Stressing over spots seems so adolescent, but it’s not just teens that suffer from acne. The global acne market will ring in $3.02 billion by 2016, according market trends, and that says a lot about how endemic the problem is.

Half of women are diagnosed with some form of acne during their adult lives and NHS figures state that 80% of adult acne sufferers are women.

Acne can be embarrassing, unsightly and often quite painful. It’s often hard to pinpoint the cause, because it can be caused by lifestyle, genetics, hormones and/or diet. That doesn’t help when you’re desperate and need of a solution.

Treating adult acne can complicated by the fact that most acne and blemish products are targeted at teens (you might have even used them!), and they can be drying to the skin and harsh in your adulthood, because he type of acne you get as a 30-50 year old differs significantly and is deeper pore than pubescents. Get the product wrong, and you could flare up the acne even more. We’ve got a round-up of some ‘grown up’ acne products to try.

So what does a grown up do about acne? Aside from going to the GP for a strong topical cream or antibiotics, there are products you can try on the high street – we put some to the test.

The Proactive Range

If you watch US sitcoms and the like, you’ve probably heard the name, and seen celebrities like Jessica Simpson, Katy Perry and others swearing by this product in TV ads.

Proactiv acne solution

Coming in a three-step daily system that starts with a Skin-Smoothing Exfoliator, followed by a Pore Targeting Treatment and then a Complexion Perfecting Hydrator, the Proactive range doesn’t come cheap. Each of the three-step tubes cost a few pounds short of £30, but there’s a weekly skin purifying mask that is thrown in for free.

My initial thoughts on this system was that it would be a lot of product, and a lot of faffing around in the morning (and evening), which may be overkill for my skin. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Once you get into the swing of things, you don’t have to think too much about what you’re doing.

The three-step system is fragrance free, and the products feel lovely to handle. However, after day three, I found that using the exfoliator twice a day was a little too much for my skin and I developed a slight rash on my jawline. I stopped using it twice a day at that point and left the exfoliator out of the routine for a few days, as I didn’t want to exacerbate the rash. Continuing with the pore-targeting treatment and hydrator after washing my face with water was fine and I end d up using the exfoliator just a couple of times a week to reduce flare ups. 

Overall, I think the Proactiv range is ideal for those who don’t have serious acne. If you just need a product or system that will clean your face and keep the odd spot or two at bay then this may just do it for you. Having been an acne sufferer in the past, and seeing how twice-daily exfoliating with this product broke me out in a rash, I’d be hesitant to use the exfoliator on a severe case of acne in case it’s just too much of an overkill. But it could be that the product was bringing up impurities to the surface of the skin (purging) and would have settled down eventually – maybe I chickened out too early!


clinique blemish gelThe makeup brand’s acne solution probably won’t be your first port of call when it comes to looking for acne treatment, but Clinique is a brand that’s known for quality so I was happy to try this one out.

We were sent the Anti-Blemish BB Cream and the Anti Blemish Gel and just like I imagined, the products were very sumptuous. They had a creamy feel, but the worry was the fragrance in the products, though slight.

After the first wash, my face felt baby smooth. I couldn’t wait to use it again that evening. However, after a few days, my initial concern about the perfume came to light, and I started to develop tiny rash-like spots. They weren’t anything to panic about, but I know my skin doesn’t respond well to products with perfume or oil, so I stopped using the products immediately.

This may not affect other people the same way, and the products are very good quality – worth a try, I’d say.

Braun Face facial epilator

This has to be my favourite. I’ve always wanted to try a facial brush and wondered whether this would flare up my face – they look so harsh, until you touch the brush and see just how soft the bristles are.

Copy of Unexpectedkindness is themostThe Braun Face Mini Epilator + Cleansing Brush makes you feel like all the years you’ve washed your face you’ve been doing it wrong. It has two uses: an epilator for removing facial hair; and a cleansing brush that cleanses the skin six times more effectively than using your hands (so the manufacturer says). I only used the cleansing brush, as this was a review for an acne feature. I love the fact that Braun provides a cute pouch for this along with a compact mirror, too.

The brush rotates in both directions and is very kind to the skin. It isn’t as fast and harsh as I feared it would be. However, the cleansing is not compromised by this at all – it really does the job. So my first test was to use it after washing my face the with my cleanser, as I normally would. Then I sued the brush afterwards to see what it would pick up. To my surprise, the brush picked up so much dirt – I was completely aghast. I literally had to wash the brush head to get the dirt off after using it.

After a couple of days, I noticed that acne scars that I’d lived with for months started to fade a little – after just two days! If you have acne scarring, you’ll know how long it can take for the scarring to go, it can take years, even if the acne itself has stopped, so this has to be my favourite product – hands down.

Overall verdict

All the products I tested have their benefits. Acne is such a personal journey, and what works for one person’s skin may flare up another’s and vice versa. I know I don’t like being a guinea pig, but you have to do your research and really understand your skin to find he best solution for you.

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