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The Basics

ACNE… At My Age?!

By November 8, 2019No Comments

You know how it goes… you’re getting ready for a big event, primping like a champ – and then you notice it: a brand new pimple just trying to make its way to the surface of your skin, all shiny, red and inflamed. 

But, I’m in my thirties (ok, ok, forties!) you gasp – why am I still getting zits?! Adult acne is certainly frustrating and often embarrassing to deal with, but you’re definitely NOT alone my clear-skin-seeking friend!

Let’s squeeze out the truth about this all-too-common skin issue and get to the bottom of why you’re still seeing those pesky pimples pop up — even at YOUR age!

What is Adult Acne, and what causes it?

Acne is generally thought of as an inflammatory skin condition that we see and experience most often during the teens years — yeah puberty! 

But, did you know that 20% of Canadians live with acne most of the time, and that it’s the most common skin condition in the US, affecting up to 50 million Americans? [1][2]

Adult Acne is just a term used when breakouts occur during the adult years. “Acne” is the term used to describe prominent blackheads, whiteheads, pimples and cysts. 

While acne can affect any part of the skin, it more typically found on the face and neck, but can also occur on shoulders, back, chest, under the breasts and on the upper arms. [2]

However, there are TWO MAJOR DIFFERENCES between acne in the adult years and the kind you experienced as a teen:

  • Adult acne is usually on the lower half of the face (chin & jaw line), while teen acne is typically on the upper half (forehead, nose & cheeks)
  • Adult acne is also deeper and can appear as ‘under the skin’ pimples (cysts), which usually can’t be drained [3]

Experiencing ACNE in adulthood is usually attributed to a few key culprits:


  • After starting or stopping hormonal birth control methods
  • Hormonal shifts like around a woman’s period (‘cyclical acne’)
  • During pregnancy, perimenopause, menopause
  • Medical condition involving hormonal imbalances, like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

One’s first dealings with acne may be in adulthood as well, having escaped it all together as a teenager! This “adult-onset acne” is most common in postmenopausal women due to pronounced hormonal shifts. [1]


While the link between diet and acne has been somewhat controversial over the years, more recent scientific evidence suggests that high-carbohydrate diets may increase your risk of developing acne.

This may be best explained by the elevation effect that consuming excess refined carbs has on blood sugars and the hormone insulin. [3][4]

{Suggestion: the diet/nutrition-skin health link is a whole topic on its own. Expand on this side topic through the current article or develop an additional resource that explores this topic, if that is of interest to you and would be beneficial for your audience. For example, there is no mention of dairy & acne, and this is something you may wish to address.}


Stress can cause a release of inflammatory chemicals called neuropeptides and a domino effect of hormonal shifts which can worsen acne.

Think about that huge pimple that invariably makes its appearance before a big date — because even “good” stress, like anticipating an important event, can trigger a breakout. Hi there wedding day pimple 🙁

Stress also increases the severity of breakouts by making pore cells thicker, stickier and therefore, more clogged. The results are more inflamed, red and painful pimples. [3]

“Researchers have found a relationship between stress and acne flare-ups. In response to stress, our bodies produce more androgens. These hormones stimulate the oil glands and hair follicles in the skin, which can lead to acne. This explains why acne can be an ongoing problem when we find ourselves under constant stress.”
~ American Academy of Dermatology

Other factors that can also be to blame for Adult Acne, include:

  • Family history/genetic predisposition
  • Gut & digestive issues
  • Commercially-made hair & skin products (including make-up remover & sunscreen)
  • Facial hair removal (tweezing)
  • Change of environment (including traveling)
  • Side effects from certain medications

Treatment for Adult Acne

While there are many, many treatments available (like topicals containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid & sulfur) and some are even touted as the next miracle acne cure. Truthfully, there’s no magic bullet, and we’re off the opinion that nothing beats trying something totally natural first! 

That’s why we’ve put together a DIY natural beauty toner recipe with ingredients you may already have in your bathroom cupboard!

However, if you find that your acne is resistant to a more natural treatment approach or when using some of the over-the-counter remedies available, be sure to consult with a knowledgeable health practitioner for further investigation (like addressing underlying gut issues) [6], and a more definitive diagnosis, plus appropriate course of action.

{Suggestions: 1. Expand on the “treatment” section with your own ideas and philosophies if this is an area of interest and expertise for you; 2. the gut-skin health link is a whole topic on its own – see MBG article for reference. Expand on this side topic through the current article or develop an additional resource that explores this topic, if that is of interest to you and would be beneficial for your audience}

We get it… you’re working hard, taking care of your family and doing what you can to stay healthy, and Adult Acne is just one more thing to have to deal with! So, while you’re waiting patiently for it to clear, don’t forget to give yourself some much-needed attention and self-care.


Blemish-Calming Natural Beauty Toner

* Makes 1 cup


½ cup purified water

¼ cup witch hazel, without added alcohol

¼ cup apple cider vinegar (ACV), unpasteurized (with the “mother” in it)

2-3 drops tea tree oil (can sub with lavender or rosemary essential oil)

Pour all ingredients in a clean, sealable container – squeezable or misting bottle suggested.


[1] American Academy of Dermatology (AAD): Adult Acne

[2] Canadian Dermatology Association (CDA): (acne resource page)

[3] Everyday Health: 10 Surprising Causes of Acne in Adults

[4] Healthline: Adult Acne – I’m 10 Years Past Puberty, Why Do I Still Have Acne?

[5] Healthline: Top 7 Foods That Cause Acne

[6] MindBodyGreen (MBG): Why You Should Heal Your Gut If You Want Clear Skin