Are you well past your teenage years but still get occasional breakouts? As an esthetician for 22 years, I have a lot of experience with skin and have some helpful advice to share!
Due to hormone fluctuation carried over from your teenage years, it’s not uncommon to get acne breakouts into your 20’s. But as you move into your late 20’s and beyond, you would think that your days of breaking out are behind you, and as many of you know, this is NOT the case.
Since the breakouts are few and far between, it’s normal to question why you’ll have perfectly clear skin for weeks and then one day a blemish will form. Is it from stress? Is it from not washing your face? Is it something diet related? PMS? The answer is not an easy one but here’s some insight that might make it clearer.
If you still get occasional acne blemishes, ask yourself these questions:
Do you touch your face a lot?
This may come as a surprise, but your face is actually the dirtiest part of your body from touching it all day long. While it’s important to wash your skin every night, it’s much better to try to prevent your hands from touching your face unnecessarily.
Skin Tip: Keep your hands occupied. Get any kind of toy or gadget that you can play with in your hands at times when you are most likely to be touching your skin. This is also helpful for skin pickers!
Have you been eating more dairy than normal lately?
When you develop cystic breakouts (those hard, painful, underground blemishes that linger for weeks) on the chin, jaw line and neck area it might be a sign that you’re getting more dairy in your diet than your body can tolerate. Your skin acts as an excretory system to get rid of things that your body is not in agreement with, so when you get too much dairy (and since it is naturally harder to digest) it comes out in the form of cystic blemishes in the lower area of the face.
Skin Tip: The best way to determine if your acne cysts are directly related to your intake of dairy is to completely cut dairy out of your diet for two weeks. If you don’t develop any new cysts and you normally would have by now, then this might solve your problem! It doesn’t mean that you cannot eat any dairy at all, you would then start to slowly introduce dairy back into your diet and if you start breaking out again, that’s your body’s tolerance level. Renée Rouleau Anti-Cyst Treatment works very well as a spot treatment for cystic acne.
Have you been under tremendous stress?
Aside from my experience confirming this is true, one such study was conducted by the Stanford University School of Medicine in 2002. It was a small study that involved students suffering from acne. The college professors involved in the study conclusively proved that the exam stress worsened acne in these students. According to researchers, their findings indicated that, “Subjects who had the greatest increases in stress during examination periods also had the greatest exacerbation in acne severity.”
Stress not only affects acne flare-up, in general it worsens the overall skin condition. It induces the adrenal glands into overproduction of cortisol, a steroid, which in turn makes sebaceous glands produce more oil and make skin extra oily. Thus the reason why in stressful periods, people experiencing an increase in acne get more inflamed, puss-filled papules than simple whiteheads or blackheads.
The easiest solution to reducing stress is to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
Do you not wash your skin at night?
Oil on the skin makes for a breeding ground of bacteria and bacteria will cause blemishes. Sleeping with not only your makeup on, but the addition of oil, dirt and debris that has built up on the skin during the day, can absolutely trigger new blemishes.
The #1 reason why someone won’t wash their face at night is out of exhaustion. I certainly understand the discipline and effort it requires to perform your nighttime skin care routine, especially when you’re exhausted. But, you really must do it. It’s that simple.
Have you started using new skin care products?
When your skin is introduced to new products, sometimes you might get some initial blemish purging, especially if the products are giving your skin more exfoliation than normal. If it continues on more than two weeks, then they may not be a good fit for your skin.
When introducing new products to your skin, it’s always recommended to use one product for 3-4 days before adding in a second one. If your skin is reacting negatively, you’ll be able to determine which product you should discontinue.
Are you about to start your menstrual cycle?
Many women can experience a surge of blemishes at the start of their monthly cycle. This is completely normal, but can be very frustrating.
Skin Tip: Taking Vitamin B-6 daily one week prior to your cycle will help regulate hormonal imbalances, which can lead to breakouts. Calcium-magnesium supplements can also help when taken during this time. It’s also advisable to use an antibacterial cleanser formulated with Salicylic Acid (try Renée Rouleau AHA/BHA Cleansing Gel) during the time when you know that you’ll get blemishes. This can help keep the pores clean and bacteria from forming.
It’s also advised to check with your physician to see if they have any recommendations to treat the imbalance internally, such as birth control pills.
Are you peri-menopausal or going through menopause?
Hormones are chemical messengers, created by our bodies to regulate everything from metabolism to cell growth to reproductive cycles and mood. When they fluctuate, they can trigger weight gain, depression, sleeplessness and fatigue in addition to adult acne and breakouts. A common sign for hormonal imbalances is when your monthly cycle is inconsistent and sporadic, or has recently stopped.
Skin Tip: Taking Vitamin B-6 daily one week prior to your cycle may help regulate hormonal imbalances, which can lead to breakouts. Calcium-magnesium supplements may also help when taken during this time. It’s also advisable to use an antibacterial cleanser formulated with Salicylic Acid during the time when you know that you’ll get blemishes. This can help keep the pores clean and bacteria from forming.
It’s also advised to check with your physician to see if they have any recommendations to treat the hormonal imbalance internally.
Have you flown on a plane recently in the last three days?
I can attest to this one. Flying on an airplane absolutely throws my skin out of whack. The cabins of airplanes have extremely low humidity, which cause the skin to get extremely dehydrated (lack of water). The dry air looks for moisture where it can get it and that means robbing it right from your skin! The dehydrated cells cause a buildup which can trap oil underneath the skin resulting in post-flight breakouts.
Have the weather temperatures been fluctuating from day to day?
When the season is changing and the weather is warm one day and cold the next, it can wreak havoc on the skin leaving it confused, unbalanced, and prone to blemishes.
This is a time to adjust your skin care routine slightly, not go for a major overhaul. Many people feel like they need to switch their entire routine to acne products, but that’s over-compensating and will only leave your skin dried out and irritated. A great way to address the sudden breakouts is to temporarily switch to products using Salicylic Acid.
Have you started taking a new medication?
Every drug will affect the body differently, but generally speaking medications and drug use can cause stress on the nervous system which elevates hormones (adrenals). This will contribute to the wear and tear of connective tissue resulting in flaccid, loose, sagging skin as well as increased blemishes.
Consult with your physician.
While there are many other causes of acne, these are ones that you can somewhat control. Let me know if you have any questions. I’d be happy to post answers in the comments!