For the longest time, I struggled with acne. And to make matters worse, I could never seem to hone in on which specific things were breaking me out. It felt like no matter what kind of skincare products I was using, and no matter how many times I washed my face and my makeup brushes, I was still getting regular breakouts.
Do you know that feeling?
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot more about the skin and how it works, and today I’ve compiled a list of some of the less-well-known causes of acne. Are any of these 5 things breaking you out? Read on to find out!
Culprit #1. Your cell phone
Your phone is most likely covered in germs, bacteria, sweat, oil, makeup, and dirt. Mmmm. Delicious. And be honest with yourself – when was the last time you wiped down your cell’s screen (with something other than the back of your t-shirt)?
The same thing goes for your glasses, sunglasses, and pillowcase. All the yuckies that build up on these guys could definitely be contributing to your breakouts – especially if you’re getting them on your cheeks, jawline, or along the bridge of your nose (where you glasses sit).
Wipe down/wash all of these items 2-3 times a week. To clean your cell phone, use an alcohol spray/liquid and a cotton pad. The same goes for your glasses and sunglasses. You can also use dish soap to work off any grime and oils that are built up on your glasses. For pillow cases, be sure to change yours out at least once a week (the more often, the better!)
Culprit #2. Your diet
Depending on who you’ve talked to, you might’ve heard that what you eat has no effect on the clarity and health of your skin. However – and I’ll be frank here – anyone who says that is flat-out wrong. Your skin, like any other organ, is a reflection of what you put into your body. So it makes sense that certain foods and ingredients cause break outs.
The specific foods will vary from person to person, but here are a few common culprits:
- Artificial sugars
- Artificial colorants/dyes
If you notice you’re breaking out after a “binge fest” or a night out, have a look at your diet. I personally know that eating a lot of sugar and/or dairy will make me break out, so I keep those foods to a minimum. If you’re getting breakouts in between your eyebrows, alcohol might be the culprit, so try to limit your drinking and have at least 1 glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you drink.
Try cutting certain foods from your diet for a week or two, and see if your skin improves. Stick to a well-rounded, natural, healthy diet whenever possible. Eat lots of veggies, limit junk food and fast food, and drinks tons of water.
Culprit #3. Hormones
Gotta love being a girl, hey? Those pesky little female hormones can definitely wreak havoc on our skin – generally at “that time of the month”, or just before/after it. For me, it’s the week before my lovely friend Flow comes to town, but for you it might be during your period, or even for a few days after.
Unfortunately we can’t just get rid of our hormones, and we wouldn’t want to even if we could. However, there are a few things you can do to reduce the effect hormone swings have on your skin:
- Avoid foods that are high in soy, as these can cause your body to produce more estrogen
- Try going on a birth control pill, if you aren’t already. This has helped my skin immensely and whenever I’m not taking the pill my skin is 5x worse. Of course, talk to your doctor and consider the pros and cons of oral contraceptives before jumping into anything.
Culprit #4. Stress
Can stress really have an effect on your skin? Absolutely! Again, it comes down to hormones and what’s going on inside your body at the moment. When you get stressed, your cortisol levels increase, which leads to a surge of adrenaline, which (after a long and kind of confusing process) can cause your skin to act up.
Ha, easier said than done right? No but in all seriousness, anything you can do to reduce your stress levels and remain calm and peaceful throughout the day will be a huge help. This might be:
- Listening to relaxing music
- Chatting with a friend
If there’s an area in your life that is seriously stressing you out, take a step back and think about the bigger picture. Six month from now, will this just be a tiny blip on the radar? Probably. Or, is this something you can cut out of your life completely – for example, a negative friendship or relationship, a job you despise, or an extra responsibility you’ve taken on?
If so, cut that shizz loose! There’s absolutely no point having extra stress in your life. The world is crazy and fast-paced enough as it is – don’t give yourself anymore reasons to fret.
Culprit #5. Ingredients in your skincare/makeup products
This one’s a biggy, but something a lot of people seem to forget about when it comes to skin. When you break out, your first instinct is probably to throw on a heavy foundation to cover up the spots, right? However, if the products you’re using are having a negative effect on your skin, you’re only setting yourself up for a cycle of problematic skin when you pile on the products.
The less products you use on your skin, the better. This includes makeup, skincare, fragrances, etc. If you have sensitive skin, you should be especially considerate of the products you use, and should aim to be as minimal as possible with your makeup and skincare routine.
For reference, here are a few common culprits that could be responsible for your breakouts:
- Heavy oils
- Artificial dyes/colorants
- Artificial fragrances
Get in the habit of looking over the ingredients list on every product you use or buy. If you’ve been breaking out after using some new products, check to see if those products contain any of the ingredients listed above, and also see if there’s a common denominator that’s the likely culprit.
To help hone in on which specific product is breaking you out, only introduce one new skincare/makeup product to your routine at a time. Give your skin 7 days to adjust to the product, and if you haven’t experienced any breakouts or irritations after those 7 days, you’re good to go (and can introduce another new product, if you like).