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Understanding the most common factors that may be causing your breakouts is the first and most critical step to targeting your acne at its source, and thus combating it for good. Based on my 30+ years of experience, here are the top 10 most common causes of acne breakouts:
Acne Factor #1: Touching Your Face
This may come as a surprise, but subconsciously touching your face all day makes it quickly become the dirtiest part of your body. This is something most of us do without even being aware of it, and is the common cause of breakout around your chin and jawline. Make a conscious effort to not touch your face during the day. Also, be sure to clean your cell phone often or use an ear piece (recommended), as holding your cell phone to your face can also be causing bacteria to spread and giving you breakouts on your cheeks.
Acne Factor #2: Dairy and Sugar Consumption
If you are devolping breakouts on your chin, jaw line and neck area, it might be a sign that you’re getting more dairy or sugar in your diet than your body can tolerate. Your skin acts as an excretory system to get rid of things that your body is not in agreement with, so when you get too much dairy or sugar, it is by nature harder to digest and can come out in the form of cystic blemishes in the lower area of the face. READ: It’s Proven: Sugar and Dairy Cause Acne
Acne Factor #3: Stress
Stress has been proven in clinical studies to worsen the overall skin condition. This is because stress induces the adrenal glands into overproduction of cortisol, a steroid, which in turn makes sebaceous glands produce more oil and make skin extra oily. Thus the reason why in stressful periods, people experiencing an increase in acne get more inflamed, puss-filled papules than simple whiteheads or blackheads. To control stress, try simple breathing techniques, taking breaks during the day or practicing yoga or meditation.
Acne Factor #4: Not Washing Your Face
Oil on the skin makes for a breeding ground of bacteria, and bacteria will cause blemishes. Sleeping with not only your makeup on, but also the addition of oil, dirt and debris that has built up on the skin during the day, can absolutely trigger new blemishes. Here’s how to wash your face properly:
- Wash your hands and apply a quarter size dollop of facial cleanser to your palm (we recommend our Olive Oil Cleanser for anti-aging or our Foaming Cleanser for acne prone/oily skin). Work the cleanser into your skin in gentle circular motions and then lean over the sink and splash lukewarm water on your face 8-10 times to completely cleanse the skin. Then pat the skin dry with a washcloth. DO NOT wash your face by applying face wash to a towel and rubbing it on your face. Not only does this irritate your skin, it does not fully clean it and can actually make matters worse.
Acne Factor #5: Using New Skin Care Products
When your skin is introduced to new products, sometimes you might get some initial blemish purging, especially if the products are giving your skin more exfoliation than normal. If it continues on more than two weeks, then they may not be a good fit for your skin or may contain ingredients that are actually causing you to break out. READ: The Top Cosmetics Ingredients to Avoid
Acne Factor #6: Hormones
Many women can experience a surge of blemishes leading up to their monthly cycle and mid cycle during ovulation due to hormone fluctuations in the body. This is completely normal, but can be very frustrating. If you are female with cyclical breakouts that tend to flare up the week before and two weeks after your menstrual cycle, consider taking an estrogen dominant birth control pill (such as Yasmin) in order to even out your body’s hormones. I have found in females, switching to an estrogen dominant birth control pill is one of the easiest, fastest ways to clear the skin. (WARNING: do not take a progesterone dominant birth control pill, as it will likely make your skin worse). Learn more about birth using birth control to manage acne.
Acne Factor #7: Menopause
Hormones are chemical messengers, created by our bodies to regulate everything from metabolism to cell growth to reproductive cycles and mood. When they fluctuate, they can trigger weight gain, depression, sleeplessness and fatigue in addition to adult acne and breakouts.
Acne Factor #8: Air Travel
The cabins of airplanes have extremely low humidity, which cause the skin to get extremely dehydrated (lack of water). The dry air looks for moisture where it can get it and that means robbing it right from your skin! The dehydrated cells cause a buildup, which can trap oil underneath the skin resulting in post-flight breakouts. READ: Skin Tips for Your Flight
Acne Factor #9: Weather Changes
When the season is changing and the weather is warm one day and cold the next, it can wreak havoc on the skin, leaving it confused, unbalanced, and prone to blemishes. If the air is dryer than normal, moisturize with a highly emollient cream based moisturizer, if the air is cold or windy, use a skin protecting serum and if its hot and humid, use a high potency, mineral-based sunscreen.
Acne Factor #10: Medications
Every drug will affect the body differently, but generally speaking, medications and drug use can cause stress on the nervous system, which elevates hormones (adrenals). This will contribute to the wear and tear of connective tissue resulting in flaccid, loose, sagging skin as well as increased blemishes.