What Causes Adult Acne? Adult Acne Treatment Explained

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Putting your best face forward is pretty difficult when you aren’t currently rocking your best face. Whether it’s clusters of zits, or a couple of fame whoring pimples, turning your face to the side with the least amount of acne can feel like the only option.

Unfortunately, this is really not an option once you are an adult. While teenage acne is embarrassing, it is also completely normal and pretty common. Adult acne, however,  comes with a stigma that it’s something you really want to run and hide from. But you can’t, because, you know, adult real-life responsibilities and stuff.

Acne As A Teenager

Close up of teenagers face with zit.

Teenage pimples are very common.

When you were a teenager, you probably slathered some intense drugstore acne medication and called it a day. Maybe it worked a bit for you back then, but does it work for you now? If not, you might want to consider a real grown-up solution to what was supposed to be an adolescent problem. That is, changing your diet.

Teenage acne is caused by the influx and chaos of changing hormones. While this change is for the best, the side effects can sometimes feel like the worst thing in the world. (Does that sound a bit over-dramatic? All part of being a teenager!)

This time of life is ironically supposed to about going through physical changes that will ultimately help you look your best. But teenagers these days feel the need to grow up fast, and put a major emphasis on their appearance, before it really matters.

What Causes Adult Acne?

By the time you are an adult, your hormones should have settled already. However, due to factors such as poor diet and stress, even when we are adults, are hormones can still run amock. However, unlike when we were teenagers, the factors that are causing the hormonal chaos in our bodies actually are in our control. Making some simple diet changes can make a really big difference. One such change is giving up dairy.

Could The Culprit Of Adult Acne Be Milk?

Mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows and cinnamon.

Hot chocolate is the ultimate comfort food for many.

Milk is the first thing we consume as babies. It provides our little bodies with lots of nutrients as well as comfort. Contrary to popular belief, we still need comfort as adults. Few things bring such relief like a hot creamy cup of coffee or hot chocolate. It is for this reason that this is truly an adult solution. Tell a teenager no more macaroni and cheese and watch your beautiful maturing adolescent revert back to the charming temperamental two-year-old she once was.

Why Does Dairy Cause Acne?

So why does milk cause acne? Well there are a couple of reasons, some you may expect and some that may surprise you. One reason is that the hormones that are given to the cows end up in the milk they produce. While the hormones may be good for the baby cows, they are entirely unnecessary for us, especially as adults. Additionally, dairy causes insulin spikes. This causes the liver to produce IGF-1 which is a growth hormone that causes inflammation and acne.

One surprising theory of the reason dairy causes acne has to do with your metabolism. Dairy products actually speed up your metabolism. When your metabolism speeds up, you need the proper nutrients to maintain equilibrium. It turns out that the most common nutrient deficiency in this area is Vitamin A.

If you aren’t able to completely quit dairy, be sure you get an adequate amount of vitamin A. (Hint: Orange fruits like carrots and apricots are excellent sources of Vitamin A!) Additionally, many people are actually lactose intolerant. If that is the case, consuming dairy will cause inflammation in the body, which results in acne breakouts.

Delicious Dairy Replacements

Now, before you jump down my throat, I am not suggesting you give up your biggest happiness in life. You can still have a super creamy latte by substituting for plant-based milks. Soy milk, almond milk, cashew milk, rice milk, coconut milk and oat milk are just some of the many plant milk options.

But we all know it isn’t just about milk itself. What about cheese, ice cream, butter? Luckily, veganism is all the rage right now, and there are loads of dairy substitutes that taste and act like the real thing. just visit your local supermarket. You’re bound to come across several brand boating vegan cheese options. You can also substitute butter for healthier fats or oils, like avocado or coconut oil. As for ice cream, refreshing fruit sorbet can often be just as satisfying – or more!


Adult acne is an extremely frustrating condition that can wreak havoc on your confidence and self-esteem. If you have tried countless creams and treatments, but pimples just keep popping up, perhaps it is time to consider another method.

Cutting out or reducing dairy may just be the answer to your skin care woes. It doesn’t have to feel super difficult or torturous since there are many delicious plant based dairy products available. Besides, no dairy product tastes as good as clear skin feels!