The Best Skincare For Adult Acne, As Recommended By Dermatologists

Adult acne is a real pain but these dermatologist-approved products can make a real difference.
Mixed Retailers

We hope you love the products we recommend! All of them were independently selected by our editors. Just so you know, HuffPost UK may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them. Oh, and FYI — prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.

Acne, something that’s usually associated with your teenage years (think: Smirnoff Ice bolstered parties, exam stress, and embarrassing crushes), unfortunately isn’t restrained to adolescence. Adult acne exists and it can be a real bitch. Full disclosure: I know, because I have it.

And the thing is, it’s far more common than we might think. The British Association of Dermatologists reported that 19% of adults aged 25 and over have reported experiencing some form of adult acne during their lives.

If you side-stepped acne in your teens, you might assume you’d dodged that painful bullet, but according to the British Association of Dermatologists, it’s fairly common to develop acne for the first time in your twenties and thirties – and the causes can be rather diverse, from hormonal imbalances and stress to pollution and clogged pores, and a whole lot more.

Understanding how to treat your blemish-prone skin can seem complex, even daunting. After all, you don’t want to do anything to make the issue worse. So, where should you start when it comes to treating your problematic skin?

It doesn’t help that adult acne can also be caused – or exacerbated – by using the wrong products for your skin type and failing to implement a targeted skincare routine. The positive flip-side is that finding the right products can be a step towards alleviating the symptoms and discomfort of the skin condition.

Where should you start when managing adult acne?

When it comes to problem-skin, Dr Mehmet Göker, dermatology specialist at Vera Clinic, has some advice. “Acne is something that can present during all stages of life, not just as a teenager. The best way of preventing adult acne would be to maintain a structured skincare routine,” he tells HuffPost UK.

Be mindful of what’s in the skincare products you’re using and whether they’re right for your skin type, he says. “I recommend starting with cleansing your face twice a day with cold water or a gel-based, surfactant-free cleanser, in the morning and in the evening. At this point, if you wish to use a toner to remove any extra excess oil then do so it is important to understand your skin type before beginning a new routine.”

A common mistake is failing to understand how damaging oil-based products can be for blemish-prone skin. From moisturiser to cleanser, where able choose products that are free from oil. “The oil in the products as well as your own natural oils are what clogs your pores, resulting in acne over time,” he says.

It’s easy to assume that adult acne develops from teenage acne but the truth is they’re more like distant cousins. As Dr Göker explains: “Adult acne can be caused due to fluctuating hormones [and] the changes they create in the body and the environment of the skin. In addition, emotional and physical stress can also affect adult acne.”

Adult acne is more common around the chin, and along the jawline, he says, while teenage acne usually appears in T-zone forehead, nose, and chin. But the good news is that “adult skin has a higher cell turnover rate and can heal more rapidly compared to teenager skin.”

What’s the best approach to choosing products?

First things first, don’t overdo it. As Dr Göker explains: “Using several different products on your skin can cause more breakouts and irritation”.

In terms of the best moisturiser for acne-prone skin, go for fragrance free where you can. “At a time when acne is live on your skin, it becomes very sensitive, which means any fragrances can cause stinging and allergies,” he says.

Facial acids are often recommended for managing acne, but knowing how to use them effectively can seem a little daunting, can’t it?

“Acids are actually some of the most beneficial ingredients available in skincare which can be used to fight acne, wrinkles, age spots, scarring, and uneven skin tone,” says Dr Göker, adding that while they are beneficial to acne-prone skin, with several different acids on the market, it is important to research the right one for your skin-type and use it at the right concentration.

If in doubt, he recommends using hyaluronic acid. “This can help reduce redness and the visible appearance of acne,” he says. “In addition, hyaluronic acid can help protect the skin, which is especially helpful for acne-prone skin, as it typically doesn’t have a very strong lipid barrier.”

And despite the recommendation to avoid oil on acne-prone skin, there are certain oils that can actually aid skin health. “One of the best facial oils to use for acne-prone is The Ordinary’s Rosehip seed oil’,” says Dr Göker that,

“This oil is rich in linolenic acid and pro-vitamin A. This works well in reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and any discolour in the face caused by scars. Another great facial oil to use is Organic Jojoba Oil O2 which is great for hydration and is very soothing for any irritated or inflamed skin.”

Below, we’ve rounded up a few more dermatologist-approved product recommednations for targeting adult acne – and seeing visible results.

A hydrating hyaluronic acid
For treating problematic skin, Dr Göker recommends using hyaluronic acid to reduce redness and the visible appearance of acne, while also protecting skin. This serum from CeraVe hits the spot perfectly.
This vegan Jojoba Oil (with a hint of vitamin E)
This vegan, cold-pressed and 1% Natural Vitamin E oil also comes dermatologist-approved. Dr Göker recommends jojoba oil for acne-prone skin because it’s great for hydration, super soothing to calm irritated skin, and also helps regulate sebum.
This cold pressed rosehip seed oil
Another Dr Göker recommendation is The Ordinary's rosehip seed oil. “This oil is rich in linolenic acid and pro-vitamin A... it works well in reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and any discolour in the face caused by scars," he says.
This hydrating moisturiser
For acne-prone skin, products designed with sensitive skin in mind, like this hydrating moisturiser from Cetaphil, is a great choice, says Dr Göker.
This multi-purpose cleansing bar
For skin that's prone to excess oil production, this three-in-one charcoal cleansing bar is a great option. The charcoal helps absorb excess oil, while the mandelic acid fights blemish-causing bacteria, and the shea butter hydrates and moisturises.
This sebum-controlling detox mask
Got an inkling your acne is caused by clogged pores? You need this detox clay stick in your life. Formulated with black-head controlling charcoal powder, exfoliating white clay and AHAs, the mask detoxes while sesame oil keeps skin hydrated.
This acid-infused facial soap
For unclogging pores, this glycolic cleansing bar is super helpful. Targeting congested pores, dead skin cells and uneven texture, it leaves skin rejuvenated, bright and wonderfully glowy.
This cleanser for oily skin
As Dr Göker explains, adult acne can be linked closely to oily skin, which is where a targeted cleanser comes in. This gentle, soap-free formula, which is also non-comedogenic – removes excess oil and surface dirt by up to 60%.
This 'blemish be gone' bundle
Nip + Fab is an approved brand of Dr Göker who recommends their products for both teenage and adult skin, including skincare bundles that cater to blemishes and fighting acne. For more extreme acne, this salicylic acid infused set is a great buy.
This daily exfoliating facial tonic
This versatile skin tonic is suitable for use morning, noon or night, and has been formulated to be tough enough on skin to remove dead skin cells, while also being gentle enough to use on a daily basis. It’s packed full of powerful skin hydrators (including green apple extract and aloe vera) and is spiked with a potent hit of hyaluronic acid. (FYI, I have this myself and my skin loves it.)
My personal go-to for acne-prone skin
FYI, these handy Nip + Fab products aren't just for teens. The Teen Skin range is designed to offer a milder approach to acne management, with a smaller dose of salicylic acid combined with wasabi extract and tea tree oil. (I have sensitive skin and swear by these three products for managing my acne.)

Before You Go

Go To Homepage