It feels so unfair that even after age 30 some women are forced to battle acne right along with the onset of wrinkles and fine lines. University of Pennsylvania researchers say chronic – and emotionally frustrating – breakouts are common among adult women due to hormones, along with the usual culprits like stress and diet, all of which go deeper than the skin’s surface. Even if you never had acne as a teen, at 35 and 40 you may suddenly be accosted with some of the most inflammatory and tender pimples imaginable, usually along your jawline, chin, lower cheeks and neck. Sigh.
The culprit? Hormonal fluctuations.
And because the pimpled look is neither professional nor ego-boosting, dastardly bumps can be particularly problematic as an adult.
“You’ll know it’s hormones because the breakouts will usually occur along the jawline and neck, often accompanied by stray dark hairs,” says Karen Fernandez, Director of Aesthetics at SkinSpirit. “When hormones go awry, usually so does the skin.” Ladies, gird your tweezers.
Hormones are tricky because they accelerate oil production in the skin, which can clog pores and cause slow-surfacing cysts that are difficult to cover. Oil-based hair or facial products, pollution and certain drugs can all make matters worse.
“It can really help to try to sleep with your hair off your neck and jaw at night,” Fernandez adds.
The truth is, painful, Mount Vesuvius-type eruptions in the skin are often triggered by cortisol, which immediately and profoundly spikes when you’re stressed. It then gets broken down into testosterone (yep, the male hormone). Medical facials aside, there are a few other easy, every day things you can do to get your hormones under control.
Now’s the time to examine your beauty arsenal, lifestyle and stress levels.
Easier said than done, we know, but strive for a solid eight hours of sleep each night, integrate endorphin-surging yoga, pilates or sex into your daily routine and you’ll immediately help reduce excess cortisol in the body which helps rejuvenate fatigued, over-taxed skin. Most importantly, don’t let your pimples stress you out, which can cause a vicious circle (stress = pimples = stress) and don’t scrub, pick or squeeze, tempting as it may be. FYI: mature skin is more prone to scarring. A stellar anti-stress treatment to include into your beauty plan? SkinCeuticals Biocellulose Restorative Masque, which helps create immediate stress relief to the skin by cooling and soothing. You’ll get a wrinkle-softening surge of moisture too.
Pick your acne products wisely by taking a gentle, hydrating approach that doesn’t exacerbate thin, aging skin and fine lines – especially around the swift-to-age neck area. Loading up on the usual trifecta of acne cleanser, acne lotion and a moisturizer with salicylic acid can leave the skin parched and puckered-looking. If you’re 30+, try a product two-for one like PCA Skin Intensive Clarity Treatment: 0.5% pure retinol night. It’s optimally formulated for breakout-prone skin and increases cellular turnover for a clearer, smoother, younger-looking complexion.
Scratch The Starch
High-glycemic-index carbs (think white bread and sugary foods) can sabotage the skin. Dairy and iodized salt are also believed to be acne-causing culprits when it comes to your jawline and neck. Eat more whole grains and veggies and, as cliché as it sounds, drink more water.
Book A Derm Appointment
Visit a derm or doctor who will pinpoint the cause of your acne once and for all. Cystic acne is like that unwanted houseguest that sticks around way too long and leaves a messy trail in its wake. To combat inflamed skin and the red marks left behind, your derm can prescribe a topical retinoid such as Retin-A or a bacteria-killing antibiotic. Birth control pills may also help clear the skin if breakouts are caused by an overproduction of male hormones.
Written by: Stephanie Simons