Having acne as a hormonal teenager is its own particular brand of misery, though in some ways a sort of rite of passage to adulthood, like having braces. Which is why adult acne just feels like a cruel joke. But I already went through this! I did my duty! Yep, adult acne pretty much blows, but beyond that, it can be a serious source of embarrassment, confusion, and stress. Which is why we spoke to skin expert Andy Bosselman, founder of Arithmetic, a skincare line specifically formulated to treat adult acne, for the most common mistakes people make when it comes to adult acne. Keep scrolling to see what they are so you don't make them yourself!
Mistake #1: You Give Up Too Soon
The same unrealistic expectations that can sabotage your exercise efforts at the gym can trip you up in the skin department. Don't throw in the towel too soon! "Patience and persistence during acne treatment are crucial," explains Bosselman. "Unlike teen skin, acne in adults is more persistent, so it’s unlikely that you’ll see immediate improvement. While that’s hard to hear, for your skin’s sake, when making changes to your skincare routine, it’s important to make a long-term commitment," he says. "Healthy skin is worth the wait."
Whether that means giving a new topical gel a solid chance to take effect or sticking to the routine a dermatologist recommended for you, don't expect your skin to clear up a few days after starting something. Just like you won't get the body you want after a few days at the gym, lasting skin improvement doesn't happen overnight.
Mistake #2: You Hop From Product to Product
Not only does it take time for products to work, but also, constantly jumping from new product to new product can further irritate inflamed, acne-heavy skin. "The skin needs time to react, heal, and adjust to a new wash, serum, or treatment," says Bosselman. "For adults, it often takes two to three months before you can really tell if a new product is working or not."
Mistake #3: You’re Not Consistent
Even if you don't give up too soon or hop from product to product, sticking to a product is worthless if you're not consistent with how often it's applied. Just like medication or birth control pills, you can't skip three days consequence-free because you're traveling or too tired. "In order to experience a product’s potential, it’s important to be regularly using the product. While this is not surprising, sticking to a regular routine isn’t as easy as it sounds," says Bosselman. "Keep your to-do list easy to remember by applying products morning and night, in between coffee making, teeth brushing, and lights out," he says. "And if you need help, set reminders on your phone."
Mistake #4: You Make Things Complicated
Says Bosselman, "Everyone’s skincare routine should include four key elements: cleanse, hydrate, treat, and protect. Do these religiously morning and night." You certainly don't need a 14-step skincare regimen with varying serums, toners, masks, moisturizers, and more. More doesn't always mean better, especially when it comes to harsh ingredients on acne-prone skin. Bosselman reminds that you also don’t want to over-wash or under-moisturize. "Always apply a moisturizer with an SPF sunscreen before you leave the house." Bottom line: It's best to keep your skincare routine simple and effective.
Mistake #5: You Don’t Wash Your Sheets Enough
We get it. You're busy, and laundry day sucks. You have better things to do! What's a few more days, right? Definitely wrong, for your acne. "Busy schedules and lazy Sundays keep many of us from tossing the sheets in the wash on a regular basis, but bacterial buildup on your dirty linens, especially pillowcases, may affect your skin," says Bosselman. "A hot wash eliminates the skin-clogging debris that builds up on linens and provides your skin with a fresh place to rest."
Keep scrolling to shop our favorite Arithmetic product for treating dreaded adult acne.