Will we ever outgrow the 70s… or pimples, for that matter? A renewed love of platform shoes, wide-leg jeans, and vintage Pucci makes me yearn for a Corvette. Grown-up blemishes don’t provide the same cozy feeling of déjà vu.
I’ll blame it on hormones again because I can. The balance between my declining female estrogen and stay-put androgen is fluctuating like crazy. I’m holding them accountable for mood swings, a slowdown in cell turnover, and trapped oil and debris in my pores. Toss in lots of stress, too much experimentation with ultra-rich de-aging creams (I do a lot of this!), and what did I expect? Experts say stress alone won’t make you break out, but since cortisol secreted by the adrenals in response to stress also stimulates sebum production, it certainly isn’t helping.
Selective OTC skincare works well for occasional breakouts. But if your blemishes increase in frequency or intensity, see a dermatologist who can evaluate and prescribe treatment.
Adult acne has become so common that products designed for this demo are nudging their teenage counterparts off the shelves. Be careful. Our skin is thinner, more sensitive, and we’re dealing with moisture and collagen loss along with textural changes. Avoid piggybacking too many blemish-blasters at once — some skins can only tolerate one or two of the suggestions below.
Try my OTC detox picks and yes you can have your dark chocolate fix. Top dermatologists like Dr. Fredric Brandt say it does not cause acne (!) and some say the antioxidants even help:
• Switch to a mild face wash like Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser ($7.99), especially if your skin is sensitive. Or choose a glycolic or salicylic acid cleanser to slough dull flaky skin and remove dead cells. I currently like Aveeno Active Naturals Clear Complexion Cream Cleanser with salicylic acid, soy, and gentle microbeads ($7.99).
• A daily de-ager with sunscreen is essential, but select one now that plumps up lines and prevents clogged pores like Dr. Patricia Wexler Dermatology Acnescription Oil-Free Hydrator SPF 30 for Acne ($39.50). At night, opt for a retinol treatment like Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Anti-Blemish Clear Skin Cream with 2 % salicylic acid ($13.99) to help refine pores and dissolve blackheads.
• Target new blemishes directly with 5 % benzoyl peroxide in an anti-bacterial gel. Clinique Acne Solutions Emergency Gel-Lotion ($13.50) or Peter Thomas Roth BPO Gel ($24) are both effective. For bigger, more aggressive zits use 10% benzoyl peroxide formulas like B. Kamins Chemist Bio-Maple Medicated Acne Gel ($28) or Dr. Patricia Wexler Acnescription Acne Spot Treatment ($15). Whichever you choose, no squeezing or attempts at extractions.
• If you wear foundation, try Dr. Brandt Pores No More for Oily/Combination Skin ($45), a mattifying primer that absorbs excess oil instead of your usual silicone underbase, at least until your skin clears up. Your pores will no longer look like potholes.
• Use an opaque concealer like Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage ($28), a two-tone duo (and still the gold standard) you blend to neutralize redness and make discolorations virtually disappear. Quick, portable treatment options with coverage include Clinique Acne Solutions Concealing Stick ($13.50), an automatic pencil with 2% salicylic acid in 3 skintone shades, and Almay Clear Complexion Oil-Free Concealer with 1% salicylic acid ($7.99), which are perfect to keep in your bag.
• Stay fresh with Sonia Kashuk Oil-Blotting Papers ($6.99 for 100 sheets) instead of powder for touchups, which often ends up caking and calling attention to lines and blemishes alike.