How To Deal With Having Acne-Prone Skin As An Adult, According To A Dermatologist

Acne-prone skin as an adult

Feeling confident when people stare at your acne-prone skin is hard. Big date coming up? Breakout. High-stakes meeting? Breakout. High school reunion? Breakout. Acne-prone skin doesn’t define who you are, but it sure doesn’t help when strangers offer unsolicited advice.

So, to get some insight on how to deal with ~all of this~, we spoke with Dr Cara McDonald, a dermatologist and director at Complete Skin Specialists, who told us everything from which ingredients we should be looking out for (and what to avoid) to how to avoid breakouts in their pesky little tracks.

How can you tell if you have acne-prone skin?

Do you get blackheads, whiteheads, or blemishes regularly? Then, it may be safe to call yourself a certified acne-prone girlie. (Apologies, but we’ll get through this together.)

According to Dr McDonald, acne-prone skin is typically oily and prone to blackheads and congestion. But don’t lose hope — there are ways to combat these aggressors that can impact your confidence.

Can your skin go through periods of being more or less acne-prone?

The short answer? Yes, your skin can absolutely experience periods of being more or less acne-prone. This is because a variety of external and internal factors determine how skin behaves on a daily basis.

“Changes in the skin can occur throughout life and may be impacted by ageing, stress hormones, pregnancy, and dietary factors, amongst others. Hormone changes in the lead-up to a period can also trigger acne-prone sensibilities in the skin,” she said.

What should you incorporate into a skincare routine to treat acne-prone skin?

“For those struggling with regular breakouts and problematic skin, it is essential to simplify the skincare routine back to just the basics.” said Dr McDonald.

Some ingredients that should be on the radar for those with acne-prone skin include:

LHA: “A gentle keratolytic action even at low concentrations due to lipophilic properties, that is attracted to the fatty nature of skin cells.”

Niacinamide: “An anti-oxidant (protective against DNA damage), increases skin hydration and helps repair skin barrier function.”

Salicylic Acid: “A keratolytic (breaks down bonds between dead skin cells to remove blockages in pores and prevent further formation) and promotes cell turnover to help repair collagen.”(A hard-working queen, slay).

If you’re looking for a product that’s quite literally jam-packed with all of those ingredients, La Roche Posay’s brand new Effaclar Duo + M moisturiser could be a good shout.

How does salicylic acid help prevent spots and breakouts?

Okay, okay, okay — so what’s the deal with this seemingly super-powered ingredient salicylic acid?? Dr McDonald explained that its ingredients gently break down dead skin cells, which can unclog the pores.

According to a consumer study ran by La Roche Posay, those who used Duo + Moisturiser noticed visible results from eight hours* and reported 44% less blemishes, 66% less blackheads and 45% less post acne marks from four weeks after using the product**.

While it is an incredible ingredient, taking a holistic approach to treating your acne-prone skin which includes using a tailored skincare routine, reassessing your diet, managing stress, and, when necessary speaking to a health care professional is essential.

What should you avoid if you have acne-prone skin?

Lastly, Dr McDonald also suggested a few things that folks with acne-prone skin should try to avoid when formulating a skincare routine.

“It is best to avoid overly harsh ingredients and physical exfoliation, both of which will increase breakouts,” she said.

Overall, treating acne-prone skin can be a little tricky. But there are plenty of ways to tackle it if it’s starting to impact your confidence.

If you’re looking for a place to start, La Roche Posay has created a nifty Spotscan tool that scans your face for imperfections (all you have to do is take a selfie) and will tailor an acne prone skin routine for you.

So, you can get back to slaying a little quicker.

*Consumer Test 54 subjects after one application
**Cosmeto-clinical study 45 subjects after 4 weeks