All grown up and still struggling with zits? You're not alone. While acne was once rare beyond the teen years, today more than half of adult women and 40% of men live with pimples and blemishes.
Unfortunately the harsh acne products that worked when we were kids often hurt mature skin more than it helps. That makes sense: adult complexions are thinner, dryer and more sensitive—and our acne lasts longer, too.
But don't give up, it's easy to get started with smart skincare habits. Here are four simple steps for clear, healthy skin—all in a few quick minutes.
Bar soaps, cleansers, and body washes often contain ingredients that can strip and dry the skin. For a healthy cleanse, we suggest using the gentlest possible cleanser. We compiled a list of favorites here.
"The challenge with abrasive scrubs is that the scrubbing granules can cause irritation, redness or slight wounds on the face," said dermatologist Zoe D. Draelos, M.D. of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.
If your skin is overproducing oil in places, that may mean that it's dehydrated. Add acne medications, which may dry the skin even more, and your body may fight back by sending oil glands into overdrive.
We suggest hydrating every time you wash or rinse your face. Lightweight options like the Oil Control Mattifier from Murad or the AM & PM facial moisturizers from CeraVe do the job without weighing down your pores.
Apply acne medications to your freshly cleansed and hydrated skin, smoothing on your treatments as directed.
We suggest looking for gentle but powerful treatments. (Aside from ours, few acne products are optimized for adult skin).
Benzoyl peroxide, which is still one the most effective anti-acne ingredients available, should be used in low dosages of 2.5-3%.
Whether you have prescription or over-the-counter products, follow the directions and warnings closely. Be sure to use them consistently—and be patient.
Unlike teen acne which often lasts for a only few days or weeks, adult acne it can take up to three months for medications to deliver full results.
Apply your favorite powders and creams at the end of your morning skincare routine. In the evening, wash them off completely. The cosmetics you use may make a difference too.
Some argue that all makeup is "mineral makeup." But brands like bareMinerals set themselves apart by not including preservatives, stabilizers and other synthetic ingredients that might aggravate sensitive skin.
Whether you have razor bumps and burn, foliculitus, or full-on acne lesions, shaving can be a painful mess.
But even with imperfect skin, it’s possible to get a good lookin’ trim while avoiding irritation.
If you have time, start with a shower to warm your hair follicles and prep your skin for shaving. If there's no time for a shower, cleanse first to wash away bacteria and debris.
Multi-blade razors shave too closely for problem skin. Learn how to use a single-blade shaver, preferably an eco-friendly, old-school non-disposable safety razor. (Sharpologist suggests these ones).
Shave with the grain. Then follow up with hydration and treatment. Conisder these additional tips to ensure a enjoyable shave.