4 Things to Try when Dealing with Adult Acne

Health & Wellness

Still dealing with breakouts? Or maybe they’ve started to come on out of nowhere? Unfortunately, zits don’t always go away when your teenage years do. But they don’t have to rule your adulthood, either. Hormones, diet, stress—so many factors come and stay in our lives that will impact how our skin looks both today and for the years to come. While acne is unfortunately age-agnostic, there are some simple and effective ways to get skin in check as an adult. So whether you’ve been dealing with breakouts for awhile like I was or dealing with something more sudden, here’s a few things to try for healthier-looking skin.

1. Check your plate. Dermatologist and author of Feed Your Face, Jessica Wu, said it best, “I tell my patients that what they put in their mouths is as important as the products they apply on their skin.” Our gut is at the center of how we look and feel. If you’re not regularly eating a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods, that’s likely a big culprit for breakouts. It’s pretty simple, really. When you eat unprocessed, whole foods, your body can easily absorb all the nutrients and benefits. When you eat an avocado, for instance, all your body has to process is that avocado and its rich, heathy fats. When you opt for an overly processed frozen meal (not all are created equally), your body doesn’t reap the benefits of the nutrients in the foods because they’re not in their original, pure state. Of course, it’s hard to enjoy something fresh at every bite, but try making some simple swaps first. Even things like granola bars, protein shakes, cereals, oatmeals can be packed with extra sugar, salt and other “preserving” ingredients that can irritate skin. Try cutting out as many of these unfriendly foods as possible for 1 week and see what a difference it can make. Be sure to drink plenty of water too, to flush out toxins and keep skin hydrated from the inside out. To kickstart the day, hot lemon water with ginger is a great way to promote healthy digestion all day long.

2. What’s new in your routine? Did you recently switch to new makeup, start using a new cleanser, or buy different laundry detergent? Skin is so sensitive and it could simply be that you’re irritated by new ingredients. Either, wait it out for a week or two and see if it’s just your skin trying to adapt to something new, provided it’s a quality product, or, if the problem persists, go back to sticking with what works. The people I know with the clearest and healthiest skin have simple, consistent routines. I know that’s not the sexiest thing when it comes to beauty talk but when it comes to your face, simple is best. My regime involved way too many products in my early 20’s. When I adopted a more simple, pure routine of gentle cleansing and applying natural oils for moisture, my skin became much more calm and has stayed that way for years. Much like food, the less ingredients on your skin, the better it will process what you put on it.

3. Cut out dairy. This was a game changer for me. For years, I always have some kind of breakout. After reading about this suggestion from someone (who happened to have bright, clear skin), I decided to give it a go myself. Giving up my daily yogurt and cheese on my salads at lunch was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! And while I certainly enjoy the occasional cheeseburger, I don’t miss it every day because the results of having steady skin make the sacrifice worth it. So what’s so bad about cheese? First, whole forms of cheese and goat cheese, in particular, should be tolerated just fine by skin—in moderation. But due to the high traces of hormones often found in dairy, this can contribute to inflammation in the body and therefore, cause inflamed, bothered skin. If this tip is more feasible for you than the first one, I would start with this route as I’ve seen it be most effective for myself and friends. Go dairy-free for at least 2 weeks to see if you notice any changes. Already missing it just thinking about it? Stock up on vegan-friendly nutritional yeast. It more than makes up the flavor plus it offers a boost of B-vitamins. Bonus, they carry it at Trader Joe’s.

4. Cut out sugar. Not all of it! Just try to replace that sweet tooth with natural sources like fruit or dark chocolate. These sources of sugar have lower glycemic levels so they won’t spike your blood sugar which can trigger breakouts. If you really want to be good, opt for low-glycemic fruits like berries, pears or grapefruits, and chocolate with high cocoa content, over 70%.

One of my favorite low-sugar treats that’s still super satisfying is whipping up my healthy, dairy-free hot cocoa. This recipe makes an especially good nighttime treat because it’s very low in sugar so you won’t spike your blood sugar before bed, which is one of the worst things you can do if you’re trying to maintain or lose weight. Foods high in sugar don’t process and digest well late at night so your body often stores them as fat. The second perk to this late night treat is the anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric, the spice that gives mustard its yellow color. The golden milk mixture used in this recipe contains this healing spice as well as other nourishing ingredients: traditional Ayurvedic herbs like black pepper, cardamom, vanilla, and ashwagandha.

Healthy Hot Cocoa with Turmeric (Dairy-Free)


  • 1 C almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 2 t cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 1/2 t almond extract
  • 1 t golden milk powder (I like Gaia Herbs)
  • pinch of sea salt (I like pink Himalayan)

Heat the almond milk in a saucepan over medium heat or microwave for 60-90 seconds. Once heated, stir in remaining ingredients and enjoy warm.

Image sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

BY Brooke Domaas - July 24, 2017

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Letting my Mum know about this blog post – she’s in her fifties and STILL has acne – it drives her nuts!

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

July 26, 2017 7:30 am

Double cleansing really helped my skin.

August 4, 2017 10:03 am

It is so great to see an approach that goes beyond recommendations for (often harsh) products! I had mild-to-moderate adult acne through my 20s and into my 30s, and had an adversarial relationship with my skin. In my late 30s my acne worsened, and a host of other health issues led me to address my diet. Eliminating gluten improved my skin and gut issues a bit, and encouraged me to also eliminate dairy. The change was fast and dramatic. My skin hasn’t looked this good since before puberty! It has also helped to shift my mindset, from one of battling… Read more »

August 9, 2017 7:45 am
Reply to  Nicole

Thanks for sharing, Nicole! I, too, wish I had learned the lesson of simple skin earlier on in life!

I think it’s a great message to spread to younger women so they can embrace a fresher approach to beauty early on in life.

February 27, 2018 1:15 am

Thanks for sharing, Nicole! I, too, wish I had learned the lesson of simple skin earlier on in life http://euro-to-usd.com/

Most-read posts:

Did you know W&D now has a resource library of  Printable Art, Templates, Freebies, and more?

take me there 

Arrow Alone

Get Our Best W&D Resources

for designing a life well-lived


Arrow Alone

the latest

Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.

Hi, I'm Kate. Welcome to my happy place.











follow us on instagram @witanddelight_