PSA: Your Acne Products Might Be Making You Break Out

PSA: Your Acne Products Might Be Making You Break Out

We’re willing to bet that we couldn’t pay you to go back in time and relive your teenage years. Even the most carefree, fun-filled teenage memories are likely not enough to convince anyone to go back to a time of neon-colored braces, awkward prom photos and truly unpredictable mood swings.

And yet, so many people are stuck in the past when it comes to how they treat their acne breakouts and skin concerns. Most traditional acne products feature either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide as the primary acne-fighting active ingredients, and while those two ingredients may work wonders on oily teenage skin, they can actually do more harm than good for adult skin. In fact, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide could actually be contributing to more adult acne, trapping you in a frustrating, never-ending breakout cycle. Want to get off the hamster wheel? Enter: BalmLabs. Our products are specifically formulated to address the unique needs of acne-prone adult skin. Frankly, it’s time for your skincare routine to grow up.


How do you know if you have adult acne?

Whether you struggle with the occasional pimple or consistent breakouts, you are a bonafide member of the adult acne club! Adult acne is becoming an increasingly prominent issue for women in their 30s and 40s, says BalmLabs chief dermatologist, Dr. Robin Schaffran. Its contributing factors vary but they can include pregnancy, stress, genetics, perimenopause and other hormonal changes. Adult acne often manifests itself along the chin and jawline and can include painful, cystic bumps.


But what, exactly, should you do about it?

Adult acne needs to be treated with more caution and care because—acne-prone or not—teenage skin is plump, full of collagen and is able to repair itself faster than it ever will be again. (Sigh.) Adult skin, on the other hand, produces less collagen, ceramides and elastin, is drier and more sensitive, and is, therefore, more prone to barrier damage.

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Er, what barrier?

Your skin barrier! This is the outer layer of your skin, which—to put it as simply as possible—keeps the bad stuff out and the good stuff in. Take, for example, pollution and particulate matter in the air. Your skin barrier is responsible for keeping that stuff out of your skin and body (make sure to thank it for its hard work later). It’s also responsible for keeping good stuff—like moisture and electrolytes—in, essentially acting as a protective seal that traps them beneath the skin. When your skin barrier is compromised, its ability to perform these essential functions is also compromised.


So where do acne products come in?

“Acne-prone skin is compromised skin, and adult skin has a more sensitive skin barrier to begin with,” explains Dr. Schaffran. So if you have adult acne, your skin barrier is already in a state of (double) disruption, due to things like excess oil, breakouts and age-related changes. “When you put irritating products on the skin that dry it out [like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, which work by killing acne-causing bacteria underneath the skin and helping the pores shed those dead cells] then the barrier is even further compromised. This causes irritation, redness, stinging and burning.”

But wait, there’s more. A disrupted skin barrier can also lead to even more acne. Here’s how: if you use benzoyl peroxide on adult skin, which is naturally on the drier side, you’re stripping it of necessary oils that it needs to function properly. To counteract that sudden dryness, the glands beneath your skin will create even more sebum (oil). And that excess sebum, mixed with dead skin cells, leads to—you guessed it—acne.


So excess oil leads to breakouts, but stripping the skin of too much oil leads to more oil being produced, which leads to...breakouts?

Yup. It’s a delicate balance, and one that we’ve perfected. “Balm was created specifically with the skin barrier in mind,” says Dr. Schaffran. “The products include ingredients that not only help acne-prone skin by minimizing acne breakouts, but that do so without compromising the barrier. Balm uses ingredients that actually improve and solidify the barrier over time, making it even stronger.” Our ClearBalm 3-Step System features highly tolerated exfoliating ingredients like niacinamide and natural AHAs to control excess sebum production and gently slough away dead skin cells, plus nourishing ingredients like squalane and hyaluronic acid that hydrate skin and strengthen its moisture barrier.

In short: BalmLabs products give you the short-term results you’re after (like clear, bright, glowing skin) but they also work beneath the skin’s surface, healing and strengthening your skin’s barrier and restoring a sense of balance within your skin.

It’s time for your acne-fighting products to grow up.


Dermatologist Q+A: What are the most surprising causes of acne?