either. When it comes to brands, Murad, Niod and Decleor are all good options, and for gadgets – try GloPro’s MicroStilumation Facial tool, £199, and Tria’s Acne Clearing Blue Light, £229.