the difference between adult acne and teen acne

Learn why your skin behaves differently as you age – and how to keep it clear.

story highlights

  • Adult skin is less resilient than teen skin, which has a higher cell turnover rate and heals more rapidly.
  • Keeping adult skin clear involves focusing on multiple internal and external factors, while keeping teen skin clear involves more focus on cleansing and oil control.

Acne is no fun at any age. But knowing how it behaves in your adult years vs. your teen years can help you stay in the clear.


Adult acne


Thought you could outgrow acne? If only. In today’s world, chronic stress, hormonal changes, a busy lifestyle and an increasingly polluted environment can lead to more adult acne, congestion and uneven skin tone. In general, skin cell turnover rate slows with age, so adults are slower to heal from breakouts than they were when they were teenagers. This helps explain why post-breakout marks stay around a lot longer than they used to.


Adult acne is also linked to hormonal fluctuations and chronic stress, which are more common among women. Breakouts tend to be inflammatory (red, sensitive) and predominantly located around the mouth, chin and jaw line. Treating adult acne can be challenging because adults also tend to have sensitivity, dehydration, and pigmentation issues that lead to signs of premature aging.

How to clear adult acne:
Focus on spot treatment and balancing the skin, as well as making sure your other skin care needs are met.


Avoid “picking” or “squeezing” breakouts at home, which can result in more breakouts, scarring or redness. Instead, see a professional skin therapist for an extraction.


Adult skin can lose its ability to retain moisture with age. Avoid over-drying skin by choosing products that contain less drying ingredients such as Salicylic Acid or Glycolic Acid to help remove dead skin cells, excess oil and dirt, as well as Thymol and Terpineol to control bacteria.


If you’re combatting signs of skin aging, look for ingredients such as Niacinamide and Hexylresorcinol to help balance uneven skin tone. Retinol – a wrinkle-smoothing ingredient – can also help reduce the appearance of premature aging.