by Alexandra Nicole Nuralam

We Asked Dr Jenny Liu To Break Down Adult Acne

“Why am I suddenly breaking out in adulthood?” — A common question we ask ourselves. For this week’s BEAUBIT BLACK BOOK, board-certified dermatologist Dr Jenny Liu explains adult acne.

In case you haven’t heard, acne isn’t strictly teenager territory. If you — like many women — thought all you had to do was get through puberty and be rewarded with clear skin, well, think again.

Adult acne is very different from teen acne; instead of getting pimples on your forehead and cheeks, adults tend to get acne on their chins and around the mouth. BEAUBIT speaks to Dr Jenny Liu, M.D., (, a board-certified dermatologist and an assistant professor of dermatology based in Minnesota, on everything relating to adult acne.

Is it normal to have acne in your late 20s to 30s? 

Yes, hormonal acne, especially in adult women, is something I see frequently. It can start in those who have had a history of acne or even those who have never had much experience with acne at all.

What are some ways to get rid of hormonal acne? 

One of the most effective ways is oral spironolactone, which was originally used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure, and oral contraceptives. Another option would be topical prescriptions, which is also standard for acne.

Otherwise, I think a benzoyl peroxide cleanser and a retinoid gel is a great place to start. I use Cerave’s Acne Foaming Cleanser nightly, and La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment. I also like The Ordinary’s Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% (SGD16.50) and their Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum (SGD23.90).

How should we layer or alternate skincare ingredients to target hormonal acne for optimal results?

It really depends on the skin type and what works well for the individual and their lifestyles, work schedule, et cetera. Some few exceptions would be like retinol, which should only be used at night. For those with sensitive skin, you might want to avoid using retinol, AHAs and salicylic acid together as it can be too irritating on the skin. If you’ve been prescribed antibiotic creams to target acne, they can be used twice daily.

Will adult acne ever go away?

Unfortunately, acne has no cure. But with a regular skincare routine and a balanced diet and lifestyle, you can reduce and prevent future breakouts.

Dr Jenny Liu’s Skincare Recommendations

Skinceuticals Blemish and Age Defense Serum, SGD152.95
Vichy Liftactiv Specialist Peptide-C Anti-Aging Ampoules, SGD47
Skinceuticals CE Ferulic Serum, SGD248
Neutrogena Clear Pore Skin Cleanser/Mask, SGD24.95
Vichy Mineral 89 Fortifying and Plumping Daily Booster, SGD38
Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash, SGD13
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Moisturizer, SGD30.15
EltaMD UV Elements Tinted Face Moisturizer with Broad-Spectrum SPF 44, SGD49
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Ultra-Light Fluid Broad Spectrum SPF 50, SGD46
La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume AP, SGD34.90