Acne sufferers have a reason to celebrate today, thanks to a new Journal of Investigative Dermatology study finding that people who get zits have younger skin, as compared to breakout-free peeps. Not just younger-looking skin, mind you, but skin that is actually more youthful on a cellular level.
"For many years dermatologists have identified that the skin of acne sufferers appears to age more slowly than in those who have not experienced any acne in their lifetime," said Simone Ribero, M.D., a dermatologist at King's College London and lead author of the paper. But nobody has known why—until now.
It all comes down to telomeres, parts of the nucleotides found on the end of each of your chromosomes. They're used to measure the biological age of cells. Telomeres get shorter as you age, making them a sort of "biological clock" in the body. But some people's telomeres shorten faster than other people's, effectively making them get older at a quicker rate.
Researchers took blood and skin samples from 1,205 twins and found that the twin with acne was significantly more likely to have longer telomeres, making their skin not only appear younger on the surface but be younger at the cellular level as well. According to the twin reports, genetically based acne was often cyclical, tied to hormone cycles, and stubborn. It appears, Ribero noted, that the genes associated with this inheritable kind of acne also provide a protective anti-aging effect. This likely isn't the case for people suffering from environmental acne whose breakouts are erratic and tied to poor hygiene, a reaction to makeup, or other outside triggers. (Case in point: These 10 foods that will make you break out.)
This research doesn't mean that you shouldn't try to treat recurring acne if you have it. It's not a trade-off between having clear skin with wrinkles or smooth acne-pocked skin. If you have the gene then you're already getting the anti-aging benefits, so clearing up your skin will give you the best of both worlds. Adult acne doesn't need to be a curse; try these tips for getting rid of stubborn acne for good. If that doesn't help, see your dermatologist who can offer you a variety of cutting-edge treatments using medications or alternative treatments for adult acne. In the meantime there are a slew of new products that can help you both conceal and heal your spots.