Four Tips to Get Rid of Adult Acne For Those in Their 30s, 40s and 50s

Renee Rouleau's BHA clarifying serum

As an esthetician and skincare expert, one of the questions I’m asked most often is, “How do I care for my skin when I have both wrinkles and breakouts?” “I’m way past my teenage years and I’m not getting acne. Help!” Here are five of my expert tips that can help clear up your adult breakouts. When people get out of their teens and into their mid-20s, most breakouts will start to subside. However, as hormones fluctuate, starting in your early 30s and well into your 40s and 50s, it’s not uncommon to get all types of breakouts, but particularly cystic blemishes. (Those hard, sore bumps under the skin that linger for weeks.) When an adult starts to experience this, their first thought is to change up their products and start using ones specifically made for acne-prone skin.

The problem with this strategy is that these products are formulated to dry up oil and excessive breakouts, but for an adult who may only be getting one or two breakouts at a time, these products will leave their entire face skin dried out and irritated. Yes, they can dry up the individual breakouts but they are simply too harsh and causing damage for the non-broken out areas. This certainly does not help do anything favorable for preventing lines, wrinkles, and other aging concerns. On the flip side, if someone is using products for anti-aging (oftentimes they are for dry skin) and then starts to experience breakouts, most of these anti-aging products do not do anything to clear and prevent blemishes.

So, what’s an adult with breakouts to do?

Tip #1 Use a gentle product with salicylic acid. Assuming you have only one or two occasional adult breakouts, my recommendation is to stick with your normal routine but introduce an anti-bacterial serum with the ingredient salicylic acid to use underneath moisturizer a few nights per week. The benefit of using salicylic acid is that it gets into the pore lining and helps to destroy acne-causing bacteria to prevent breakouts, yet it’s also effective for fading down discoloration (brown spots) from hormones, sun, and age and well as exfoliating the skin to keep it looking smooth. Exfoliation and keeping the skin even-toned are definitely things that aging skin requires so a product like this will address it all. Salicylic is truly one of my favorite ingredients to use to balance both breakouts while still addressing the needs of aging skin. Be sure to look for formulas that are alcohol-free and do not dry out the skin. I recommend my clients to use BHA Clarifying Serum. This is a non-drying, alcohol-free serum that uses just the right amount of salicylic acid, as well as skin-smoothing glycolic and lactic acids to keep the skin clear while revealing a newly refined smoothness.  By using this in your routine a few nights each week, you’re still addressing breakouts, but you don’t run the risk of over-drying your skin. You should still always use a moisturizer over the serum; however, at times of peak breakouts, you may want to switch to a lighter moisturizer at night.

Tip #2 Take chelated zinc. I recommend for my clients to take chelated zinc found at a health food store. Taking one of these daily may help act as a natural anti-biotic to potentially prevent new breakouts.

Tip #3 Get to know the different types of breakouts and learn how to treat them. Not all breakouts are equal and each requires special care when they appear. If the breakouts you tend to experience are cystic (hard, sore, and painful bumps underneath the skin that rarely come to a head), apply a spot treatment like an Anti Cyst Treatment to reduce inflammation quickly. Regular blemish products are designed to dry out the surface of the skin, which leaves you with flakiness on the surface and still with a bump underneath.  A spot treatment like this can truly address stubborn cysts and help you avoid the other alternative for treating them, which is to get a cortisone injection from a dermatologist.

If the breakouts you get are ones that come to the surface into a whitehead, then the best course of action is to leave it alone until the infection is visible. Waiting until it comes to the surface will allow you to effectively control the blemish without as much damage to the skin. Once the whitehead is truly visible, you can gently squeeze out the infection with your fingers wrapped in tissue and then apply a drying spot treatment like Night Time Spot Lotion. This will work its way into the pore lining to eradicate any infection that is leftover. If you apply a spot treatment before the whitehead has surfaced, it will simply dry out the skin keep the infection trapped under the dead cells longer.

Left with a dark or red scar? Fade it quickly with Post Breakout Fading Gel.

Learn more about how to get rid of blemishes fast.

Tip #4 Schedule a deep pore cleansing facial or chemical peel. Estheticians and other skin care professionals have access to all sorts of various peels and procedures that can be truly effective for clearing out the pores to prevent blemishes, as well as destroying acne-causing bacteria. For adult acne, I often use a 25%  salicylic acid peel, along with Bio Brasion (the next generation of micro-dermabrasion) and this combination can really get blemishes under control while still offering anti-aging benefits for smoothing lines and wrinkles. Consult with a skin care professional to make a plan for the best treatments to balance the needs of your skin.I certainly understand what it means to break out in your adult years, as my skin does the same, but by occasionally adding in a few blemish-fighting products, you can give your skin the balance it needs to be clearer, healthier and more beautiful. Take my free Skin Type Quiz to get products recommended.

Read: More Tips to Reduce Blemishes

Read: 11 Common Causes for Acne

Which skin care products are best for you? See our nine skin types or take the Skin Type Quiz and get products recommended.

Need expert advice from a licensed esthetician? Schedule a virtual consultation to get customized advice in person, over the phone or online via Skype or Facetime.

Disclaimer: Content found on and, including text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website or blog.

Post a Comment:

Find your
skin type

Great skin starts with knowing your skin type.

Take the quiz