Can Adult Acne Be Managed? We Speak To A Doctor

How do you deal with adult onset acne? #TeamCLEO investigates with the help of a doctor. Image credit: Marc Jacobs S/S 2019 backstage

Text Jessica Nair Main Photo Courtesy Of Marc Jacobs; used as illustrative purpose

“Remember that the process of discovering what products, treatments and lifestyle changes that suits your skin takes time.”

we get it – adult acne can be such a debilitating condition to deal with especially at this point of time in your life. You’re in your mid-twenties and you think acne is the least of your problems along with petty drama – but guess what, that’s not the case! But not all hope is lost.

According to Dr Yap Hae Mun, a consultant aesthetic practitioner who deals with women with adult acne on a daily basis and even has personally experienced it herself, the only way to combat adult acne is patience.

“Remember that the process of discovering what products, treatments and lifestyle changes that suits your skin takes time. The thing with us adult is that we expect instantaneous results when we’re coughing out some cash. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

“Multiple factors like stress, the environment you’re in, your hormones and diet plays a part, making it difficult to just try one approach and expect to see improvements. It took me over 6 months for my face to actually clear up!,” explains Dr Yap.

the unlikely causes

Put aside not washing properly, overwashing and bacterial infections. While these can also contribute to acne, sometimes you think you’re doing all the right things but you still face the issue of acne.

“Adult acne is largely related to genetics and hormonal factors. When it’s hormonal, then it’s highly related to your menstrual cycle as this is what causes the fluctuation of hormones in your body.

“However, when it comes to acne prevention in all cases, the utmost crucial thing is to include cleansing the skin twice a day with an appropriate cleanser, exfoliate the skin with a gentle scrub weekly and control oil production with a good toner,” says Dr Yap.

Don’t Fall into Marketing Traps

Every brand has to push their product. So when it claims that it will work, it’s still just a claim and whether it works for you specifically, is another story. “There are a variety of choices when it comes to beauty products – every single company will claim that their product is beneficial. Social media also can mislead our judgment with our feeds being bombarded with celebrity endorsements.

“So, while you can still use over-the-counter products, I’d suggest seeking advice from a qualified medical personnel to get a green light on the skin care product you intend to use. This way you’d avoid worsening your existing condition,” says Dr Yap.

Ingredients that are beneficial

If you want to keep zits at bay or calm skin, there are some ingredients that may be useful in banishing that blemish. “Keep an eye out for products with ingredients such as Vitamin B3 to control inflammation, zinc to control sebum activity, AHA to help with exfoliation and lastly Vitamin A to help with acne reduction. With adult acne especially, Vitamin A, also known as the famed Retinol, is something you should introduce to your skin care regime as it boosts the cell’s turnover rate. This in turn will reduce breakout and other age-related signs like wrinkles,” says Dr Yap.

Washy wash… But not too much or too little… Or with the wrong products.. Or the wrong ingredients…

dry skin is causing your acne?!?!?!?!

“Everyone has this thought that acne is caused by oily skin. This then leads them to use acne products that are aimed at the reduction of oil production. In reality, most of adult acne cases actually happens among those with dry skin!” says Dr Yap.

Based on experience, this is also true — over-dry skin can actually be more susceptible to acne. “The usual mistakes I’ve noticed is clients often have tried using products that cause their skin to dry even more such as benzoyl peroxide to “dry things out”. Some even start exfoliating excessively every day! You should never exfoliate on a daily basis. In fact, chemical exfoliation done by a certified doctor is a much better method than exfoliating on your own at home,” Dr Yap continues.

The Secret to Healthy Skin?

… Is actually self-love, in a nutshell. You have to look at your lifestyle and diet holistically to see if there are any things you need to improve, so your skin improves from within too.

“First off, take care of yourself. Get adequate sleep and ensure you’re always hydrated. These are the absolute basics! Secondly, exfoliate. Your skin is constantly working to regenerate and when this happens, dead skin cells moves to the surface and that’s when you’ll get a dull complexion if that layer isn’t removed effectively. The layer of dead skin cells will also decrease the absorption rate of your skin care products!” says Dr Yap.

“And lastly, remember that the journey of dealing with adult acne involves a lot of trial and error and requires time. Consult your doctor and he or she should lay out a plan of action for you,” Dr Yap says.

Put yoself first!


Now that all the scientific things are out of the way, here are the simple tricks you can try to reduce flare-ups. T

• When you’re working out at the gym, avoid allowing your face to come into contact with the workout bench and do not touch your face. Be sure to shower or wash your face immediately after a workout.

• Avoid high glycemic index meals – especially sugary foods. It’s scientifically proven that sugary foods lead to acne production.

• Try eliminating gluten and dairy as much as possible from your diet and see if that helps your skin.

• Do not go to bed with makeup on your face – ever.

• Feeling stressed? Take up yoga classes, incorporate meditation sessions into you day or just do something that puts you in a better state of mind.

• Check out the products to keep them at bay here.

Try these tips, be patient, and ultimately even if you don’t overcome acne as fast as you would like, pro-acne movements are abound and you should finally feel comfortable in your skin. <3