Best Adult Acne Treatment: Achieve Clear Skin at Any Age

Adult acne is a common skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Unfortunately, this condition doesn’t choose, impacting people of all ages, races, and genders. However, with the right treatment, you can significantly reduce acne breakouts and improve the overall health of your skin and confidence.

Understanding how to treat adult acne effectively is key. This guide will give helpful information and provide a list of the best adult acne products, depending on the severity of your acne.

What Is Adult Acne?

Adult acne, also known as acne vulgaris, is often caused by excess sebum, a form of oil produced in our skin’s sebaceous glands. This oil, combined with dead skin cells, can block your pores and lead to different types of acne, such as pimples, or more severe forms, such as cystic acne.

Skin type also plays a significant role in acne formation. Acne-prone skin is often characterized by excess oil production and tends to break out more frequently. However, dry skin may also suffer from acne due to skin irritation from harsh skin care products.

adult acne treatment

Common Causes of Adult Acne

  • Excess Oil Production: Overproduction of oil (sebum) by the skin’s oil glands can lead to clogged pores, providing an ideal environment for acne-causing bacteria to thrive.
  • Stress: Stress triggers our bodies to produce more androgens, a hormone that can stimulate the skin’s oil glands and hair follicles, leading to acne.
  • Hormonal Changes: Fluctuations in hormones can also cause acne. This is especially common in women due to menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause.
  • Contact Irritation: Certain skincare or hair products can irritate the skin and cause breakouts.
  • Lifestyle Factors: Other potential causes include not washing off makeup, being stressed, traveling, and eating a diet with too much sugar or refined carbohydrates.

The Role of Hormones in Adult Acne

Hormones play a critical role in the appearance and severity of adult acne. Men and women of all ages can experience hormonal acne, but it’s particularly common among women due to their natural hormonal cycles.

Here’s how hormones contribute to acne:

  • Increased Oil Production: Hormones stimulate the sebaceous glands, which produce oil. When levels of hormones, more specifically, androgens, increase, they trigger an increase in sebum (oil) production. This excess oil can clog the pores, leading to acne breakouts.
  • Hormonal Fluctuations During Menstrual Cycle: Many women experience breakouts or worsening of their acne in the week leading up to their period. Acne in women is often a result of fluctuations in hormones such as progesterone and estrogen.
  • Pregnancy and Menopause: Hormonal changes during pregnancy can lead to breakouts, as can hormonal shifts during perimenopause and menopause.
  • Hormonal Imbalance: Conditions associated with hormonal imbalances, such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), often have acne as a symptom.
  • Use of Certain Medications: Hormonal medications, including oral contraceptives, can impact your skin’s behavior. Some types can trigger acne breakouts, while others can be a form of treatment for adult acne.

Treatment Options for Acne and Acne Scars

RF Microneedling

There are two types of Rf microneedling for acne and acne scars with different benefits:

  • Agnes RF Microneedling for Active and Cystic Acne: Agnes RF is a device specifically designed to treat active and cystic acne. The combination of microneedling and radiofrequency targets the sebaceous (oil) glands responsible for acne, effectively reducing the glands and diminishing acne at its source. It also helps to destroy the bacteria that triggers breakouts. Moreover, the treatment promotes collagen production, providing added benefits like skin tightening, reducing fine lines, and improving skin texture.
  • Scarlet RF Microneedling for Dark Spots & Scars: Scarlet RF is another version of RF microneedling specifically targeting dark spots and scars. The precision-delivered radiofrequency energy breaks up pigment and stimulates your skin’s natural healing process to repair scarred tissue. The treatment is highly effective in reducing the appearance of acne scars, pigmentation, and melasma. Stimulating collagen and elastin production also improves skin tone and texture.

Advanced Skin Care

Advanced skincare for acne and acne scars refers to treatments that go beyond regular cleansing, toning, and moisturizing routines. These treatments often involve professional-grade products or procedures designed to treat persistent acne and reduce the appearance of acne scars.

Here are some of the procedures you can choose from:

  • Zo Skin Health: This line of skincare products was developed by renowned dermatologist Dr. Zein Obagi. It utilizes cutting-edge science and potent ingredients to create products that help maintain the results of treatments and provide effective daily skincare. Zo Skin Health’s range includes treatments targeting anti-aging, acne, pigmentation, and other common skin concerns.
  • SkinBetter Science: This represents the next-level skincare line aiming to create innovative and transformative products that offer comprehensive anti-aging benefits. Their formulas employ specific, advanced ingredients like retinoids and alpha hydroxy acids to provide an all-encompassing, science-backed approach to skin improvement, focusing on rejuvenation, anti-aging, and protection.
  • Alastin Skincare: Alastin focuses on the skin’s extracellular matrix, which is the structural network of molecules right under the skin’s surface. Their patent-pending TriHex Technology stimulates this network to create new, healthy elastin and collagen. Alastin provides products that pre-condition skin before cosmetic procedures and enhance healing afterward, along with a range of regular skincare products for maintaining healthy skin.
  • Alumier MD: This skincare line is a global brand offering science-backed, luxurious formulations with innovative delivery systems. These products are designed by experienced biochemists, physicians, and skin care specialists. Alumier MD features solutions to address various skin concerns such as aging, acne, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation. Their approach centers on achieving a balance between a skin’s health and its appearance.
adult acne treatment

How to Identify the Best Acne Treatment for Adults and Example Products to Use

The best adult acne treatment depends on your skin condition. Over-the-counter treatments with active ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or glycolic acid can be effective for some. These ingredients work by exfoliating the skin, reducing inflammation, and fighting acne-causing bacteria.

Here’s a breakdown of different acne types and the best treatments for each:

1. Mild Acne

Mild acne is characterized by occasional breakouts with only a few pimples. The key to treating mild acne is consistency and gentleness. Choose gentle cleansers and moisturizers that won’t strip your skin of natural oils. Ingredients like tea tree oil, green tea extract, and chamomile can be soothing for the skin. Look for products labeled non-comedogenic, meaning they won’t clog pores.

Here are some recommended treatments for mild acne:

Benzoyl Peroxide

This powerful ingredient kills bacteria and helps prevent future breakouts. Start with a low concentration (2.5% or 5%) and gradually increase if needed.

Salicylic Acid

This beta hydroxy acid (BHA) exfoliates the skin and helps unclog pores. Look for a concentration of 2% for best results.

Glycolic Acid

An alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), glycolic acid helps remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, and reduce inflammation. A concentration of 5% is recommended for mild acne.

2. Moderate Acne

Moderate acne is characterized by more frequent breakouts with more pimples and occasional cysts. In addition to using active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, it’s important to incorporate products that regulate oil production and reduce inflammation.

Here are some recommended treatments for moderate acne:

Topical Retinoids

Derived from vitamin A, retinoids can help prevent clogged pores and reduce inflammation. Start with a low concentration like topical, and gradually increase as needed.


This ingredient helps to unclog pores and has anti-inflammatory properties. Look for products with a sulfur concentration of 3-5%.

Azelaic Acid

This gentle acid helps to regulate oil production and has anti-inflammatory properties. A concentration of 10% is recommended for moderate acne.

3. Severe Acne

Frequent breakouts with painful, inflamed pimples and cysts characterize severe acne. It may also include nodules of hard, deep-seated bumps under the skin. Severe acne often requires a combination of prescription medications and professional treatments.

Here are some recommended treatments for severe acne:

Oral Antibiotics

These medications can help reduce inflammation and kill bacteria. They are often prescribed in combination with topical treatments.

Isotretinoin (Accutane)

This powerful medication is reserved for severe cases of acne and can only be prescribed by a dermatologist. It works by reducing oil production, unclogging pores, and killing bacteria.

Professional Treatments

Options include chemical peels, laser, and light therapy. These treatments can help reduce inflammation and kill bacteria to improve the appearance of severe acne.

Birth Control Pills

For women, certain birth control pills can help regulate hormones and reduce acne breakouts.

Scarlet RF

It is a good treatment for dark spots that severe acne has caused.

It’s important to note that everyone’s skin is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. It may take some trial and error to find the best treatment for acne for you. If over-the-counter treatments are not effective, consult a skin care specialist for personalized recommendations.

Remember to be patient and consistent with your chosen treatment plan, as it can take several weeks or months to see significant improvement.

Acne Treatments for Different Skin Types

  • Normal Skin: A gentle, non-comedogenic, neither oily nor dry cleanser will work best on normal skin. Over-the-counter spot treatments with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can also be beneficial. Always follow your treatment with a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer to keep the skin well-balanced.
  • Oily Skin: Use an oil-free, water-based cleanser to prevent extra oil build-up for oily skin. Ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or glycolic acid help control oil production. Clay masks can also effectively clean the pores and remove excess oil. Micro-needling is also advised.
  • Dry Skin: In contrast, dry skin needs extra moisturization. Look for gentle, fragrance-free acne treatments, and always follow with a hydrating moisturizer or serum. Avoid harsh ingredients like alcohol and benzoyl peroxide, which can cause further dryness and irritation.
  • Combination Skin: Treating acne for combination skin can be tricky. You’ll likely need a combination of treatments – a gentle, water-based cleanser, a non-drying spot treatment, and a lightweight hydrating moisturizer. Applying different treatments to different areas of your face might be necessary.
  • Sensitive Skin: Sensitive skin is prone to redness, itching, and dryness, so a gentle approach is necessary. Try lightweight, fragrance-free skin care products, and avoid common irritants like alcohol, menthol, and eucalyptus. Acne treatments with azelaic acid or niacinamide could be beneficial due to their calming properties.
  • Acne-Prone Skin: Salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or retinol can benefit acne-prone skin. These active ingredients reduce inflammation, unclog pores, and prevent breakouts. Following treatments with an oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturizer will help to maintain the skin’s moisture barrier.
  • Mature Skin: Mature skin can experience hormonal acne and signs of aging. Retinol-based products can effectively treat acne while stimulating collagen production and reducing wrinkles. Make sure to follow with a rich, anti-aging moisturizer to combat dryness. You may also try Alumier MD, which SeamLess Skin MD offers.
  • Skin With Scarring: For skin with post-acne scarring, dermatological treatments such as chemical peels, fractional lasers, and Agnes RF micro-needling can effectively treat active and cystic acne. Topical products containing glycolic acid or retinol can also help diminish the appearance of scars over time. Severe acne can cause scarring.

What to Look for in an Aesthetician When Treating Adult Acne 

Here are the benefits of seeking acne treatment for adults from a professional rather than relying on over-the-counter products or home remedies:

  • Experience: Choose an aesthetician with experience treating adult acne, particularly cystic hormonal acne. They should understand the unique challenges and treatments required for this condition.
  • Specialized Training: Aestheticians specialize in cosmetic skincare treatments. Ensure they have received training in acne treatment, including the use of specific tools and products.
  • Treatment Approach: An aesthetician should offer a range of treatment options, from extractions to topical medications such as benzoyl peroxide, which can kill bacteria and clear pores. They should also be knowledgeable about hormonal acne and its specific treatment needs.
  • Product Knowledge: Look for an aesthetician who understands the different types of acne products available, including those suitable for sensitive or irritated skin. Traditional benzoyl peroxide (BPO) products can be very drying and irritating, but there are more gentle micronized, liquid BPO options available.
  • Personalized Care: The aesthetician should provide personalized care, examining your skin under a bright light and looking for areas of damage. They should also be able to create a custom skincare routine for you.
  • Reviews and Recommendations: Check reviews and get recommendations from others who have had positive experiences with the aesthetician.

Achieve Clear Skin at Any Age With Seamless Skin M.D.

While adult acne can be frustrating, remember that each person’s skin is unique. What works for one may not work for another. Identifying your unique skin type, type of acne, and skin concerns is crucial, as is partnering with a certified skincare professional for a personalized treatment plan.

Remember, achieving clear skin is not about perfection; it’s about managing your skin condition and health in the best way that works for you. Look for the best treatment for adult acne that fits your lifestyle, and don’t get discouraged when progress seems slow. The skin is allowed to take its time to heal. Contact us today or schedule an appointment to start your journey to healthier skin. We’re here to answer all your questions and help you find a good acne treatment that suits your needs.