Hormones often have the last word on how your skin behaves, regardless of your life stage. But that’s not to say their effects can’t be minimised. Liz Dwyer looks at what fluctuations dominate in your twenties and thirties, and how best to safeguard your skin from hormonal havoc.
Adult acne – why now?
“Almost a third of women are now presenting with some form of adult acne, usually in their early thirties,” says leading dermatologist Dr Rosemary Coleman, who goes on to suggest that hormones are the main factor.
“In particular, those having babies and those coming on and off the contraceptive pill, as they experience lots of oestrogen and progesterone swings. Plus, stress is a major trigger of hormone imbalances, and [at this age] when women are trying to establish a career or raise a young family or both, sandwiching in a social life too, that pressure can be enormous.”
How to handle it
Above all, you should try and see a dermatologist or skin specialist to identify the root cause of your acne, as it may be linked to reproductive issues. Or those blemishes may actually be papulopustular rosacea (common in Celtic skin), which confusingly presents as bumps and pimples that look a lot like acne, but require an utterly different course of treatment.
Your doctor can prescribe potent creams, which contain actives you can’t otherwise access, like fusidic acid and betamethasone, a combination of which we’ve found to work almost overnight on extreme breakouts.
Alternatively, to take down inflammation, they may prescribe oral medication to inhibit the effects of hormone receptors within the skin. These hormone receptors are particularly prevalent around the jaw and chin, so it’s no coincidence this is where most women experience breakouts. For over-the-counter solutions, a three- pronged attack using sulphur, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide we’ve found is a winning combination.
Salicylic acid dissolves the dead cells, which cause pores to clog and inflame. Benzoyl peroxide kills the blemish-causing bacteria that lingers in pores and on the skin’s surface, while sulphur boasts antimicrobial qualities and helps skin shed quicker to free up clogged pores.
For all three ingredients in one easy-to-use regime, try Mario Badescu Acne Repair Kit, €56, left, which contains the cult Drying Lotion, which clears up whiteheads overnight, and the Drying Cream to conceal blemishes as they heal, while the Buffering Lotion helps fight larger areas of deep eruptions and prevents new acne before it starts.