10 Reasons Why You’re Breaking Out In Acne In Your 30s

10 Reasons Why You're Breaking Out In Acne In Your 30s
10 Reasons Why You're Breaking Out In Acne In Your 30s

10 Reasons Why You’re Breaking Out In Acne In Your 30s?

Acne is one of the more unpleasant rites of passage that we deal with as we grow up.  Of all the changes of puberty it is, perhaps, one of the most distressing.  After all those ‘teenagers’ we see on TV shows (all aged well over 18 in real life) all have perfect, healthy, glowing skin to match their perfect bodies.  The reality is, as we all know, awkward bodies, breaking voices many of us struggle with greasy skin, obvious black heads, angry red blind spots and suppurating pustules all of which inevitably get worse just before an important event.

Getting older may have its downsides.  The relatively carefree life of a teenager and party twenty something elide slowly into responsibilities to maintain a mortgage, a marriage…children.  We expect our skin to play ball, our 30s should be a golden time post acne and pre wrinkles when our skin looks its best.  That healthy smooth glow should be ours for the taking.  So why, when we look in the mirror, do we still see the depressing evidence of break outs on chins and foreheads?  Why do we still suffer from break outs in our 30s and what can we do about it?  Here are our top 10 reasons and some solutions.

10You Overindulge In Dairy And Sugar

Cheesecake. Satan’s dessert. Dairy and Sugar!!

We know that the super giant caramel latte is the only thing that gets you through the first few hours of work in the morning but too much dairy and sugar can play havoc with your skin.

Too much dairy can lead to breakouts on your cheeks and chin, it can also make your face puffy which can exacerbate the appearance of acne.  This is because the ageing process impacts on our ability properly to digest lactose.  Meanwhile too much sugar can also cause breakouts of cystic acne, those awful red lumps filled with pus that sit below the surface of the skin and Just. Don’t. Go. Away!

If you think your diet may be to blame try cutting out dairy and sugar for a few weeks and see whether it makes a difference to your skin.  If it does you can start slowly introducing small amounts of dairy and sugar back into your daily diet until you find the right balance for you.

9You Sleep In Your Makeup

Wash off that paint you hussy.

When you were a child your parents would always make sure that you washed your face and brushed your teeth before bed.  As an adult you know that you need to do this but be honest, sometimes you are just too tired to bother.  This is a major skin sin!  Doing it occasionally will not to any real harm but letting it become a habit can lead to all sorts of problems.

Your makeup attracts grime and free radicles throughout the day.  While you sleep your body, and in particular your skin, regenerates but if your face is still covered with makeup this process is interrupted.  Your skin will not be able to renew itself as effectively.  The makeup and grime will rub off on your pillow as you sleep and will in turn touch your face all night long (see below).

The net effect of sleeping in makeup is that your pores end up blocked.  The dirt of the day combines with your makeup and the sebum (oil) produced by your skin and settles in the pores.  This nasty mixture attracts the bacteria that cause acne and before you know it you have a nasty breakout on your hands.

So what can you do about it?  The best solution is to stop being lazy and cleanse, tone and moisturize your face before bed.  Of course the reality is that some nights you will be too tired to complete your full beauty routine.  Don’t give yourself a free pass however.  Put some cosmetic cleaning wipes by your bed and you have no excuse not to wipe away the grime of the day.

8You Are Touching Your Face

Get your grubby mitts off your cranium

Your hands get everywhere!  Think about what you do over the space of an hour even just in the office.  You touch your computer, your desk ‘phone, your desk, your door, the office door, the kitchen counter, the kettle, your coffee cup, the toilet door, the toilet and so it goes on.  No matter how clean and hygienic you think you are, no matter whether you wash with warm soap and water after using the toilet and spray antibac gel on your hands every 15 minutes you will touch something and then touch your face.

Of all the surfaces you touch you probably think that the toilet is the most gross (ok public toilets are gross) and wash your hands carefully.  Chances are you touch many other things that are covered in germs and never even think about it nor wash your hands as carefully as you do after a trip to the rest room.  Your own cell ‘phone, for example, will be covered in dead skin cells, grease and nasties from the surfaces it lies on or your hands or face.

Think you don’t touch your face much?  Think again, you touch it far more than you think, from pushing your glasses back up your nose to tucking a strand of hair behind your ear or picking up a telephone, your hands come close to the delicate skin on your face a lot and every time you do germs and bacteria and other nasties will go to your face.  If you are acne prone the very act of touching your face and bringing those nasties to your skin can trigger or exacerbate a break out.

So what can you do?  It is difficult to break the habits of a lifetime and stop touching your face but now that you are a little more aware of the potential problems you should be able to cut down.

7You Are Guilty Of Over-Cleansing Your Face

Don’t go crazy with the cleansers or masks

If you are prone to breakouts it can be tempting to throw products at the problem.  Sadly the solution is not that simple and often the very products you are using to control your problem skin could be exacerbating the breakouts you are trying to control.

Your skin is the largest organ in your body.  It is designed to protect you from the harsh environment in which you live and oil is a key part of that.  Without enough oil your skin becomes dry and vulnerable to damage.  Too much oil, however, causes pores to block and acne spots to form. Because excess oil is a key cause of breakout problems many people try to resolve them by stripping the oil from their skin in the hope that this will prevent blocked pores.  Taking too much oil from your skin, however, causes it to feel taut and dry and your skin responds by producing even more oil which of course leads to blockages which leads to acne.

Concentrate on finding a gentle skin care regime that works with your skin type and get into the habit of cleansing and moisturizing.  It can be tempting to exfoliate your skin to get that perfect smooth feeling but limit this to no more than once or twice a week to avoid over stressing your skin.  Once you have found a good regime stick with it, chopping and changing to the latest ‘wonder product’ will only stress your skin more and, of course, leave you prone to outbreaks.

6You are Using The Wrong Type Of Makeup

Too much of a bad thing

Your makeup is just as important to your skin’s health as your cleansing regime.  Studies in Brazil have shown that 45% of women had skin problems connected to their makeup while 14% had active acne breakouts attributable to their cosmetics.  The problem has even been given its own name, acne cosmetic.  Once you get a case of cosmetic acne it can persist for years, this is because sufferers tend to try to use makeup to cover the breakout which of course only causes it to become worse leading to a vicious cycle of makeup induced acne.

What can you do?  The obvious answer is to avoid wearing makeup altogether but for many people (predominantly women of course), going bare faced is just not an option, whether for personal reasons or due to societal pressure.  If you absolutely have to wear makeup try to stay away from heavy cream based products.  Try to avoid foundations or, if you have to wear them, opt for powder formulations where possible.  Look at the labels and actively choose formulations which are fragrance free and stated to be ‘non-comodogenic’.  This means they have fewer additives and will not block pores.

Use as light a touch as possible when applying your products using clean fingers where you can, avoid rubbing hard or dragging at your skin as this can cause irritation.  You should replace your makeup every few months to avoid the buildup of bacteria so aim to buy smaller bottles and pallets rather than the larger ones. You should also wash your makeup brushes thoroughly every month, this will reduce the buildup of old product and bacteria.  Of course you need to remove your makeup carefully at the end of the day (see 9 above).

5The Weather Is Confusing Your Skin

Changing seasons can wreak havoc on your skin

You may have gathered from many of the points above that your skin does not like change.  If you are lucky enough to live somewhere with a stable and forgiving climate then this problem is unlikely to occur but if you are somewhere with seasonal variations it is likely that your skin will protest by breaking out from time to time.

The worst time for seasonal acne is the change from summer to fall/winter.  As the seasons change the weather gets dryer, the wind chafes at exposed skin and we move from the cold outdoors to dry, heated indoor spaces.  At the same time our exposure to natural light, which helps to combat acne, is reduced.

What is the best way to deal with seasonal acne?  While we don’t recommend making drastic and rapid changes to your skin care regime (see 7 above) you should make some accommodation for winter such as using a slightly less astringent toner and a slightly more nourishing moisturizer.  You should also try to avoid super hot showers and baths which strip the skin of its natural oils.  It is also possible to ameliorate the effects of a dry, artificially heated environment.  You could invest in a humidifier to help up the moisture content of the air in your home but if you don’t want to spend big bucks (either on the initial investment or the electricity to run the thing) you could just place some shallow bowls of water on your radiators or close to your windows.

4Your Medication Is Causing Breakouts

Your Rx may invite pimples

If you are taking medications to treat a long term condition it might be worth reading the instructions to see whether or not your pills could be contributing to your breakout problems.

Doctors are keen to point out that most breakouts caused by medicines are not true acne but rather ‘acneiform drug reactions’.  These differ from true acne in that the breakouts tend to be centered on the body rather than the face and the spots are mostly even in size and shape.  These breakouts can happen even in people who are not prone to true acne.

The most common culprits for true acne breakouts are lithium (used to treat bi-polar disorder), some cough medicines, anti-ageing hormones and cortico-steroids.   Anabolic steroids, commonly used by men to help them bulk up at the gym are also major causes of acne breakouts.

So what can you do?  If you are using steroids to enhance your gym performance you should stop taking them immediately. They are not only bad for your skin but bad for your long term health.  If your break out problems are caused by taking prescription medications you should, on no account, stop taking them.  Instead you need to go to your doctor to talk through the problem.  For many people the drugs causing the breakout are necessary to treat what could be potentially fatal conditions.  Your doctor will be able to prescribe tablets, topical creams or other treatments that will not interact adversely with your primary medication.

3You Are Skimping On Your Sleep

Dreaded keyboard face pimples. The worst.

If you are in your 30s you are busy!  You will be juggling the demands of your job, your relationship (or lack thereof), your family (ageing parents or young children or both).  There are just not enough hours in the day and when you do get to bed it is all too easy to stay up late watching tv or browsing rubbish on your cell because you want to relax and have some time to yourself before you sleep.  Skimping on sleep may seem to be the best solution to your busy life but it  is a terrible idea.  Sleep is the time during which your body regenerates and repairs itself.  It also allows you to dream which is your mind’s way of sorting through the stresses of the day and refreshing itself ready for the next one.

Too little sleep can cause you to become stressed which is linked to breakouts and acne (see 2 below).  Lack of sleep can also contribute to insulin resistance which can prevent your body from dealing with sugars properly, excess sugar is also thought to be a potential cause for adult acne (see 10 above).

So what can you do?  Try to establish a robust sleep routine, aim to go to bed at the same time every night and ban ‘phones, tablets and other bluelight sources (blue light resets the body clock making it hard to go to sleep) from the bedroom.  You should aim to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night.  You will know that you are getting enough when you are able to wake up in the morning without feeling groggy.  A few weeks of good sleep should help to reduce your breakouts.


2You Are Stressed

High stress = acne

Did you know that the stress you feel manifests itself physically?  Stress can do all sorts of things to our bodies, causing them to feel tired, muscle aches, to repair itself more slowly.  One of the most obvious negative effects is breakouts, stress won’t cause acne in someone who does not suffer it, but if you are unlucky enough to be breakout prone you may find stress can trigger an episode.

The connection is fairly well established, studies have noted that students were more likely to suffer from breakouts during exam season than at less stressful times of the year.  That said no one is quite sure about what mechanism connects stress and acne.  Sebum, the substance produced by our skin that gets trapped and causes spots, is produced by cells that have receptors for stress hormones but tests have shown that episodes of psychological stress do not correlated with periods of increased sebum production.  Of course during periods of stress we are likely to touch our faces more and to eat an unhealthy diet, both well-known triggers of acne breakouts and you should do what you can to reduce such things.  Taking some time to yourself during periods of high stress at home and at work can also be of benefit, whether you use the time to read, sleep or meditate it will help reduce your stress hormones and therefore, hopefully, help your latest breakout to start to resolve itself.


Your hormone levels can affect your skin

Hormones are wonderful things, they control our major bodily functions helping us to get things done.  They are complex chemicals that not only cause physical reactions but also impact on our emotional state.  The sudden surge of hormones is responsible for the highly variable emotional state of teenagers and pregnant women.  They are also responsible for acne, particularly breakouts that occur on the chin and jawline.

Teenage acne is typically caused by the increase in testosterone (in both boys and girls) which stimulates oil production.  Acne in adult males is also linked to fluctuations in testosterone and can be exacerbated by intense workouts which cause an increase in testosterone levels.

Acne in adult females is also often linked to hormone fluctuations.  Some women, particularly those who suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) may find that they produce higher than normal levels of testosterone, if you suffer from bad breakouts and irregular periods you should consider having your hormone levels tested as PCOS  can cause problems with conception.  Some women may also find that they are more prone to breakouts towards the end of their monthly cycle when estrogen levels are lower and progesterone levels higher.  For those not trying to conceive the birth control pill can help to regulate and balance the levels of all of these hormones and help reduce monthly and PCOS related breakouts.  Many women also find that the frequency and severity of breakouts improves during and after pregnancy although others report that this worsens the problem.



Sadly some people are just more prone to break outs than others and sadly acne is probably genetic so if your parents suffer from it you are likely to have similar problems.   If you have skin that is prone to oiliness your pores are susceptible to blockage and therefore pimples.  Your hormones could also be at fault.  In these cases all you can do is your best to mitigate the problem by following some of the suggestions we have given both in terms of skin care and self-care.  If the problem is bad and you are suffering from regular, prolonged breakouts you should speak to your doctor.  They may be able to prescribe medication to help.  You should also comfort yourself that the oilier your skin the less prone you will be to wrinkles so you should see the benefit as you age!