A spot of bother in your forties.

Adult Acne Chemical Peels BHA

Will it ever end?

Ever wonder why even in your forties you’re still suffering from oiliness, blackheads, clogging and in some cases pimples and breakouts. Or perhaps it’s happening to someone you know? It all seems a bit unfair. Its even got a name. Adult Acne. 
Perhaps you thought hitting your forties was going to be a time when those annoying, troubling skin problems of your twenties were long behind you.
Unfortunately for many women it’s a rude shock when the skin mysteriously starts to erupt. This is more than just the usual monthly breakout around the time of your period, this is something a little more troubling and it appears to be a more persistent type of acne is beginning to emerge.


Not what you were expecting at 40ish.  Right?

Believe me, if this is happening to you, then you are not alone in your frustration.
It is becoming increasingly common, as our hormones begin to switch gears at around the age of forty to see changes in our skin that remind us of our youth; but not in a good way. Oiliness, breakouts and adult acne. What to do?


It’s a huge troubling hormonal topic and one that is close to my heart as, over the years as a skin therapist I have met many women (and quite a few guys) whose confidence has been shattered with the debilitating onslaught of acne. Good nutrition combined with effective medical grade skincare both play a significant role in solving this skin care dilemma.  


But today, in part two of The Peel Series I’m going straight to the topical solutions that can provide you with comforting relief and resolve some of your problems relatively quickly. So, if it’s alright with you, I’ll leave the “why is it so” questions and answers for another time.


Let’s cut to the chase. Let’s tackle what we can see. The oiliness, acne and blackheads that are present in your skin today.
From a chemical peel perspective, your best defence against the war on adult acne is a great offense which will lead to a much more favourable result for your skin.


Enter Beta Hydroxy Acids!!

Unlike Alpha Hydroxy Acids which I have discussed at length here, there is only one BHA and it is a naturally occurring compound known as Salicylic Acid (SA) and is usually derived from either Willow Bark or Wintergreen and has a similar composition to Aspirin.


A spot of bother

Salicylic Acid (SA) is a superficial chemical peel and is particularly good for skins that suffer from oiliness, breakouts and the inflammation caused by adult acne.


But How and Why?

  • Salicylic Acid (SA) is oil soluble, which means when applied to the skin it will penetrate not just the surface of your skin, but all the way down into your follicles.
  • Once in the follicle Salicylic Acid has the ability not only to dissolve excessive oil, but also clears the follicle of dead cells and improves your skin’s cell turnover which in turn, unclogs the follicle and allows your sebaceous oil (sebum) to flow more freely.
  • Improving the flow of oil and removing dead skin cells from the follicle will also bring about an improvement in the size and appearance of your pores (the visible opening of your follicles).
  • Salicylic Acid is antibacterial; good news if there is any sign of local infection in your skin.It is also anti inflammatory, which is extremely helpful if you are experiencing painful, blind pimples. Ouch!
  • Like other superficial chemical peels, Salicylic Acid improves your cell turnover rate, so while you’re minimising the risk of breakouts, you will also be improving the overall health of your skin.


A Salicylic Acid Peel is right for you if..

  • Your skin is medium to fair in complexion.
  • Is slightly to moderately oily.
  • Has a tendency to breakout.
  • Breakouts are inflamed and painful.
  • Your skin is congested with little bumps, blackheads and even milia (although the last one is quite stubborn to treat).


When is a Salicylic Acid Peel NOT right for you?

  • If you have a dark skin. Salicylic Acid Peels are not suitable for darker skins as the risk of hyper-pigmentation is just far too high. Sorry. 
  • If you have allergies to Salicylates (Aspirin)
  • If you are pregnant or lactating.
  • If you are suffering from Herpes Simplex (cold sores) anywhere on your face.
  • If you have had recent facial surgery.
  • You have dry skin and you are looking for an anti-ageing treatments. (AHA Peels are a much better option)


What you should do when you get home?

  • Follow all the aftercare advice given to you by your skin care professional. So Important!!
  • Apply moisturiser to your skin as you normally would.
  • Wear sunscreen everyday (not negotiable).
  • Avoid direct sunshine for at least two weeks.
  • If you normally wear makeup, continue to do so.
  • Let you skin peel naturally, do not rub or pick at your skin.
  • Stay out of the SUN. (Oh, I already said that, well, it’s worth repeating).
  • Download my Chemical Peel Checklist here.


What you can expect from a Salicylic Peel?

Salicylic Acid Peels for professional use come in concentrations ranging from 8 percent up to 20 percent. Your skincare professional (aesthetician or beauty therapist) may want to start you on a low concentration, building up to 20 percent as your skin becomes more tolerant.  If your skin needs it, you may be given up to 3 layers in one treatment. 
Once SA is applied to your skin, you will probably notice a sensation of heat, it can come on like a flash of heat, as well as a tingling sensation and although it can all feel very intense and uncomfortable at the time, the heat and tingling usually subsides within minutes after the chemical peel application is complete.
In the next few days after your peel, your skin will become dry and tight and, usually within 3 to 4 days you may start to see flaking of the skin. However, In some cases you may not experience any visible peeling until your 3rd or 4th peel. Which is okay. Everyone experiences the results of this peel differently.
A series of peels is the best way to achieve results, I recommend at least 4 – 6 consecutive peels over 2 – 3 months at weekly intervals, but this can vary depending on how your skin reacts to each treatment.
Sometimes in the days after a peel, the skin can turn dark brown, similar to how your skin would look if you scorched yourself lightly with an iron. (I’m telling you this, not to scare you, but to prepare you). Do not freak out, it is normal, it just means you will probably peel quite a bit more in those areas of your face.
But even though you should not get unnecessarily alarmed, it is still very important to seek advice if anything is troubling you when you get home, such as extended redness and heat that lasts for more than 24 hours, or consistent itchiness. please contact your skincare professional immediately and let them know all your worries and concerns. Don’t be shy about it, they want to hear from you.


 Got Questions? Here’s a few I thought you might be wondering about..

Q. My BB Cream has Salicylic Acid in it? Will that help?
A. Sure, I guess it can’t hurt, but it’s doubtful there will be enough in your BB cream to do anything worthwhile.
Q. Couldn’t I just crush up an Aspirin and put it on my skin?
A. I’ve never tried it and I’m not a big fan of home remedies, so I’m going to say. Don’t do it. Your skin deserves better.
Q. SA is in my cleanser? Is that going to help? Is it enough?
A. Although many skin care companies have cleansers that do and sure, it may help a little, but, if it’s in your cleanser then you’re washing it off when Salicylic Acid really needs to be left on the skin to penetrate your follicles. Personally, cleansers should just be about cleansing and if you’d like my full view on this then click here.
Q. I have a serum with Salicylic Acid in it?
A. Brilliant. Keep using it. Usually serum formulations (if they are medical grade) have enough in them to be very beneficial, although depending on your skin problems, you will still need a course of Salicylic Acid Peels to break the cycle.
Q. Can I buy  Salicylic Acid over the internet and do it myself?
A.  DO NOT attempt this at home. Please. 

If you have any other burning Q’s that you’d like me to A, then leave a comment below or you can email me over here. I read and answer all emails personally and I love hearing from you.


Of course as I mentioned, most adult acne in women, comes from slight and sometimes unknown changes in your hormones. Salicylic Acid Peels are just one part of the solution. You may want to seek out the advice of a dermatologist, a functional medicine practitioner or even a hormone specialist to find the answers to your own specific issues.
I’ll tackle the subject of hormones in future articles, it’s worth talking about and whether you are in your twenties, thirties, forties or your fifties your lovely female hormones at some point along the way might give you a rocky ride.
Did you find this article helpful? Maybe this is not about you, maybe it’s someone you know. A sister, daughter, best friend? Share this article with them. It may help.
See you next time,

The Beauty Issue

This article appears as the second of a 4 part series on Chemo-exfoliation using Chemical Peel