The Annoyance of Adult Acne (and How I’m Fixing It)

Now that I’m nearing the end of my 20s, I’m hearing a lot of my friends complain about adult acne. I can relate: While rarely cursed with a zit all through high school, my skin suddenly rebelled in my mid-20s. It was never too horrible, but definitely noticeable and irritating. I could go right on an infomercial with my “I tried everything” list: over-the-counter products with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, prescription medication, careful attention to soap and detergent ingredients, keeping my phone away from my face, the Zeno zit zapper, drinking more water, vitamins, expensive microdermabrasion, chemical peels, you name it. The only thing I wouldn’t try was a beauty routine a spa tried to sell me, and that’s because it cost over $400 altogether. Here are the only two things that HAVE worked for me:

1) Tea tree oil – It will dry up acne super fast. I use a roll-on stick called Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil which I buy at my local Giant grocery for 8 bucks. You can apply up to 6 times a day, but be careful if you already have very dry skin. I had never thought to use it before because I didn’t associate the word “oil” with anything acne-fighting. It turns out it’s a natural antiseptic. I have read that it is also useful for dandruff.

2) Eliminating dairy from my diet – This was suggested by a doctor at a medical spa I visited. She took one look at me and said, “You drink a lot of milk?” According to her, the ingredients in milk cause many adult women to experience breakouts. She suggested I stop all dairy consumption immediately. I decided to try her suggestion and was shocked when my breakouts stopped – just like that, with no further changes in my routine. My skin completely smoothed out and was clear. Making this change was easier than I thought at first. I swapped out cow’s milk for soy milk, stopped getting cheese on my Subway sandwiches, and used a non-dairy creamer in my coffee at work. But as time went by, this change has gotten harder. The main problem is cheese and chocolate. I cannot seem to stay away from either one. Sure enough, as I’ve started giving in to my desire for cheese, my skin has shown the consequences. The connection is so unbelievably obvious to me that I figured I had to get the word out. I’ve had a huge bounce in traffic to my blog since I switched to WordPress — close to a hundred hits on some days — so I thought some of my newer readers might appreciate the advice! (Or maybe not, if they love cheese as much as I do … 😦


6 responses to “The Annoyance of Adult Acne (and How I’m Fixing It)

  1. What an interesting post. I never realized there was a connection between milk and skin issues; I wonder exactly how that works. Now that I think about it, I stopped drinking milk years ago and I’ve rarely had a problem with my skin since.

    Oh, and YAY on the bounce in your blog hits! Woo hoo!

  2. I have battled bad skin all my life. The only thing that helped at all was Retin A and even then, not consistently. It’s miserable. I’ve also tried everything short of Accutane (Derm didn’t think mine was bad enough to suffer side effects, I agreed). Currently I’m battling dry and peeling skin with acne, which is even harder. I don’t drink that much milk, only with coffee and occasional cereal, but I LOVE cheese. I don’t know that I could cut it out, but I will try to pay attention to that. It seems so unfair that the things that are healthy hurt you in one way or another. I eat yogurt bc of the calcium and it’s a low-fat snack and is good with digestion.

    • I’ve had a hard time, too. I was both delighted and disappointed when it worked. Sure, it was great to have my face stop breaking out, but I adore dairy and I’ve never had to cut out any foods before this (aside from a 2 to 3 week bland diet to test for food allergens after a severe and random allergy attack). The tea tree oil helps a great deal also, but it can be rather drying.
      I’ve always been curious about Retin A. The last prescription meds I was given for acne were antibiotics, which worked, but only so much.
      One remedy I’ve heard a lot of great things about is drinking water (some say warm water) with a squirt or two of lemon juice in it every day, or simply adding lemon juice to your bottled water. I haven’t personally tried it long enough to make a difference, but I’ve read many recommendations.
      Another thing I just started that seems to be helping is the “beauty drink” called Glowelle. I wrote a brief post about it earlier, and I finally gave in and bought a 30-day supply. To my surprise, on day 5 I noticed my skin was unbelievably smooth. Now it seems my acne is clearing up even though I’ve slipped and eaten dairy several times this week. The downside is that the product is very expensive. My kit cost me $89, and that was the discount price! Yikes!!! (If you do try it, get the Raspberry Jasmine — the Pomegranate Lychee tastes HORRID.) You can also try a 7-day kit. All of the ingredients can be found in foods, but you’d have to eat a lot of the foods every day to get the same effect — for starters, copious amounts of tomatoes!
      Good luck to you and I’ll keep you posted on my progress and what is working for me. (My skin changes all the time — about 3 years ago benzoyl peroxide cleared everything up like THAT, but today it does nothing for me!)

    • OH and P.S. – you say you’ve got dry skin now with the acne — are there any non-pore clogging lotions that come with an acne fighting ingredient? I’ve tried one from Clean and Clear, but the salicylic acid level in that one was too low to make a difference for me (I’ve got oily/normal combo skin). But maybe that might work for you, if you haven’t already tried a similar product.

    • Okay, sorry to flood you with information but I just found this article on WebMD that had some great suggestions and insight on “beauty drinks”. Might be worth a read. Interestingly enough they advocate the lemon with water bit too! I just skimmed through it for right now since I’m about to crash.

  3. For about 3 weeks now i have cut as much dairy out of my diet as possible so see if it had a positive impact on my acne. My face has shown an amazing improvement, no cheese, no milk, no milk chocolate :*( except i have to have cream in my coffee…so i use non dairy. Im worried non dairy may still contain ingrediants that may triggEr acne, but my change has helped alot. Hopefully my non dairy cream in my coffee wont hurt.

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