Things I thought that would happen when I was an adult, that didn’t:
- I would miraculously know how to handle home repair and maintenance issues. I didn’t. I still don’t.
- I would always be flawlessly turned out in designer wear with freshly blown out hair. Hahahaha …
- Acne would go away.
Of all the things I was misinformed about, the acne one has felt like the largest betrayal. I had acne since I was about 10 years old. I least this will go away when I’m 18, I thought. You know, you wake up and you’re a woman and you have perfect completion.
My acne zoomed right on past my twenties, straight through my pregnancies, and is hellbent on hanging on until menopause. Perpetual masking has not helped either. My main purpose in this article is to say if you have adult acne, same. It sucks.
I am no dermatologist, although I have been to see quite a few in my day. And I’m not being paid to shill any products (god, I wish. Anyone wants to advertise with me? I’m open!) But, over the past 30-odd years, I’ve gotten to know my skin pretty well, as well as the products that actually work.
This is the part where I’m going to warn you if you get squeamish about body stuff, this article isn’t for you, because I’m about to give you way TMI. But if you, like me, watch Dr. Pimple Popper with fascination (omg, I just watched a 7-minute video on her removing a back cyst the size and shape of a head of garlic! Seriously, watch it here), then continue.
Adult acne comes in many shapes and forms and has many causes. My acne is hormonal, caused by Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. Despite the fact that about 10% of women are affected by it, PCOS is not understood by the medical community. It affects almost every aspect of the body, and in moderate cases is sort of generally treated with the birth control pill (the ultimate answer to pretty much any female-only condition.) I have mine pretty much under control, but the side effects I feel from the hormonal unbalance are all designed to make me feel so damn unpretty. Think: dark facial hair, hair loss and … acne.
Cystic hormonal acne is not fun. All my acne pops up around my mouth and jaw, and starts down really deep. Actual zits take forever to show up, and it hurts to even speak while I’m waiting for the eventual head to peek out and turn into the size of a dinner plate. Then don’t get me started on the scarring. When people say things like: don’t pick at it and it won’t scar, I just laugh. My pustules are roughly the size of dimes. That’s going to scar no matter what you do. I … really hate adult acne.
But, there is help out there. These are some products that have helped me. Obviously, this is entirely anecdotal, but I’m only sharing products that I really like and make sure are always stocked in my beauty kit.
After a really long time of always falling for the “cure acne immediately” ads, I rarely purchase products that promise overnight results. Miracles don’t exist, sorry, and if you are shilling a miracle product, it’s likely snake oil. Snake oil that will probably make my acne worse.
But, I eventually caved when it came to Blume’s Melt-Down Oil, which sold me because it said it specifically targeted hormonal acne. I guess, I thought and bought the oil, hoping that maybe I found my miracle. And I decided to do it right, by actually testing to see how it compared to what I was using. And so, for six weeks I used my normal products on the right side of the face, and Blume on the left side. I applied over my acne problem areas in the morning and night.
Is it a miracle? No, I already told you they don’t exist. What I did see over the weeks was my skin became softer and smoother. It was subtle, though, guys, it wasn’t like: oh, the results are clear. I was waiting for my period to come, which is when I always get nasty breakouts, to see what would happen.
And Blume came through. I would say I got an equal amount of spots on either side of my face. On the Blume side, they were smaller, did not come to a head, and healed quicker. On my “normal” side, I ended up getting an enormous pustule that really scarred my skin.
So I started using Blume on both sides. When I first put it on the side that had never received it, I was shocked how “thirsty” my skin was: the oil soaked in within moments, I had to continuously reapply until my skin had had enough. Since then, there have been no more breakouts. (There definitely will be more.) But I have to say that I am fairly pleased with this product. It did not cause breakouts as I feared it would, and has led to a diminishment of spots. And my skin doesn’t feel tight and itchy anymore. Blume ftw!
Getting enough moisture into your skin is really important, even when you have oily skin and are constantly breaking out. I’ve been to some facialists who are like: you just got to dry it out. This is so wrong! When my oily areas are dried out, the skin then produces more oil to compensate, leading to even nastier breakouts. So when I meet a dermatologist who understands that oily skin has to be properly moisturized and balanced, it makes me so happy.
La Roche Posay Effaclar H is a moisturizer that was recommended to me by a Swiss dermatologist. It is a moisturizer balanced for acne-prone skin, while actually providing moisture to the skin. It’s pretty amazing, and anytime I use anything else as a moisturizer, I will start to break out within weeks. For me, this is an absolute must-have product.
The catch? It’s not sold in Canada, which infuriates me. I ship this in through a beauty supply company, but it would be so much nicer to just be able to grab a tube when I need it! Come on, Canada, get on it!
When All Else Fails
Despite my best efforts, breakouts happen. When I have a zit that’s formed into something awful, I use Rael Miracle Patch Invisible Spot Cover. They kind of work as a bandaid for your pimple, while also leeching some oil out of the spot. I find the expensive ones designed to treat spots don’t actually work for me. I just go with the spot cover for a few days. It protects open sores, and while they are visible on your face, they do conceal some of the more unsightly inflamed spots you might want to keep under wraps!
So that’s my acne-fighting team. My skin is in reasonably good shape right now, and I’m always on the lookout for that next product that’s going to calm down my acne (cure it?). If you use anything that works well for you, share in the comments! Although if you claim it’s miraculous, I’m not going to believe you.
I’ll be doing some more extravagant facial-type services over the next few months, so check back if you want to see how that works out! And be sure to follow my newsletter for tons more exclusive fun content: