acne at every age

ACNE at Every Age

Acne isn’t just for teenagers.  I remember getting a few breakouts as a preteen and teen but never anything really bad…I was fortunate.  Then through college and my twenties I’d have an occasional one or two here and there but it wasn’t until I was thirty that all hell broke loose.  I was at school for my Esthetician’s license and I swear, I went in at 29 with clear skin and when I graduated at 30 I had horrendous, cystic acne that took over half of my face.

My hormones, lots of stress at work, school and home plus getting facials several times a day (to graduate, you needed to practice many different types on each other a certain amount of times through schooling) and it was all too much for my skin.

It was extremely painful and it was absolutely mortifying for me as I was working at a spa and helping clients achieve great skin, when in reality, I didn’t look the part to be giving tips on beautiful skin. I didn’t go out much, I kept to myself and I’d hide my face as much as possible. I got really depressed and cried…a lot.

When you’re in this industry skill is a big part (would you trust your neighbor to mix ingredients to give you a chemical peel?!) but in the world of aesthetics, “looks aren’t absolutely everything”, but do play a huge (ok, GINORMOUS!) part…it’s the Beauty Industry for goodness sake!

It wasn’t until I had a visit with my Dermatologist and had to be put on a very strong medicine for a few months that I saw a difference.

Now at 31, a year off the medication I will only get a couple here and there and treat them accordingly.  Different ages have different types of acne and there are different approaches to take.

What Exactly Is Acne?

According to the definition on Wikipedia:



Acne vulgaris is a long-term skin disease that occurs when hair follicles become clogged with dead skin cells and oil from the skin. Acne is characterized by areas of blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, and greasy skin, and may result in scarring.

Or the definition in the dictionary:


the occurrence of inflamed or infected sebaceous glands in the skin; in particular, a condition characterized by red pimples on the face, prevalent chiefly among teenagers.

Regardless where you find the definition, it’s a painful skin condition that affects all ages, races, sexes physically and emotionally. Not all treatment approaches are the same for everyone and it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ type of cure.

Preteen “Tween” Acne

Preteen “Tweens” are those that aren’t exactly small children anymore but aren’t yet teenagers. According to, 8 out of 10 preteens have some form of acne. This is a very common time to begin getting acne as their bodies are transforming and their hormones are beginning to change.  

You usually will not see large or cystic pustules but their faces will tend to have mild, small, non-inflamed bumps on the nose and forehead with some blackheads appearing.  Because their hormones are starting to change, they tend to have overactive sebaceous (oil) glands beginning at this point.  The more oil that is created, the more clogged pores.

Tips To Help Preteen Acne

  • Avoid applying makeup with hands.  Although I’m ok with a lip gloss, I’ve always seen no need for preteens to wear makeup. But, if they want to disguise the look of acne with cover up, make sure they use a brush to avoid any further bacteria and oils from entering their pores.
  • Don’t Let It Get Bad. Don’t wait for it become worse before taking steps to take care of it.  Start off early with proper cleansing and healthy skin habits before there is a problem.
  • Wash your face twice a day.  Avoid harsh soaps and cleansers and opt for gentle formulas that won’t overly dry or irritate the skin.
  • Use oil free products.  Using sunscreen and moisturizer is great for healthy skin, but use products that are oil free that will less likely clog the pores and cause breakouts.
  • Stop touching your face! Yes, it’s there just calling for you to pop it…DON’T! The more you touch it, the more bacteria will get in there and it’ll take longer to heal.  The odds of you popping it properly and not causing scaring are very slim, so just wait it out.

Teenage Acne

Between school, SATs, college, afterschool activities and sports and jobs, most teenagers have a lot on their plates.  It doesn’t make it any easier that their hormones are raging at this point and their faces and bodies will tend to pay for all the stress.  According to the Academy of Dermatology, nearly 100% of teenagers will have that occasional breakout. Papules, pustules, white heads and cysts will start to appear much more now.  These breakouts will appear anywhere from their face, neck, chest, back and even their rear end.  From long hair and sports bras, I remember getting it on my back right where the sports bra would lay holding sweat and bacteria. Puberty is brutal and teens should take the proper steps to making it just a bit easier by caring for their skin.  

Tips To Help Teenage Acne

  • Noncomedogenic products are a must! Look for products that say ‘Noncomedogenic’ which are those that will not clog pores and will help with avoiding those annoying breakouts.
  • Wash your face and body twice a day. Using a gentle face and body cleanser for acne is a great way to help with breakouts.  They will not dry your skin out like normal soaps but will provide you with the moisture your skin needs as it helps fight the acne.
  • Guys, don’t touch after shaving. Those guys who are ‘lucky’ enough to have teen facial hair and need to shave must avoid touching their freshly smooth, shaved face as it is more prone to getting bacteria in the pores causing breakouts.
  • Invest In A Cleansing Brush. A great way to make sure your body (especially your back) is cleansed properly and exfoliated helping reduce acne is by using a rotating cleansing brush.  These brushes will help greatly for those larger areas.
  • Carry cleansing wipes everywhere.  These wipes are great to keep in your backpack or sports bag to use when needed. Whether it’s after school on the way to sports or after gym class, the wipes will keep your skin clean, fresh and help with bacteria that causes acne.
  • Don’t go overboard.  Homecoming is next week and you want that extremely obvious pimple on your nose to go away, so you decide to scrub your face several times a day and put excess product on your face more than the directions asked for to ‘quicken’ the process.  This is such a bad idea.  If you scrub too much and put more product on than the instructions say, you’re more likely to worsen your skin.  Your skin will become overly dry causing your oil glands to try and compensate for the loss and work in overdrive causing even more clogged pores and acne…the idea doesn’t sound too appealing now, does it?!

Adult Acne

You’d think that as an adult you wouldn’t have to purchase any more products for acne since you’re far from being a teenager …think again. Between birth control, that time of the month, pregnancy and everything in between have a lot to do with your hormones.  This is why many women who have entered menopause don’t have to worry about that occasional breakout anymore.  Our skin is aging and unlike our skin in our teen years, it is much thinner and more sensitive to the products that we use on it.  This is why products that are geared towards adult skin will help you much more than the harsher products that work better on teenage skin problems.  

Tips To Help Adult Acne

  • Keep Hydrated. As adults, our skin is already losing collagen, moisture and elasticity, so help keep it supple and healthy by drinking the recommended amount of water daily.
  • Don’t Over Exfoliate. Even with skin becoming much drier when we get older, over exfoliating will make your skin much worse.  Not only will your skin become irritated and more sensitive, it will most like cause your sebaceous glands to produce more oil causing clogged pores.
  • Keep Moisturized.  At this stage in life we need to keep our skin moisturized, not just to look and feel healthier but also in aging gracefully.  Even if you have adult acne, your skin will heal quicker if it is moisturized and hydrated.
  • Stay Protected.  You don’t need to walk around all day in a thick cream, but you do need to make sure your skin stays protected from the sun’s harmful rays by applying a broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen.  There are many lightweight sunscreens out there that not only feel light to touch but you don’t feel like your skin is being weighed down or clogged. Sun will actually cause more damage to acne despite the false idea that it will heal it by drying it out.
  • Use Products Geared Towards Adults. Adult acne is so common that everywhere you look you will see products geared towards adults.  They are created with the moisture your aging skin needs but are not as harsh as those for those collagen rich, thicker skinned teens.  Adult products work for acne as well as the extra antiaging protection and are created specifically for your skin.

There is no need to live with acne.

It doesn’t matter how old you are or if you inherited your parents’ poor complexion, there is no need to live with acne.  

Before it’s too late (something I did because I was so stubborn and hopeful that I could cure it myself!) seek treatment.  Purchase products that are right for your skincare needs and go see your Esthetician or Dermatologist to help find a treatment plan for your individual needs. If you wait until it’s too late, acne can hurt not only your self esteem but cause scarring to your skin.

I never used to wear foundation but after waiting so long to seek treatment for acne, my face scarred a lot and some days the scars still bother me.

There are different treatment options for acne scarring such as chemical peels and even laser treatments for those more severe cases but there is always something out there to help you.

You’re not going through it alone although you may feel it, and the additional stress of worrying about it only triggers more breakouts.  This is something that takes time and needs patience. There is always a clear road after the storm.



askderm's guest esthetician

Blog Written by askderm’s Guest Esthetician 

Stephanie Ivonne is a New Jersey licensed Esthetician.  Her fun-loving, outgoing personality will shine through her product selections & reviews to help you discover the hottest skincare and beauty products.

When Stephanie is not scouring the internet for the next hot skincare product, she is a mother to two wonderful biological children, a dedicated foster mom and is devoted to her husband of 13 years.