The ultimate skincare kit to get rid of your acne and treat any scars it's left behind
You’d be forgiven for assuming that a spotty face is synonymous with teenage acne and everybody grows out of it. But acne can happen later in life too, so unfortunately you’re not immune, whatever your age. Which means you need to know about the best acne treatments on the skincare market.
Acne is one of the most common skin conditions in the world and it’s estimated that 80% of people between the ages of 11 and 30 will have it at some point, according to the NHS.
The number of adult acne cases reported in the past year has risen by 200% and around 50% of adults will experience acne during adulthood. As if that wasn’t bad enough, more than 80% of cases of adult acne occur in women. Great.
So, how do you get nightmare breakouts under control? Arm yourself with our complete guide to combatting acne and soon enough, you’ll reveal clearer and calmer skin.
What is acne?
During your teenage years, acne normally occurs due to the heavy fluctuation of your hormones. But you can still get acne in your twenties, and some adults will experience it well into their thirties, forties and even fifties. It’s even possible to get acne for the first time as an adult.
Essentially, acne is caused by excess sebum. any things can cause your sebum production to become over-stimulated. This produces oil, which then mixes with things like the hairs on your skin or dirt. Your pores then become clogged.
Bacteria (especially one called Propionibacterium acnes) can then get trapped inside the pores and multiply. This causes swelling and redness — which is the start of acne.
Why do you get acne?
There is a range of factors that can contribute to clogged pores. Factors like pollution, cosmetic products like foundation, some medications, regularly wearing things that put pressure on particular areas (such as a headband) and smoking can cause your skin to break out.
But a lot of it comes down to good old hormones. They fluctuate during our period, while pregnant or if we suffer from hormonal conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome. So most of the time, what you think is causing you to break out may only just be part of the reason.
Acne is also genetic, so if your parents experienced (or still have) acne, the likelihood of you getting it too is high.
And while the NHS advises that there’s no evidence that your diet plays a role in the skin condition’s prevalence, many people find there are links between their gut health, and whether they consume dairy and acne.
Best acne spot treatments
The good news is, there’s a plethora of medicated and over the counter products that can help, and we’ve scoured the market for the best to ease and treat your acne. Unfortunately there’s no ‘one size fits all’ product, and it may take a bit of experimentation to find what works for your skin, but persevere and you’ll be able to ease your acne woes.
If, however, you don’t have severe acne and you were looking for a product to treat a few painful zits, you want a totally different treatment altogether – find the right one for you in our best spot treatments round up.
Dr Brandt Microdermabrasion Skin Exfoliant, £51.75, AllBeauty
If you had acne as a teen, it may well have left you with some scarring. While there’s nothing wrong with acne scars, it’s understandable if you want to minimise their appearance as much as possible. Another treatment option is a microdermabrasion facial, a treatment that stimulates blood flow, which in turn increases the nutrition delivered to skin cells. Cell production is increased, which improves skin’s elasticity and texture and helps to minimise the appearance of scarring.
Alternatively, Dr Brandt offers a microdermabrasion exfoliating treatment you can use to treat your acne scarring at home.
Neutrogena Visibly Clear Light Therapy Acne Mask, £39.99, Boots
Generally speaking, adult skin can tolerate much stronger treatments, so you’re looking for solutions with the highest concentrations of active ingredients, like salicylic acid.
Laser treatments are another popular option to treat problematic acne. Light therapy has been used for years by dermatologists as an effective treatment for acne, but now it’s been honed into a mask for you to treat yours at home. Using a combination of coloured light to treat your skin, blue light works to kill the acne-causing bacteria, while red light lessens inflammation of the skin. Use for 10 minutes a day over a period of 12 weeks, and your acne will be seriously diminished.
And if you work in the city, you could also try adding one one of the best anti-pollution products for skin into your regime to minimise the clogging effects of the environment on your pores.
Dermalogica Breakout Clearing Emergency Spot Fix, £15.75, John Lewis
One product that’s particularly effective in teen skin is Dermalogica’s Emergency Spot Fix, a specially formulated gel that targets problem areas with clusters of sore, angry spots.
Shop our round-up of the best acne treatments to get rid of breakouts (and your skincare woes, too).
It’s time to wave goodbye to problem skin…
When it comes to drawing out the pore-clogging substances, you don't want all of the good stuff stripped from your skin at the same time. Fortunately, this clay mask from Alpha-H will successfully extract toxins without dehydrating your skin or causing excessive dryness. Meanwhile zinc oxide helps your skin to heal from a bad bout of acne.
As well as working to clean and clear your skin over time and control excessive oil levels, Clinique's clearing moisturiser also creates an invisible protective barrier to stop acne-causing ingredients from getting into the skin.
Consider this your complete skincare package when it comes to living with (and clearing up) acne. The cleanser gets rid of excess sebum and impurities, the toner refreshes the skin and the moisturiser, acne favourite Effaclar Duo [+] gently exfoliates the skin to encourage acne-free skin and reduces the appearance of scars and skin pigmentation.
Bacne is a particularly pesky form of acne that can cause sufferers to feel uncomfortable wearing skimpier tops or swimwear in the summer. Use Murad's specially formulated body wash to help control body acne, and combine with the Clarifying Body Spray to supercharge the results.
Bobbi Brown's Remedies are seriously concentrated formulas that penetrate right into the deepest layers of the skin. The Clarifier formula contains Manuka, Seabuckthorn and Rosehip oils to get your sebum levels in check, as well as salicylic acid to clear out your pores, leaving skin clean, clear and refreshed. Use just a couple of drops a day after cleansing and before applying any other skincare.