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Article: 5 Unexpected Causes of Adult Acne - And How to Treat It

5 Unexpected Causes of Adult Acne - And How to Treat It - Dope Skin Co

5 Unexpected Causes of Adult Acne - And How to Treat It

Acne is reserved for hormonal teens, right? Think again. We’re going to let you in on a hard truth: Acne does not go away as soon as you enter your 20s.

Adult acne is extremely common, but as frustrating as it may be, there are solutions. Learning the leading causes of adult acne and how to treat it can help you keep pesky breakouts at bay.

From overusing skincare products to leaving makeup on overnight, continue reading to discover five unexpected causes of adult acne and tips for how to get your skin back on track. 

Common Causes of Adult Acne & How to Treat It

Overusing Skincare Products

Many people believe that the more skincare products you use, the healthier your skin will be. But in most cases, less is more when it comes to your skincare routine. For example, did you know that overwashing your face can actually exacerbate existing acne?

Cleansing twice a day with a gentle cleanser is generally the perfect amount - any more than this and you risk drying out your skin. The problem with dry skin (beyond the texture) is that your body will start to overcompensate by producing excess oil, which is a breeding ground for acne.

Stick to gentle, non-comedogenic products. And whatever you do, make sure your entire skincare routine isn’t filled with aggressive exfoliators. BHAs like salicylic acid can be used to treat adult acne but should always be used in moderation (think one or two products maximum that contain the acne-fighting acid).

Leaving Makeup on Overnight

You’ve probably heard this for years, but if you want to avoid acne into your adult years, then be sure to completely remove your makeup before bed. Even if you wear lightweight mineral makeup, makeup remover should still be used.

Otherwise, you run the risk of trapping oil, dirt, and day-old makeup in your skin, which is a recipe for disaster. Look for a non-comedogenic makeup remover and follow it up with a gentle cleanser to ensure you’ve rid your skin of all unwanted bacteria before getting under the covers.


We hate to say it, but travelling to new places has been known to cause breakouts. It’s the change in environment that can trigger acne. A sudden and increased rise in sun, heat, or humidity can send your skin into a spiral, which is why you may notice that you return from vacation with a few more spots than you had before.

To combat this, avoid excess sun exposure and opt for oil-free sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, both of which may help reduce breakouts.

Your Diet

There is a long list of foods out there that supposedly cause acne, from pizza and chocolate to coffee and dairy products. However, while your diet can trigger acne, there is no universal list of acne-causing foods.

Rather, each person’s body will react differently, so it’s important to try and identify your personal trigger foods. Foods that are high on the glycemic index, such as refined carbohydrates and processed foods, are common culprits, so cutting back on those could be a good place to start.

Stress Levels

It’s not fair at all, but the reality is that the more stressed out you are, the more acne-prone your skin becomes. This is because your body’s natural response to stress is to create a hormone called cortisol, and when it starts working overtime creating cortisol, it can mess with your skin.

Unfortunately, stress is a part of pretty much every adult’s life, so the key is to manage it as best you can. Get a good night’s sleep as often as possible, engage in calming activities like yoga or meditation, and use acne-fighting products containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to clear up stress-induced spots.

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