Top 10 Reasons You Are Breaking out in Acne in Your 20s

Acne in Your 20s

You’ve made it past your teenage angst years, and now you’re an adult. You think you’ve got it made in the shade, at least regarding acne. You may believe that you’re way past the problems that you experienced as a teenager. You might even believe that you’ve left blemishes and breakouts behind along with that first crush (what were you thinking being in puppy love with that person?!) While it makes sense that young adults think they’re past pimples and other blemishes, the sad truth is that they are wrong. Over half of women over the age of 25 still report having acne, and the truth is that if you were lucky enough as a teenager not to suffer from acne, you can still get it in your adult years.

Before you bemoan the fact that you’re going to be pimply and pockmarked for life, don’t fret yet. The pimples are likely to look the same in adulthood, but they’re a different kind than what you had in high school. Adult acne usually focuses on the lower part of the face while teenage acne is on the upper half. The problem is that adult acne is also deeper and can appear as ‘under skin’ pimples that can’t be drained or popped. Even if they do erupt to the surface, don’t pop them!! That is the worst thing you can do for a pimple. Regardless of teenage or adult acne, the cause is usually hormonal changes. However, that’s not the only thing that can cause you to break out in acne during your 20s.


10Hair-styling Products Could Be Exasperating Your Acne

The problem with haircare and styling products is that the ingredient oils can seep into the forehead and cause acne

You may not realize it, but your hair-care products can cause breakouts of acne. It’s actually common enough to have its own name: pomade acne. The problem with haircare and styling products is that the ingredient oils can seep into the forehead, which traps the acne-causing bacteria into the pores. Even if you rinse the shampoo or conditioner out afterward, the oil has still gotten into the forehead.

When this happens, the pores get clogged and inflamed, which results in blackheads, whiteheads, redness, and pus (pimples) along the forehead and hairline. In some cases, it can go all the way around the hairline, even around the neck area.

Along with such, the hairstyle you choose can matter for breakouts. If you have bangs, acne could be made worse because the hair products in the bangs are sitting right on the forehead all or most of the day.

Consider the way you apply the product, as well. If you use spray applicators, you’re spraying the chemicals and oils into the hair, but some of the liquid is bound to get on your face.

To combat these issues, consider growing your bangs out or using a clip to keep them off the forehead. When applying haircare products, use your hands and not a sprayer, and ensure that your hands don’t touch your face or hairline. After using the product, use a facial cleanser to wipe away any styling product that is left behind. You may also want to wait to wash your face until you apply the haircare products.


9Facial Hair Removal Can Cause Breakouts

The best thing to remember is not to shave if you are experiencing an acne breakout to avoid acne

Men and women both fight with facial hair, and while many men do enjoy having a beard or goatee, most men prefer the clean-shaven look. The only issue is that you are trading one problem for another. Women with facial hair want to remove it so that they have a smooth face and nice complexion and many men choose to go clean-shaven, as well. The only problem is that shaving, waxing, and tweezing can cause bumpy skin. The skin tissues swell up, which sends bacteria and dead skin cells deep into the pores. Because it can’t easily be cleaned away with traditional facial cleansers, it sits deep in the pores and can lead to a breakout.

Sometimes, if the bumps are itchy, it’s considered a rash and not acne, but either way, it can cause red bumps on the one part you want to look smooth.

There are many tips available to help you combat developing acne after shaving. The best thing to remember is not to shave if you are experiencing an acne breakout. Wait until the acne clears up so that you don’t get a skin infection or scarring. If the bumps are itchy, it’s likely not acne; use hydrocortisone cream before/after you shave to prevent rash and ease it if you already have one. You can also wash the face or the area to be shaved/waxed before starting and only use products labeled as non-comedogenic because these products are designed not to clog the pores.


8The Skincare Products You Choose Could Cause Acne

If you want to avoid acne, you need to choose products designed for your skin tone or needs and stick with them.

An average woman tries up to 10 new products each year, which is excellent for the cosmetic industry but detrimental to your skin. Switching products frequently don’t give the product enough time to work, but it also challenges your skin with different active ingredients and preservatives. These ingredients can be irritating to the skin and cause a breakout. Along with such, anti-acne products could also be the cause of your new blemishes if you use too many products at once. Many times, women believe that if they switch between multiple acne medications, facial washes, spot creams, and makeups, they are giving their skin all the ingredients they need when they are likely giving the skin too many at once.

That isn’t to say that you can’t use multiple products each day and you may need or want to. It just means that you need to choose products designed for your skin tone or needs and stick with them. Give it about two or three months for each new product. If you dislike that product, you can always try something else later, but you need a few months to give your skin time to get used to it. It’s also important that you apply the products in the right order. Daytime regimens should consist of cleanser, toner, antioxidant creams, eye creams, spot treatments, moisturizers, and sunscreen (in that order). Along with such, you need a nighttime regimen, as well, which can include cleanser, toners or boosters, eye cream, treatment creams, face oil, and moisturizer.


7Your Makeup Remover Could Cause or Trigger Blemishes

Some women just don’t know how to wash their face correctly or what products to use and as a result they get acne.

Many cosmetics are called comedogenic, which means they can clog the pores. When that happens, the cosmetics combine with the skin’s natural oil and causes breakouts that are called acne cosmetic. However, the issue isn’t from the product itself. Instead, the problem happens with how you remove your makeup. Most women wear minimal makeup, so they don’t think they have to wash their face as thoroughly at night to remove it. Some women just don’t know how to wash their face correctly or what products to use.

After a long day of being out of the house, your makeup, dirt, and oil build-up, which is a triple threat that can quickly clog the pores. When the pores get clogged, bacteria can form, which causes the blemishes and causes a breakout.

To combat the makeup-acne issue, consider purchasing noncomedogenic makeup products. They are designed to keep the pores clean and unclogged. However, that alone may not be enough. Even noncomedogenic products can clog the pores if you don’t wash your face correctly, so it’s best to learn how to wash your face. You should wash twice a day and use a gentle cloth, such as a microfiber cloth. You can also use your hands to apply the cleanser and work it into the skin. If you are prone to acne, you may want to use cleansers that are made for acne treatment, but be careful as these products can be drying to the skin. Make sure you only use warm water and not hot water and try to use just the fingertips.


6Your Vacation Might Cause a Breakout

Travel can disrupt normal skin balances because of the changes in humidity and temperature that causes acne

Being in your 20s has some benefits because you usually have no significant payments to make, such as a car or house payment. You may live with your parents or live in a dorm, which means you have more money to spend on vacations (such as spring break). While it can be an exciting time and you may get to meet a ton of new people and enjoy being an adult without all the responsibility, you may find that vacations like spring break can add to your woes. Stress affects the hormone levels, and any hormonal imbalance can cause acne. When you travel, you are likely stressed because you must ensure that you reach the airport and your flight on time. Along with such, travel can disrupt normal skin balances because of the changes in humidity and temperature. If you live in a colder climate and go to Florida for spring break, your skin is likely to notice the difference.

While you don’t have to forego any vacationing and travel plans during the summer (or winter), you should take into account that your vacation might cause a breakout. Therefore, you should focus on products that keep your skin looking its best, which can include gentle scrubs, calming cream, makeup removal cloths and washes, eye cream, and sunscreen. Just make sure that if you pack it for the plane, you follow their guidelines for liquids, such as only taking travel size packages or using 2-ounce bottles. You can find empty bottles in the travel-size section of your local store.


5Sunscreen, While Essential, Can Lead to Breakouts

If you fear that your sunscreen could be to blame for your acne breakouts, you may want to consider looking at the ingredient list.


Sunscreens are essential for your skin. They prevent your skin from burning while in the sun and can offset the damaging sun’s rays on the skin. However, sunscreen has two active ingredients in it. The chemical agents protect your skin from the ultraviolet rays and are absorbed into your skin. The physical agents sit on the surface of your skin to create a sun shield. While the chemicals are designed to be safe for the skin, the physical agents can cause complexion issues.

The physical sunscreen aspect can include titanium oxide or zinc oxide and can prompt you to sweat more beneath them. Because the sweat is, in a sense, covered and unable to dissipate, it sits on the skin and can attract bacteria. The bacteria can get inside the pores, which are also closed because of the sun shield, which can promote acne.

If you fear that your sunscreen could be to blame for your acne breakouts, you may want to consider looking at the ingredient list. Make sure that you skip any sunscreens that have physical agents that can clog the pores. Instead, try to choose products with more chemical ingredients, such as octocylene, oxybenzone, avobenzone, or methoxycinnamate. Many products are now labeled as non-comedogenic, which means they don’t clog the pores. If your product says it is non-comedogenic, you should be safe. However, acne can also be caused by many other factors, such as diet, makeup, and much more. If you do use a non-comedogenic formulation, you may want to look at other aspects of your routine to ensure that you aren’t doing something harmful that could result in more flare-ups.


4Your Diet Plays a Key Role in Outbreaks

The best way to prevent acne breakouts because of diet is to eat healthy foods.

Ah, you knew you couldn’t get away with talk about acne and causes without your diet being brought up. Yes, it sucks that you can’t eat whatever you want, but you already knew that. When you eat unhealthy foods, you end up feeling bigger or heavier. You may notice some water-weight gain or bloat around the stomach. However, what you may not realize is that your diet can cause be the cause of an acne flare-up.

In the past, people thought that chocolate, sugar, and greasy foods were the cause of pimples and while that is partly true, it isn’t all. The food you eat can play a part, but it’s what’s in the food that makes a difference. Processed foods have a lot of unhealthy preservatives added to them to keep them fresh, and these things can cause outbreaks. Along with such, sugar and carbs can lower your blood sugar, which means your body produces more insulin. As a result, the body also produces more oil to compensate and keep your skin hydrated, even though your skin doesn’t need the extra oil.

The best way to prevent acne breakouts because of diet is to eat healthy foods. You probably know that you’re going to eat a little junk each day because most people can’t stay away from sugary beverages, potato chips, and candy/chocolate. However, you can reduce your breakouts and prevent them by eating more omega-3 fatty acids, restricting dairy, and eating foods with a low glycemic index.


3High Levels of Stress Can Cause a Flare-up

Stress doesn’t only spark a breakout, it can make them worse.

While you probably aren’t going to be stressed by the same things that worried you in high schools, such as who you’d go to the dance with and finals, you are still likely to have stress. You may be worried about getting to college, how you’ll fit in, or what you want to do for the rest of your career life. You may still have relationship troubles, and they may be more serious now as an adult. While stress doesn’t spark a breakout, it can make them worse.

In most cases, people who are stressed out tend to eat unhealthily or overeat. Along with such, stress can cause your body to release more neuropeptides, which are inflammatory chemicals. These can spark hormonal changes, which leads to more breakouts. Sometimes, stress is from good things, such as getting ready for a big event or going on vacation. These ‘good’ stressors can still trigger a breakout, which is why you hear horror stories of wedding day pimples.

Stress doesn’t just exacerbate the problem, but it can also increase the acne severity. You may find your pores get clogged with thick and sticky pus, which means you see a bigger and redder pimple.

To combat stress-related acne issues, consider using acne cleansers and products with benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid to clean up any breakouts caused by stress. You can also try yoga, watching funny movies, or meditative breathing exercises to reduce stress levels to help prevent breakouts and flare-ups.


2Your Cell Phone Is Full of Bacteria, Which Can Transfer to Your Face

The phone is exposed to a variety of surfaces filled with bacteria and when it touches your skin, the bacteria are transfferd to cause acne.

All that chatting can help you stay calm, plan for your weekend, and catch up with friends during the hustle-and-bustle of young adulthood. However, it doesn’t bode well for the complexion. Throughout your day, your phone is exposed to a variety of surfaces filled with bacteria. You set it down on the corner of the sink or on the toilet paper dispenser. You toss it on a chair or on a desk. Regardless of where you put it throughout the day, you then pick it up and put it very close to your mouth and face. In some cases, it touches the face. Because of the closeness to your mouth, the moisture can help bacteria thrive, and some of that bacteria causes acne.

To combat this, you can stop talking on the phone throughout the day or make sure to wipe it down with a cloth full of hand sanitizer after/before each use.


1Dry Skin Can Actually Cause a Flare-up of Acne

Dry skin can have tiny cracks inside that you can’t see with the naked eye. It can clog the pores and cause acne.

While everyone knows that oily skin can cause severe acne breakouts, the other extreme can also be to blame for flare-ups. Dry skin can have tiny cracks inside that you can’t see with the naked eye. However, these small fissures and cracks can let bacteria into the pores and face, which can multiply and inevitably cause acne. Plus, as your dry skin flakes off, it can clog the pores, as well.

The best thing to do is gently exfoliate your skin once or twice a week and use a noncomedogenic moisturizing cream. Noncomedogenic products don’t clog the pores as other products do, so you shouldn’t see a flare-up because of the product itself. You may also want to consider showering in lukewarm water rather than hot water. Regardless of your normal cleaning habits, it’s always a good idea to use a moisturizer afterward because it replenishes some of the natural oil that was stripped away from heat, steam, and soap.



Now that you know what can trigger an outbreak of acne, you are prepared to make lifestyle changes that are not only healthy but can reduce your flare-ups and have you looking your best at all times. Just make sure that you focus on eating healthy, reducing stress levels, and removing your makeup each night.

You should also look into skincare products and learn the best way to clean and care for your skin. When a flare-up does happen, you can use over-the-counter products to treat them. Make sure that the products you choose have one or more of the following ingredients: salicylic acid, sulfur, benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, and retinol. You should also gently clean your face twice a day and use your fingertips rather than a harsh washcloth. If you do use a cloth, make sure it is microfiber so that it is soft and not abrasive.

Many 20-somethings keep spot treatment products on hand to combat a single pimple. These can be essential for treating your pimple quickly. Dab a bit of the product on the zit overnight and let it work its magic. These work by being extremely drying and kill the bacteria quickly.

If all else fails, you may want to talk to a dermatologist about your issues. They are likely to go through many of the same points found here, such as diet, stress levels, and more. Therefore, it’s best to work out your diet now rather than waiting. You can also work on finding the best sunscreens, makeup, and other skincare products. Just remember that it’s a trial-and-error process and you need to give the product time to work. Therefore, you may want to take time to research products and spend a few months testing each one out before making a final decision.