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4 Things That Helped My Adult Acne Outbreaks

4 Things That Helped My Adult Acne Outbreaks


What is it about being an adult that makes the universe want to pile it all on? As if having a mortgage, learning to cook, and finally getting around to folding the laundry that’s been sitting in the dryer wasn’t enough – now adult acne starts to rear its ugly head (pun slightly intended).


Even though I study this -ish regularly, I still fall victim to the same challenges that you do and adult acne is one of them. The good news is that you get the benefit of me being a serial researcher (honestly, in my past life I was some type of PI or something) and I have finally figured out what you should do to combat adult acne

Related: The Real Difference Between Blackheads & Whiteheads

Tips For Dealing With Adult Acne

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It starts with a face wash. I asked my dermatologist and instead of putting me on a heavy dose of medication, he told me to pick up this $10 face wash and use it every morning.

The key is to the 10% Benzoyl Peroxide to help combat the adult acne breakouts. The trick here is to let it sit on your face for 2-3 minutes before washing it off.

This may make your skin dry, so be sure to follow up with a good moisturizer. I like this one. For sensitive skin, this is my favorite moisturizer.


You can use any cleaner you already own, but don’t use the Panoxyl from this morning. That’s a once a day thing.

Next up, you’ll need a toner. There is a reason this chemical exfoliant is a cult favorite and I think every single person should have this under their sink. If you have sensitive skin I recommend this one. You’ll use this every other night, just swipe a little on a cotton pad after you wash your face and before moisturizer.

The last thing you want is a barrier repair serum. You can use in the evenings on the nights you aren’t using the exfoliant before your moisturizer.

If these things haven’t made a difference for you in a week, I would recommend adding in a retinol like this OTC one and add it into your skincare routine for a 3 day cycle in the evening. Example treatment (use face wash before all of these and moisturizer after)

Night 1: Chemical Exfoliant

Night 2: Differin Gel

Night 3: Ceramide Serum

Related: How to Start a Skincare Routine for Beginners

Prevent Adult Acne By Washing Your Pillowcases

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This one was a game-changer for me. We have white sheets so we already were washing our sheets and pillowcases often, but the idea that I needed to change them weekly was brand new information.

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I ultimately ended up buying an additional set of white pillowcases so I could make the swap without stripping the bed weekly and my skin was happy about it. If you are like me and don’t wash your hair daily (who does?!) then this is something that you should consider.

The oil and product from our hair will seep into pillowcases and make their way into our pores. This is usually a red flag if you have breakouts on your cheeks. Bonus – my esthetician recommended switching to satin pillowcases because they tend to be less absorbent than cotton. I got mine off of Amazon here

Related: A Top Dermatologist Answers Your Biggest

Switch To a Different Towel

This little trick to combat adult acne trick was one that came from research and now that I’ve tried it – I agree. When you shower, make sure that you use a different towel to wash your face compared to the one that you use for your body and hair.

I keep a little white face towel near my skin and I use only this towel whenever I wash my face. (Mine is from Amazon, you can get it here.)

This is a small switch but ensures that any elements from your body or hair won’t make their way to your face. Bonus points for using a white towel so that you can ensure that there’s no product left on your face after you wash it.  

Related: How Cell Turnover Affects Your Skin

Pause on Other Actives

If it is your skin’s barrier that’s been compromised, you want to give the extra actives a few days off. That means taking a break from traditional retinol, vitamin c, or other actives to treat your skin. Focus on moisturizing and healing.

I hope these tips will help you see fewer breakouts and fight random outbreaks of adult acne. As if we didn’t have enough to deal with, these breakouts need to hit the road.