We outgrow many things as we get older. Boybands, relationships, fashion disasters. Unfortunately for some of us, zits ain’t one of them.
Thing is, adult acne needs to be treated with kids gloves, because older skin tends to be drier, more sensitive and slower to heal than adolescent skin. Dr Ang Por, dermatologist at Dermatology Associates, suggests washing twice a day with a cleanser that has ingredients like salicylic acid, sulphur or tea tree, while avoiding abrasive scrubs with non-dissolving particles.
When choosing a treatment product, helpful ingredients to look out for include benzoyl peroxide, sulphur and resorcinol which kill acne-causing bacteria. “Start at a lower concentration first, like using 2.5% benzoyl peroxide rather than 5% or 10% in case of irritation,” says Dr Ang. “Salicylic acid (BHA), glycolic acid (AHA) and lactic acid are also good because they exfoliate the skin, thereby reducing blackheads and whiteheads. Tea tree oil is antibacterial and useful for spot treatment.”
Stick to moisturisers and sunscreens that are light textured (lotions, light cream, serum or gel), water-based and oil-free. “It’s best to use moisturisers without preservatives or fragrance in case of allergies,” she advises. “Masks are optional. Some may find a clay mask useful to curb oil, while others with dry skin may prefer a hydrating mask to moisturise.”
Using two kinds of ultra-fine white clay – kaolin and bentonite – this helps to reduce excess sebum, draw out impurities and refine the look of pores. Mineral-rich thermal water drawn from beneath the French volcanoes of Auvergne rebalance skin’s pH and help to regenerate and fortify skin, while aloe vera and allantoin to soothe and soften.
$39, from Guardian, Watsons and other leading pharmacies
It cleanses acne-prone and oily skin gently and helps to regulate sebum production. At the same time, it maintains the hydrolipidic film on skin’s surface to prevent over-drying and irritation, leaving skin feeling fresh and clean without tightness.
$30.50, from Guardian, Watsons and other leading pharmacies
A firm acne-curing favourite among dermatologists, this moisturiser delivers all-round action. Not only does it promise to lessen the severity of blemishes after just 24 hours, it also helps to correct and prevent acne scars and pigmented marks, thanks to a patented ceramide with proven skin repair properties. Other ingredients in its power cocktail include anti-inflammatory niacinamide, lipo hydroxyl acid, salicylic acid and skin-healing linoleic acid.
$38.90, from Guardian, Watsons and other leading pharmacies
Photo: La Roche Posay
This clear gel uses pure Australian tea tree oil – a natural antibacterial agent – to dry out pimples and dissolve blackheads and whiteheads. It’s free from synthetic parabens, fragrances and colours, as well as mineral oils and lauryl sulphates so sensitive skin can rest easy. Super fast-acting, it’s been known to reduce the size of massive zits in a couple of days.
$11.60, from Guardian
Photo: Thursday Plantation
Specifically formulated for acne-prone adult skin, this serum contains encapsulated salicylic acid to clear existing spots, while retinol and glycolic acid encourage skin turnover to improve skin texture. Kombucha – a black tea ferment said to have strong antioxidant and probiotic benefits – helps reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
$125, from Sephora and Robinsons Orchard
A serum-like liquid-gel treatment, this tackles blemishes without causing stinging or peeling. Witch hazel (natural astringent) helps to control excess oil and minimise the look of pores, while soybean extract delivers soothing and antioxidant effects. Chamomile extract reduces skin irritation, inflammation and bacterial growth. Dab a tiny drop onto emerging or existing spots and you can look forward to seeing them subside in a day or two.
$59, from Guardian
Easy to spread and fast to absorb, this skin-mattifying gel moisturiser regulates sebum secretion and prevents future flare-ups. Its ceramide-boosting and moisture-retaining formula helps to strengthen skin’s barrier function, making skin more resilient against external irritants and dehydration. Eucalyptus extract provides healing and anti-inflammatory benefits.
$34.90, from selected Watsons stores
This fast-absorbing gel has salicylic acid and glycolic acid to slough away the dead skin cells clogging pores, as well as cinnamon bark extract that’s known for its soothing and anti-bacterial benefits. You can also use it to tackle emerging spots. Apply it before bed to soothe the redness and reduce the size of the zit by morning.
$40, from all Kiehl’s stores.
This spot treatment has a proven track record of being highly effective on mild to moderate acne. Based on benzoyl peroxide – commonly prescribed by dermatologists for blemishes – it promises to kill acne-causing bacteria within 48 hours and unblock pores. At 2.5%, it is less intensive than the 5% formulation but it may still be drying for sensitive skin so be sure to apply moisturiser beforehand.
$16.50, from Guardian
Each of these clear adhesive acne patches is a self-contained treatment that delivers targeted care to the offending spot while protecting it from infection and preventing the spread of the acne-causing bacteria. They contain salicylic acid to reduce the zit, antiseptic tea tree oil to clarify and refresh skin and hyaluronic acid to prevent over-drying and irritation.
$56 for 6 sheets of 12 patches, from Sephora
Adult acne requires gentler products as more mature skin can be more delicate. Especially so if your skin type is also dry. That’s where this hydrating lotion comes in. This new range, made for acne-prone skin has botanical extracts like hatomugi and chamomile to treat blemishes while protecting skin’s delicate oil and water balance.
$22.90 from Guardian, Watsons and selected NTUC FairPrice stores.
Photo: Hada Labo