Spot Treatments

Just when you thought you’d left your breakouts behind with the bikeshed and biology lessons, the spots that plagued you in your teens start creeping back.


As if the slow, steady march of fine lines wasn’t enough!

But with it now affecting up to 35 per cent of women between the ages of 20 and 40, there’s no getting round: acne is now as much a part of adulthood as it was those raging pubescent years.

‘There are two main causes of adult acne,’ says Sally Penford. ‘Genetics and stress. If your parents had acne at any point in their teens or twenties, you’ll be more likely to develop it as an adult, even if you never had it as a child.’

‘Continual stress causes significant hormone surges, which can lead to an over-production of the skin’s natural oils,’ she says. ‘It also slows down the body’s natural healing time so once spots are formed, they take longer to clear. The pressure on women to have and do it all – and the subsequent stress – is unique to this generation of women in their 20s to 40s. No surprise, then, that dermatologist are seeing more cases of adult break-outs than ever before.'

So what is acne, exactly, and what can you do about it? ‘It’s essentially an inflammatory disease,’ says LA-based skincare expert Mario Baedescu, who counts Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow and Mischa Barton among his celebrity clients. ‘Acne occurs when skin cells don’t shed properly, instead mixing with the natural oils in your skin. This mixture causes cell build-up and creates an environment where bacteria can grow and cause inflammation – aka a spot.’

‘Treatment needs to tackle skin cell turnover, oil build up and the inflammation so the best products will contain astringents, exfoliants and anti-bacterial agents such as zinc, witch hazel and hydroxy acids.’

Elle tested the huge range of products aimed at tackling spots and acne – here are the ones that work.

Read Next: