When Your 20’s Are Poppin’: Adult Acne Sucks and What to Do About It

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I’m the girl all my friends hated for having “perfect skin” in high school. While everyone’s raging hormones were popping up (literally), my face remained as clear as a porcelain doll. Then—I turned 20. I’ll never forget the day I called my mom crying and confused as to why I was breaking out so badly. Hadn’t I slyly surpassed that stage of life? “This sometimes happens to girls in their 20s,” my dermatologist said. I knew it wasn’t her fault, but I needed a more concrete answer and someone to blame. Googling “Why am I breaking out in my 20s?” wasn’t giving me either of those things. I felt like a lost, insecure teen entering what was supposed to be the age of confidence. Getting acne at such a prime age sucks for a lot of reasons.

Meeting People

In college, you see a different face on campus almost every day (even at a small school). When cursed with this new acne phase, you feel discouraged to be yourself and shy away from introducing yourself to someone new. Sometimes it feels like your true self is hidden under all the redness.

We Can’t Be Lazy

College ain’t easy. Between late-night study sessions, trying to squeeze the gym in between homework and studying, sometimes you just want to roll out of bed and go to class in your sweatpants. But now you have to wake up five minutes earlier to add the extra effort to cover your face in makeup to hide your acne. And while we’re at the mirror, might as well spend five more minutes putting on our eyebrows, liner and mascara.

The Cure Isn’t Cheap

The poor college student life applies to nearly all of us. We pass on a night out because our bar tab tends to rack up faster than we can finish our drinks. Now all of a sudden you you have to choose between spending your money on food, alcohol or expensive skin-clearing products. Let’s not forget those over-priced and sometimes hardly worth it dermatologist appointments.

It’s a Vicious Cycle

Acne causes stress, which causes acne, which causes more stress that creates a never-ending cycle. And once we think we’re cured, our face is back at it again with the whiteheads.

Although we complain about the acne curse for hours, I’ve found a few little tricks of what to do about it:

Talk to Someone

But not just anyone. Talk to someone who makes you feel beautiful. That person can be your mom, a sibling, best friend, roommate, boyfriend—whomever. Find people who tell you you’re beautiful no matter what. They’re guaranteed to make you feel better about the whole thing.

Know You’re Not Alone

We’re all in this together, ladies (and gents). And if there’s one thing that makes me feel better, it’s knowing that I’m not the only one feeling or looking this way. Acne shows mercy on no one.

Go Makeup-Free

Try it for a few days and then for a whole week. Yikes! I know that sounds scary, but it’ll give your skin a breather, and by the end of the week you won’t feel so insecure about stepping out in public without layers of COVERGIRL clogging your pores (I did this and felt so rejuvenated by the end of the week).

Look in the Mirror and Smile

This might sound silly, but smiling actually releases hormones that make you feel good. Doing this every morning can give you a little boost for the day. Laugh a little too. You know what they say: laughter is the best form of medicine.

In all, if you’ve fallen victim to the 20s acne phase, know you’re not alone. But most importantly, remember we’ve all experienced breakouts and it’s okay. We’re all human and biology gets to the best of us. A pimple on your face doesn’t change who you are. Plus, now you have an excuse to experiment with all those Pinterest remedies you’ve been curious about (silver lining, folks).

A junior fashion merchandising major at Mercyhurst University. Dog lover, Friends Enthusiast, Shopping Addict

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