Acne can start at any age. Many people experience breakouts for the first time as a teenager, but for some, they don’t experience acne until they’re in their 20s, 30s, or 40s.
No matter what age your acne started, the answer to “what age does acne go away?” isn’t that straight-forward or simple. It all depends on what the underlying cause is, what treatment is received, and whether that treatment properly addresses the underlying issue. Let’s dive in deeper.
When Does Teen Acne Stop?
All of the hormonal changes that take place during puberty make teenagers susceptible to acne. Oil production is often at an all-time high, which leads to angry, clogged pores. Luckily, once your body regulates itself and you’ve exited the puberty stage, this type of acne tends to go away. Of course, if you receive treatment for your acne, it will likely clear more quickly.
When Does Adult Acne Stop?
The question of when adult acne goes away is even more up in the air than teenage acne. Adult acne goes away when the root cause is treated. However, determining the root cause of your acne can be difficult and takes time. That’s why dealing with acne in your 20s or acne in your 40s and anywhere in-between takes a lot of patience. When factoring in that acne can even be caused by genetics, there is no telling when it may cease. With proper treatment, though, you can give yourself the best chances of enjoying clear skin again — as quickly as possible.
What Causes Adult Acne?
While environmental and lifestyle factors such as stress and diet may trigger acne, four key areas tend to ultimately cause the appearance of acne blemishes:
While your teenage years are most well-known for hormonal changes, for women, hormones continue to greatly change throughout adulthood. In your 20s and 30s, your body is in peak child-bearing years, and your hormones adjust accordingly to prepare for that possibility.
In your 40s and 50s, your body begins to enter into perimenopause and menopause, another significant lifestage that drastically affects hormones. The decrease in estrogen and increase in androgen that often takes place in the mid- to late-40s has been linked to increased oil production as well.
Cosmetic and Skin Care Products
There’s no doubt the topical products you use can influence the health of your skin. Both skin care products and makeup can clog your pores. Pore-clogging products are often referred to by the technical name “comedogenic.” Not effectively removing makeup products at the end of the day — even if they’re non-comedogenic — could also contribute to clogged pores and acne.
The outer layer of your skin houses the “skin microbiome,” which is made up of trillions of microorganisms, including bacteria.
The skin microbiome contains not just good bacteria, but bad bacteria too. When the bacteria living on your skin are in an ideal ratio of good to bad, they work to defend your skin from environmental threats. When the bad bacteria start to overpower the good, though, your skin isn’t able to as effectively protect you. In the end, the overpopulation of bad bacteria can contribute to skin conditions like acne.
How does this power imbalance happen? Bad bacteria can invade your skin microbiome from contact with your cell phone, hands, pillow, bedding, cosmetic brushes, and hair. Overuse of antibiotics, over-cleansing the skin, and using high pH (or alkaline) soaps can also throw off the delicate balance of your microbiome.
67% of people with adult acne have a family history of acne, according to research. That can be hard to cope with, but it doesn’t mean seeking treatment won’t help.
How to Treat Adult Acne
The right treatment option for your adult acne depends on the underlying cause of your blemishes. Overall, depending on the cause, treatment is very similar whether you’re in your 20s or 40s. Here are four ways to help kick acne to the curb:
Manage Oil Levels
Whether you’re experiencing acne in your 20s or 40s, it’s likely a result of an overproduction of sebum. You can combat the overproduction of oil by taking the following steps:
- Moisturize the skin with a hypoallergenic, fragrance- and chemical preservative-free lotion. Just because your skin is oily, doesn’t mean it’s hydrated. Oily skin contains plenty of oil, but is often dehydrated. Opting for a water-based or gel moisturizer is often best for oily skin. It quenches skin and helps prevent transepidermal water loss.
- Avoid overly drying topical products. Acne products often contain ingredients that have the potential to strip the skin. This is bad for dry skin for obvious reasons, but it’s also bad for oily skin. When you strip the skin, it may end up producing more sebum to compensate. . That just means your skin ends up even oilier than when you started! So, opt for gentle skincare ingredients that honor the natural protective barrier of your skin.
Clean up Your Skin Care and Cosmetics
Every topical product you use has the ability to impact your skin. That’s why opting for hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, fragrance- and chemical preservative-free skin care and makeup products tends to be best for everyone — but especially when you’re dealing with acne.
The term “non-comedogenic” refers to products that aren't likely to clog your pores, which ultimately leads to breakouts. Some products will advertise being non-comedogenic on the packaging, but many don’t. To determine if your favorite products are comedogenic, you can:
- Check a product’s FAQ section or page
- Contact the brand’s customer service and ask a representative
Balance your Skin Bacteria
Rebalancing your skin microbiome can sound like a tricky and almost “scientific” process… but it’s really not that hard!
Gladskin Blemish Gel (coming soon!) uses Micreobalance®, a patented smart protein that works with your body instead of against it, to help bring balance back to your skin microbiome to dramatically reduce the appearance of breakouts.
Just apply it morning and night, or as needed, and see how bringing order back to your microbiome can help improve the appearance of blemishes.
Talk to Your Dermatologist
Visiting a board certified dermatologist can help you understand what type of acne you’re experiencing and what the root cause may be. From there, they can recommend treatment options for your breakouts.
One quick disclaimer: Some traditional acne treatments may not be ideal for long-term use, so it's always best to ask your doctor about any possible side effects. Possible treatments include:
There Is an Acne Treatment for Every Age
No matter what age you’ve started having breakouts, rest assured there is an acne treatment for every age. Whether you’re in your teens, 20s, 30s, or 40s, managing your skin oil levels, balancing your skin microbiome, taking care of your hormonal health, and visiting a board certified dermatologist when needed can help you find relief from acne blemishes.