My Acne Life:
Let me start with middle school, I hit puberty pretty early (elementary) so middle school is when certain troubles of mine started…although, acne wasn’t one of them. 6th-8th grade, my face was 100% clear. But I guess that’s normal for the average middle schooler. It wasn’t until high school when my acne issues started and it was bad. Growing up, I was never taught to wash your face regardless if you have acne or not. Your face still attracts dirt! Since I didn’t wash my face throughout middle school, I assume that’s one of the reasons why I had acne in high school. All those years of dirt build up. Eww right?! After high school, is when I started to take care of my face; here and there, not religiously. Senior year of college is when I started taking care of my face like crazy; Day and night regimens, throughout the day regimens. I was out of school, looking for a job in the entertainment industry, I wanted to start back modeling, I wanted to look good in pictures, etc. This goes for my body as well (eating healthy, working out), you know, the usual. However, now that I’m out of college, my skin has taken a drastic turn for the worse! (I promise I’m not being dramatic). Even though I am taking such good care of my skin or trying at least and I’m still breaking out, it’s time for me to find out why because it’s really pissing me off! And help you find out why too!
Brace yourself…they’re a little alarming! One study shows that over 50% of adult women are dealing with acne, many of whom did not have breakouts in their earlier years. So, you’re not alone. Half of all women are trying to figure this mess out!
Not sure if you’re dealing with adolescent or adult acne? Well, keep your age in mind. Women over 21-22 years old are typically dealing with adult acne, teenagers usually experience the adolescent type.
But Why? :
Like most things body-related, the “why” of adult acne can be addressed with innumerable of responses. This is especially true when talking about the skin. Each person’s skin is so different to begin with, factors like lifestyle, environment and diet only further complicates the situation—it’s no wonder addressing acne can be a challenge. What works for one won’t work for all.
With that being said, there are some definite contributors. Here are the 6 main causes of adult acne in women that I found:
- Hormone Changes. Typically beginning in a woman’s mid-to-late twenties and persisting into adulthood, many women experience hormone-caused acne. This acne can be attributed to androgens, which are the hormones responsible for stimulating the oil glands and hair follicles in the skin. When this hormone over stimulates, a woman’s facial acne can flare up. (I have a suspicion this is the issue for me!)
- High Stress Levels. Darn androgens! They also overproduce during times of stress, over stimulating oil production and causing breakouts for women. Many dermatologists believe that women, who are able to get their stress level under control, may also be able to clear up their complexion. (They make it sound so easy)
- Medications. Certain types of medication can trigger breakouts in women. Chemicals like anticonvulsants, corticosteroids (I know this one all too well), sobriety drugs and even some birth control pills can make skin worse. Have a conversation with your doctor about the medication you’re on and find out if there’s a more skin-friendly alternative.
- Diet. Although once widely disputed, most dermatologists now agree that diet plays a relatively significant role in a person’s complexion. Some swear that milk and dairy are to blame (I just found out I’m allergic to cow’s milk!), while others believe that excess sugar triggers breakouts. Keep a food journal during an acne flare-up and try to find a potential cause.
- Products and Cosmetics. While we all want to believe that our favorite products and cosmetics aren’t to blame for our acne, don’t rule it out as a possibility. Pay close attention not only to what you put on your face but also what you put near it! Hair gels, sprays and other products can clog pores and cause breakouts. Also try changing your makeup regimen to something more natural.
- Environmental Factors. Humidity, pollution, and weather can all contribute to acne. However there are some things that we may have not thought about as well. For example, if you talk on a cell phone a lot, you may experience more frequent breakouts. Your screen isn’t clean and the bacteria that it gathers, builds up which can cause breakouts.
Now that we’ve covered some causes of adult acne, I’m sure you’re wondering how to know what’s causing your skin to flare up.
Where’s your acne and what’s causing it? :
Luckily for women, where our acne presents itself can say a lot about its root cause. (I don’t know about you but this makes me jump for joy.) Ain’t nobody got time to be guessing what’s causing their breakouts!
Simplicity… Look at the face map below and identify which color zone(s) correlates to your worst problem areas. Then read what the cause for that acne area is. Hopefully this face map can help you self-diagnose (fingers crossed!) and correct the problem.
Royal Blue Zones (forehead): Digestive System and Bladder. In order to improve acne in this area, you may need to consider a diet change or an increase in your intake of water. Consider cutting back processed foods.
Hot Pink Zone (outside of eyes): Kidneys. This is a quick fix—cut down on coffee, soda, and other sugary beverages, and drink some good ‘ol H20 instead. Acne on the ears relates to kidneys as well.
Burnt Orange Zone (in between eyebrows): Liver. To eliminate in between the eyebrow pimples, consider a detox of some sort. Cut down on alcohol consumption, eat lighter foods and consider cutting out any foods you may have a allergy to (such as dairy) — this area is where allergy traditionally manifests.
Yellow Zone (nose): Heart. Acne on your nose could mean high blood pressure cholesterol. Try cutting back on red meat and increase your intake of foods with Omega 3’s like avocado, fish. Additionally, because the nose is so porus, make sure your makeup isn’t expired! (Remember my makeup expiration post?)
Teal Zones (cheeks): Respiratory System. Acne in this area usually points to allergies or smoking. In the case that neither allergies or smoking is the culprit, consider keeping your body at a neutral temperature rather than allowing it to overheat—avoid spicy foods and add more green to your diet (good thing I have a good balance with this, I love spicy food!) You should also make sure that the things that touch your face the most (cell phone, pillowcase, hands) are as clean as possible!
Purple Zones (outside corners of mouth): Hormones. Personally, this is my problem. This zone is difficult to control because hormones by nature are somewhat out of control. However, getting enough zzz’s at night, keeping skin clean and moisturized and a balanced diet can help. Which side of the face the acne presents itself, is also indicative of which side the woman is ovulating…interesting…not, get off my face! If you’re willing to go on birth control, some pills can help clear up the skin if hormones are the cause.
Looking for a more natural approach that birth control (that would be me)? try cutting out polyunsaturated fats (like vegetable oil), caffeine and household toxins. Get plenty of sleep and try supplementing with vitamins such as maca and magnesium which have been shown to help balance hormones.
Lime Green Zone (chin): Stomach. Because this area is associated with the stomach, increasing the amount of fiber in your diet, drinking more water and generally detoxing your body can help clear up this area.
These zones and the organs they correlate to can be very useful in self-diagnosing your acne woes and addressing them. Really, you’re fighting your acne from the inside out! If your issue is truly internal, no amount of creams and cleansers will clear up your face anyway! Clearing up adult acne takes dedication and lifestyle changes.
How far will you go to change your skin?