Thoughts and Musings | Adult Acne is a Pain in the Proverbial Arse

Wednesday, 12 August 2015


Like two-day hangovers, budgeting, and how to set up a direct debit, adult acne is one of those things that no one really prepares you for.

I was lucky throughout my teens. I got approximately one blemish a year, always in the same spot on my chin (same spot... see what I did there? Ahem). When I hit sixteen I started getting a few stress-related spots on my forehead, but they always disappeared after my exams were over, and that was that.


Then I hit my twenties, and BOOM: spots everywhere. First on my forehead, then on my chin. So far, just an exaggerated version of what I used to get in my teens. But then I started to get spots on my cheeks and around my hairline as well.  Tea tree oil kind of helps. Taking off my make up as soon as I walk in the door kind of helps. Weekly use of a clay mask kind of helps. But nothing gets rid of them for good (I've tried prescription-strength treatments in my time, but my skin seems to resist their effects after a while. I wouldn't rule out going to a GP/dermatologist in future, but for now I'm happy to combat it with skincare and a healthy diet.)

What I really want to focus on in this post is how adult acne can affect you internally. When my acne flares up and my skin is particularly red and bumpy, it makes me not want to leave the house at all. It makes me not want to see or talk to anyone, because I'm so preoccupied with the way my skin looks — there's no way I would do the My Week Without Make Up experiment I did back in February now. No. Frickin. Way. There's also a part of me that feels that because I'm out of the teenager stage now  even though I still look like one  my skin shouldn't be playing up like this.

Mostly, I can cover everything up reasonably well and it doesn't bother me, but on a bad day? No amount of make up is going to help me feel better. I also feel guilty, because even though my skin has been bad for me, compared to severe acne it's actually quite mild — there are bigger problems out there, y'know? And all of this stresses me out, which is the last thing I need.

The other problem is that it's quite difficult to find products that work for me, and are within my rather modest budget. Those foaming, oil-free cleansers which are so often suggested for spotty teenage skin are actually very drying (I believe the sulphates are to blame), which just makes the skin produce more sebum, which causes more spots; it's a vicious cycle. But, at 21 years old, I'm not really thinking about hardcore anti-ageing skincare either. I need products that are hydrating, gentle, and suitable for sensitive, spotty skin. Growing up, I reached for everything that was formulated for dry skin, but nowadays it's more combination and I'm slowly learning to adjust. I'm hoping to share my skincare routine with you very soon.

The irony of this is that you' d be hard pressed to find anyone who actually gives a shit about the way my complexion looks, and I mean that in the nicest way possible. I think that generally we seem to assume that others notice our so-called flaws in way more detail than they actually do, if they notice them at all. Most of us are too busy worrying about ourselves to really care that much about everyone else, which sounds quite selfish when you put it like that but I know it comes from a place of insecurity. We all have days when we feel especially self-conscious.

Have you ever experienced adult acne? How do you like to treat spots? Let me know in the comments.

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