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A SPOT OF BOTHER; Think you left acne behind the school bike sheds? Think again. Adult acne is on the rise. We ask experts why it's happening, and how you can blitz zits and keep ageing at bay...

We've all been there: hit with zits that erupt like volcanos. But what if this horror happens not in your teens but in your 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond? One thing's for sure: you're not alone. Cosmetic dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting (drsambunting.com) tells us: 'I'm seeing more women with adult acne than ever before. The typical client is in her 20s or 30s, and has often never had acne before. It can be shattering for self-esteem.' Even ladies with the best facialists on speed-dial can be hit by the blemish blues: the likes of Lily Cole and Amy Childs have all experienced a spot of bother.

So what's driving this skin SOS? In a word: hormones. We all know puberty wreaks havoc with skin, but a different but equally violent hormonal storm can strike skin later in life too. 'Menopause, the Pill, pregnancy and stress are common triggers,' says cosmetic doctor Patrick Bowler (courthouseclinics.com) 'Stress affects our adrenal glands which upsets hormonal balance. This can increase oil production and trigger inflammation, causing skin flare-ups.' For a first-time acne sufferer, it's hard to know where and how to start treating the problem, particularly as many products are targeted at teens rather than older women with skin concerns beyond spots. So what should you be doing - and not doing - about your skin? We find out...

IS ADULT ACNE DIFFERENT TO TEENAGE ACNE?

YES Both forms are hormone-driven but there are big differences. Teens often have skin that's generally spotty; adult acne is often focused around what Dr Bunting calls the 'U zone' of the jaw. 'Adult skin can form painful individual lumps, while the surrounding skin may not be congested,' says Dr Bowler. 'Treatment is focused more on reducing inflammation than cleansing.'

DOES A POOR DIET CAUSE ACNE?

POSSIBLY Chips don't directly cause acne (yay!). 'However a diet that lacks key nutrients won't repair itself adequately, which will maintain a blemished complexion,' says Dr Bowler. 'In some people, high glycemic foods (ie processed white carbs) increase acne-triggering hormones.'

SHOULD I TRY OFF-THE-SHELF SPOT SOLUTIONS FOR ADULT ACNE?

YES But choose ones designed for older skin, and be wary of trying too many products at once. 'Trying to self-prescribe a whole acne regime can make the problem worse: for instance, many traditional acne washes can be too aggressive for post-teen skin and worsen the problem,' warns Dr Bunting.

SHOULD I RECONSIDER MY CONTRACEPTION?

POSSIBLY But don't risk unwanted pregnancies, obviously! 'Progesterone-based methods can, in some women, be an acne trigger,' says Dr Bunting. 'If you're acne-prone, you may want to avoid the contraceptive injection Depo-Provera because if your skin reacts to it you're stuck with it in your system for months.'

COULD MY BEAUTY REGIME BE AN ACNE TRIGGER?

YES Some skin creams block pores, which can worsen and even cause acne. Dr Bunting says: 'Look for products labelled "non-comedogenic" (non-pore blocking), these let skin breathe.' And rethink your beauty bag, says cosmetic doctor Jonquille Chantry (theprivateclinic.co.uk): 'Covering acne with heavy foundation can make acne worse. Switch to mineral make-up.'

IS IT POSSIBLE TO DEAL WITH ACNE AND ANTI-AGEING?

YES Products for pimples and wrinkles are booming. 'We're moving beyond traditional acne products which are very drying, making skin look more wrinkled,' says Dr Bowler. 'For instance, using lactic acid in peels is more hydrating than traditional glycolic products. There are also gentle light therapies which target acne and also stimulate skin renewal.'

AT THE SKIN DOCTOR

The latest prescriptions for adult acne

GOOD FOR ACTIVE OUTBREAKS

N-LITE

What is it?

A non-invasive laser to zap acne-causing bacteria. In trials, 87% saw big improvements. Skin can look slightly red temporarily afterwards. Cost: pounds 250 a session at The Private Clinic: 0800 599 9911

GOOD FOR SENSITIVE SKIN

OMNILUX BLUE

What is it? A pain-free therapy suitable for sensitive, ageing skin. Blue light reduces bacteria while calming inflammation and rejuvenating skin. Cost: pounds 55 a session at Courthouse Clinics: 0845 555 5050

GOOD FOR ACNE SCARRING

DERMAROLLER

What is it? Tiny needles puncture skin, triggering collagen production to plump out scars. Skin looks red for a day or two and it's only suitable once acne is under control. Cost: pounds 395 a session at Destination Skin: 0845 125 8415

THE GROWN-UP SPOT FIXES

At-home products to trouble-shoot blemishes without drying, aggravating or ageing your skin

Vichy Normaderm Anti-Ageing, pounds 15 Vichy's first anti-blemish, anti-ageing moisturiser. It combines antioxidants for younger skin with glycolic acid for tackling imperfections.

Vitage Correct and Perfect Skin Serum, pounds 21 Non-clogging, non-drying serum for adult acne sufferers. It's designed to quickly calm flare-ups and mop up excess oil.

Sanctuary Spa Deep Cleanse Blemish Serum, pounds 9.99 This overnight zit blitzer is also in the new Deep Cleanse Facial In A Box, pounds 16, the Sanctuary's at-home spa therapy for clogged skin.

Pro-Activ, pounds 39.99 This three-step system is a fave among US celebs. It claims to help tame acne-prone skin in two weeks, and while not specifically anti-ageing it's targeted at those beyond their teens.

Skinceuticals Blemish + Age, from pounds 27 Impressive clinical results: clearer skin in one week, younger skin in four. Not the best for very sensitive skin, but effective for many.

Clearasil Vitamins & Extracts, from pounds 3.49 A new range with dermatologist approval for older skin. The hero product is PerfectaWash, pounds 12.99 (refils pounds 4.99), a non-drying cleanser with a touch-free dispenser.

LILY COLE JORGIE PORTER AMY CHILDS SOPHIE ELLIS BEXTER
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 15, 2012
Words:915
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