Women don’t always outgrow acne. In the first post of this series, I shared a new study from Italy identifying risk factors which increase a woman’s chance of having acne in adulthood. Modifying those risk factors are certainly the place to start with acne treatment. But aside from that, what skin care routine is best for a woman with acne?
As a dermatologist who also had occasional acne as an adult, I know that a successful skin care routine must be loved. If you don’t like the products or the feel of them on your skin, then it won’t work for you – even if it helps control your pimples. Thus 4 main aspects of skin care need to be addressed:
1. Is the condition acne vulgaris only (pustules, cysts with some blackheads due to the bacterium p. acnes)? Or is there also pityrosporum folliculitis (itchy, bright red pustules and blackheads usually on the forehead, along the jawline, and down the neck and back)?
2. Are skin care products clogging pores or causing pimples?
3. Is the hyperpigmentation of healed lesions an issue?
4. Is the complexion sensitive or tolerant, oily or dry?
Women with acne are also in the anti-aging skin care age group. Skin aging starts at age 25, and acne after 25 is ‘adult’. The good news is that both concerns are addressed simultaneously with the best products – phew!
When I create a skin care routine for patients with adult female acne, I usually end up mixing and matching a retinoid, glycolic acid and pyrithione zinc. I may also use benzoyl peroxide to spot treat pimples. We select products to match her skin tolerance, oiliness, protection from dryness, and the feel she desires to have on her skin around the clock.
There are 4 steps to a complete skin care routine:
The Best Products to Treat Adult Female Acne for Each Step:
I have patients wash with the Calming Zinc Bar Soap because of skin yeast called pityrosporum. It often plays a role in adult acne. Use this once a day, alternating with another cleanser such as the Extra Strength Foaming Skin Cleanser or my Acne Treatment Cleanser. Follow up with the Naturally Hydrating Toner to get skin clean, and ready to absorb correcting actives.
I almost always recommend a retinoid, because they work so well. Options include prescription tretinoin (Retin A) or a professional strength retinol like my Retinol Intensive Night Cream. Retinol helps wrinkles, lightens dark marks from old acne lesions, and helps keep pores from getting clogged and forming blackheads.
Acne accompanied by blackheads, clogged pores, or hyperpigmentation benefits from glycolic acid, salicylic acid and/or benzoyl peroxide. Simple options include Acne Treatment Pads, Glytone Exfoliating Lotion, or Acne Treatment Lotion with 2.5% benzoyl peroxide.
I balance inflammation and redness with Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy. This also helps to keep skin supple without oil.
Given this powerful skin care routine, hydration must be protected and balanced. My favorite product for adult female acne is the Daily Cream for Normal to Oily Skin.
Here’s a note on makeup: Pure and oil-free mineral makeup powder is dusted over the complexion on top of sunscreen, during the day or moisturizer at night.
How Does This Look In A Daily Skin Care routine?
I’ll give you two examples: one for oily skin, and one for dry to normal skin. Both routines fight acne and skin aging/sun damage.
Adult Female Skin Care for Oily Complexions
- Daily Moisturizing Face Cream for Oily to Normal skin where you need it (usually not the T-zone!)
Adult Female Skin Care for Normal to Dry, or Sensitive Complexions
- Extremely Gentle Foaming Facial Cleanser, followed by the Naturally Hydrating Toner
- Bamboo and Clay Thermal Exfoliating Scrub twice a week
- 10% Glycolic Acid Face Cream, layered on top of the Retinol. If your skin is sensitive, hydrate with the Daily Face Cream instead
Are you looking for more information on other types of acne, such as back or chest acne? Click here to visit my Advice Pages for Acne where you will find more information.