Acne at 40: Helpful Tips to Understanding these Annoying Breakouts

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No one told me I would have acne at 40!

For someone that battled acne breakouts during teenge years, I was not prepared for another bout of acne at 40! Especially after I had recently gotten out of braces……again!

It was like I woke up one morning to painful nodules on my face that would not go away.

The pimples were painful due to my body trying to get rid of things that are not meant to be on or in it. Such as, dead skin, oil, and bacteria that are suppose to be in our hair follicles outside of the skin, not on it. This caused the inflammation, redness, and swellingy, all of which lead to the ingrown nodules and pain.

I was tempted to pick at it, knowing that only made things worse.

And don’t even get me started on it effected my spirits!

I would say that acne at 40 is even more depressing and frustrating than acne during puberty.

I would definitely agree that having painful blemishes during adulthood is way worse than the puberty phase. At least then it is expected.

When I was a teenager, I battled acne breakouts terribly.

Especially on my chin.

And I’m not talking about little connect the dot looking pimples. These were massive, with leaving scabs and scars for months. They hurt, it effected my confidence, and led me to putting on loads of makeup to hide the appearance.

And of course, picking at the bumps and adding more concealer only made things worse. I knew that in my head, but I was desperate to stop feeling like everyone was looking at me.

In addition to living as a teenager with acne, I also got to endure the stress that came with growing up in small town Arkansas. You may be bullied just because someone decides to be mean that day. Or find out the mean comments your friends were saying behind your back because of who you hung out with.

Knowing this, you already become overly self-concious because it is hurtful to hear ugly things said about you. But when you feel ugly, in addition, it only makes your self-worth deplenish even more.

Little did I know back then, that stress and worry only added to the teenage escapade of painful blemishes.

Dermatologists, prescriptions, over the counter soaps, expensive products……I tried them all

As I became more and more desperate for clear, pretty skin, I can say that I probably tried everything imaginable.

I went to various dermatologists, all saying different things.

I tried specialty skin care, prescriptions that would burn like the devil should you get a little in your eyes, and even the products that commercials swear by.

One thing that I did learn on these adventures is that acne can actually be hereditary.

Yes, you heard me right!

If your mom and dad had acne, there is a high chance you will have it as well.

How did I get to be so lucky? And my brother never had one issue with his complexion.

It seems that boys and men always have it easier! Am I right?

And, I was so envious of my friends whom didn’t have this issue. Especially one of my besties, Fara. I swear, she could go three days without washing her face and still not one pimple or blackhead would appear! She even once caught her face on fire, by accident, and still came out with a beautiful complexion

Lucky girl!

I also did everything that made it worse.

First of all, everyone knows that you go thru puberty during your teenage years.

This is a given to having breakouts, change in voice, temper tantrums, and the dredful shaving of legs every damn day!

On a side note, have you ever noticed that as we get older, we even care less about shaving our legs? Such a chore!!!!! CHEERS to no shave November!

But, being an 80’s child also involved massive hairspray, tons of makeup, and lots of sun tanning.

Looking back, I think I knew how these obsessions didn’t help my fight with acne.

But lets be honest, I also had to tend to the trending necissities.

I was so obsessed with my bangs being at the right heighth and staying in the exact position all day. I would even stop by my friends house at times just to reapply the Vavoom hairspray for the fifth time.

Now, as an adult, I can’t imagine all of the chemicals that was getting on my face.

And as for makeup, who cared what brand you wore or what it could possibly be made from.

It was more so on the shade of teal eyeshadow or what was available at Walmart. You would then pack on mountains of concealer to cover up every painful blemish, scar, or blackhead.

Only to make it worse!

We would lather our bodies with baby oil or Sheen hairspray for the most perfect tan.

I lived at the pool or the tennis courts every summer and would eventually look as if I had Spanish in my blood.

The tanner you were, the skinnier you felt.

The oils seeping deep into the skin mixed with the summer sweat only fed the bacteria more.

The chemicals in the hairspray damaged my skin. And don’t even get me started on what certain cosmetic products consist of. Yuck!

I eventually grew out of it, thank the Lord! Until I had acne at 40!

Just like worrying about what others thought and having to duck when going into a house to not mess up my sky high bangs, I eventually grew out of being miss pimple popper as well.

What a relief that was! I swore that I would never allow my skin to go thru that again.

Never say never, right?

Lesson learned. Never say never!

Bause here I was battling the painful blemishes and acne at 40. Misery again!

Looking back, we have all been thru so much worry, stress, and fear this past year. With COVID-19, loss of loved ones, and fear of the unknown. Health care professionals even more!

I’ve dealt with more patients feeling entitled and arguing if you don’t stop everything you are doing to tend to their demands.

And more and more frustration from work, with little sleep, and irritability when getting home to my mom job.

I also have had a lot of loss and heartache in a short timeframe during COVID season.

It sucks!

Truth be told, I will also admit that this led to more wine at night. As a mom and full time nurse practitioner, I was just trying to survive.

It’s harder and more emotionally draining than one may think.

Because of all this, I know my hormones were massive! I stopped taking care of myself, getting plenty of sleep, eating on the go, and just trying to stay afloat.

While all of this was piling up on top of each other, it finally occurred to me that my face looked awful.

And it hurt, burned, itched, and was very irritated.

I realized I had developed acne at 40! I wanted to cry!!!!!!!

At the time, I didn’t realize that I was causing alot of this on my own.

But upon further reasearch, I realized that adult acne had a lot to do with what I was putting on and inside of my body.

In fact, new onset acne at 40, well any age for that matter, is not fully understood but has become a growing problem, especially in women.

Joshua Ziechner, MD, of New York City, states that “it is thought to be due to a combination of hormone fluctuations, environmental stress, and diet”.

As a Family Nurse Practitioner, I sometimes even find myself prescribing antibiotics and topical medication to help with acne break outs. While I’m not a fan to throwing antibiotics to every little problem, I know how desperate some can become.

Many times, it is due to what their dermatologist recommended which leaves little room to trying new things, which is totally fine. It is really up to the individual person.

I even tried some of these medications myself, but was disappointed to see it only made things worse for me.

I was desperate for anything and went back to trying expensive skin care and product lines involving 20 step regimens it seemed.

After all, it’s hard enough realizing that you are going to the other side of the hill, let alone looking like a teenage pimple popper again.

And so, I changed to using skin care products with goat’s milk and vitamins.

I’m a big believer in natural products and the advantages that it has on our health for many reasons.

It may take a little longer to see change, but it definitely works and is so much better for your skin.

With time, I have been absolutely blown away to see how my skin has improved since I began using Topanga Scents lotion and soap. In addition to improvng my gut health!

What I love most is that I’m only using two different things, not 5 step regimens morning and night.

And it isn’t $200 per month!

I love that there are different scents to choose from.

Although in my medical opinion, I believe that the Brentwood scent has the most benefits for skin due to having Patchouli as one of the ingredients.

And on a side note, there is also a line of laundry detergent that can also have a huge benefit to back acne and other sensitive skin flare ups. It’s pretty amazing!

Would you love to learn more about the health benefits of each Topanga Scents aroma or even the amazing line of laundry detergent?

Check out ‘Why it is the Best Smelling Laundry Detergent in 2021‘.

What is the most beneficial aspect to using Topanga Scents skincare while having acne at 40?

It’s that it is made from goat’s milk, does not have all of the harmful toxins, and has a multitude of Vitamins A, B, C, D, & E.

Goat’s milk works well on all skin types and includes a variety of benefits, such as boosting moisture levels, repairing skin barriers, prevents fine lines and wrinkles (hello 40!), and reduces acne.

Goat’s milk has many benefits to improving and preventing acne due to is lactic acid content.

The lactic acid in goat’s milk also acts as a natural exfoliant, removes dead skin cells gently, and helps to keeping pores clear of bacteria.

Furthermore, it doesn’t strip your skin as those cleansing products that include surfactant do.

Goat’s milk includes Vitamin A, in addition to many others, which also helps with skin turnover.  

Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a dermatologist at Zeichner Dermatology in New York City, says that vitamin A has been shown to be “helpful in reducing fine lines and wrinkles and improving acne”.

There are so many benefits to using skin care made from goat’s milk. It has been a huge gamechanger for myself and experiencing painful blemishes at 40.

So, as most probably would, I now find myself recommending Topanga Scents skin care products to my family, friends, and patients.

You will even catch my family washing our 12 year old Boykin Spanial, Buster, in the soap as we have seen huge improvement in his skin allergies! I have people share with me how it has improved their childs eczema and their hands no longer hurt from the winter cracking.

Luckily, my face is now clear and I am feeling much more confident. And clean!

But I also find it important to better understand why women at 40 can suddenly experience what we definitely don’t have time to deal with. Acne!

So what are some causes of acne at 40?

Gosh, acne can reappear at any age really.

The raging hormones-as we age, our estrogen levels decrease and progesterone level increases. This actually has a huge effect on how we feel, our libido, stress, and enjoyments in life. And when these hormones become abnormal, it can cause deep, cystic bumps, of which I developed.

Think about it, as we age we experience pregnancy, years of menstural cycles, different types of birth controls, ovarian cysts for some, and menopause. All of these go along with what I like to call, a rainbow of hormones.

This increase in progesterone can also impact the oil production that our skin produces, causing bacteria growth and acne. I often times recommend to my female patients a supplement called saw palmetto. This supplement can help to regulate our progresterone levels, which in return can lower the oil production. It is also beneficial to cut down on dairy and soy.

And of course, gut health with probiotics is a huge benefit when it comes to hormone balance, skin, energy, sleep, and overall health. For any age at that matter.

Diet-as mentioned above, dairy and soy can impact our skin complexion. A diet high in sugar can also impact oil production by converting testosterone to dihydrotesterone. This overproduction of testosterone can lead to an increase of sebum production, which increase sebaceous glands that lead to acne outbreaks.

Sugar can also become a main culprit to having acne at 40, as it eventually produces hormone insulin when too much is consumed. This will eventually lead to increased inflammation, which is a key factor to acne production.

Makeup– often times, adult acne can appear more as painfulblemishes and bumps under the skin. Some makeup products include ingredients that are prone to clogging up your pores. It is important to pay attention to makeup ingredients and I highly suggest using products that are oil-free, hypoallergenic, water based, and plant-based.

Other beneficial ingredients can also include silica, titanium dioxide, sulfrate-FREE, and zinc oxide as these properties assist with redness and absorb oil build up on your skin.
I have recently started using a hypoallergenic foundation from Stella & Dot and have seen a positive difference in my skin from that as well. Many think of Stella & Dot as a jewelry company and unaware of the makeup and skincare line that they carry.
Two cool things that I love most about their makeup is that they are all plant based and your skin doesn’t feel caked down with foundation. It is very lightweight on the skin and provides great coverage.

Stella & Dot’s mission is also to provide opportunity and empower women to be their very best, which is pretty cool!

Hair products-hair spray and other hair care products can produce excess oil build up along the hairline.

Furthermore, when we wear a helmet, headband, or hat, this will trap sweat and oil causing acne breakout. Schweiger Dermatology Group shares great tips on keeping your hairline free of oil build up.

If you are one that does consume a lot of hairspray, you can always pretend like you are back in time by using a face shield. And who cares what someone may say about it too. Let them have the ugly, painful blemishes. LOL.

Skin care products-proper moisturizer is actually very beneficial for our skin in preventing acne breakouts. Many often think that the moisture causes increased oil production and you will often times see dermatologist prescribe medications with benzoyl peroxide.

I, clearly, am not a dermatologist. But I believe that benzoyl peroxide can actually increase dryness, peeling, and dehyration. All, of which, can increase redness and irritation.

You may also want to avoid products with coca butter, mineral oil, and cold cream as they consist of greasy texture and known to be ‘pimple producing ingredeints’.

Using a proper moisturizer will keep your skin hydrated, especially when lightweight and oil free.

As mentioned earlier, I love my skin care products that consist of goat’s milk and various other natural benefits depending on the chosen scent.

Cell phones– we live in an era where life is dependent of our cell phones. But think of all the bacteria that is on your screen from air pollution to things your hands have previously touched.

Holding a dirty phone up to your face can cause friction and inflammation. This friction combined with rubbing of makeup, oil and dirt that has accumulated on the cell phone “can block pores” and cause irritation.
Let’s be honest, we are not going to stop using our cell phones every day. They are basically our life line!
But things that we can do to prevent this oil and dirt build up on our faces is to use hands-free, speaker, or earphones more. You can also be more diligent in disinfecting the screen with rubbing alcohol and a cloth wipe.
Amazon also has a cool phone disinfectant, The Phone Soap 3 UV Cellphone Sanitizer, which can kill up to 99.9 percent of bacteria for a squeaky clean phone by using the power of UV-C bulbs.

Stress– we have certain stress hormones that rise and trigger our oil glands to producing more oil when we are stressed, angry, frustrated, or experiencing stress from lack of sleep. These acne breakouts are different from hormonal breakouts, which are dependent on androgen hormone levels and occur around our menstural cycles. You usually see hormonal acne around our chin and jawline area as well.

Stress breakouts are normally in our T-zone area and in coordinance with increased cortisol hormone levels. This rise in cortisol can cause increased clogged pores and oil production.
As adults, we face stressful situations on a daily basis.
It is also beneficial to change up your skincare and makeup products. Even though the breakouts are in relation to your body being under stress, using clean products that are already known to decrease inflammation and irriatation can be a huge benefit.

Underlying Health Concern – while no one wants to hear this, acne can be a warning sign to underlying health concerns. It is led to believe that our faces have certain zone areas that represent particular internal issues. And, depending on the zone where acne and/or blemishes present, defines issues with high blood pressure, digestive wellbeing, dehyrdration, reproductive, and renal, to name a few.

Ancient Chinese healers practiced face mapping, which is a technique that relies on the problem area in order to detect health problems in the body. It is safe, non-invasive, and a pretty interesting method.

Face mapping signifies reasoning of acne concern based on locations, but is also known for detecting some diseases.

CheeksKidney, Lungs

Water is the best medicine!

While there are many things that we can work on, such as finding ways to release stress and changing our cosmetics, the most important and easiest method for our skin is water consumption. The way I look at it is we have one body and it should be our most sacred posession.

However we treat this body effects how we feel. And how we feel determines everything else in life.

The benefits of drinking more water plays so many important roles, especially with acne at 40.

Water keeps us hydrated, flushes out toxins, keeps our body temperature maintained, regulates blood sugar, and the list goes on. For those that don’t know, it is recommended to drink half your weight in ounces per day!

Simple changes lead to big rewards.

For me, making simple changes in my skin care products did wonders. I am already an avid water drinker and do my best with diet. However, I do splurge from my guilty pleasure of homemade, raw cookie dough more than I should.

But, it is nice to better understand that having acne at 40 can be as simple as making a few changes.

And if by some reason there is an unknown health concern, there are simple exercises to do at home, such as facemapping, to known that it is time to seek medical advice.

If you would like to know more about all of the Topanga Scents products, message me via social media or email and I will send you the juicy details!

And please sign up to be included on my email list so that you can be notified of future posts. You never know what may come!


Jessica Berry, APRN

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