Of all the things you want to carry over from your teens – the sexual stamina of a machine, the ability to bounce back from hangovers with a workout, that cute girl from geometry class – acne is the most unwelcome of passengers.
And yet almost ten per cent of men over 25 end up with pimples, great yellow crusty bastards that mess with your confidence, fuck up your dating game and have you reaching for products you haven’t used since Pitbull was a thing.
On a biological level, a lot of male acne is caused by excess levels of sebum, which are secreted by the sebaceous glands. Often caused by fluctuating hormones, when this excess sebum encounters bacteria, the body sends white bloods to the infected area and hello, it’s pimple time.
And what causes these fluctuating hormones? Don’t want to stress you out but it is actually stress. This modern-day foe is intrinsically linked to having too much androgen in your system. In fact the more you have of the former, the more you’re likely to have of the latter.
This is where lifestyle factors come into play as an acne management tool. Instead of automatically reaching for product or prescriptions (more on that later), focus on upping the amount of sleep you’re getting and adding a meditation or yoga practice. Asana Rebel is a great app for yoga while Headspace will effectively guide you through a beginner’s meditation. Even 10 to 20 minutes every second day will result in a noticeable improvement. While you’re doing the lifestyle check, have a look at your diet. Especially high trans-fat takeout like pizza and burgers. Don’t even get us started on nuggets.
Another factor to consider is over-cleaning the skin. Our complexions have a naturally occurring layer of oil which helps maintain the biome’s optimum condition. A word you may not associate with clear skin is oil, because, granted, it seems counter intuitive. The acne-prone often view oil as the horned beast Satan, something to be banished. The problem is that the solution to acne is often sought in seemingly effective harsh soaps or astringents that strip away this oil. Because the body is such a finely tuned machine, it responds to this lack by replenishing your natural oil levels. In fact, it delivers more than is needed to make up for the shortfall. As a result, pores become clogged and it’s whitehead city.
Should acne be part of your life, definitely check out the ingredient listing on products before you buy them. Steer clear of acetylated lanolin as it can clog pores and deftly sidestep benzaldehyde, isopropyl palmitate and menthol.
In terms of the products you should be using, here’s the lowdown. Invest in a daily gentle cleanser with 2.5 to 5 per cent benzoyl peroxide as well as a leave-on liquid exfoliant with two per cent salicylic acid used no more than a couple of times a week. And just a tip: do not scrub exfoliant into acne-prone skin. Use gentle movements or the situation could become even more inflamed.
The good news is that you don’t have to spend up big to deal with this dilemma.
Brands like Neutrogena and Paula’s Choice will see you right but if you want to splash out on a three-part cleanse, unclog and treat regimen, the Clinique Acne Solutions Clear Skin System is the way to go.
Moisturising is as important for those with adult acne as it is for all other skin types but you want a specialist product. Try La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat Anti-Acne Moisturiser.
If none of these tactics prove successful, it’s time to hit up your GP. There are antibiotic creams and tablets which reduce bacteria-causing acne, vitamin-A derived retinoid treatments also available as creams or tablets and the drug Roaccutane for severe cases. Either way, help is at hand.