How to Get Flawless Skin Fast

How to treat common skin problems and blemishes as you age.

Just when you thought youd escaped your teens and 20s unblemished, you find yourself battling adult acne and pimples in your 30s—and beyond. Hormones can fluctuate like mad in our 30s, 40s, and 50s, as we go on and off the pill, get pregnant, enter perimenopause and, eventually, menopause.

Pimples arent the only resulting problem, either. “There are quite a few conditions that mimic acne, which can make it hard for women to know what they truly have and how to treat it,” says Howard Murad, MD, associate clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. But diagnosing those red bumps can be easy if you know what to look for. Consider this your clear-skin cheat sheet.

If you notice…red bumps or deep-seated, persistent lumps concentrated around the chin and jawline, or blackheads and whiteheads spread across the skin you might have adult acne

The acne you get in your early adult years erupts for the same reasons it did in high school—primarily due to genetics and hormones. But its not always that estrogen levels are falling and male hormones are increasing, as many people assume. “Women may have normal hormone levels, yet still suffer from acne. The body simply develops a new sensitivity to hormones, which can result in breakouts,” explains Doris Day, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center. And in those who are prone, androgens—or male hormones—can overstimulate oil production and interfere with the normal shedding of skin cells, causing pores to clog and bumps, blackheads, and whiteheads to pop up.

Treat it with: Over-the-counter acne products, to start. Go for cleansers, oil-free moisturizers, and spot treatments with pore-clearing salicylic acid or sulfur, both of which are far less drying than benzoyl peroxide. Dr. Murad advises his patients to choose formulas that double as anti-agers, fighting lines with products that contain peptides and antioxidants.

Homemade solutions also exist. “You can create a pimple-fighting paste by mixing a little bit of honey, an antiseptic, a dab of 1 percent cortisone cream, and some aloe gel, which soothes the skin,” Dr. Day says. “Simply apply it to the breakout. Youll get all of the anti-inflammatory effect of cortisone, and itll take some of the angriness out of the pimple.” If your skin doesnt clear after two to three weeks of at-home treatment, see your dermatologist. She can shrink those buried cysts with a shot of cortisone or prescribe a short course of antibiotics—creams and pills—for severe cases of adult acne.
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Jolene Edgar
Last Updated: March 19, 2009

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