skin care

3 Causes and Solutions for Late-Onset Breakouts

Having acne as an adult can be a jarring experience. You likely feel embarrassed that your face is breaking out. You might feel self conscious, perhaps spending hours of time perfecting your makeup routine to hide your spots. Even if fellow colleagues and friends are also experiencing acne, you may feel isolated in your struggles. 

The truth is millions of adults have acne. The main cause is the same as it was during your teenage years — pores are clogged with excess oil and dirt. During adulthood, however, the triggers of acne may be slightly different than they were during puberty. Your mature body responds to environmental and internal triggers differently than it did when you were in high school. 

Scrubbing your face with expensive skincare products isn’t necessarily going to solve your problem. The key is to determine the root cause of your late-onset breakouts. Here are three main causes of adult acne along with solutions to help solve your skin problems. 

1. Fluctuating Hormones

Hormones aren’t just something that can trigger acne during your teenage years; they can also generate unwanted spots during adulthood too. Hormones are chemical messengers, responsible for controlling how cells and organs function. Fluctuating hormone levels are not uncommon and may indicate an imbalance in your body. 

If you menstruate, you may notice a flareup of acne around your period. This is because your estrogen and progesterone levels are fluctuating. When this happens, more oily is produced, leading to clogged pores. If your estrogen and progesterone levels are either too high or too low, you may experience even more acne flares. 

For many, regulating hormones can be solved through a combination birth control pill. Hormones found in the pill resemble those that the body produces naturally, stopping ovulation from happening in the first place. By talking with a healthcare provider, you can get online acne treatment — like the birth control pill — sent directly to your home. This seamless solution makes it easier to get the treatment that you need without the hassle of going to the pharmacy. 

2. Stress

For many adults, stress is a consistent undertone to daily life. You are jolted awake by your blaring alarm clock, rushing to get ready for the day and make it to work on time. While at work, you are overburdened by the amount of items on your to-do list. You drink cup after cup of coffee to get through the day. Back home, you rush to complete housework chores while also preparing to get up and do it all over again tomorrow. 

If you feel stressed just reading this paragraph, then there’s a good chance that you feel empathy toward this type of routine. Stress is a normal part of life, but the key is finding ways to deal with it. If left unmanaged, you may experience side effects such as insomnia, fatigue, gut issues, and acne. When you are stressed, your body produces more androgens. This type of hormone is responsible for producing oil, which can lead to acne. 

Stress doesn’t disappear on its own, unfortunately. You’ll need to put some thought into how you reduce your stress. Blocking off time to go to yoga at the end of the workday might help you unwind. If not, a walk around the neighborhood in the morning can be a good way to start your day. Prioritizing yourself and lowering your stress levels will enable you to show up better for others. Not to mention, it will also help calm your skin and keep adult acne at bay. 

3. Skin and Hair Care Products

What you put on your body matters. With thousands of skin and hair care products on the market, it can be challenging to find what works for you. Brands and beauty influencers may try to sway you to particular routines. However, remember that everyone has unique skin and therefore unique needs. If you’re experiencing breakouts, you need to reevaluate what you use. 

Perfumes and essential oils may enhance your skincare experience, but they can also trigger acne. These chemicals can cause inflammation and even irritation, aggravating your skin rather than calming it. Additionally, exfoliating products with sodium chloride (also known as sea salt) may feel good to your skin, but again can trigger irritation. And oil-based hair products that drip onto your face may also be clogging your pores.

If you think your skin or hair care products are to blame, take a pause from your current routine. It can take some trial and error before you discover what is causing your acne. Go back to the basics of your skin routine, opting for a simple cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen. For your hair, choose a gentle shampoo and conditioner and forgo using masks and gels for the time being. Simplifying your product line up and focusing on products with acne-fighting ingredients, like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, can get you back to baseline.  


Solving your acne problems as an adult may not be an easy fix. It can take some time to understand what’s causing your breakouts and how to calm them. Don’t get discouraged if your first line of attack doesn’t win the battle. Stay diligent with healthy skincare habits and remember that breakouts don’t define who you are.   

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