While acne is a widespread condition that is stereotypically experienced through our adolescent years, it is also very common for us to experience what is known as adult acne later on in life. 

When we reach adulthood we tend to think we’ve left the days of worrying about acne behind us and we’ve moved on to more grown-up issues like how to cure a hangover! And then BAM we’re slapped with adult acne and you're staring at yourself  in the mirror wondering “wwwhyyy meee…”  

Rise of Acne in Women 

A recent article published in the Dermatology Times explores The Rise in Adult Acne, especially in women. Over the past 10 years, there has been a 10% increase in women who experience adult acne worldwide (can relate). It’s also commonly reported that adults who experience acne suffer from the emotional impacts that come along with acne, according to Brigitte Dreno in the 2022 review of adult acne.   

acne cream, adult acne

Mental Health Effects of Adult Acne 

While we try out best to not allow our acne to affect our confidence or mental state, sometimes, it’s extremely hard. A 2008 study that focused on the prevalence of acne in adults over 20, discovered that 73.3% of respondents had experienced a form of adult acne. That means you're in the majority bestie! In contrast, The New York Times still reports that “Because fewer of their peers have it, adult acne is more socially isolating than teenage acne, and it can have a tremendous impact on a person’s life.” So whilst so many of us are dealing with this problem, it seems that we are yet to recognise just how common it is! And if there's anything worse than dealing with a breakout, it's feeling like you're totally alone in your battle. It's so important to remember to lean on our friends and try our best to not isolate ourselves during these times. 

What our customers had to say about their experience with acne and mental health 

Earlier this year we conducted a survey with our tbh besties and found that 87% of survey participants said that acne had a negative impact on their self-confidence and more than half of survey participants stated that acne had impacted their ability to build relationships with other people. These isolating statistics are a hard reality that is unfortunately experienced by so many people day to day. Remaining confident while dealing with a breakout can seem difficult, but luckily there are resources out there that can help provide some useful tips. 

Causes of Adult Acne 

There are many things that result in adult acne, most of them being out of our control. Four main reasons that acne develops are excess oil production, bacteria, inflammation and clogged pores. On top of these causes, there is also the element of genetics and the fact that acne can be hereditary. 

To take a deeper look at what may be causing adult acne, let's break it down.

Excess oil production

It has been said that when our stress levels are higher we produce higher levels of androgen which can result in the increase of oil production in our skin, initiating  acne.


A combination of stress, hormones and diet can all lead to inflammation of the skin resulting in breakouts.


Bacteria is quite unavoidable, it's everywhere! However, we want to avoid providing the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to thrive in. Going to bed with a full face of makeup after a night out is a prime example. 😉

Clogged pores

Clogged pores is a result of many things, a build-up of dead skin cells, dry skin, not washing your face correctly, using comedogenic products on your face. (😲)

acne cream, adult acne

Underlying Causes of Adult Acne 

It is also important to note that adult acne can sometimes be a signal that you may have an underlying health condition such as polycystic ovarian syndrome. The Medical Journal Of Australia reports that 8-13% of reproductive-aged women experience PCOS.  Hair loss or a sudden increase in hair growth, changes in your menstrual cycle, fast-tracked weight loss or gain paired with an outbreak of acne are all skin-related symptoms that may be waving a red flag to you indicating it's time for a visit to your GP and they will be able to properly assess your situation and provide further clarity. 

Tips for Managing Adult Acne 

I know I said before that most causes of adult acne are out of our control however, let's take a look at what we can control and talk about a few simple things we can do to make our experience with adult acne a little bit easier.

Wash your face

ALWAYS wash your face before bed and NEVER sleep with makeup on, I repeat NEVER SLEEP WITH MAKE-UP ON!

Silk Pillowcases 

Invest in a silk pillowcase. While these not only look and feel pretty they are much gentler on your skin and can be less irritating while experiencing a breakout. 

Acne cream

Invest in a topical acne cream. An acne cream that you can apply topically can make the world of a difference while you are experiencing a breakout. The tbh acne hack cream uses a patented technology that breaks through the biofilm layer of the skin to specifically target acne-causing bacteria and prevent future breakouts.

Knowing your products

When purchasing skincare or makeup products, try to look for labels that say ‘non-comedogenic, ‘oil-free’ or ‘won’t clog pores’- these products are the best for breakout-prone skin
    acne cream, adult acne

      What does non-comedogenic mean?

      When it comes to acne, non-comedogenic products are your best friend. If you have acne-prone or oily skin looking for products with this label on them will change your life. To put it simply, non-comedogenic means it won't clog your pores; exactly what we’re after when experiencing adult acne! If you think about it, layering moisturisers or foundations on top of your skin that don't allow it to breathe underneath won't be beneficial to your acne prone skin. Products with ‘oil-free’ or ‘won’t clog pores’ are also great options. 😉