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… 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 using 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 or dermatologist in future, but for now I’m happy to combat it with skincare and a healthy diet.
|Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash|
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 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 part of me that feels 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 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 it’s difficult to find products that work for me, and are within my rather modest budget. Those foaming, oil-free cleansers marketed at spotty teenage skin are very drying, which makes the skin produce more sebum, which causes more spots; it’s a vicious cycle. But at 21 years old, I’m not thinking about anti-ageing skincare either.
I need products which are gentle, hydrating, and suitable for sensitive, spotty skin. Growing up, I reached for everything that was formulated for drier complexions, but nowadays I’m more combination and learning to adjust. I’m hoping to share my skincare routine on here very soon.
The irony of this whole situation is this: you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who gives a shit about the way my skin looks, and I mean that in the nicest way possible. I think that generally we seem to assume others notice our so-called flaws in way more detail than they 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 selfish 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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Beth, 26, South East England.
Lover of books, dogs, yoga, travelling, and gin.
I write about ethical & eco-friendly living, minimalism, and mental health, as I muddle through one step at a time. Enjoy!