8 ways to deal with acne when your skin should've grown up by now

When, just when, will my skin realise I am a grown-up and stop breaking out?

I’m 38 and still waiting.

It’s not just at that time of the month, although at that time of the month the acne I get is normally one giant eruption that takes over my nose, forehead or chin. It’s incredibly embarrassing – it looks like swelling, then the pimple emerges later.

Um, hello, I’m in my late thirties. Get the hell off my face!

I now have the charming combination of wrinkles and pimples to deal with. I get little pimples, big pimples and I normally can’t resist squeezing them so then I have to deal with the scarring.

Dealing with acne for the past twenty years (sigh) has made me a bit of an expert. I can prevent, treat and disguise pimples like nobody’s business. And now I shall impart all my dodgy skin wisdom on you, my dear friends, because our skin should know better by now.

1. Clean your skin, but not too often

You must, must, must clean your skin twice a day, just like brushing your teeth. But don’t do any more than this because you will break out something rotten and spend the next two weeks dealing with the consequences.

I sometimes lose my mind and start washing, exfoliating and slapping on face masks all in the same day, and I can’t explain to you how much my skin likes to say, “Ha ha, sucker!” I wake up thinking my skin will look awesome thanks to my intense at-home facial – and instead I’m greeted with volcanic eruptions the likes of which I haven’t seen since I was 16.

2. Don’t exercise with makeup on

When you exercise your skin heats up and your pores open up, which means any dirt and grime that was sitting on top of your skin now has the perfect opportunity to sink right in and infect it in the form of pimples. Say to no to toned abs with a side of acne by removing your makeup before you exercise.

I try to time my exercise before I get ready for the day to avoid having to wash my skin too often. Or I just use makeup wipes.

3. Avoid the urge to put extra concealer and foundation on your pimple

An amateur mistake when it comes to your skin is to overuse concealer in an effort to hide acne, which in theory should work but it doesn’t really. What actually happens when you despairingly paint concealer on top of zits is you accidentally highlight your latest breakout.

So you’ve got a pimple or two, big deal. Just put on the same amount of foundation and a touch of concealer and then go about your day. You’ll soon forget about it. And we’ve all had zits. Nobody is going to point and laugh.

4. Highlight your eyes or your lips to get attention off your volcanic eruption

You know what is a really simple trick to bring misbehaving skin into line? Deflect and distract. Do you have a new shimmery gold eyeshadow you’ve been saving for a special occasion? Nothing takes attention off the acne on your chin/cheek/tip of your nose better than gorgeous eyeshadow or even bright lipstick.

To decide which area of your face to glam up – eyes or lips – choose the location furthest away from your latest breakout. So if the pimple is on your forehead, go for the lips. If it’s on your chin, hit your eyelids with plenty of bedazzling.


5. Squeeze if you have to, but do it at night

I am a skin picker. I’m getting better – now I’m more of a skin searcher… my fingers fumble around looking for areas of interest but I normally resist the urge to squeeze anything.

But sometimes squeezing just has to be done. In those instances, wait until night time – you won’t make it look worse during the day, you can do it properly and cleanly and it will give your skin time to heal overnight with some brilliant product. There’s no need to go overboard, though; you don’t need to cover it in a glob of toothpaste to try and dry it out overnight. Just use your usual products and apply a little bit of spot treatment.

6. Drink lots of water. I think it works

I have noticed when I forget to drink a few glasses of water during the day my skin misbehaves, but it’s a struggle during winter. I usually carry a bottle of water around with me and I don’t actually drink it.

Lately I’ve been knocking back a glass of water whenever I’m in the kitchen for any reason. I chug it down on the spot, otherwise I’ll have a sip and forget about it. It’s especially important to do this first thing in the morning and before every cup of coffee or tea you drink. Make it a habit.

7. Invest in a really good skin cleansing system that suits your skin type

The biggest problem I have as a wrinkly pizza face is finding the right skin cleansing system for my combination skin. When my acne is at its worst, it is tempting to try and fry it off with harsh cleanser and treatments. However, this can be quite drying, which has the charming consequence of accentuating my wrinkles. Boo!

I have experimented a lot and during a recent shopping trip I almost broke into tears explaining my dilemma to the poor beautician I’d zeroed in on. “There’s nothing that suits my skin,” I wailed. She comforted me, handed me a tissue and then gave me a sample of the Dermalogica CromaWhite range, which has been an absolute Godsend. I still use my Olay Total Effects Eye Transforming Cream because my crow’s feet need a bit of extra help. Plus I’m a huge fan of any skin treatments that work and can be purchased while I grocery shop. (Post continues after gallery.)

8. When all else fails, wear really big earrings

I love statement earrings. They channel my inner Melanie Griffiths in Working Girl and they take attention off any pimples that have had the audacity to appear on my skin. Ones that are sparkly, dangly, shimmery and glimmer are the best choice. Diva and Dotti are my favourite dangly earring sources but I have no loyalty and am happy to farm for pimple-deflectors anywhere.
It’s best to pull your hair back a bit so your giant earrings can weave their magic. Flick your hair around for extra ear movement.

You might also like:
How to convince your skin to forgive you
Five small ways to tweak your skincare routine for winter
The face wash so bad it’s been banned

Do you have any tricks for dealing with adult acne?