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Adult acne – are you over 30 and still get pimples?

Adult acne, breakouts and pimples – they’re way more common than you think! It may feel like you’re all alone in your battle but there are many people out there working towards clear skin even though their year 12 high school jumper has a number from the 90’s.

This has been a personal journey for Phoebe, since the start of Woohoo Skincare Phoebe has been looking for ways to keep her skin clear. During that time we have learnt many things and the most surprising was how complicated it can get. It goes well beyond skincare.

Today we would like to share some of the things we have learnt so that it might help you in your journey for clearer skin.


This is the big cheese, the Mr Numero Uno cause for adult acne and pimples. Fluctuations in hormones levels and imbalances lead to breakouts. We named it “Mr” Numero Uno because the hormones that are mostly responsible are androgens – male hormones like testosterone. Yes it’s the blokes’ fault again (or should we not be saying that on Father’s Day??).

Menstrual cycles, coming off the pill, falling pregnant and stress all trigger a hormone change where androgens are produced.

There are other causes of adult acne and pimples too

Air pollution – City life is fun but the country air is better for your skin. City pollution can place a layer of crud on your face that clogs up pores faster than a wet wipe flushed down the toilet.

Overdoing the skincare – Yep too much of a good thing is bad. The most common is over cleansing and over exfoliating. You can’t scrub pimples away! Be mindful of using too much makeup too (if your makeup is poor quality, it’s just as bad as air pollution).

Food Sensitivities – The evidence is still a little fuzzy but in our personal experience it plays a role. Now, finding the foods which are an issue can take some time but two common ones are dairy and grains (especially wheat).

Sugar – Sugar spikes your insulin which triggers your body to produce androgens which causes more oil production.

Vitamin deficiency – If you’re missing some key vitamins and minerals from your diet, it can mean breakout city. Some of the vitamins that are closely linked to adult acne are Vitamins A, D, E, zinc and magnesium.

Naturally Oily Skin – Some of us are just a bit unlucky and our skin is naturally oily. The good news is that those of us with oily skin will get less fine lines as we get older

Phoebe’s personal lifestyle guidelines for less pimples

  • Always follow your3 Step skincare routine morning and night, anduse a mask twice per week
  • Exfoliate 1-2 times per week (Pig in Mud Mineral Mask doubles as an exfoliator or check out ourSpoonful of Sugar Exfoliating Scrub
  • Minimise makeup
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Exercise (sweating lots helps!)
  • Keep your hair clean.
  • Change your pillowcase regularly
  • Clean your phone (bacteria haven!)
  • Get enough sleep. This can be a hard one if you are Mum with little ones.
  • Never touch your face (unless you’re doing your morning/night routine or have clean hands)
  • You can spray a blemish-fighting toner likeTickled Pink Perfecting Tonic and wipe with a cotton makeup pad during the day if you’re feeling some oil build up. This is also good to do if you work in a city and spend more than 30 mins outside to remove any pollution film.
  • (OK this one is extreme and doesn’t help the men out there but….) have a baby and breastfeed for as long as possible – my hormones have been the most stable they’ve ever been while I’ve been breastfeeding!
  • Look at your diet and eat as cleanly as possible. Good digestion results in good skin. The 80/20 rule doesn’t work in this case. Even small amounts of the wrong food can be enough. Even though a food is healthy it still could be a problem.

Digging deeper into your diet to find the cause of adult acne (and other issues)

On that last point about food – we know that sounds weird but even healthy foods could not be agreeing with your skin. That’s why finding out what works is complicated and painstaking. For example, legumes (like chickpeas, kidney beans, peanuts) are regarded as very healthy but they do not agree with Phoebe’s body at all.

We know it can be a little overwhelming and you might be completely confused. If you are feeling like you don’t know where to start our best advice is to see a health practitioner. A good naturopath, dietician or nutritionist can really help you through it especially when figuring out what foods might not be agreeing with you.

There are a number of tests you can have done which can help you explore possible food sensitivities or other acne triggers in your life, and these tests can speed up the process of pinpointing the issue but they’re not foolproof and they can get expensive.

Another approach can be to go on an elimination diet where you stop eating certain foods for 3 to 4 weeks, then slowly reintroduce them to see if your symptoms return.

Phoebe’s good news is that even though her skin isn’t perfect, it’s a whole universe better than it was 5 or so years ago. But we do still have the occasional pimple stress (Phoebe freaks out sometimes because no one expects the owner of a skincare company to have breakouts).

If you look after yourself with aneffective skincare routine and take some of our tips for fewer pimples on-board, you’ll find that even when you do get a dreaded breakout your skin can recover so much faster.

Are you on a similar journey with adult acne? We’d love to hear more about you and your crazy skin!