Teenage Skin Reborn:

Teen Acne vs Adult Acne


Acne might be one of the most mysterious skin conditions – even though there are many theories and causes, there is no real proof why some people get acne while others stay unharmed.

Acne affects up to 95% of teenagers and about 15% of adults. Although acne can be persistent, there are several natural ingredients that are proven to treat and prevent this condition. 

Acne (acne vulgaris) is a skin disorder that occurs when your follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. This chronic, inflammatory condition results in spots and pimples mostly localised on the face, shoulders, back, chest and upper arms. Depending on its severity, breakouts can leave permanent scars on the skin. Early and effective treatment of acne is important as it reduces the risk of scaring. Acne can cause emotional distress and is even linked to suicide risks. 

The causes of acne are multifactorial. But one is for sure – hormones do play a big role. Androgen hormones rev up the oil production, but excess oil and dead skin cells can be trapped in the pore. That’s how a comedo is created. The trapped proteins and oils are the perfect food for acne-causing bacteria, and so a comedo can progress to a more serious inflammatory breakout. The bad guy - propionibacteria acnes (P.acnes) – lives on everyones skin, but it’s only when build-up of oil and improper skin cell turnover creates an ideal environment in which the bacteria can multiply. This triggers inflammation and the formation of red or pus-filled spots. 

Disbalanced skin microbiome (microflora) is another significant contributing factor in the pathogenesis of acne. And genes play a role too - acne could be written in DNA, and it tends to run in a family. 

There are two groups of acne-affected individuals – adolescents (< 25 years old) and adults (> 25 years old).

It seemed like a long forgotten nightmare, but what to do when it comes back? Let's identify the differences between teen and adult acne and pinpoint the kickass ingredients fighting it.


The prevalence of acne vulgaris is around 95% of teenagers and youths, so most likely you were also fighting with the annoying breakouts at least for once in your teen years. 

With puberty on the rise, a steep incline in hormones causes sebum production to soar. One of them are androgens, the male hormones that both boys and girls have, that cause the overly oily complexion. All the excess oil mixed together with dead skin cells form a plug within the pore that is a trap for bacteria. Acne in young years is more inflammatory than the cases that appear during adulthood – that is because of the widespread oil production that is the dream state for blemishes like blackheads, whiteheads, pustules and cystic acne. The traces of this skin condition can be seen on the back, chest, upper arms and, of course, the face. 

Boys typically experience more severe forms of disease while females typically show milder forms of acne. 

Focus on maintaining a good and kind routine. The first step towards clear skin is effective yet gentle cleansing every morning and night. 

The second step is deep cleansing and exfoliation with masks. It is good to indulge your face at least once a week. 

The third step is moisturising daily without the fear that the skin will become even oilier. 


Acne is a skin disorder that messes up many peoples’ lives and emotional states – it is by no means a fun problem to tackle. It is not life threatening, but it affects the quality of life by creating a psychological burden. But it can be treated and in mild cases it can be controlled by skin care products. The worst thing to do is ignore it – mild cases can progress into a more serious forms and damage the skin to the point of scarring. 

Therefore, it is vitally important to stick to a regular skin care regimen. As we mentioned before, bad hygiene or the lack of cleansing are not among the causes of this disease but incorporating a strict daily skin care definitely will help.


You think you’re too old for acne? If only! Around 15% of adults experience it. Even though hormones are leveled out in adulthood, they still have some fluctuations that spike up oil production. Chronic stress and hormonal changes can lead the adrenal glands to overdrive, which boosts the oil production and sets the stage for acne development. Slightly oilier skin teamed up with the skin cell turnover that slow down with age, can increase the risk of blemishes. When dead skin cells stay attached to your skin, they can easily become lodged inside the pore when even the smallest amount of oil appears. 

While teenage acne ”respects” gender equality and affects girls and boys in a similar proportion, adult acne is mostly predominate in females. A retrospective study of a total of 1.167 patients with acne shows that 85% of them were women. 

There are two variations of acne cases for adults – persistent and late-onset. Persistent acne is a continuation or relapse of the disease from adolescence into adulthood, whereas the second type is patients aged 25 years and older who have not previously suffered from acne vulgaris. In a study involving adult female patients diagnosed with acne it was found out that 80% of them showed signs of persistent acne. 

The clinical presentation of adult acne is considered to be different than teenage acne. Compared to younger population, adults experience milder forms of acne such as comedones and inflammatory lesions. The localisation of lesions tend to be around the chin and jaw line (U-zone) instead of the so called T-zone. 

The way to treat adult acne is also slightly different than the routine that would work the best for teenagers. Adult skin is more fragile, delicate and sensitive than teen skin, and it dries out quickly. The breakouts are usually located around the jaw, mouth and chin. Sometimes it comes in combination with a dryness and sensitivity. 

A gentle approach is best because mature skin is not as resilient as in younger years. Skin cleansing is a must at every age. Mild exfoliating acids can speed up cell turnover. Remember to always use a toner that will deeply exfoliate oily and clogged skin. 

Choose a nourishing mattifying moisturiser that hydrates the skin well and limits the oiliness. 

The Anti-Acne Classics

Salicylic Acid 

Originally extracted from the bark of the willow tree, salycilic acid has been used for decades to treat acne and is commonly found in many skin care products, including toners, washes and leave-ons. It is a exfoliator that dissolves the connections between keratinocytes of the stratum corneum, leading to desquamation of dead cells. Salicylic acid is oil-soluble so it penetrates easily into the pore, making it ideal for treating acne and comedones. Moreover, salicylic acid may have an anti-inflammatory effect in the skin. For the best results in acne management skin should be exfoliated regularly, therefore products containing salicylic acid work best when used on regular basis.

Tea Tree Oil 

Also referred to as melaleuca oil, it is produced from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia tree. Tea tree oil has traditionally been used to treat infections, as it possesses antiseptic properties. Studies show that this oil can be just as effective as benzoyl peroxide at treating acne, but with fewer irritating side effects. 


Zinc has showed an important role in decreasing sebum production which is crucial in treating acne vulgaris. Considerable scientific research has shown that zinc reduces sebum secretion by inhibiting 5 α-reductase (an enzyme that activates oil production). Also it is bacteriostatic against the propionibacteria acnes bacteria. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects of this ingredient can potentially calm down the acne lesions. Zinc is also necessary for collagen synthesis, and when deficient, the keratin in the skin can be more ‘sticky’ – that results in clogged pores. 

Vitamin C 

Ascorbic acid or vitamin C is an essential factor needed for the production of natural collagen in the skin. Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the pathogenic factors involved in acne development. As an antioxidant it prevents the oxidation of sebum, which in turn helps to prevent formation of comedo (clogged pores). Vitamin C also reduces inflammation. 

Alpha Hydroxy Acids 

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) ) are mild acids found in fruits. They are the primary ingredients of peeling formulations. Alpha hydroxy acids dissolve the bonds between the dead skin cells speeding up desquamation (shedding off fead skin cells) and preventing hyperkeratinisation that contributes to clogged pores and acne inflamations. AHAs also stimulate epidermal renewal, therefore regular peels are recommended for both - acne-prone teenage and adult skin. 

Microbiome Balancing Ingredients


Re-balancing of skin microbiome is an important strategy for acne management. Rhamnose is a bio-fermented sugar with a unique mode of action that prevents hyperproliferation of certain bacterial types responsible for microbiome imbalance (dysbiosis). In-vitro study demonstrated that rhamose reduces the adhesion of acne-causing bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes) to the skin by 48%, while the adhesion of bacteria involved in atopic dermatitis (Staphylococcus aureus) is limited by 28%. This indicates that rhamnose is an effective ingredient for prevention and treatment of skin problems caused by microbiota imbalance and / or inflammation, such as acne, atopic dermatitis.

Lactobacillus Ferment Lysate 

Probiotics offer numerous benefits for health: they regulate the skin’s immune system, reinforce barrier function, improve moisture, as well as inhibit growth of certain pathogens. Lactobacillus Ferment Lysate maintains a healthy balance in the skin’s microbiome by maximizing the benefits of “good” bacteria. It diversifies commensal microbiota without disturbing original balance, keeping the growth of acne-causing bacteria under control. Probiotics also help to reduce inflammation and redness. The positive effect of probiotics on skin barrier and hydration is especially beneficial for treating adult acne, when skin is typically more dry and possibly with signs of ageing. 

Antimicrobial Plant Extracts

Green tea and mate tea 

Green tea (Cammelia sinensis) extracts have well known antioxidant properties and are used in anti-ageing, anti-pollution formulations Some clinical studies suggest that 6 weeks of topical application of cosmetic product containing green tea extract provide significant reduction of acne lesion count and acne severity. 

Another antioxidant-rich ingredient – the extract of mate tea (Yerba mate) has shown anti-acne efficacy in in-vitro studies. It inhibits the growth of acne-causing bacteria and has a very powerful anti-inflammatory effect, characterised by strong reduction of inflammatory marker IL-8 in skin cells. Moreover, mate extract effectively reduces the specific acne-related inflammatory gene COX2 and other inflammation markers, which makes it a strong soothing ingredient for acne-prone skin. 


Plants are a source of powerful antimicrobial active ingredients. Juniper is a woody plant typical to the Northern hemisphere and it is known for having strong antimicrobial activity. The highest accumulation of active compounds is found in fresh spring shoots. With the help of a plant technology, a highly concentrated solution of antimicrobials and antioxidants derived from juniper stem cells has been shown effective against acne. In-vitro study shows the ability of juniper stem cells to reduce the inflammatory signals (cytokine IL-8) which are characteristic to acne prone skin and lead to severe skin inflammation. The combination of Juniper and lichen has been proven to inhibit the growth of acne-causing bacteria (P.acne) and well as bacteria involved in atopic dermatitis and other skin disbalances. Juniper stem cells effectively scavenges free radicals and protects skin cells from UV induced oxidative stress and ageing damage, which makes it a multifunctional ingredient both for teenage and adult acne.