A spot of bother

Cameron Diaz has suffered in the past from problem skin.

Cameron Diaz has suffered in the past from problem skin. Photo: Dave J Hogan

You may have had your pesky pimple routine down pat as a teen, but treating adult acne is a whole new ball game. Cameron Diaz knows this better than most - she's suffered from problem skin in the past. But, judging from the photo on the right, she's recovered beautifully.

Rule #1 Less Stress
Hormonal fluctuations related to pregnancy, stress and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, (PCOS) are major causes of adult acne. Stress causes an increase in the release of cortisol – a stress hormone in the body, which causes the sebaceous glands to slip into overdrive and produce more oil. In addition to getting plenty of beauty sleep, it’s worth looking into activities that can assist with stress management, such as meditation, yoga and regular physical exercise. 

Rule # 2: Shop smart

The difference with adult acne is that this time around, we’re battling breakouts alongside fine lines and pigmentation so it’s essential that you avoid using products that strip the skin of much-needed moisture. Here’s a simple yet effective routine worth trying:

  1. Cleanse. The first step is to make the switch to a soap-free wash that you can use to double-cleanse the skin morning and night without leaving it feeling dry or irritated. Try: Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser, from $7.60 (from pharmacies and supermarkets).
  2. Exfoliate. Swap your manual scrub in favour of an at-home, AHA-based peel or mask. Unlike a scrub that can be irritating and scratching on the skin, chemical exfoliants work to dissolve the glue-y substance that keeps dead skin cells together to minimise congestion and improve skin tone and texture. Exfoliating once a week is advised.
  3. Treat. Keep your eyes peeled for a spot-treatment containing benzoyl peroxide that you can keep at the ready to zap zits as they pop up.
  4. Moisturise. Try the combination approach: tackle problem zones using a non-comedogenic lotion boasting a treatment ingredient such as salycilic acid, before hydrating the rest of your skin, such as the forehead, cheeks, neck and chest with an anti-ageing cream.


Word to the wise: The longer you leave acne untreated, the greater the risk of scarring. Although it usually takes around six to eight weeks for your skin to adjust to a new routine, if after the trial period you’re still not satisfied with the results it’s important you consult your GP or ask for a referral to a dermatologist.

Battle Scars

Post inflammatory pigmentation is the technical term used to refer to the brown, purple and sometimes pink-ish spots left behind from breakouts. If your pimple-popping past has caught up with you, the good news is over-the-counter oils and serums can be super effective at helping to minimise the appearance of mild discolourations. My vote goes to Clinique’s Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector, $62, clinique.com.au, which is gentle enough to apply morning and night under your regular face cream. Just keep in mind, it usually takes a few weeks (around 4-6) to see results and like any brightening product, wearing SPF daily is essential in order to maintain results.