30 Going On 13

6 years ago by

There are many unanswered questions that come to mind from time to time. What is the universe expanding into? How is Jennifer Lopez aging backwards? And WHY do I have acne at 30?

I had luck as a teen in the field of skin. At 13 and 14, I WANTED acne. I know that sounds insane but I wanted to wear pimples like a badge of puberty, show everyone I was growing up and becoming a “woman.” I made my mom buy a zit cream that went unused because the hormonal bumps never came, the way you buy a bra before there’s even the smallest sign of a growing need for one.

Today I’m almost certainly an adult and I know now why they say “be careful what you wish for.” I was sure I had dodged it but late into my twenties I started seeing blackheads, whiteheads, big under the skin ones, all kinds of imperfections that I thought were reserved for teens who had nothing better to worry about.

I’ve tried many things in between compulsively reading the New York Times, signing petitions, and cooking Blue Apron. I developed a habit for deep cleansing masks and spot treatments, only to find out from the skin pros that you can’t use those too much when you’re 30 because it will dry out your skin and risk speeding up the appearance of lines. I went to sleep almost every night looking like a polka dot and it didn’t work that well anyway.

I then got on a strict facial regimen, deciding to make taking care of my skin a budgeting priority. Leave it to the pros! Get a facial every (other) month! Most of the facial is spent squeezing things out of my pores, extraction time as Gabriela calls it. It really does work but it’s also given me one of my most destructive habits, squeezing my own pores. If Gabriela does it, it must be good, so I can just do it myself in between facials right? Wrong. You probably already know that attacking your face in the mirror is a terrible idea. I even saw a dermatologist who gave me a prescription spot treatment. It’s a band aid, and though it works to get rid of pimples, it doesn’t address the obvious imbalance that causes them.

Finally, I took the best step in the fight against adult acne that I had taken so far and it’s so obvious – Use less. Less products, less cleanser and as contradictory as it may seem, more natural oils. Yes, oil fights oil and that is probably the best skin lesson I learned this year. Adult acne, according to my research, is partly hormonal sure but also caused by the combination of dirt and dryness, and skin producing extra oil to make up for said dryness. Oils are key and so is the word “natural.” I stay on a very strict and very minimal all natural regimen — a cleansing oil, a hydrating oil and no attempts at covering up with thick heavy foundations. I have to let my skin do its thing, and it will and does reward me by not completely freaking out and breaking out, thus allowing me to be one step closer to being one of those girls with super glowy perfect skin.

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  • Do you find that not wearing foundation really makes a big difference?

    -Kirsten //

  • definitely! it makes a MAJOR difference.

  • Hélène March, 17 2017, 9:44 / Reply

    Essaye de compléter ton huile végétale avec des huiles essentielles, résultat garantis !

  • I had this same issue once I turned 30 and moved to NYC. I struggled for a few years with it — was it stress? Just hormones? A by-product of air pollution from riding the subway? I think your advice about going more natural is a good one — I see you recommend a lot of Kiehl’s. That’s a brand I need to learn more about and invest in. The thing that finally worked the most for me was changing my diet. I cut out almost all sugar and the acne cleared up. It’s amazing how much the two are tied for me. When I go home to see my parents and my mother stuffs me with sweets, I’m completely broken out for the next two weeks. But when I eat clean, my skin is clean. I am recommending this solution to EVERYONE!

  • I TOTALLY agree. For me, cutting out dairy cleared my skin completely. Now I only break out hormonally (minimal) and when I eat too much chips or fast food (rarely). My mom experienced the same exact thing.

  • Eating clean, drinking plenty of water and being diligent about removing your makeup at night is always great for your skin, but sometimes you need effective skincare to treat acne – whatever your age. Rodan + Fields Unblemish treats the entire acne cycle, is only available through Independent Consultants (like me), and comes with a 60-day money back guarantee. You can order it here:

  • I am facing the same issue since some years. I believe it is hormonal: the acne disappeared when I was pregnant. It came back 4 months after I delivered. Just like you, I didn’t have acne when I was a teenager, which made me think I was gifted. Now, I am struggling.
    I started using clay as a facial every other day and argan oil or Toleriane cream from Laroche-Posay. I hope it will work …

  • I struggled with acne and blemishes my entire life and even now, when I’m in my 30’s, I still deal with it sometimes. I learned that what helped me a lot were acne products based on bee venom, as they were not drying my skin excessively and also gently plumping / tightening my skin, which is fantastic for fine lines and enlarged pores.


  • Also to keep in mind is that our phones are very dirty and oily. Holding this near your face can cause real breakouts! Hair and hair products do too.

  • Marianne March, 17 2017, 11:45 / Reply

    Les cures régulière de chlorure de magnésium sont très efficaces pour retrouver une peau saine. Un sachet dilué dans un litre d’eau, puis boire un verre par jour. On peut aussi l’utiliser sur les boutons et les marques.

  • As a dermatologist, I can tell you skin does not produce more oil if you dry it out. That is simply not true. The only time it produces more oil than it normally does is because of hormonal fluctuations. Other than that, some people have very dry skin and some have very oily skin. Drying out your oily skin, does not make it oilier.

  • Fortunately I don’t have this problem but I couldn’t imagine not using foundation. :(
    My skin tone has always been so uneven.

    Finding that first Maybelline foundation in college (in the U.S.) I thought I had found magic!

    Foundation makes such a difference to me!

  • I mix clove essential oil with jojoba and dab it on at the first sign of infection, and reapply throughout the day (bedtime, pre-makeup in the morning and post-makeup in the evening) until all signs of infection are gone. You take a little clove oil on a swab and some jojoba on another swab and mix it in the palm of your hand. Apply it in a circle wider than the zit, as there’s a lot of gunk under your skin causing the pore to erupt.

    I also don’t use anything on my face at night in hot weather, and just a bit of jojoba rubbed between my palms and patted onto my skin in the cold weather when my skin feels dry.

  • Merci pour ces bons conseils, moi aussi j’ai 30 ans et moi aussi j’ai (encore) des vilains petits boutons de temps en temps sur le visage.

    Grr ça me rend folle.

    Il faut que je me penche un peu plus sur les soins à base d’huiles désormais :)

    Bon week-end, des bisous !


  • Saglara March, 17 2017, 1:16 / Reply

    I’ve been battling mine since puberty. I’m 30 now. Tried all products, medications (most gave me a rash), diets, etc. I’ve been eating clean and work out regularly. Nothing worked until i got on the pill. I screw it up here n there by forgetting to take it on time and/or apply Tretnoin at night.
    But recently I started acupuncture treatment and it changed my life. I feel GREAT, if i break out- it clears out within a day or two. I had no idea that acupuncture can treat hormonal imbalance, aside from overall strengthening of the immune system and getting rid of blood stagnation.

  • This may sound strange, but the single most important thing I did that instantly stopped my adult acne was to cut out dairy. I had read that the human body has a histamine response to some of the ingredients that naturally occur in cow’s milk (e.g. casein), and one of the byproducts of this response could be acne. So I tried it and sure enough, when I went off dairy, my skin cleared up right away.

  • Same as SR, the best thing I did for my face was giving up dairy products. I was amazed at how my skin cleared out. I didn’t have one single inflammatory spot since over a year on this new diet. And not only my skin improved, but also digestion and endometriosis! It’s like some kind of miracle really. I did it progressively and only saw real improvement after having completely stopped dairy in all its forms.

  • I too developed acne when I turned 30. Cystic acne and it was hell. So painful.

  • I used to have the same problem, and tried a ton of prescription and otc products that never did anything. Finally I realized that it got better/worse according to my hormonal cycle, and very skeptically I tried a birth control that claimed to help acne. Took a few months but it cleared everything up completely. It’s a bummer to have to take the pill for this, but worth a try to anyone out there without hope like I was!

  • Make sure you’re eating well/healthfully. That’s the best way to keep your body in balance.
    And don’t rely too much on the word ‘natural’. Or ‘organic’ or anything like that- there’s absolutely no regulation, so it doesn’t mean anything.

  • Caroline Dé March, 18 2017, 11:12 / Reply

    I have to say that this is Jennifer Garner and not Jennifer Lopez starring in 30 going on 13, eheh but love the article as always!

  • Je n’arrive pas à comprendre ce qui pousse les esthéticiennes à persister dans cette pratique d’extraction. C’est le pire qu’on puisse faire ! La peau fonctionne en réseau, c’est une maille de pores qui réagissent les uns avec les autres : presser un bouton vous donne la fausse impression de n’avoir “touché” qu’à un tout petit point, mais quelle erreur ! Ce sont des centimètres carrés de peau qui se sentent agressés en profondeur et qui se défendent en conséquence. Le résultat est connu de tous… Une semaine après, on se demande pourquoi un autre bouton est venu se loger juste à côté de celui qu’on a eu tant de mal à éliminer… Sinon, je pense qu’il y a autant de solutions que de femmes. Ce qui fonctionne plutôt bien chez moi, c’est de ne pas utiliser de poudre (aucun souci avec mon fond de teint), de transpirer régulièrement (mais oui !), et de prendre du zinc associé au chrome en complément alimentaire.

  • WAnt to fix it? Stay out of the sun, and always use sunscreen. Thats the only thing that will help. Also, don’t use any cleansers most of the time, just rinse it with warm water, and scrub off the old skin. Soap is bad for skin, mostly. I have never had any correlation between my skin and my diet, but everyone is different. Proactive is also a darn good solution, because it really helps acne scars.

  • 1000 people – 1000 thoughts.
    1000 women – 2000 tits
    (old proverb)
    It’s hard to find the solution for the acne, and every woman is a story for herself. But only women who’ve experienced acne problems know how much it can affect their self esteem and self awareness..

  • This is the exact same thing that happened to me. A dermatologist prescribed that I not put anything on my face for a month except wash it and it change my whole perspective and skin. My skin cleared up and ever since I keep it simple. Love this

  • Sound like you have found your solution in facial oils, but as a 51 year old still struggling with adult acne, I avoid facial oils. I have been using at-home-peels and serums in salicylic acid and lactic acid from Make-Up Artist’s Choice and there has been a tremendous improvement in my skin. The products are available in gentle and more powerful strengths. I highly recommend the company’s products for acne prone (and aging) skin. They are very reasonably priced. The packaging is not chic or stylish, but the products work!

  • I am 28 and the acne drives me crazy. My skin is really nice when I avoid dairy, which is easier to do now that I eat meat again. (Was definitely not ready to go vegan) I still eat cheese but eating a balanced diet of plants and protein has kept things more reasonable.

    I started working at an apothecary that sells a lot of skincare. The biggest thing I learned and try to tell my friends about is using oil to fight oil. I tell a lot of people to try rosehip seed oil blends (either a cheaper one from Badger or a more expensive one from evanhealy). There are a lot of “dry” oils that absorb quickly. You can also mix the oil with a few sprays of rose water or toner for a light dose of moisture. I also swapped my drying gel cleanser for oil and cream based cleansers and am really happy about it.

  • Skin is such a fine balance… and that’s where the problem comes! Is it because of your cleanser? The pollutants in the air? What you’re eating or what you’re not eating? Why why why? And once you think you figure it out… it comes creeping back up

  • Sounds weird… but I tried virgin coconut oil as a night cream (only a very light layer) and the day after voilà! less spots and less redness, because I have the same problem now in my 31 (in my 20s my skin was perfect) I was scared to put oil in my mixed skin face, but that oil works.

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