Mainly the overproduction of oil; blocked hair follicles that don't allow the aforementioned oil to leave the pore, which often results in a clogged pore; and the growth of bacteria inside the hair follicles called P. acnes. However, along with the above factors and genetics, which plays a role in how your body reacts to different hormones in your body and can cause acne, there are certain patterns you could be repeating on a daily basis that can cause you to break out or can even exacerbate your already annoying issue. Here are some of the most surprising triggers — take heed, acne-prone people, so you, too, can have blemish-free, glowing skin!
Acne signs and symptoms vary depending on the severity of your condition:
Whiteheads (closed plugged pores)Blackheads (open plugged pores)Small red, tender bumps (papules)Pimples (pustules), which are papules with pus at their tipsLarge, solid, painful lumps beneath the surface of the skin (nodules)Painful, pus-filled lumps beneath the surface of the skin (cystic lesions)
You're using products that contain pore-clogging ingredients. Mineral oil is a super-heavy moisturizing agent found in some lotions, but it's also known to clog your pores and break you out. Silicones in skin care and cosmetics are also another ingredient on the list to watch out for that can clog your pores. (Tip via Dr. Downie.)
What you can do differently: Make sure all the skin care products you're using are labeled "noncomedogenic," which means your makeup or skin care has been specifically formulated not to clog your pores. That said, even if the product is "noncomedogenic," if you're using it continuously and your breakouts continue to get worse, make an appointment with your dermatologist, as you could be allergic to another ingredient in the product that is causing your issues.
You're eating spicy foods.Spicy foods often contain tomatoes and peppers, which contain acidic lycopene that can be an irritant to some people, throwing off their skin's pH levels and triggering breakouts. However, it isn't just spicy foods that can irritate your skin. Some people have an aversion to dairy, bread, or other types of foods — how your skin reacts to what you eat just depends on your own personal make-up. (Tip via Dr. Downie.)
What you can do differently: Take a break from eating spicy foods (if your skin is irritated by a certain ingredient, you'll recognize tiny whiteheads or even blemishes in a rash-like pattern around your chin or mouth) for a month to see if that's the cause of your issue.
You can't stop picking at your pimples. Avoid touching your face or propping your cheek or chin on your hands. Not only can you spread bacteria, you can also irritate the already inflamed facial skin. Never pick or pop pimples with your fingers, as it can lead to infection and scarring.
What you can do differently: Challenge yourself not to pick or even touch your face for unnecessary reasons, since you can transfer bacteria onto your skin that way. Not touching your face works wonders for your complexion and allowing your zits to heal on their own
You're not releasing pent-up stress properly. Stress triggers acne and acne results in more stress, so it's a very vicious cycle. Basically, when you're under pressure, your skin produces stress hormones, including cortisol, that can stimulate your oil glands to make testosterone that then increases oil production and clogs pores. (Tip via Dr. Downie.)
What you can do differently: Work out regularly, meditate, take time out of your busy schedule to focus on yourself — all of these things will help you release stress, so your body doesn't continue to release hormones that will only harm your skin.
Your hair products are wreaking havoc on your skin. The sulfates (cleansing agents), heavy moisturizing agents, and silicones that your shampoo, conditioner, and stylers contain can seep into your pores, clogging them and resulting in chest acne, bacne, or pesky pimples along your hairline. (Tip via Wright.)
What you can do differently:
Avoid using fragrances, oils, pomades, or gels on your hair. If they get on your face, they can block your skin's pores and irritate your skin. Use a gentle shampoo and conditioner. Oily hair can add to the oil on your face, so wash your hair often, especially if you're breaking out. Got long hair? Keep it pulled away from your face. When washing and conditioning your hair in the shower, tilt your head over to the side to keep the product's residue off your face, chest, and back as you rinse it away. And be sure to wash your face last when you're in the shower to make sure you haven't accidentally gotten any product on your skin that could break you out later.
Use makeup sparingly. During a breakout, avoid wearing foundation, powder, or blush. If you do wear makeup, wash it off at the end of the day. If possible, choose oil-free cosmetics without added dyes and chemicals. Choose makeup that is labeled as "noncomedogenic," meaning it should not cause acne. Read the ingredients list on the product label before buying.
Stay out of the sun. The sun's ultraviolet rays can increase inflammation and redness, and can cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (dark discoloration). Some acne medications may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Limit your time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and a broad-brimmed hat. Whether you have pimples or not, always apply a broad-spectrum suncreen with SPF 30 or higher at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. Look for "noncomedogenic" on the sunscreen label to make new pimples less likely. Read the ingredients on the product label to know what you're putting on your skin.
Exercise daily. Regular exercise is good for your whole body, including your skin. When you exercise, avoid wearing clothing or using exercise equipment that rubs your skin and may cause irritation. Shower or bathe right after exercise.