background: acne is a frequent skin disease that occurs in both sexes and all age-groups. women present several clinical disease patterns; moreover, persistence after adolescence is common. objective: to analyze clinical and epidemiological characteristics associated with different age-groups affected by acne in women. methods: cross-sectional study involving female patients diagnosed with acne, at a general dermatology outpatient clinic. variables related to disease and patients were assessed through a standardized questionnaire. results: one hundred and three women were assessed. the average age of patients at the time of the consultation was 21.7 ± 7.3 years. two groups were defined (cut-off age of 21 years), with means of 15.8 ± 2.3 and 28.0 ± 5.1 years. there was correlation between disease duration and current age (r=0.7). there were group differences among frequencies of covariables: combined oral contraceptive (or=48.1), lesions located on upper chest (or=11.6), lesions on upper dorsum (or=0.2), predominance on upper half of face (or=0.1) and age at disease onset (or=1.8). among adult women, 80% reported acne onset before 20 years of age. conclusion: chronologic and topographic patterns of female acne in different age-groups were defined, reinforcing the importance of an individualized diagnostic and therapeutic approach.