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Dealing with Adult Acne

Updated on January 7, 2013

Will it ever go away?

My mother told me when I was in my teens that my acne would go away when I was about 18. Well, I am 40+ and still waiting. I have tried about everything, including red to blue light. Nothing has worked for me like the regimen I describe. Some of my experience flies in the face of the usual. Your skin may not be anything like mine; please do not substitute my experience for your common sense or your own medical advice. FYI: I do not have any financial or other interest in the products mentioned below, other than to provide an idea of what works for me.



Managing skin bacteria:

  • Rubbing alcohol. Yes, I mean it. Many years ago, a doctor told me that I would never be able to control the bacteria on my skin if I did not clean it with rubbing alcohol at least one a day. For me, it has been the truth, and remains so. In earlier years, I used straight rubbing alcohol on cotton pads to clean my face. Over the years, I cut the alcohol 1/2 with witch hazel. Currently, I place a few drops of jojoba oil on the cotton pads and then saturate with alcohol, either straight or mixed with witch hazel. I suffer increased or recurrent outbreaks every time I omit this step. I have not had any luck with blue light therapy for skin bacteria.

Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate:

  • Before fruit acids, I exfoliated with salicylic acid as part of a treatment preparation, as well as mechanically with a fiber sponge. Salicylic acid preparations now come in other forms, sometimes mixed with something like benzoyl peroxide. I get the strongest over-the-counter concentration available. I have never found benzoyl peroxide on its own to be efficacious for me. I now rotate a couple of different preparations, including one with a strong concentration of fruit acids. Rotation seems to produce better exfoliating results. I have learned to live with a little peeling from time to time. My current favorite is the Neutrogena Acne Stress Control Treatment. I have been using this product for a couple of years, and it still works for me.


  • Moisturizer. A lighter moisturizer has always worked better for me, although now from time to time I find I need one that is more emollient. I have tried expensive and inexpensive products, including those containing neuropeptides. For the first time in my life, I have purchased a moisturizer for the second time: M. Asam VINOLIFT Skin Tightening Cream. A little goes a very long way, and it helps clear the dry aspects quickly.


  • I use what I like. My current favorite is mineral powder. In earlier years, I did not have much problem with retaining marks. As I have aged, however, the marks seem to stay around for weeks, although they eventually resolve. I have found that a yellow concealer works best for me in hiding marks.

Hormones and Other Considerations

  1. How is your thyroid? Several years ago I was diagnosed with low thyroid hormone production. My skin gets worse every time a thyroid adjustment is needed, in advance of the necessity showing up in a blood test.
  2. What's in your diet? Since my teenage years, oil or grease in my diet traveled directly to my skin. I know it's not supposed to, but it does. Lately, getting enough good oil in my diet to raise HDL cholesterol produced some strange whiteheads. Since I reduced my oil intake, that condition has resolved.


Given the usual skin care advice, that NEVER worked for me, my experience is unusual. I hope that if your skin is unusual and the usual advice has not worked for you, something here might.


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