Adult Acne and How I Treat It

how i treat adult acne

This time last year I had absolutely no idea of the journey I was about to embark on with my skin. Or just how important, (and expensive!), skincare would become for me. At the age of 25, I developed Adult Acne. It’s by no means the worst thing that could happen in my life. But when you’re suffering through it and can’t figure out why, it definitely feels like the worst thing ever. I guess if you’re reading this blog, it’s because you’re also going through a skincare dilemma and are looking for solutions. You’re in luck! As I am going to share the products and home care routine that worked for me. And how I went from the picture on the left, to the one on the right.

Adult Acne isn’t Just About Your Face

Before I dive in to my skincare routine, I should share a couple of disclaimers! I am definitely not a skincare professional, nor do I claim to be. The following routine is what worked for my own skin and everyone’s top layer is different. Acne can be triggered by a number of different factors, not just the products you use on your skin. I speak more about this on my IGTV where I first opened up about my battle. You can watch those by clicking here. The best advice I can give you is to consult a skincare professional first – not your GP, a beautician or blogger affiliated with one single skincare brand. A qualified skincare professional will question you about all the factors that could be contributing to your breakouts. They will recommend the best products and treatments for your skin type and can monitor your progress over time. This allows them to alter your routine as time goes on also.

what does my breakout mean

The main thing with your at home skincare routine is to give it time, i.e. dedicate the time to it daily and be consistent, as well as giving plenty of time to see results. Breakouts won’t clear up overnight. Especially if you have cystic acne, it can take weeks before you see an improvement. Try to avoid starting a few different products or treatments at once. It will be hard to identify which ones are working or not that way.

adult acne
My acne at its worst – November 2019

Cleanse, and Cleanse Again!

Cleansing is the absolutely base of any skincare routine. I cleanse twice daily; once in the morning and a double cleanse in the evening. In the evenings I start by removing eye makeup, using the No.7 Revitalising Eye Make Up Remover from Boots. On a cotton pad, this oil based product breaks down mascara and gel eye liner so easily. I’ve used it for years and would be hard pressed to change from it.

Eye Makeup Remover Sensitive Eyes

Then it’s time to cleanse. In the evenings it’s so important to double cleanse. Just like shampooing your hair twice, the first cleanse takes away your makeup and the second cleanse actually gets to work, clearing out your pores. I use the Sebu-Wash Gel Cleanser from Environ’s Clarity+ range, which is fantastic for acne-prone skin. It was the first product recommended I change to when I started seeing my skincare specialist. It really has worked wonders for my skin and I’ll explain why.

Sebu Wash Cleanser for Adult Acne
Sebu Wash Cleanser by Environ

Sebu-Wash is a foaming gel cleanser, so you work a pea-sized amount in to a lather in your hands and massage on to a wet face. It contains Salicylic Acid which removes dead skin cells and unclogs pores. You will find Salicylic in a lot of exfoliators as it kickstarts the skins own exfoliation process. It targets whiteheads and blackheads, making it a very important ingredient in the treatment of adult acne. Sebu-Wash also contains Tea Tree while is known for it’s calming and healing properties.

Treating Adult Acne with Environ Sebu Wash
Sebu Wash Cleanser by Environ

Stock up on Cleansing Cloths

I then soak a 1/4 of a cleansing cloth/face towel in warm water and remove the cleanser. I stocked up on tonnes of cleansing cloths from Penneys as I pop them straight in to the wash. It’s really important not to use the same cloth a couple of days in a row. Or even the same cloth in the evening as you had used that morning. I just always go in with a fresh cloth to stop spreading infection. Penney’s cleansing cloths are machine washable, which is really handy.

penneys face cloths

I repeat the cleansing process a second time, exactly the same as before. I soak another 1/4 of the cleansing cloth to remove the cleanser. At this point I have half of the cloth wet, so I use the dry half to dry my face.

I’ve Ditched the Toner

Controversial as it may sound, I didn’t tone as part of my skincare routine while treating my acne. A lot of people will do the usual ‘Cleanse, Tone, Moisturise’ that we’ve heard our mams and grandmothers stick to like religion. The purpose of a toner is to cleanse again, remove residue from the cleanser and close the pores. As I double-cleansed, I didn’t find it necessary to cleanse a third time. I also found the gel cleanser didn’t leave a residue, like cream products do, thus the function of the toner wasn’t needed. Also, a lot of toners have high alcohol content and can be extremely drying on the skin.

In a consultation with my skincare professional, she advised against me using a toner as it works to close your pores. Therefore, any of the serums or moisturisers I use afterwards won’t penetrate the skin as deep as they can. They would sit on the top layer of skin, clogging up the pores and cause more breakouts. Since my acne cleared up, I have worked my way back up to using an active toner but while specifically trying to tackle acne, it was not in my home care routine.

Restore the Moisture

My second step is to apply a serum. This area was trial and error for me as some serums made me breakout even more. Therefore I gave serums a skip for a couple of weeks while my breakouts were really bad. Those of you with oily skin may not feel like a serum is necessary. Certain serums can make your skin feel oilier and greasy but there are others that can mattify and reduce shine. My skin type is oily but severely dehydrated so I would find the skin across my nose and under eyes gets very dry. This, combined with using Sebu-Wash for a few weeks, meant I built up to using a serum. The salicylic acid in Sebu-Wash can make your skin feel dry.

To restore moisture to my skin, I use a Hyaluronic Acid by The Inkey List. I didn’t see much difference between high street and high end when I tried various Hyaluronic Acids. So The Inkey List option, at just €6.95, does the job for me. The rest of my skincare can be quite expensive and I get the exact same results with this acid compared to any other brand. You can buy The Inkey List in a lot of Irish pharmacies now, or online here and here.

Hyaluronic Acid is naturally produced in the body and up to half of it is found in your skin. It can attract up to 1000 times it weight in water, which is why products that contain it are so fantastic for hydrating the skin. It’s suitable for all skin types and I can feel my skin drink it like water any time I apply it. It plumps out the surface of the skin and leaves it feeling smooth and refreshed.

SPF is Key

Every morning I use Image Skincare’s Prevention+ Daily Matte Moisturiser which contains an SPF of 32+. Regardless of whether the sun is shining or not, I will use this every single day. The rays of the sun can penetrate through the clouds, so you can be certain that they’ll also target your skin. This is why SPF is the first thing I will look out for in a moisturiser. I’ve been using Prevention+ for over a year now and I honestly think it’s fantastic. It’s a very light weight, cream formula and a little goes a long way.

moisturiser for oily skin image
Image Prevention+ Moisturiser

I use a large pea sized amount and it’s plenty for the full face and neck. It is definitely suitable for oily skin types as it is oil free and has a micro sponge technology. This absorbs surface oils to leave skin feeling matte, smooth and not greasy. It’s the perfect makeup base too as foundation and concealers just apply so beautifully over this moisturiser.


Image Skincare can be purchased from a number of websites and most reputable salons. I buy mine from Millies Salon in Naas, but they have an online shop here too. I can’t stress enough how important my first point it – to have a consultation with a skincare professional before investing in products like these. Image Skincare is a clinical skincare brand with active ingredients. Before I had my skin consultation at Millies Salon in November 2019, I had been battling adult acne for about 4 or 5 months. I had tried every product and treatment I had heard was good and spent A LOT of money investing in Image Skincare at a different salon that was an Image stockist. I couldn’t understand why the ‘best of the best’ products weren’t clearing up my adult acne. If anything, sometimes they made it worse.

Products for Adult Acne
Image Prevention+ Moisturiser (Yellow Label Bottle)

It was because I was buying the wrong products from the Image range and my skin just wasn’t ready for them. There was a lot of clearing out that needed to be done first and I also had to consider external factors, like my lifestyle, diet, gut health, etc. So when I had a skin consult at Millies Salon I was taught that once I had the acne under control, then I could review the products that would work for brightening, rejuvenation, or whatever my skin goals would be after adult acne. Since then, I have built up a tolerance in my skin and I have introduced other Image products to my skincare. They work so much better for my skin, now that I have nailed the basics with this routine.

skincare for adult acne

My Night Time Moisturiser

If you think it would seem a bit ridiculous to apply an SPF in the evening, when you’re about to go to sleep in a dark room, you’d be absolutely right! That is why I use an entirely different moisturiser at night time, instead of Image Skincare Prevention+, (that probably also explains why I get so long out of the product). For this, I go back to Environ and their Clarity+ range. This is from the same range as the cleanser I mentioned above. I mix both the Sebu ACE Oil and Sebu Lac Lotion together to create a moisturiser. They are designed to be used together. So I just mix equal parts oil and lotion in the palm of my hand and apply to my face and neck. When applying any product to the neck it’s important to always use upwards strokes. Over time, if you were always pulling the skin on your neck down, it would accelerate the ageing of the skin.

Environ Products for Adult Acne

Sebu Oil is infused with Vitamins A, C and E which are they three key vitamins you’re looking out for when it comes to skincare, and especially adult acne. The oil controls excess oils and breakouts, while the Sebu Lac Lotion improves the skins texture and hydrates. It does this thanks to the Lactic Acid present in it. Lactic Acid gently exfoliates the skin and leaves it feeling softer and smoother.

Covering acne with makeup
Trying to cover acne with makeup, but the cysts were so high you can see the bumps.

I can definitely see and feel the benefits of using this combination for my night time moisturiser. In the height of my adult acne, my breakouts were so enlarged and raised up from the normal surface of my skin. God, I thought they were huge, like mountains on my face! The entire texture of my skin was lumpy and bumpy. As you can see in the image above, even a full face of makeup couldn’t cover them. But I have been using these products since November 2019. And since the adult acne has really calmed down, the surface of my skin is so much smoother. I have surface scarring which is visible to the eye. But to touch, there is very little uneven texture. I absolutely know that it’s with thanks to the Environ combination of Sebu ACE Oil and Sebu Lac Lotion.

Consistency is Key

That brings us to the end of my daily routine. There aren’t a huge amount of products in there but the key to it clearing up my adult acne was consistency. Even when I used to get up for work at 4:30am most mornings, I wouldn’t forget to cleanse and moisturise before putting on my makeup. No matter how tipsy I was after a night out, I would never be tempted by a makeup wipe, or worse! I would always double cleanse and do my full skincare. Consistency is the key to anything when you want to see results. The above products are the ones I use everyday, alongside a number of products that I use as treatments. I use those few products for little at home facials. They are only designed to be used every couple of days and I’ll explain more on each in my next blog post.

Skincare for Adult Acne

If You’re Battling Adult Acne…

…I completely feel for you. I never suffered with acne throughout my teens. Like I said, it just struck me when I turned 25. And I always say since then, Thank God I didn’t have to go through it as a teenager because I know I wouldn’t have been emotionally strong enough to cope with it. If you haven’t battled it, you’d probably say I’m overreacting. But honestly, it’s an emotional battle as well as a physical one. When something is on your face, there is no covering it up day to day – if it was something affecting my arms or legs, I could have covered up with jumpers and jeans. But there was no covering up the breakouts on my face.

I would have to go in to work everyday with a full face of makeup, trying to mask the cysts. Dealing with the public, as the face of an iconic hughstreet retailer, I started to get really paranoid – ‘People will think I shouldn’t work here with a face like that’ I used to tell myself, which was SO stupid now when I think back on it. But those are the mind games you play with yourself when your confidence is at an all time low. When you feel like there is so recovery in sight and you can’t pinpoint the cause of the condition.

So if you’re currently going through your own battle with adult acne, try to remain positive. That’s definitely easier said than done, I know. Look at all the external factors that could be affecting you and please seek the advice of a skincare professional. As much information as I can give you here, or share the routine that worked for me, a trained professional can answer your specific questions and tailor the treatment to your skins needs. If I can help in any way, do contact me here – I’m always happy to help or give more detail on products or treatments I’ve touched on in this blog.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.