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Living With Adult Acne

The Reality of Getting Acne in Your 30s

Emma Chow, host of The Edge 96.ONE's Breakfast Show Mike E & Emma, talks about one thing that really annoyed her this year: adult acne.

I want to talk about acne.

I always thought acne was just a part of growing up. You hit puberty, act weird around boys, get your period, and your face starts breaking out. I got the odd spot here and there, but it was never severe. The skin gods had other plans for me — they gave me adult acne instead.

Yep, this is totally a thing. I got proper acne for the first time at 31 years of age. One by one, the deep, red, lumpy, angry spots crept in, until they built a colony along my jawline. How the hell was this happening? I couldn't understand it.

I'm a confident person — I'm proud of who I am and what I look like. But my acne got so bad that I cried, multiple times. I hated looking at myself in the mirror (especially after showering when the spots turned bright red) and I wouldn't leave the house without putting on a face full of makeup.

Feeling down on yourself when you've got acne isn't about vanity. Do you stop feeling pretty? Yes. Gross? Absolutely. But more than anything, it's about not feeling yourself. It didn't matter how I did my hair, the makeup I wore, or the outfit I put on in the morning — the Emma I used to see wasn't there anymore. I was like an alien version of myself. It sounds dramatic, but it really does affect your psyche. It affects the way you carry yourself ("I feel so gross"), how you interact with people ("Are they staring at my acne?"), and sadly, what you think of yourself ("I'm ugly").

Eventually a friend got me onto some professional help and although we never pinpointed the exact source of my acne — most likely hormones, but stress, diet, and a lack of sleep and hydration could have also contributed — I was put on a super simple routine. Cleanse and moisturise in the morning, then cleanse, apply antibiotic solution, vitamin A and moisturiser at night. It took about eight months to fully clear up (it is so important to stick to the routine — don't give up!), but now I feel like the old Emma — makeup free 80 percent of the time.

I know this is a first world problem, but it's one that many women face on a daily basis. I still get pimples every now and then (I currently have four — it's that time of the month) but instead of stressing about them, I just let my body figure it out and stick to the routine I was prescribed (minus the antibiotic). It's hard to comprehend when you're in the depths of acne hell, but remember that a) you think it's disgusting because you look at it every day, when in fact most people don't even notice or care, and b) your skin doesn't change who you are as a person. Be patient with your routine and it will clear up!

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