20 Mistakes That Could Be Causing Your Acne

5 minute read

By John Hardy

Nevermind the teen myths. More and more skin experts and professionals are saying acne isn’t a curse. It doesn’t “just happen.” And your habits may be the culprit! Fortunately, you can learn about acne mistakes with a search online.

The skin contains millions of glands. They excrete an oil called sebum that usually helps keep skin smooth and supple. When the body produces a lot of sebum, the skin can feel oily and these pores can become clogged, causing acne. Blame it on …

1. Bad Hygiene

Washing, showering, and bathing are a normal fact of life and keys to personal hygiene. For some people suffering with acne, washing the face becomes an obsession and a ritual.

Although the face must be washed to minimize acne and keep it clear, the face should never be scrubbed with anything! Despite what some may say, scrubbing invariably causes acne.

2. Dirty Brushes

Putting makeup on your face with oily, dirty brushes means buffing that oil and dirt into your skin. Yuck!

Take the time to clean your brushes at least once a week to rinse away all the gunk from your face and makeup. Even if your face is clean when applying makeup, your brushes can still accumulate oil, dirt, and bacteria.

To clean your brushes, use warm water and a gentle shampoo and clean your brushes gently with your hands until the water runs clear. Set them on a paper towel and let them dry overnight.

3. Sports and Sport Equipment

Everything from helmets, to face guards, to hats, and sports bras can cause acne. Guys who wear helmets for hockey or football tend to develop acne more often than those who don’t. Women can become sweaty working out and develop acne where their clothes are pressed against the skin, such as sports bras leaving acne patterns where the straps are.

4. Over-washing

Dirt does NOT cause acne! Resist the urge to scrub and clean away dirt, because it doesn’t make acne go away.

Limit yourself to two washings per day — anything more than that makes healthy skin dry and acne-prone areas irritated. Habitual over-washing, even with gentle cleansers, may also stimulate extra oil production, causing more breakouts.

5. Too Much Alcohol (Not That Kind)

Avoid products with high concentrations of isopropyl alcohol, or common rubbing alcohol.

Alcohol is a strong astringent and strips the top layer of your skin, causing your sebaceous glands to produce even more oil and cause red skin and likely more blemishes.1

6. Squeezing and Picking

Many people with acne do it, sometimes almost unconsciously. Big problem!

Picking introduces bacteria from the hands into the open sore and causes infection, scarring and discoloration that doesn’t go away for months or even years. Squeezing or picking— with fingernails, pins or anything else — can force bacteria deeper into the skin, causing greater inflammation and infection. Just touching acne also causes it to burst and spread the infectious bacteria around, which leads to more clogging and infection.

7. Contaminating Your Face

Instead of using a generic soap bar all over your body including your face, stick to a gentle soap or cleanser that’s naturally antibacterial and designed for use on your face.

8. Blame Your Hands

Bacteria that causes breakouts is a normal part of skin. However, excessive touching of your face, including rubbing or even resting your chin in your hands, can drive bacteria into your pores, where it does its dirty work.

9. Your Shower

You rely on sponges and washcloths to clean yourself, but they can actually betray you.

Sponges and wash cloths hang in your wet, dark shower all day and night, collecting mold and bacteria. Wash them or swap them out regularly!

10. Your Linens

Change and wash your sheets, pillowcases, and towels frequently. Acne-causing bacteria likes to hide away in these types of items.

Your clothes aren’t safe either. Wearing the same outfit for extended periods of time will make way for bacteria to grow, which in turn also causes acne.

11. Sweaty Clothes

Surveys show that we often touch our faces 10 to 12 times an hour. This can increase during the summer when we tend to wipe sweat from the face. Sweat contributes to clogged pores. Instead of wiping sweat with the hands, invest in makeup-removing wipes.

When you exercise, your movement generates heat. The clothing you wear and the equipment you use can also cause friction. Until you shower off, heat and moisture are trapped against your skin, creating an ideal breeding ground for the spread of bacteria. So whenever you can, shower off and use an acne fighting cleanser immediately after exercising.

12. The BP ‘Miracle’

Benzoyl Peroxide is probably the most famous acne treatment there is. Many face washes contain it. But, like most acne treatments, it is extremely controversial.

Its advocates claim that BP is a cheap substance that can work miracles. Its critics warn that the side effects are too severe. Use at your own risk.

13. Your Diet

The relation between diet and acne is as wide as it is varied. Research shows a connection between blood sugar and breakouts, so doctors suggest eating small meals and more veggies to maintain stable blood sugar.

There’s also a possible link between dairy products and acne, with many reporting a complete clear up after cutting out dairy. It might be worth trying if nothing else seems to help.

14. Stress

Stress affects so many things in the body. Stress causes a hormone fluctuation, which has a direct relation to an increase in the amount of oil your skin secretes.

Lack of sufficient sleep and other factors that lead to stress can trigger existing acne. Increased stress levels release a hormone called cortisol, which aggravates sebum production and also leads to whitehead breakouts.

15. Dehydration

Dehydration is one of the most serious things that can happen to a person, but fortunately, it is also one of the easiest to fix. Dehydration occurs when the body loses more water then it receives, either through urination, tears, sweat and even respiration.

Dehydration can cause nausea, vomiting, fatigue and … dry skin and clogged pores. Drink up!

16. Genetics

Nobody can pick their parents. Genes are who you are. Genes are made up of DNA and create proteins. If a person is tall or short, wide or skinny, has blue eyes or brown, it’s because of genetics. And just like some have blue eyes like their mother, they may have also inherited odds of getting acne.

Luckily, avoiding the rest of the mistakes on this list can reduce or at least control it.

17. Medications

Medication are designed to help! For some people, certain drugs — including corticosteroids, lithium, anticonvulsants, barbiturates, androgenic steroids and medications that contain bromides or iodides — can cause acne.

18. Hormones

Many skin experts say it is the big one! Hormones are perhaps the leading cause of acne. Women are particularly cursed due to hormone fluctuation during menstrual cycles, which is completely unavoidable.

Strangely, studies show that birth control can often help acne, but in some cases it can also push hormonal levels into overdrive and cause acne.

19. Oils

It’s an acne basic. Acne is caused by oil getting excreted by the skin and getting trapped in pores. The oil occurs naturally and is mostly beneficial.

But when other, foreign oils come into contact with the skin, a pore is more likely to get clogged.

20. Topical Agents

Many soaps contain sodium hydroxide, which is an alkaline, inorganic compound that disrupts the pH balance of the skin and helps acne happen.

The important thing is that you thoroughly investigate any “acne miracles” you hear about before trying them. Different things affect people differently, and what might be good for one might not be so good for another. There are some people that can lather their skin in lotions without ever suffering a breakout. Others are not so lucky. Sensitive skin doesn’t take to rubbing with heavy lotions or oils and can actually aggravate the chances of acne.

John Hardy