Sailed through your teens without as much as a blemish, only to be plagued by acne in your 20s and 30s? Well, youre far from alone. According to a 2018 study published in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology (USA), 85 per cent women and 15 per cent of men surveyed had adult acne.Acne, at any age, can take a toll on your self-esteem. A 2021 study published in The Journal Of American Medication Association found that it impacted mental well-being, and caused social anxiety, depression, and in severe cases, suicidal thoughts.What is adult acne?Breakouts that occur after the age of 25 are usually termed as adult acne. The causes of this can be similar to what causes acne in teens: Excess sebum production, stress, clogged pores, inflammation, and bacteria.What causes these breakouts?In some cases, acne can be genetic, and in others, there are external triggers that cause it. To diagnose the cause of your acne, it is best to consult a medical professional before trying out every serum and spot treatment there is. In some cases, acne could be a sign of an underlying medical condition like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Below, find some common causes of adult acne.Hormonal changesFluctuating hormones can cause inflammation and throw your skins pH level off balance. This can lead to excessive oiliness or dryness that exacerbates acne. Some factors that lead to this imbalance are pregnancy, post-partum period, menstruation, and breastfeeding.It is advisable to consult a dermatologist and get a hormonal blood workup done so you have a clearer idea of how your hormones can be balanced.StressWhen youre stressed, your adrenal gland releases cortisol, which is known as the stress hormone. This hormone regulates a ton of processes in your bodythink digestive, immune and neurological systems. If youre perpetually stressed, cortisol starts working overtime and messes with these processes, ultimately causing acne.To counter stress, you can adopt various stress management techniques like journaling or meditating.Clogged poresPerhaps the most common cause of acne, excess oil, and dead skin can lead to blocked pores and congestion. Our environment also plays a huge part in the condition of our skin. Being surrounded by stressors like extreme weather and air pollution can throw sebum production off balance, and the result is acne.The guiding rule for clean pores is to make sure you double cleanse your skin (first with a balm or oil and then with a face wash) on the days when youre wearing water-resistant sunscreen and/or make-up. Make sure your pillowcases are clean and that your haircare products dont come in contact with your forehead or cheeks.Wrong skincare habits and productsOver-washing your face can cause more trouble than its worth. Sure, it will leave your face squeaky clean, but then, your skin will produce more oil to compensate for the dryness. Make sure you cleanse your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser. Additionally, if youre exfoliating your skin, opt for chemical formulas that contain acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic and glycolic acid, and use them once a week.If you have oily or combination skin, it is best to opt for products that have the terms non-comedogenic, oil-free, and lightweight on the label. These are gentle, light formulas that will neither strip your skin dry, nor will they clog your pores.Food triggersFor certain people, dairy products can cause acne. If you dont know what exactly the reason is, it is wise to note down the food youre eating every day and your skin, on that day and the following one. This will help you to figure out what it is that you need to cut out from your diet.5 acne-fighting ingredients you need to know aboutTry the Minimalist Retinol 0.3% + Q10 Face Serum, Rs 599Retinol: One of the most effective acne fighters which can sometimes be too much for sensitive skin. Make sure you stay clear of other active ingredients in your routine and moisturise generously as retinol can dry your skin out.Try the Nykaa SKINRX 2% Salicylic Acid Face Serum, Rs 799Salicylic acid: This one works by dissolving dead skin cells so they dont clog your pores.Try the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, Rs 1600Sulfur: A known anti-microbial ingredient, sulfuret works best for all skin types as it is very gentle on the skin.Try the Paula's Choice Daily Skin Clearing Treatment with 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide, Rs 1325 approximatelyBenzoyl peroxide: Absorbs excess oil, kills acne-causing bacteria and exfoliates skin. Talk about triple duty!Try the Paula's Choice BOOST 10% Azelaic Acid Booster, Rs 3250Azelaic acid: If you have any redness or inflammation on your skin, this one will be your BFF. It zaps bacteria and cleans out dead skin from the pores.