How to Handle Grown-Up Breakouts In Your '30s and '40s

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Acne is one of the most frustrating parts of adulthood. 

Nykia Spradley Jan, 18, 2017

There are some things that should be left in our youth, but unfortunately, acne isn’t one of them. Breakouts can develop in your ’30s or ’40s, even with no history of them as a teen…as if adulating isn’t hard enough. We asked Dr. Bruce Katz, Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center and founder/director of Juva Skin & Laser Center in New York, for the lowdown on dealing with grown-up breakouts:

Oil Isn’t the Enemy

Katz says that adolescents often have oily skin, while adults skin tends to be dry or combination. So be mindful of ingredients that can dry you out like witch hazel and alcohol. “With adults, we have to use fewer drying products as they may not tolerate the acne meds that adolescents can,” Katz explains.

Moisture is a Must

Skin of color can be more irritated by acne products, which are typically quite drying. If you’re on a prescribed acne regimen, add an oil-free moisturizer to your mix.

Stop Stressing

If your eating habits have changed with age, know that diet is not usually the culprit. “Stress is probably more of a factor in causing flares of acne in adults than in kids, where hormones are more of a factor,” says Katz.

Fix It For Good

Unlike the days of your youth when a three-step system was the holy grail of acne treatments, things have changed. Katz says that topical antibiotics and retinoids are usually the first line of defense again recurring breakouts. 

Light The Way

“In our practice, we use the newest cutting-edge treatment for adult acne, which is the Lightpod Neo Laser by Aerolase. It typically requires several treatments, but there is no downtime,” says Katz. For acne scarring, the newest treatment is the Endymed Intensif microneedling radio frequency device, which helps resurface damaged skin. There’s also no downtime.

If you prefer to treat at home, here are options that combine both anti-aging and acne fighting ingredients:


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This mud-gel hybrid draws all of the nasties from your skin while minimizing shine. 

available at nügg Beauty $4 Buy Here

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A matte finish moisturizer made with a mix of farm-raised herbs (calendula, alfafa, borage and more). 

available at Sephora $105 Buy Here

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Its 100% organic mix of essential oils balance and moisturize acne-prone skin when used daily. 

available at Bloomingdale's $125 Buy Here

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This breathable foundation is basically a second skin, providing natural-looking coverage with skin-loving ingredients like aloe, green tea and grape seed extract. 

available at Dermstore $76 Buy Here

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This 3-part system includes a clarifying cleanser, lightweight acne treatment and nourishing cream. 

available at NERD Skincare $200 Buy Here

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Use this gel-to-water formula in between your cleanser and moisturizer to safely tighten pores and remove excess oil. 

available at Sephora $55 Buy Here