Adult Acne Causes
- Know them, defeat them -

Acne when you're an adult sucks...

But if you know the details about adult acne causes - you can more successfully treat it. Know thy enemy, defeat thy enemy!

Adult Acne Causes

Adult acne can be very persistent, and perplexing. It can erupt suddenly for seemingly no reason, even if you had perfect skin as a teenager.

Deep pimples and cysts, especially around the chin area, are common.

This page covers:

Adult Acne Causes - what they mean for you

The symptoms of acne - the pimples, cysts, blackheads, breakouts - are all caused by an excess of sebum and dead skin cells and inflammation.

It is what causes this (the imbalance in sebum, dead skin cells, and inflammation) that we need to deal with. 

The answer:

  • If you have deep, blind pimples or cysts that only appear around the chin area - and that get worse on "schedule" about once a month, it usually caused by hormones
  • If you have breakouts that just don't go away, this can often be caused by external factors especially your skin care products! (This is an overlooked and very simple cause, details below)
  • Blackheads are usually to do with skin "type" - an oily skin will have larger pores and more likely blackheads. These aren't limited to adult acne but are usually worse in this condition

Internal Adult Acne Causes - hormones

"Hormones are your body's chemical messengers. They travel in your bloodstream to tissues or organs. They work slowly, over time, and affect many different processes." Quote - Medline

The above quote highlights the direct relationship hormones have with our largest organ, our skin. 

Some factors that disrupt our body's natural equilibrium (hormonal balance):

  • Sleep - inadequate sleep increases the level of the stress hormone cortisol which increases inflammation. And because with adult acne we are usually dealing with aging concerns simultaneously, lack of sleep can seriously affect these too. 
  • Lack of exercise - exercise is one of the best ways to control stress by burning off extra energy, promoting better sleep, and creating endorphins in the brain which just make you feel better. The increase in circulation also ensures all your body systems are working optimally.
  • An unnatural diet - either a lack of whole foods, good fats and vitamins. Or it could be too much dairy, sugar, refined carbs or bad fats.
  • Normal changes and fluctuations - simple aging and body changes, pregnancy, menopause, changes in contraception etc. No wonder acne can be hard to deal with!

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How To Know If Hormones Are Responsible For Your Acne

How do you know if your skin is breaking out due to hormones? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Other symptoms of a hormonal imbalance include fatigue, difficulty to loose weight, and major cravings. If you deal with these you might like to see your doctor who can give you a blood test
  • Females - for a couple of months keep a dairy or simple notes on a calendar for when you notice your worst breakouts. By keeping notes breakouts around the same time each month become obvious.
  • Did your acne suddenly come on during a time of high stress or pressure? Your body may be still dealing with this and taking time to rebalance. Take it easy and focus on health.
  • Another cause for females is polycystic ovary syndrome, see your doctor if you believe this may be the case (if you haven't already done so!)
  • Pregnancy of course, can bring on acne (the opposite to that expecting 'glow'!). This can cure itself after birth. See your doctor if you're concerned.

So what can you do about the above? Especially because they all seem like big, complicated causes?

This is where the right products make a difference. They may not address the above underlying causes, but they can deal with the symptoms by rebalancing your skin, dissolving the dead skin cells and excess oil, and keeping it clear.

See this article for details >

External Causes of Adult Acne

The most common but overlooked of all adult acne causes:

  • Skin care products - if a product is too rich for your skin, or has an ingredient that your skin reacts to, it can cause acne. Not just the odd breakouts, but deep pimples that never seem to go away.

If you've tried everything to treat your adult acne, this could be it.

For example, Estee Lauder has some great moisturizers, however for a lot of people they are too rich and cause some serious breakouts. 

Simply switching to a different product can clear up your acne in a week or two!

This is a sneaky and very important cause, as it will override everything else! You can have the best exfoliation, cleansing, diet, etc... and STILL suffer from breakouts if they are caused by a moisturizer, serum, or foundation. 

So think about what you are using and if you have a suspect - stop using it for at least a week and see if there is a difference. 

Other external acne causes:

  • Not cleansing before exercising - do you work out straight after work without washing your face beforehand? A quick wipe with witch hazel before and after very workout can prevent this
  • Pollution/smog/humidity - smog, grime and dirt can settle on skin and mix with sunscreen, sweat and make up. Humidity can cause sweating that dries on skin and opens pores which are then susceptible to clogging.
  • Shampoo and hair products - if you mainly breakout out around the side of your face or forehead, it may be your hair products or even just your hair itself touching your face and distributing pore clogging oils
  • Change in environment - if you've moved from a city with high humidity to one with dry air, for example, your skin may react in the form of acne. This will usually clear on its own once it settles down.

How to know what is causing your adult acne

Some adult acne causes may be obvious to you now. However, while it's extremely beneficial to find out the main cause of your acne condition, it's not essential. Here's why:

Certain treatments, products and lifestyle changes can be all you need without really figuring 'why' it happens.

But to really know what to attack, try the following very beneficial exercise:

I highly recommend keeping a log or journal for at least 1 week, ideally 1 month.


1) Your daily diet (this can be surprising once it's on paper!)

2) Sleep patterns, tiredness, energy levels

3) Your skin - new breakouts you notice and how long they last. Excess oiliness or dryness etc.

4) Anything you think is significant (alcohol, a stressful time, change in environment etc)

After a month you will definitely see patterns and these become invaluable clues of your adult acne causes. 

How To Treat Your Acne (For Good)

1) Use the right products - these will handle the symptoms of oil and dead skin cells, reduce inflammation, and make your skin better overall. Sometimes, the right products can completely cure the condition as they rebalance your skin and keep it consistently clear.

2) Along with products, there are other treatment options that can help significantly. See more on this page >

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