As a teenager, I looked forward to my future with high hopes for clear skin. After all, we’re told that acne is a teenage problem, caused by bad food and oily skin and roiling hormones. At one point in my life I honestly believed that turning 20 would end my acne issues. And then I thought…maybe by age 25 this will be over. OK. Maybe 30. And now here I am at age 33, telling you the sad truth. Adult acne is real. Things usually get better, but if you’ve grown up dealing with breakouts, you’ll occasionally have to deal with them when you’re grown enough to be dealing with stuff like taxes and mortgages and kids.

Photo via Blinging Beauty

Now that I’m an adult, I know exactly what triggers my acne. I’m more likely to get breakouts after periods of eating badly, or spending too much time in the sun. Recently when I had a facial, the aesthetician was able to tell that I sleep on my left side and that I don’t always take off my makeup, “because the blackheads on that side of your face are so deep.” YIKES. Some of my acne issues are clearly my own fault. Other issues are caused by my hormonal cycle, my stress level, and other factors I have less control over. It can be hard to know how to deal with those kinds of acne issues.

Let’s clear this one thing up right here right now — the best way you can deal with adult acne is by tackling it internally by drinking more water, exercising and eating healthier, and finding a dermatologist. More often than not, we deal with skin issues by going to a spa for a facial or buying some over the counter product instead of dealing with things medically, and that’s really the most sensible way to deal with it — click here to find a dermatologist in your city. Personally, I’m taking a varied approach to the issue. Recently I visited a derm for the first time — more on that soon! I eat healthier than I used to, and I drink more water than I used to. I’m trying to deal with my acne internally, but externally I still need some extra help. And so I also still go for facials, AND I use over the counter acne products that include approved ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, and salycilic acid to deal with the pimples I get, as I get them. Allow me to tell you about my favorite at-home acne brands!

Mario Badescu — OK so I know I’ve raved on and on (and on) about Mario Badescu, but I LOVE their products. The second I get a zit, I reach for their Drying Lotion or Drying Mask. If I’ve already got a zit that’s erupted, I love the Buffering Lotion. My only issue with MB products is, I haven’t yet tried one that goes on clear and works under makeup. These are products for if you’re at home and want to dry up a blemish overnight. Click here to check out Mario Badescu’s acne products.

Murad — I’m a fan of the brand in general, but Murad actually makes a product to help with the issue. Murad Acne Anti-Aging Acne Treatmenttackles both blemishes and wrinkles, and claims to smooth fine lines and restore suppleness as well. All of this basically means it’ll get rid of your zits without totally depleting your skin of moisture, as acne products can so often do.

Clean and Clear — I may drift away and try other, more expensive products, but if I’ve got a zit and I’m out of town and don’t have my go-to’s, best believe I will buy a tube of Clean & Clear Persa-Gel 10 from any store I can. Recently when a close friend of mine got like her third pimple ever in life, this is what I told her to buy. Good ol’ Clean and Clear will never do you wrong.

Neutrogena — I’d say that Neutrogena is pretty much the gold standard when it comes to drugstore skincare. Their Oil-Free Acne Wash was THE must-have face wash for my teenage acne days. And still to this day I’ll use it, or the newer Oil-Free Acne Stress Control Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Power-Foam Wash which has a super long name but works really, really well.

Olay — When I think Olay, I don’t usually think acne — more moisture or cleansing or anti-aging, right? Well yes, but they also make a range of acne fighting products, including the Olay Professional Pro-X Clear Acne Protocol Kit, which is tailor made for adult acne. It’s a three part system involving a cleanser, a clearing treatment, and a renewing lotion. And Pro-X also makes a refining sulfur mask, for those of you who like masks for dealing with acne. (PS: These are my favorite face masks). (PPS: did you know aspirin makes an excellent at home acne mask? It’s basically salycilic acid! Click to learn more via BlackHairMedia.com).

Et voilà, my go-to, tried and true product faves for dealing with acne as a grown woman. Bellas, how do YOU deal with adult acne?

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