7 Adult Acne Myths to (Ahem) Clear Up
Because we all still get zits
Along with pop quizzes and awkward school dances, we thought pesky pimples would be one of those things we left behind in high school. Much to our chagrin, skin woes have followed us well into our 20s, 30s and even (gah!) our 40s. That’s why we set out to learn all we could about adult acne, including the truth about seven common myths.
Myth: Adults Don’t Get Acne
Let’s address the elephant in the room. According to a survey published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 50 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 29 reported having acne. (For ages 30 to 39, it was 30 percent, and for ages 40 to 49, it was 26 percent.) So no, it’s not just a problem for adolescentss. Also, adult acne is more common in women than in men. (Of course.)
Myth: Makeup Makes Acne Worse
The first thing you want to do when you notice a giant zit is cover it up, but is that making it worse? Not necessarily. Some products can clog pores, but if you choose formulas for oily or blemish-prone skin (we like Neutrogena SkinClearing Liquid Makeup and Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer) and you’re diligent about washing it off in the evening, you should be just fine.
Myth: The Best Acne Treatment is the Sun
This one’s kind of a bummer, because UV light actually can be antibacterial (meaning it could help reduce the appearance of acne), but the negative effects of sun exposure—like premature aging and skin cancer—far outweigh the potentially pimple-minimizing positives.
Myth: Birth Control Will Probably Make You Break Out
Quite the opposite. One of the main causes of adult acne is hormone fluctuations. You might think that taking birth control just adds more hormones to the mix, potentially worsening the problem. But oral contraceptives actually help normalize hormone levels and regulate your cycle so your oil glands don't freak out. In fact, three pills (Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Yaz and Estrostep) have been approved by the FDA for treating acne.
Myth: Dirty Skin Causes Acne
Nope. Acne is caused by a number of factors including diet, genetics, hormones and pollution. In fact, washing your skin too much can exacerbate the problem since over-cleansing strips skin of its natural oils, causing it to overcompensate and produce more oil that will then clog your pores.
Myth: Toothpaste Can Work As a Quick Fix for a Pimple
No matter how many supermodels and actresses tell you this is their secret (looking at you, Gigi Hadid), don’t reach for the Crest or Colgate when you notice a blemish. Toothpaste does contain ingredients like baking soda and hydrogen peroxide that can dry pimples out, but it also has a tendency to cause irritation and rashes, since it wasn’t created for topical use.
Myth: If You Stop Eating Chocolate, Your Acne Will Disappear
Thank goodness this is false. While there is a connection between diet and acne, the two aren’t so intricately linked that quitting your occasional (OK, daily) chocolate habit will miraculously clear up your skin. That doesn’t mean you should indulge indiscriminately: Dark chocolate with higher levels of cocoa (say, 70 percent or more) contains less sugar and dairy (two culprits of acne).