Too big for breakouts? How to beat adult acne / Today

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Wouldn't it be awesome if acne was like the chicken pox and once you had it, it would never rear its ugly red face again? Instead, acne is more like a weed — you get it, think you've gotten rid of it, and then it comes back — again and again — even when you're supposed to have "outgrown" it.

According to dermatologist Ava Shamban, MD, author of "Heal Your Skin," and Annet King, Director of Training and Development for The International Dermal Institute, acne is a genetic disease that's best addressed by a dermatologist and a qualified skin technician — but even if you can't afford costly doctor visits or prescription medications, there are plenty of things you can do to help banish acne for good. / Today

Check your beauty stash

From makeup to hairspray and everything in between, your cosmetics may contain ingredients that irritate your skin and cause inflammation. (Dirty makeup brushes can also add to the problem by spreading around bacteria.)

The fix: Beware of pore-clogging or inflammatory ingredients such as mineral oil, isopropyl isosterate and myristate, acetylated lanolin, artificial colors like D&C red #30 and PVP (polyvinyl pyrrolidone), and seek out "non-comedogenic" products instead. Also, take a cue from pro makeup artists: Mist your powders and shadows with alcohol after use and clean makeup brushes regularly with a gentle all-natural cleanser (try Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Dish Soap, $3.99), laying them flat to dry.

More From Today: How to apply makeup: 6 secrets I learned at makeup artist school

Choose new products wisely

Before you add new anti-acne products to your regimen, make sure they contain ingredients that work on your specific condition — what best treats teen acne is different from what works well on adults.

The fix: Look for ingredients like niacinamide, yeast extract, horse chestnut extract, zinc sulfate, caffeine, and biotins. They treat acne by inhibiting sebacious (oil gland) activity and shine while reducing the spread of bacteria. (Try OLAY Pro-X Clear Acne Protocol, $46.99.) / Today

Cleanse twice

If you only wash your face once, it could help to double up. The first pass will remove surface stuff like makeup, while the second will clean deeper and stop the spread of bacteria. Be careful not to over-cleanse, since this will dry out your skin and cause it to produce more oil. The key is to use the right product.

The fix: Avoid harsh, soapy cleansers when washing your face. Steer clear of sulfates and use a formula that contains alpha hydroxy acid or salicylic acid to dissolve oil. If using a benzoyl peroxide wash, wear a white t-shirt and/or sleep on white sheets to prevent bleaching your fabrics, says Shamban.

Exfoliate regularly

Weekly exfoliation is key to getting rid of acne-causing dead skin cells and product/oil buildup. The trick is not to overdo it.

The fix: Use a gentle exfoliating product, such as a scrub that contains sea salt or jojoba beads instead of one that uses sharp seeds, granules, or husks. If you don't like the feel of a scrub, opt for products that contain alpha hydroxy acids, lactic acids, or salicylic acids, which also exfoliate. Follow your exfoliation with a sulphur or clay mask to remove excess oil, or a gel- or oat-based mask to treat dehydration or calm further inflammation and redness. After rinsing, massage and moisturize your face with an oil-free product to hydrate and calm the skin.

More from Guide to Fighting Adult Acne

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Avoid unnecessary friction What you're wearing might be part of the problem. That's right, synthetic fabrics (polyester, acrylic, nylon, etc.), sweat-proof/sport clothing, and even friction from your phone can trigger or worsen acne.

The fix: Opt for natural, breathable fabrics (cotton, silk, etc.) and avoid rubbing your skin against rough materials. It's also a great idea to disinfect your phone with alcohol or a tea-tree-oil-and-water mix on a regular basis — the bacteria that lingers there can cause nasty chin breakouts.

Clean your house

Your home may be rife with hidden offenders (like pet dander, bacteria, and dead skin cells) that can clog and irritate your skin.


The fix: 1. Clean any areas that collect pet dander and try not to put your face anywhere your pet lies down. 2. Use a cotton pillowcase, and wash or replace it daily. 3. Reduce (or eliminate) the use of fabric softener as it can coat the skin and cause more irritation.

Skip the junk food

The jury is still out on how food affects your skin, but we say it's better to be safe than sorry.

The fix: Shamban says to eat lots of fruits and vegetables (they add nutrients and moisture to your skin). King adds that it's wise to avoid high-fat, high-sugar, and processed foods, and possibly dairy. (On a personal note: I am lactose intolerant, and after much experimentation, I've noticed pimples on my face or back the day after I eat dairy, so I think King is onto something here.)

Watch your environment

UV rays, seasonal changes, pollution, and hot, humid climates can stimulate sebum production, which can exacerbate acne.

The fix: Wherever you go, you're bound to encounter at least one of these environmental factors, so there's not much you can do. But we bring this up because whenever you can hang out in the shade, avoid polluted areas, and stay cool in hot weather, you should. And use oil-free sunscreen every day, no matter what the temp.

Click here for more help with your skin care routine.

More from Guide to Fighting Adult Acne

The Best Tips for Fighting Acne and Aging

13 Reasons You're Getting Zits