Fighting Adult and Hormonal Acne and Breakouts | What’s Worked For Me

treating adult acne, hormonal acne, cystic breakouts, clinique, clarins, nexcare, clean and clear
Well I can honestly say I never thought I’d be writing this post if you’d asked me a couple years ago. While many people suffer some form of acne or tragic breakouts in their teenage years, I was the kid who just had really good skin. It didn’t matter what I put on it, or what I ate, or even what time of the month it was. Pimples, zits, breakouts, blemishes, spots – whatever you want to refer to them as : I never had them. 
So imagine my surprise when I hit 30 and suddenly me skin decided it hated me? I had no clue what to use or change in my routine. Lots of trial and error later, and I’ve come up with some products that have really helped me get a handle on the situation.

Getting clear skin, treating adult acne and cystic breakouts
This is me with just a touch of tinted moisturizer and eye makeup on. This time last year I would have been in full coverage foundation to cover my constant cystic chin breakouts.


Firstly, I’ll come right out and say I’ve never had a full face of pimples or chronic acne that needed a doctor’s prescription (though I did speak to a Dermatologist about my hormonal chin breakouts after several months of them just reoccurring over and over). What I suffered (and occasionally still get) from where large, painful, under the skin red cystic spots, and constant little clogged pores popping up along my jawline and chin. The large breakouts would be horribly sore (think rolling over in your sleep and cringing), would take ages to come to a head, then ages to heal often leaving a nice little purple scar. Awesome. It was getting to the point where I would have several on my chin at any given time, as as soon as one healed, another had popped up right next to it. For every single blemish that healed, it seemed another two popped up in its place.

Given that I never had any experience treating breakouts as a teen, I was utterly clueless.

The one product I had remembered using was good old Clean and Clear Invisible Blemish Treatment. I can remember my mom taking me to the drugstore to purchase something for my first ever pimple (it was the week before my 1st high school year started, and rather traumatizing for a 13 year old). This was before the days of looking up something on the internet, and I got all my beauty advice from Seventeen magazine (aka my teenage Bible). I practically bathed in the stuff for days until the spot disappeared. As an adult I still used this on occasion, but it was no match for the big sore spots. It does however work a treat on the little pimples/whiteheads/clogged pores.

So what really worked?

The first product that made a significant preventative difference was adding an liquid exfoliating product into my night time routine. I needed to get all those nasty dead skin cells and grime that can clog pores off my face and while a physical scrub exfoliator can actually irritate blemished skin more, the Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner worked magic.  My skin already looked clearer, when a more even tone. I also found growing blemishes came to a head much faster.
Another acid based toner I’ve found very nice, especially for those who respond well to Salicylic Acid is the Clinique Mild Clarifying Lotion, which seems to really help when you have clusters of smaller breakouts forming. This is surprisingly gentle, given the reputation I knew of Clinique’s other ‘toning’ products (ie, there is no alcohol in this! No burning, thankyouverymuch)

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When it came to treatment, I discovered the Nexcare Acne Patches worked amazingly at drawing those big painful suckers closer to the skin surface, minus the drying that can happen from traditional spot treatments. I raved about them not long ago in this post. The big bonus to these was that they reduced my healing time greatly, and I noticed on painful cystic pimples the scarring was very minimal compared to other treatments I’d tried. These are so easy as well – you just pop them on before bed and then remove in the morning. Really big spots might take more than one night, but you can continue to use these even once the spot has broken through or has been “ruptured” (seriously, how do we discussing popping zits nicely?) and they will continue to draw out the nasty stuff whilst letting it heal.

Since these types of breakouts are generally considered hormonal, naturally the topic of diet comes up as well. I notice my skin stays clearer for longer stretches when I get my 8-10 glasses of water a day, and I can always tell if I’m getting a little dehydrated by the way my skin responds. Also lots of sugar and excessive dairy can trigger these types of breakouts, but I by no means would consider myself a health nut. I flat out refuse to give up cheese, but I do notice that when I keep it to a minimum my skin seems smoother.

So what didn’t work?

Anything Benzoyl Peroxide did absolutely nothing for me. I know for some this is the winner, but it just left me with red, dried out flaky breakouts that never seemed to heal.

Clinique Acne Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel was well touted amongst beauty blogs this year, and even though it is Salicylic Acid based, it really did not get on with my skin. Think tight, dried out scaly skin. Not pretty, but I have heard that those with oily skin love this!

Blemish righting masks in general were another fail. Things like GlamGlow Supermud and Origins Charcoal Mask did nothing to clear my skin or purge pores of nastiness (though the GlamGlow works amazing on blackheads, as I talked about in this post). These types of masks just made my dry dehydrated skin feel irritated and oversensitized if I used them on the breakout prone areas. I can imagine oily skin types might really benefit from them though.

So adding these products into my routine, along with a good double cleansing at night (first with oil or balm to remove makeup and sunscreen, second with a soothing cleanser like my favourite Clinique Redness Solutions to cleanse the skin) I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on things now. Yes, I still get the odd chin volcano, but I’ve got the means to crush it before it has chance to get ugly!

Have you suffered any sort of adult acne or hormonal breakouts? 
What worked/didn’t work for you?




*I am by no means claiming any sort of medical advice in this post, nor am I claiming to be an expert on the subject. In fact, it’s pretty obvious this was a new problem I faced. I am simply stating what worked for me, in hopes it might help someone else out there!

Charlotte Tilbury CA

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Girl Loves Gloss

Jaime Pickering | 30-something, makeup hoarding (I prefer to call it "collecting"), classic rock loving, jeans and t-shirt girl - who just happens to love a little gloss from time to time.
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