In the Clear


Often viewed as a common angst among adolescents, acne can occur at any age. As skincare professionals, it is important to be aware of the causes of acne in adulthood so clients can receive the most effective treatment. Although many of the causes of acne in both adults and adolescents are the same, such as excess bacteria and clogged pores, what triggers breakouts is what may be different. “Acne in adolescents is mostly associated with hormonal changes while going through puberty,” says dermatologist Marina Peredo, M.D., who assists at Spatique Medical Spa (Smithtown, NY). “Adults see more breakouts related to stress, diet, and with women, their menstrual cycles.”

According to Eric Schweiger, M.D., founder of Schweiger Dermatology (New York City), adult acne, particularly in women, is on the rise, although the reasons are still unclear because most research about acne relates to teens. “We do know that most adult acne in women is caused by hormonal influences, which can increase the sebum production of the sebaceous glands and lead to the formation of a microcomedone, the precursor to acne. Diet may play a role, though most studies that have shown a link between diet and acne have been performed on teenage patients.”

Although it is a common myth that eating chocolate or greasy foods contribute to acne outbreaks, skincare professionals agree that diet is a contributing factor to acne in both adults and teens. “A balanced diet is a huge factor,” says Peredo. “It’s not about eating or not eating greasy foods, it’s about making sure to have a healthy, balanced diet, which will improve the skin overall. Another factor may be simply the hair and skin products used. As adults, we tend to use a wider range of products and pack stuff on our faces that we may not even know is harmful.”

Peredo points out that many adults who experience acne don’t know how to deal with it. As skincare professionals, it is imperative to be able to educate clients on how to achieve the best skin possible. “Most people believe acne is something that only occurs when they are in their teens, so adults tend to seek out more treatments and pay more money, because they want the best and quickest results,” says Peredo. “Skincare professionals can capitalize on this by creating adult-acne focused regimens and treatments. Pointing out clearly that a certain product or facial is specific for adult acne will draw in the customer wanting to get rid of just that.”

Skincare ingredients also play a role and may differ when treating adults and adolescents. “Some of the top ingredients to fight acne are salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, and sulfur,” says Peredo. “You can’t give someone with hormonal acne the same thing you would give someone experiencing acne from stress. In adult acne, it’s best to use products containing anti-inflammatories that will also exfoliate the skin.”

Even while suffering from adult acne, many clients are still focused on anti-aging remedies instead of finding a solution to their acne, says Schweiger. “When treating adult acne, it is important to be mindful of other skin concerns,” he says. “Many adults feel they are ready to begin anti-aging treatments rather than focus on their acne. Ingredients such as tretinoin, a prescription-strength retinoid, allow us to treat and prevent acne while preventing fine lines and improving the tone of the skin.”

Many skincare professionals agree that treating adult acne with advanced technology is proving to be the most effective. At Rejuviskin Medi Spa (Verona, NJ) helping adult clients dealing with acne begins with an assessment and a thorough history. Depending on the severity of the situation and the client’s specific needs, treatment involves therapies such as chemical peels specific for acne, deep-pore cleansings, intense pulsed light, and LED therapy. Pharmacologic therapy is provided in conjunction, as well. This approach is a bit more radical from what is used on teens. With adults, professionals are also dealing with the effects of aging, so that needs to be taken into account.

In-office laser and light-based treatments can treat acne more quickly and effectively than prescription treatments alone, says Schweiger. “Estheticians can perform LED light treatments on their patients, in addition to chemical peels and medical extractions, to supplement the care that patients receive from their dermatologists.” However, he adds, it is important that all patients with acne be evaluated by their dermatologists, as well as an esthetician, in order to get the most effective treatment possible and prevent permanent acne scarring.

Francis DiSpaltro, M.D., a dermatologist at Advanced Dermatology (West Islip, NY) says that not treating clients’ acne problems is a mistake, which is why you should encourage your clients to address their acne issues. “Even a moderate case of acne may leave dark spots and permanent scars,” he says. “Not every acne treatment works for everyone who has acne, but with the new tools we have at our disposal, virtually every case of acne can be controlled.” DiSpaltro also suggests light-based treatments, such as lasers and intense pulsed light, which target the oil glands and reduce the p. acnes bacteria in the skin and thus can dramatically improve a case of acne. “These devices are great for patients with persistent acne who have had limited success with over-the-counter or prescription medications,” says DiSpaltro. “They can be used on all skin types and produce great results.”

It’s all about teamwork, says Schweiger, who suggests spa professionals and dermatologists work together to provide the best care for their clients. “A relationship with a dermatologist ensures that your clients will receive the most advanced and effective acne treatments available,” says Schweiger. “It is important to treat acne aggressively and promptly to prevent permanent scarring. A dermatologist can help clients determine which spa treatments are the most effective for them and come up with a prescription regimen that complements that plan. It is important for all skincare professionals to work on the same team to treat our acne patients.”


Help clients avoid acne breakouts at home by sharing these simple suggestions from board-certified dermatologist Amanda Friedrichs, M.D.


• Wash twice a day and after sweating. Perspiration, especially when wearing a hat or helmet, can make acne worse, so encourage clients to wash their skin as soon as possible after sweating.


• Use fingertips to apply a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser. Don’t use a washcloth, mesh sponge, or anything else that can irritate the skin. Tell clients not to use skincare products that irritate the skin, such as astringents, toners, and exfoliants. Dry, red skin makes acne appear worse.


• Shampoo regularly. If clients have oily hair, they should shampoo daily.


• Let skin heal naturally. If clients pick, pop, or squeeze blemishes, their skin will take longer to clear, and it will increase their risk of scarring.


• Stay out of the sun and tanning beds. Tanning damages the skin. In addition, some acne medications make skin very sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) light, which comes from both the sun and indoor tanning devices.


Acne Lineup

Want to help your clients deal with adult acne? Try one of these acne-focused lines.


Advanced Rejuvenating Concepts Clearifying System: Natural antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and exfoliating ingredients help relieve acne symptoms by increasing cell turnover and clearing the pores of bacteria, cellular debris, and oil.


Babor Skinovage PX – Pure: This range for blemished skin also reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.


Bioelements Acne Clearing System: The products in this line work together to clear skin of existing pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads and allow it to heal from past breakouts.


Control Corrective Skincare Systems Acne: The eight products and three advanced facial kits in the line offer a multi-tiered approach to unclog pores, heal blemishes, soothe inflammation, fade post-acne hyperpigmentation, and prevent future breakouts.


Dermalogica MediBac Clearing: This skincare system is specifically formulated to prevent, treat, and clear adult acne while addressing the needs of adult skin.


Éminence Organic Skin Care Clear Skin VitaSkin Solution: Clarifying and calming probiotics and willow bark help eliminate the signs of acne in this four-step daily organic skincare regimen that clears skin without over drying.


Environ B-Active: This skincare program for problematic skin features products containing lactic acid, salicylic acid, tea tree oil, and vitamin A that decongest, exfoliate, and rebalance the skin.


GlyMed Plus Serious Action Acne Management: Recommended by dermatologists and medical estheticians, the products in this acne system work synergistically to restore a healthy balance and aid in the reduction of acne lesions and scarring.


G.M. Collin PURACNE Oxygen: Formulated with anti-microbial peptides combined with probiotic actives; glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids; and a patented oxygen complex, this five-step treatment boosts skin’s natural defenses while detoxifying, revitalizing, mattifying, and hydrating.


Murad Anti-Aging Acne Line: This regimen provides a comprehensive, integrated approach to restoring a smooth, youthful complexion by addressing acne breakouts while diminishing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.


Osmosis Blemish/Oily Kit: Five products target skin blemishes and oily skin from the inside out. Anti-Pathogen Harmonized H20 treats the internal fungi and bacteria, while several topical treatments help calm, clear, and restore skin health.


Pevonia Ligne Clarifyl: Formulated with healing natural ingredients, this line for acne-prone skin features products that control bacteria and prevent inflammation while calming and soothing irritation.


Phytomer Oligopur: Most of the products in this line contain Normaline, a red seaweed extract that contains antibacterial properties and complexion-enhancing agents to purify and oxygenate the skin, promoting the elimination of toxins.


SAIAN Acne Try-Me Kit: The six-product kit contains 1 ounce of Emeraude 10% AHA cleanser, Salicylic Acid 2%, Herbal Toner, 0.25oz Acne Spot Treatment, 0.10oz Enzyme Mask, and 0.10oz Active Rx Mask.


Santalia Acne Treatment Kit: The simple regimen for acne-prone, sensitive skin is based on the sandalwood tree and reduces and clears blemishes without over-drying.


Sesha Skin Therapy Acne Line: This line uses powerful acne-fighting ingredients to target and heal all stages of acne. The three core functions of the line are to cleanse, treat, and hydrate the skin for a clearer complexion.—Julie Keller Callaghan