My college roommate Eve, on the other hand, has more or less accepted zits as a part of life. “As a teenager they made me a bit depressed, but I’m less self-conscious about my skin now,” she explained. “I like to focus on the overall condition of my skin. But it does take longer to get ready if I have to cover pimples up!” Whether you’re cool with your acne or not, spending extra time covering up your zits is yet another thing we don’t need in our lives.

So why are we still breaking out? Truth is, the answer isn’t completely clear. “Unfortunately, we don’t totally understand the difference in the cause of acne in teens versus adult acne,” New York City dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., says. “The main causes of acne are skin oil, acne-causing bacteria on the skin, sticky skin cells blocking your pores, and inflammation. Hormonal fluctuations, stress, and diet all likely play a role as well.” One potential difference: “Where you’re a teenager, your hormones are naturally fluctuating and you can’t control it,” Jordana Mattioli, a medical esthetician in NYC, says. “But when you’re an adult your hormones are fluctuating because of things like inflammation and stress.” (More on that later.)

The good news: We’re constantly discovering new ways to treat acne. There’s a lot of research underway about how the microbiome—the massive colony of bacteria and organisms that live on our skin (gross, I know, but also kind of cool)—might affect skin conditions like acne and rosacea. Differin launched the first ever over-the-counter topical retinoid a few years ago—and it’s less than $13. And we’ve come a long way from the old-school method of dehydrating your face and using only “oil free” in an effort to keep skin smooth. Below, Zeichner and Mattioli share their top tips on the best, most up-to-date approaches to dealing with acne as a grown-up. Read them, try them, and know this: You’re not alone!

First, cut the heavy creams.
Indulging in over-the-top skin care is something I’m personally guilty of. I mean, is there anything better than slathering your skin in a rich, yummy cream right before bed and binging on Netflix? Good skin care makes up for lack of sleep, right? “Once women hit 21, they automatically start buying anti-aging products,” Mattioli explains. “But most are too rich for their skin type. They’re designed for mature skin that doesn’t produce as much oil as it used to.” Whoops! Instead, try this ultra-lightweight moisturizer from Belif that seriously packs a punch.

Spot treat with your products.
Heard of multimasking? You can do the same thing with your skin care products, Mattioli says. In other words, if your skin isn’t dry on your forehead, go ahead and skimp a little on moisturizer there. “I’ve been dealing with acne my entire life, and if I don’t keep it under control, I will be a breakout mess,” she says. “I only moisturize where I need it.”

Err on the side of gentle.
Layering a 10% benzoyl peroxide acne treatment all over your face may seem like a great idea—and you might actually wake up with clear(er) skin. But you’ll likely also be incredibly inflamed. “More is not always better, especially with acne,” Zeichner says. “Higher concentrations of ingredients like benzoyl peroxide have been shown in studies to be no better, but certainly more irritating, than lower concentrations.” Kate Somerville’s Anti Bac Clearing Lotion, for example, is far more gentle at 5%.

Pick the right spot treatment.
Consider what type of acne you have: Do you have scary red bumps? If so, it’s likely bacteria causing the inflammation and you’ll need something that combats it, Mattioli says. “Benzoyl peroxide kills acne-causing bacteria and reduces inflammation,” Zeichner says. Our pick? Try Paula’s Choice Clear Daily Skin Clearing Treatment. If you have blackheads and whiteheads, on the other hand, you’ll want something with salicylic acid (which comes in 1% to 2% formulations), like this super-affordable one from The Ordinary that’s less than $6. “It helps remove excess oil and exfoliates dead cells from the skin’s surface,” Zeichner says.

Contents

Why Is My Face Breaking Out All of a Sudden? (Nov 2019)

As an adult, a sudden breakout can be extremely frustrating. One minute, your face is fine and the next, you’re covered in pimples.

To make matters worse, these seemingly random breakouts are difficult to treat because you don’t know what’s causing them in the first place. If you want to achieve clear skin for good, you need to find out the underlying cause of your mysterious acne breakouts.

Here are three key things to know about the potential cause of your acne:

  1. The cause of your acne doesn’t need to be isolated. It can be a combination of things such as increased stress, poor sleeping habits and eating too much junk food.
  2. Other sneaky causes of sudden breakouts include using new skin care products or a recent change in your environment.
  3. A men’s acne treatment system with Salicylic Acid is an effective way to treat your acne symptoms.

Stress

Have you ever noticed that your breakouts always seem to happen at the worst possible time? For instance, breaking out right before your big work presentation or on the day of your final exam?

If so, you’re likely experiencing a stress-related breakout. Although researchers aren’t exactly certain how stress aggravates acne, they do know that there is a strong correlation between psychological stress and acne severity.

In addition, stress can indirectly cause acne by disrupting your sleep cycle and making you crave junk food, both of which can potentially worsen your acne. Feeling stressed can also throw off your hormones and stimulate your body’s oil glands to produce excess oil, causing you to break out in pimples.

Although it’s probably easier said than done, taking steps to reduce your stress is key to achieving clear skin once more. Some things you can do to lower your stress levels include practicing mindful meditation and/or taking regular fitness classes.

Try our skin care product finder

Change of Environment

A simple change in your environment can have a significant impact on your skin. This is true whether you’re flying halfway across the globe or simply moving to another office location.

For instance, moving to a new office location can come with a change of roles as well as scenery. Feelings of uncertainty in a new position can cause anxiety and stress, which can trigger acne breakouts.

Similarly, traveling to places with extreme temperatures or increased pollution can also wreak havoc on your skin and cause breakouts. A recent study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that a majority of participants experienced acne flares in the summer, most likely due to the increased humidity that can clog pores and cause breakouts (see claim: “In our study, aggravation of acne was more in summer and rainy season.”)

Bad Diet

If you’ve been indulging in sweet treats and junk food lately, you may have found the cause of your acne. Foods which rank high on the glycemic index (i.e., processed foods and empty carbs) have been shown to worsen acne symptoms.

According to a 2007 study published in the American Academy of Dermatology, subjects who ate a low-glycemic diet had significantly improved facial acne compared to those who were on a high-glycemic diet (see claim: “At 12 weeks, total lesion counts had decreased more in the experimental group…compared to the control group.”)

It’s tough to kick a sugar habit. But stick with your acne-free diet plan and you’ll likely be rewarded with clear, healthy skin.

Shaving

Another sneaky cause of your sudden breakouts could be your shaving routine. Keep in mind that we’re not talking about razor bumps, which are essentially ingrown hairs. Your shaving routine can cause acne in several ways, some of which might surprise you.

For instance, using old and dirty razor blades can harbor tons of bacteria that get into the skin when you shave. To fix the problem, just remember to replace your razor blades regularly and give a good rinse with hot water after each use.

Another way your shaving routine could be causing acne? Your aftershave product, which may contain pore-clogging ingredients that plug up your facial pores and lead to acne breakouts.

Take the skin care quiz

Skin Care Products

The source of your acne breakouts could be sitting in your bathroom cabinet right now. If you recently switched to a new skin care product, it may be to blame for your newfound pimples.

Many skin care products are comedogenic, meaning they are known to clog pores. These products are usually marketed as hydrating moisturizers, toners and sunscreen.

Other products cause excessive dryness, which can also lead to breakouts. The key is to choose skin care products which are suitable for all skin types and that won’t upset the natural oils in your skin.

Tips for Treating and Preventing Sudden Breakouts

    1. Wash Your Face Daily—Avoid crashing into bed without washing the day off your face! Use a men’s facial cleanser every morning and night, followed by a moisturizer.
    2. Exfoliate—Use a men’s facial scrub twice per week to slough off dead skin cells and promote cell turnover. This will prevent dead skin cells from clogging your pores and causing pimples to form.
    3. Use Salicylic Acid—To get rid of acne fast, use Salicylic Acid. This powerful acne-fighting ingredient helps exfoliate your skin naturally and removes pore-clogging debris from the skin. It’s also effective at calming inflammation and reducing the appearance of acne scars.

Eliminate Sudden Breakouts for Good

If you’re struggling to control your sudden acne breakouts, you need a powerful acne treatment system on your side. Check out our dermatologist-recommended Daily Moisturizing Acne Cream, which contains Salicylic Acid as the active ingredient.

Have questions or comments? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!

-Harvard Medical School:

Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response

-US National Library of Medicine:

Seasonal aggravation of acne in summers and the effect of temperature and humidity in a study in a tropical setting.

-The effect of a high-protein, low glycemic-load diet versus a conventional, high glycemic-load diet on biochemical parameters associated with acne vulgaris.

Have you ever wondered how your skin care routine (or lack thereof) compares to other guys’ regimens? We surveyed 1,000 men just like you and asked them about how they take care of their skin.

Posted by Tiege Hanley in Tiege Hanley Men’s Skin Care Blog Nov 12, 2019 Tags: Acne Cream, Face Wash, Scrub

What to know about acne face maps

Acne develops when the pores in the skin become clogged with dead skin cells and oil. The result is whiteheads and blackheads.

Bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes also play a role in the inflammation, which results in the red bumps that characterize acne.

Certain areas of the face may be more prone to acne breakouts for various reasons.

Hairline and temples

Acne around the hairline and temples, called forehead acne, may be due to the use of certain hair products. When this is the case, it is called pomade acne. This can affect both males and females with any skin type.

When oily or waxy hair products spread to the nearby skin of the face, they can block the pores. This can cause acne breakouts.

Certain ingredients in cosmetic products, particularly in products for smoothing the hair, may cause acne. These ingredients include:

  • cyclopentasiloxane
  • dimethicone
  • PVP/DMAPA
  • acrylates
  • panthenol
  • silicone
  • quaternium-70
  • oils
  • petrolatum

Using simpler formulations, or avoiding these ingredients in hair care products, may help prevent acne from forming around the hairline.

It is especially important to prevent oily hair products from coming into contact with the face.

T-zone: Forehead, nose, and chin

The sebaceous glands produce sebum, which is an oily substance that moisturizes and protects the skin. Excess sebum production can cause acne.

Extra oil production can mean that breakouts may occur more often in these areas than other parts of the face.

One study looked at 914 people with acne. The researchers found a link between sebum production and the amount of acne in the T-zone, which covers the forehead and nose.

Younger people with acne had more acne around the U-zone, which covers the cheeks and chin, than in the T-zone.

Cheeks

Share on PinterestFriction or rubbing of the skin may cause acne on the cheeks.

Breakouts on the cheeks can occur as a result of acne mechanica, which develops due to friction or rubbing of the skin.

For example, this may occur when a person holds a cell phone against their face, when they move against the pillow in their sleep, and when they wear a piece of equipment or clothing that has a chin strap.

Acne mechanica is not restricted to the cheeks, however. It can occur in different areas of the body depending on the specific occlusive clothing or activity. It is most commonly recognized in athletes.

Addressing the cause of friction against the skin usually results in the improvement of the acne.

Jawline

Scientists have tended to link acne around the jawline to fluctuations in hormones. However, other researchers have challenged and refuted this notion.

There is no evidence to suggest that acne around the jaw and chin will accurately predict if a person has a hormonal disturbance.

In both males and females, the adrenal glands produce a hormone called DHEA-S. One study found that females with adult acne had mild to moderately elevated levels of this hormone.

Research has also found that 39–85% of females with acne have worse acne in the days before menstruation.

Since many people with acne do not have hormone abnormalities, however, other factors — such as increased sensitivity of oil glands to hormones — may be the cause.

Fifteen home remedies for acne

Some of the most popular home remedies for acne involve the use of natural herbal extracts, many of which traditional medicine practitioners have used for hundreds of years.

Below, we discuss the best home remedies for acne, what the research says, and lifestyle changes that can help.

1. Tea tree oil

Share on PinterestApplying tea tree oil to the skin can help reduce swelling and redness.

Tea tree oil is a natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, which means that it might kill P. acnes, the bacteria that causes acne.

Tea tree oil’s anti-inflammatory properties mean that it can also reduce the swelling and redness of pimples.

A 2015 review study looked at the existing evidence for tea tree oil and acne. The researchers found that tea tree oil products can reduce the number of acne sores in people with mild to moderate acne.

This study suggested that tea tree oil may work as well as 5 percent benzoyl peroxide, which is a common over-the-counter (OTC) acne medication.

How to use tea tree oil

People can apply tea tree extract to their acne in creams, gels, or essential oils. If people use essential oils, always dilute them in a carrier oil first.

A range of tea tree oil products is available online.

2. Jojoba oil

Jojoba oil is a natural, waxy substance extracted from the seeds of the jojoba shrub.

The waxy substances in jojoba oil may help to repair damaged skin, which means it may also help speed up wound healing, including acne lesions.

Some of the compounds in jojoba oil might help to reduce skin inflammation, which means it may reduce redness and swelling around pimples, whiteheads, and other inflamed lesions.

In a 2012 study, researchers gave 133 people clay face masks that contained jojoba oil. After 6 weeks of using the masks 2 to 3 times per week, people reported a 54 percent improvement in their acne.

How to use jojoba oil

Try mixing jojoba essential oil with a gel, cream, or clay face mask and applying it to acne. Otherwise, place a few drops of jojoba oil on a cotton pad and rub this gently over acne sores.

People can buy jojoba oil at health stores or online.

3. Aloe vera

Aloe vera is a natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, meaning it may reduce the appearance of acne and prevent acne breakouts.

Aloe vera contains lots of water and is an excellent moisturizer, so it is especially suitable for people who get dry skin from other anti-acne products.

In a 2014 study, researchers gave people with mild to moderate acne aloe vera gel and tretinoin cream, which is a common OTC acne remedy, to use for 8 weeks.

The participants reported a significant improvement in both inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne compared to people who used just tretinoin gel.

How to use aloe vera gel

Try cleaning the acne sores and then applying a thin layer of cream or gel with at least 10 percent aloe vera content.

Otherwise, people can moisturize with gels or creams that contain aloe vera. These are available to buy from health stores or online.

4. Honey

Honey has been used to treat skin conditions, such as acne, for thousands of years. It contains many antioxidants that can help to clear waste and debris from clogged pores.

Doctors use honey in wound dressings because of its antibacterial and wound-healing properties.

How to use honey

Using a clean finger or cotton pad, rub a little honey into pimples. Otherwise, add honey to a face or body mask.

5. Garlic

Many traditional medicine practitioners use garlic to treat infections and boost the body’s ability to fight germs and infections.

Garlic contains organosulfur compounds, which have natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. Organosulfur compounds can also help to boost the immune system, which helps the body fight infections.

How to use garlic

To fight the inflammation and infections caused by acne, people can add more garlic to their diet. Some people chew whole garlic cloves, rub it on toast, or make it into a hot drink.

People can also buy garlic powders or capsules from most grocery stores and natural health stores.

Although many online sources recommend that people apply garlic directly to pimples, this may cause further skin irritation. Garlic can burn the skin, so always use it carefully.

6. Green tea

Share on PinterestGreen tea is high in antioxidants that can help to reduce inflammation in the skin.

Green tea contains high concentrations of a group of polyphenol antioxidants called catechins.

Most people with acne have too much sebum, or natural body oils, in their pores and not enough antioxidants.

Antioxidants help the body break down chemicals and waste products that can damage healthy cells. Green tea may help clear out some of the debris and waste that has built up in open acne sores.

Green tea also contains compounds that may help to:

  • reduce the skin’s sebum production
  • reduce P. acnes
  • reduce inflammation

How to use green tea

Green tea might help either when people drink it or use green tea extract on their skin, though researchers say that the current evidence is limited.

However, one study found a 79 and 89 percent reduction in whiteheads and blackheads after 8 weeks of using polyphenol green tea extract.

People can find green tea in most high street stores. Green tea extract is harder to find, but it is available from some health stores or online.

7. Echinacea

Echinacea, Echinacea purpurea, also known as the purple coneflower, may contain compounds that help destroy viruses and bacteria, including P. acnes.

Many people believe that Echinacea can boost the immune system and reduce inflammation and use it to fight off or prevent infections, including colds and flus.

How to use Echinacea

People can apply creams containing Echinacea to areas where they have acne lesions or take Echinacea supplements.

Echinacea products are available from health stores or online as creams or supplements.

8. Rosemary

Rosemary extract, or Rosmarinus officinalis, contains chemicals and compounds that have antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Few studies have looked at the effect of rosemary extract on acne, but a 2013 study on mice models and human cells suggested that rosemary extract can reduce inflammation from the acne-causing bacteria P. acnes.

9. Purified bee venom

Purified bee venom has been shown to contain antibacterial properties.

In a 2013 study, researchers found that purified bee venom can destroy P. acnes bacteria. People who used cosmetics with purified bee venom for 2 weeks had improvements in the number of acne lesions.

In a 2016 study, people who applied a gel containing purified bee venom to their face for 6 weeks saw a reduction in mild to moderate acne lesions.

Purified bee venom may be a useful future ingredient in acne medication, though more research is needed.

10. Coconut oil

Like other natural remedies, coconut oil contains anti-inflammatory and antibacterial compounds.

These properties mean that coconut oil may destroy acne-causing bacteria and reduce redness and swelling of pimples. Coconut oil may also speed up healing in open acne sores.

How to use coconut oil

Try rubbing pure, virgin coconut oil directly to the area with acne. Look for coconut oil in the natural foods section of grocery stores or online.

I work in beauty, I have for years, and I don’t have clear skin. This, despite having access to the country’s best derms and the most cutting-edge treatments. And the fact that I’m no longer 16. Like, I’m a grown-up, an adulting-for-real grown-up…with pimples.

Which goes to show that acne is like that one frenemy who just keeps popping back into your life: You hate her but can’t seem to lose her, so you have to keep finding new ways to deal. Because here’s the (hard, sorry!) truth: Acne is almost always chronic, and it’s getting worse for adults—in fact, 99 percent of you deal with acne, according to a Cosmo poll—and, fun fact, it’s not something you cure but something you control.

So buckle up, because I (and, okay, some people with actual pimple-fighting medical degrees) am going to show you how.

First, it helps to know that there are two main kinds—teenage and adult-onset, explains Shari Marchbein, MD, a derm in NYC. The ­former typically shows up in the T-zone (forehead, nose, chin), while the grown type tends to invade the jawline, mouth area, cheeks, and neck. They both stem from four causes: bacteria in your skin, inflammation caused by said bacteria, enlarged oil glands, and hormones.

Especially hormones. Imbalanced ones force your sebaceous glands (the things that spit out waxy, pore-clogging sebum) into action. And this may be a key to why breakouts have become a Big Problem for 20- and 30somethings lately, says Dr. Marchbein. “One theory we have right now is that you have an increase of hormones in your skin”—from things like hormone-treated foods and hormonal IUDs—“that causes your oil glands to over­produce.”

What makes hormonal acne worse?

STRESS

Being frazzled means the stress hormone cortisol is coursing through your body, triggering the inflammation that leads to flare-ups. This is what your annoyingly “wellthy” friends are talking about when they say deep breathing is how they got glowy skin.

POLLUTION

Gross debris in the air can basically sit on your face, clogging pores and causing zits. Block it by using anti-pollution skincare ingredients like vitamin C.

PRODUCT OVERUSE

“People want to try every new beauty trend, but few consider what’s right for their skin,” says Dr. Marchbein. Her Rx: Stay strong against IG beauty bombardment and pare back your regimen.

DIET

Eating a high-glycemic diet (sugary junk and simple carbs like french fries ), as well as certain dairy products, could make you break out. “The latter contain a protein that spikes certain hormone receptors, creating acne,” explains Dr. Marchbein. Also, try to buy hormone-free meats because, yup, those hormones are impacting your own.

How can I make my skin clear and glowing? Behold:

Your New A.M. Anti-Acne Regimen

Cleanse With a Gentle Wash Avène Clean-Ac Soothing Cleansing Cream dermstore.com Add an Antioxidant Ole Henriksen Truth Serum sephora.com Protect With SPF EltaMD UV Facial Broad-Spectrum SPF 30+ dermstore.com Pop One on When Zits Pop Up ZitSticka Killa™ Kit zitsticka.com $29.00

Your Do-Every-Single-Night-Before-Bed Routine (DO NOT SKIP THESE STEPS!)

Again, Gently Cleanse Avène Clean-Ac Soothing Cleansing Cream dermstore.com Smooth Texture With a Retinoid Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment walmart.com Promote Cell Turnover With Glycolic Acid Glycolix Elite Treatment Pads 20% dermstore.com Hydrate Your Skin Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel amazon.com

What can a dermatologist do for my acne?

If the above at-home, over-the-counter regimen doesn’t work after a month and a half—don’t quit early, P.S., because your skin takes 28 days for your cells to turn over, so give it a freaking chance!—book an appointment with a board-certified derm to chat about the below ways they can help clear up your skin.

TOPICAL CREAMS

Prescription antibiotic gels like clindamycin and anti-inflammatories like benzoyl peroxide and Aczone can calm red, inflamed pimples, while retinoids like Retin-A, Tazorac, and Differin promote skin-clearing cell turnover and help with scarring. Note tho: Depending on your insurance, these drugs could be cheap or kinda pricey.

ORAL MEDS

“Birth control pills regulate acne-causing hormones,” says Dr. Marchbein. They regulate estrogen and progesterone, halt ovulation (which can = zit fests), and calm testosterone (it can send oil glands into overdrive). Spironolactone is another drug derms swear by—it’s a high-blood-pressure pill that’s used off-label to keep hormones in check. “If a patient’s acne *still* hasn’t cleared, I suggest isotretinoin (formally Accutane)—an oral retinoid that’s very strong,” she adds.

STEROID INJECTIONS

Got cysts (aka deep, invisible pimples) or a giant red blemish that needs to go rn? Ask your doctor for a spot treatment. She’ll inject a mild steroid right into the area to quickly nix it.

Can I get clear skin overnight though?

ArtPartner

Is that even a thing? Kind of, but no promises. You can try spot treatments, but the problem with your typical salicylic acid– or benzoyl peroxide–packed formulas are that people often overdo it with them, which poses a whole slew of other issues. “Overusing them can dry out already infected areas around your pimple, creating micro cracks in your skin’s barrier that invite more bacteria in, putting the skin at risk for infection,” explains Joshua Zeichner, MD, a dermatologist in NYC. Your new fix? A zit sticker. Think of these little bbs as nonirritating spot treatments made of a hydrocolloid material designed to heal wounds. Also: They look cute AF and help you resist picking at your zits—outta sight, outta mind, amirite?

Pimple Patches That’ll Save YOUUUUU

Alba Botanica Acnedote Pimple Patches amazon.com $6.99 Starface Hydro-Stars™ Hydrocolloid Pimple Patches starface.world $18.00 Squish Flower Power Acne Patches squishbeauty.com $14.00 Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch amazon.com $25.00

Wait, One More Thing:

While everyone’s skin is different and what works for me might not work for you, here are what Cosmo’s beauty editors swear by….

“Instead of using wipes, which can spread bacteria to other areas of your face, I use a gentle cleansing oil to dissolve my makeup.”

— Ruby Buddemeyer, beauty editor

“As soon as I see a pimple coming, I run to the freezer and stick an ice cube on it. The cold instantly takes down redness and swelling.”

— Lauren Balsamo, senior beauty editor

“At the first sign of a cystic zit, I use topical cortisone—the ultimate nondrying spot treatment—to kill inflammation before seeing my derm.”

— Chloe Metzger, senior beauty editor

“I never touch my pimples. Seriously. Because (1) squeezing doesn’t erase cysts anyway and (2) popping them leaves scars!”

— Ama Kwarteng, beauty assistant

“I bought a bunch of silk pillowcases on Amazon and change them every third night to keep from sleeping on a dirty pillowcase.”

— Me (Carly Cardellino Vaccaro, beauty director)

Carly Cardellino Carly Cardellino was the beauty director at Cosmopolitan.

Quora .

This question originally appeared on Quora. Answer by Tatiana Aynbinder.

Adult acne is quite a common issue that affects many people, and for some, it’s the first time they start to get acne breakouts. Let’s first look at some of the main culprits for sudden breakouts and what proactive measures you can take to control them.

Five reasons why your skin may suddenly be breaking out, and the solutions to combat the situation.

1. Hormones:

Hormonal fluctuation is one of the biggest factors wreaking havoc to your skin complexion. Hormones like estrogen, progesterones, and testosterone are the culprits. These hormones are affected by starting and stopping birth control, and by pregnancy. Typically, during your teenage years, a lot of hormonal fluctuation occurs as girls go through puberty and start getting their periods. However, especially in women, hormonal changes don’t just stop after adolescence. Menstrual cycles, birth control, pregnancy and even menopause may all cause hormones to fluctuate. It’s not uncommon for women to suddenly get acne even after their childbearing years.

How do hormones lead to sudden acne breakouts? Androgens (a group of male sex hormones like testosterone) can cause excess sebum production in your skin. If your hormones are imbalanced with the female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, this will lead to your body overproducing oil in your skin cells.

For some people, birth control can increase the female hormones like estrogen and a form of synthetic progesterone to balance out the production of male hormones like androgen. Breakouts can be reduced by calming down the excess oil production that would have surged without the female hormones controlling it.

Although birth control helps calm breakouts for many, for others it can do the opposite, causing sudden breakouts after you start taking it. Since everyone’s skin type and body chemistry is different, there is no “one size fits all” approach to controlling acne. Usually, if you were acne-prone before, taking birth control (“the pill”) can help, but if you were someone who didn’t break out before starting birth control, hormonal changes could cause some new skin issues.

For those women that get acne breakouts from using their birth control, here is a useful tip: a week before your period, start preparing your skin by using more products that include acne fighting and preventive ingredients like salicylic acid, glycolic acid or benzoyl peroxide in washes, facial pads or topical creams. If you already use them, maybe using higher concentrations in that week will help. These washes can also exfoliate your skin so that oil, dirt, and debris don’t get stuck in clogged pores with an increase in excess production of oil. By going on the offense a week before your time of the month, you can lessen your chances of getting acne breakouts.

Masking and drying up your skin a week before your period can be very helpful. Try anti-acne salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, retinoids exfoliation, exfoliating toner and cleansing clay mask.

2. Stress is a significant factor contributing to sudden breakouts.

As we discussed earlier, hormonal fluctuations are one of the main culprits leading to breakouts. When we are stressed, we release cortisol hormones. A surge in testosterone causes your oil glands to produce more, elevating your risk for bacterial infection to occur in your skin pores, causing pimples to form. Of course, when you start breaking out, the emotional toll it can take on your self-confidence can lead to more stress, which then continues the process of breakouts from the surge in cortisol that your body continues to produce (a “feedback loop”).

Lower the stress level of your life as much as possible. Exercise, yoga, meditation and breathing awareness are all great tools to reduce stress. Strenuous exercise is especially effective at breaking down cortisol in the bloodstream. Even moderate exercise releases endorphins and serotonin which lessens your levels of stress hormones. Additionally, you can sweat out impurities and excess oil – just make sure to cleanse and wash your skin properly post workout.

It’s important to take steps to control your stress. Meditating and calming your breath down are proven ways of relaxing your mind and body, keeping you from going into stress mode. Try taking the right measures to calm yourself down, especially in moments when you are overly stressed. If you know you will be in a position to be stressed, this is the best time to work out and take care of yourself, take baths, massages, listen to calming music – whatever works best for you. With time and practice, we can get control of reactivity and triggers, helping to avoid moments of emotional overload. These are good techniques and habits to have and practice for life in general.

3. You are using the wrong products:

It’s important to pay close attention to the ingredients in your skin care products. The products should be fragrance-free and noncomedogenic. It’s critical to know your skin type and learn which products work best for you. For people going through hormonal fluctuations, acidic skin products with active ingredients like both Salicylic and Glycolic Acid are great topical solutions to break down oil in clogged pores. Using beta hydroxy acid (salicylic) or combination peels containing salicylic acid helps to bring blackheads to the surface, unclogging your pores by dissolving impurities. These work very efficiently to exfoliate and remove dead skin cells inside pores as well as on the surface of the skin. Salicylic acid is anti-inflammatory as well – a chemical cousin of aspirin, it helps to reduce the redness of acne.

By consistently using these acids in your cleansers, scrubs, facial pads or prescriptive topical creams/lotions, you will prevent the blackheads before they form, and clear existing pores. Also, glycolic acid, (alpha hydroxy acid) helps clear dead skin and debris on the surface. In tandem, these two acids pair well to unclog and exfoliate the skin.

If you start breaking out, check if you’re using any new products that you may have added to your skin care regimen. One useful tip in trying to identify if a skincare product might be at the root of your breakouts is to pay attention to where your skin is suddenly breaking out. If you usually tend to get acne in a particular area of your face, and suddenly, with the addition of a new product, your breakouts appear elsewhere, then there is a good chance that it might be the new product causing your pimples. Since everyone’s skin is different, some products will not work well with every skin type. If you assume, it might be your new product then stop using it for a period and see if your acne breakouts subside. If your sudden attack of pimples calms down and starts to go away, then stop using that particular product.

Also, notice what ingredients are in that particular product which may be unique from what you typically use. If you can find out what specifically was the main culprit in that product, then you can avoid using a similar type of product in the future.

It’s important to assess what skin type you have to choose the right at-home skin care protocol. If you have the ance-prone skin, you should not be using creams like heavy moisturizers which are for more mature skin types. By paying close attention to the right ingredients that don’t break you out and educating yourself on the right treatments which work best for your skin, you can avoid future breakouts. Knowing what products work best for your skin may take trial and error.

4. Diet

Certain types of foods have been studied and are known to cause inflammation to build in your body and skin. This occurs with foods high on the glycemic index, high in sugars and carbohydrates that spike your insulin levels. Sugar and foods high on the glycemic index (meaning foods that, once ingested, convert quickly into glucose and cause your body’s insulin levels to elevate) lead to a burst of inflammation that goes throughout your entire body and skin. Foods high in sugar and saturated fats – like white bread, candy, fried foods, ice cream, sodas, and anything else with a main ingredient of sugar – cause spikes in your body’s insulin levels that further exacerbate inflammation. Steep insulin spikes increase the production of skin oils and contribute to the clogging of follicles, which can worsen skin complexion. Also, foods high in the glycemic index can raise your body’s androgen levels, which again affects your hormonal fluctuation levels, exacerbating acne breakouts.

5. Environmental Factors

Other environmental factors can contribute to acne breakouts. Changing your laundry detergent or cleanser and not washing your pillow sheets often enough can affect your complexion. Talking on your phone for extended periods of time without cleaning it allows for lots of bacteria and excess oil production to be secreted on your phone, especially if you speak for long periods.

Weather change may require adjusting your regimen. In hotter or colder weather, your skin would need to acclimate with the proper skin care products to help keep well balanced, so it’s not too oily but not over drying. Also, the quality of air matters a great deal for skin complexion. If you are somewhere where there is lots dirt and grit in the air, it’s more likes that your pores can get clogged with these dirt particles. If you’re in such an area, then it’s important to take cleansing washes with you, to cleanse your skin throughout the day. Once home it’s important not to skip your thorough cleansing regimen that should include exfoliation. This way any residual grind from the day is completely removed.

Although there is no one cure-all for these skin issues, it’s crucial to be proactive. Become knowledgeable about the various ways in which sudden breakouts can occur, and do a checklist of what the possible reasons can be. Then adjust for them with the proper tools and methods. See what works best with your skin to find the right solutions for your particular problem. If your breakouts are not getting better or are getting worse, it’s always an excellent idea to see a trusted dermatologist. A physician can best assess your skin type, and also diagnose your skin to see what may be the main culprit behind your acne. Sometimes multiple factors can be at play, and a multifaceted, comprehensive approach is needed to treat the different causes. It’s critical to be cautious, attentive and quick in being proactive to diagnose the issue, correct and control the active acne, and then maintain preventative measures to keep the skin balanced and healthy.

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One day, you glance in the mirror and proudly notice that your skin is close to clear. But then it happens: You have a stressful paper to write or you overindulge on late-night pizza, and boom! Acne. We’ve all been there and it’s frustrating, to say the least. Wasn’t acne supposed to end when we graduated high school? Thankfully, there are plenty of simple solutions to this common problem. Although we’ll never completely get rid of those annoying red spots, the following tips will definitely help!

What causes sudden breakouts?

It’s no secret: Stress has detrimental consequences on your health, and your skin is no exception. Dr. Kenneth Mark, a dermatologist based in New York City, explains that being worked up is one of the most common causes of sudden breakouts, especially in such a fast-paced environment as a college campus. Stress leads to the overproduction of sebum and the clogging of pores; these two things combined are the reason pimples appear. So when you’re stressing about that paper or your love life, you’re more likely to get those evil little spots.

Hormones

According to Dr. Mark, your hormonal cycle is one of the other leading causes of unexpected breakouts. Acne is common during PMS, because our levels of the progesterone hormone spike. In combination with testosterone, this hormone leads to the production of sebum and works to tighten our pores, which is why we break out at this time of the month. Just the PMS news we needed!

Greasy food

A healthy diet is crucial to your beauty routine and will leave your skin feeling and looking as clear as ever. Conversely, go too hard on late-night munchies or ice cream sandwiches and you might find yourself with a nasty pimple. “While traditionally we were taught that diet did not influence acne, there is a newer school of thought implying that indeed what we eat could also be playing a role,” Dr. Mark says. “It makes sense; we are what we eat.” Ugh, did we really need another reason to pass up the Nutella?

Sweat

Whether you wore a hat that day, you stayed on the phone too long or you didn’t wash your face after working out, leaving sweat on your face will inevitably lead to a breakout. This happens because sweat “is a physical irritant that can clog the pores,” according to Dr. Mark. Gross, we know.

How can you prevent sudden breakouts?

Exfoliate regularly

We know to wash and moisturize our faces every day, but we don’t always think to exfoliate. According to Dr. Mark, this is super important. “All acne starts with clogged pores,” he says. “Using a daily exfoliant is key. Something as simple as Neutrogena acne wash with 2 percent salicylic acid once or twice a day can accomplish this.” There are also some less harsh at-home products for sensitive skin, such as Aveeno’s Positively Radiant Skin Brightening Daily Scrub ($5.60 at Drugstore.com).

Get a prescription

This is definitely not the easiest solution, but heading to the dermatologist can often be the most effective way to prevent acne. “There are also topical prescription medications and, for those with severe enough acne, oral medications such as antibiotics or even birth control pills,” Dr. Mark says. Since these treatments aren’t available over the counter, you need to consult an expert if you think they could be right for you. But if you can’t make it to the doctor’s office, you can also consult virtually with a derm from your phone!

Get a monthly chemical peel

If you are able to see a dermatologist but don’t want to take a drug on a regular basis, “another great preventive method is monthly in-office chemical peels,” Dr. Mark suggests. “These are ‘superficial’ peels where an acid or combo of acids is applied to the skin, that serves to exfoliate the dead layer of skin cells and unclog the pores.” Can’t make it to your derm (or find it too costly)? Try an at-home peel, like the PORE MEDIC Derma @ Home Peeling by Dr. Jart+ ($42 at Sephora)—the two-step process exfoliates, gently removes impurities and leaves skin clean and blemish-free.

Destress

We know—it’s probably easier said than done, but taking a breather can really go a long way when it comes to clear skin. So talk to a friend, online shop, do some yoga or walk around the block; your skin will thank you!

How should you treat a sudden breakout?

Try an over-the-counter cream or gel

One of the easiest ways to treat a breakout is to head to your local drugstore and pick up a cream or gel that contains benzoyl peroxide. Clean & Clear’s Persa-Gel ($6.99 at Ulta) is a good choice. This ingredient is an antiseptic that kills bacteria associated with acne.

Another alternative to benzoyl peroxide is salicylic acid, an exfoliating ingredient that unclogs the pores. That being said, to figure out which one is best for you, you may need to consult an expert. But whatever product you use, make sure to hydrate your skin regularly, as these harsh chemicals can dry it out—leading your skin to produce even more oil and causing more breakouts!

Go to the dermatologist

Once again, “if you have access and time, the best way to nip a flaring zit in the bud is go to the dermatologist for an injection of medicine,” Dr. Mark says. “It usually will be gone or at least much decreased within 24 hours.”

Do not pick at your skin

You’ve probably been told never to pick a pimple, and with good reason. “You will only increase the inflammation, make it more noticeable, and even increase the risk of scarring,” Dr. Mark says. So keep your hands away from your face—at all costs!

Try a home remedy

There are many home ingredients that you can use to treat a pimple. Blot your pimple with toothpaste or a crushed-up aspirin (you can mix it with water to create a paste) that you leave on overnight, or by day, you can try putting a dab of lemon juice on your pimple.

Try an overnight treatment

If you’re not convinced DIY methods will work and can’t afford to see a dermatologist in a pinch, why not try an overnight treatment? Use a Q-Tip to apply Mario Badescu’s famous Drying Lotion ($17 at Mario Badescu), which uses a formula of salicylic acid, calamine and other ingredients to eliminate pimples overnight. Or, stock up on Acne Absorbing Covers by Nexcare ($7.99 at Walgreens), which are essentially like little stickers you can leave on overnight to absorb oil and help battle your breakouts.

Sudden breakouts are annoying to say the least, and between late-night munchies and all-night study sessions, they happen way too often in college. But with these tips and tricks, you should be well equipped to get rid of those evil little spots.

Causes


Acne

Acne myths

Despite being one of the most widespread skin conditions, acne is also one of the most poorly understood. There are many myths and misconceptions about it:

‘Acne is caused by a poor diet’

So far, research has not found any foods that cause acne. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is recommended because it’s good for your heart and your health in general.

‘Acne is caused by having dirty skin and poor hygiene’

Most of the biological reactions that trigger acne occur beneath the skin, not on the surface, so the cleanliness of your skin has no effect on your acne. Washing your face more than twice a day could just aggravate your skin.

‘Squeezing blackheads, whiteheads and spots is the best way to get rid of acne’

This could actually make symptoms worse and may leave you with scarring.

‘Sexual activity can influence acne’

Having sex or masturbating will not make acne any better or worse.

‘Sunbathing, sunbeds and sunlamps help improve the symptoms of acne’

There’s no conclusive evidence that prolonged exposure to sunlight or using sunbeds or sunlamps can improve acne. Many medicines used to treat acne can make your skin more sensitive to light, so exposure could cause painful damage to your skin, and also increase your risk of skin cancer.

‘Acne is infectious’

You cannot pass acne on to other people.

Your Skin Could Be Breaking Out From These Hidden Causes

As you coasted through your angsty teen years with minimal blemishes, you thought that you dodged a bullet (or several bullets in the form of oil-clogged face craters), didn’t you? Oh, how wrong you were. Even in your adult years — no matter how diligent you are with washing your face each night — an unwanted pimple or two randomly takes refuge right on your cheek. Gross. Sure, you can invest in potent anti-acne products, but what about learning why this bout of acne is running rampant on your face? Sometimes, that skin malfunction is totally preventable. Here, we provide 10 lesser-known answers to the age old question: “Why is my skin breaking out?”

1. Because Mother Nature is out of whack

There are several factors that could impact whether your skin breaks out. | iStock.com

It shouldn’t come as a total surprise that moody weather can cause poor skin. According to Livestrong.com, both dry and humid climates can lead to blemishes. When the weather leans toward the drier side — think those freezing nights when the temperature is in the single digits — your skin will try to make up for the lack of moisture by producing more sebum (or oil).

All that moisture, plus those pesky dead skin cells that accumulate over time, are bound to clog up your pores. On the flip side, a warmer forecast means more perspiration, which can also clog up those skin flakes. And when the weather constantly switches between arctic chill and cool spring afternoon? Your skin will be just as confused as your wardrobe. Eliminate the amount of dead skin cells on your face by washing your face (regardless of the climate) and sweeping some toner afterwards.

2. Because you’re eating too much dairy

Dairy can cause awful breakouts. | iStock.com

You are what you eat is a tale as old as time. But you may notice that you’re plagued with zits even when you’re adhering to a strict “no candy” diet. Listen up, dear reader: Sugary bites aren’t the only snacks that can cause acne. According to One Green Planet, dairy is frequently the culprit. Take a moment to let that sink in — we’re just as upset as you. Deny it all you want, but the logic behind this sneaky reason makes sense: “Remember, dairy only comes from pregnant cows, so you’re taking in the hormones from both the male and the female involved in the reproduction experience and the milk that is the result,” the website writes. “Doctor Mark Hyman shares that there are over 60 hormones in one glass of added hormone-free raw milk and who knows how many in other dairy products.”

We’re not saying to eliminate dairy products from your diet — we too feel the urge to get our night cheese on every now and then. But reducing your dairy intake will work wonders for your skin. And, as we can imagine, your waistline will also be thankful that you selected a healthy fruit salad instead of that bowl of cookie dough ice cream.

3. Because your smartphone is a paradise for germs

Your smartphone is extremely dirty. | iStock.com/dolgachov

All the greats have a sidekick. Batman has Robin, Sherlock Holmes has Dr. Watson, and you have your smartphone. Laugh all you want, but you know it’s true: Your cell is by your side at all times, helps you get out of a sticky situation, and you feel totally lost without it (or when the battery is drained). But the one thing you may not know about your phone? It’s a hotbed for germs. For starters, think about everywhere you’re using your phone — the subway, bathroom, and even that dirty corner bodega.

Sure, sometimes you wash your hands before swiping and tapping away; however, most of the time you touch that questionable subway railing and then text your bros without a second thought. Later — again, without any concern — you press that bacteria-clad screen against your cheek for your nightly call with your parents or significant other. And let’s not sugarcoat it: That bacteria is then again transferred onto your skin. Um, ew. We know that being a type-A germophobe isn’t exactly cool, but wiping off your touchscreen with a tech-friendly wet wipe daily is bound to help your skin.

4. Because you’re stressed

Stress can cause pimples. | iStock.com

Have you ever noticed that a set of pimples tend to magically appear when you’re swamped with work or just got into a serious fight with your significant other? Before you write off those nasty blemishes as just another thing that’s going wrong in your life, let’s get one thing straight: Stress causes acne. You don’t need a top scientist to tell you that being stressed causes your hormones to fluctuate.

5. Because your laundry detergent is too harsh

Some detergents can irritate your skin and cause a rash or breakout. | iStock.com

When looking for a suitable laundry detergent at the grocery store, you’re most likely asking yourself two questions: If that jumbo bottle is the best deal and whether or not you like that “shower fresh” scent. Valid questions? Yes. But if you find yourself breaking out all over your body, it may be time to reconsider your laundry detergent. According to Cosmopolitan, your trusty detergent may feature chemicals that are too harsh for your skin, and the potion’s residue may be causing acne on your back, chest, and butt. It may not be the first thing onlookers see, but nobody wants a case of back-ne. Our advice? Try your luck with a lighter mix. Usually, the brands that mark their products as “dye-free” or “gentle” tend to be better for those with sensitive skin.

6. Because you smoke

Smoking is doing your skin no favors. | iStock.com

We don’t mean to sound like a cheesy after-school special, but there’s nothing redeeming about lighting up. If the stench and medical woes aren’t enough to motivate you into slapping on a nicotine patch, this vice can also wreak havoc on your skin. The next time your itching for a cigarette break, remember that this outing will also damage your skin in multiple ways. Not only does smoking decrease the amount of oxygen that goes to your face — which ultimately leads to less collagen, less elastin, larger pores, and more wrinkles — Cosmopolitan notes the carcinogens in the smoke are also known to irritate and dry up your skin. The result? Your skin will instinctively produce more oils, which can lead to more breakouts. Do yourself a big favor on multiple levels and kick the habit.

7. Because you’re eating spicy foods

Spicy food causes inflammation which leads to pimples. | iStock.com

We know, this hidden secret is extremely upsetting (especially after we crushed your cheese-loving dreams), but the science is there. In reality, that unbearably tingling feeling your mouth experiences after having those jalapeño-laced tacos is your body having an inflammation reaction. And as anyone with a penchant for the hot and spicy knows, a little sweating occurs with each bite. Translation? Sweating equals breakouts. According to PepperScale, the less accustomed you are to fiery foods the more likely you are to sweat (and thus breakout). So as much as you’d love to impress your buddies by eating the hottest option from Buffalo Wild Wings, think before you order. Trust us, your skin will thank you for it.

8. Because you’re working out

All that sweating can break out your skin. | iStock.com

Let’s be honest: Your street clothes and exercise gear are sartorial night and day. While your daily outfits usually boast a more versatile hue, you’re drawn to funkier, brighter options for your stint at the gym. And because we know you wouldn’t attend a big meeting with your boss in spandex shorts, it’s safe to say that your workout garb is also much, much tighter. But within those form-fitting threads lies a recipe for skin care disaster. Think about it: Tight clothes, plus unnatural fabrics like Lycra and nylon, plus an overwhelming amount of sweat. The results? Blemishes, and lots of them. We would never advise you to stop working out; however, try swapping out those poly-blend threads for exercise garments made of breathable fabrics like cotton.

9. Because you’re traveling

You really don’t want your face that close to the seat. | iStock.com

Whether it’s grabbing a beer before the gate opens or always claiming an aisle seat, everyone has quirky pre-flight and in-flight rituals they follow religiously (even if you are one of the most seasoned jet-setters). While most of these habits have been ingrained for years, there’s one that you should adopt now: caring for your skin. Even if it’s a quick two-hour flight, the conditions inside the plane can lead to serious zits, which will ultimately ruin that perfect Machu Pichu selfie.

Similar to that blizzardy weather, the dry air in the plane’s cabin will prompt your skin to produce more oil as a defensive mechanism. And, as we’ve learned before, more oil tends to lead to more breakouts. But don’t let the necessary plane ride ruin your skin or your vacation photos. PopSugar suggests throwing a bottle of noncomedogenic moisturizer in your carry-on. Noncome-what? This type of skin care product is specially crafted to not cause blocked pores; however, an oil-free cream is a great alternative if you’re in a quick pinch.

10. Because you’re not getting enough sleep

Sleep is key to healthy skin. | iStock.com

All-nighters are only for college students, right? Think again because most of us don’t regularly get a full eight hours of rest. Some nights — like when you’re grabbing drinks with your friends or prepping for that big presentation at work — it’s more like three or four. Staying up an extra couple hours can be a great way to get a lot done with minimal distractions; however, you’ll see the effects of a sleepless night (and we’re not just talking about bags under your eyes). As The Huffington Post Canada reports, a lack of sleep can result in your adrenal glands producing too much oil — usually clear skin’s kryptonite — which will clog pores when mixed with dead skin cells. Since essentially the beginning of time, your mother has told you that your body needs sleep. For your skin’s sake, it’s time to take that motherly advice to heart.

Follow Kelsey on Twitter @KMulvs

13 Surprising Reasons You Keep Breaking Out

Breakouts are the worst. So, what causes this skin disorder ruiner of first dates slash everything? 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!

via GIPHY

1. You’re using products that contain pore-clogging ingredients. Mineral oil is a super-heavy moisturising 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.

2. You’re OD’ing on spot treatments. Overusing topical salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or sulphur over-the-counter treatments can dry out your skin, causing it to produce more oil and possibly blemishes. Those ingredients can actually make the appearance of your pimples look worse, since the active ingredients can slightly burn the top layer of your skin if used too often, making the pimple appear even redder and harder to conceal than if you had just left it alone. (Tip via Samantha Wright, a licensed aesthetician and Skinovator at the Dangene Institute.)

What you can do differently: Instead of dousing your zit with a spot treatment, apply a dab of OTC 1 percent hydrocortisone cream, like Aveeno One Percent Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream, onto the spot two to three times during the day to take down the inflammation and redness. Then conceal it by simply covering it up with a concealer, like Clinique Even Better Compact Makeup, which has antibacterial ingredients to keep the formula bacteria-free and your face clear.

3. 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 recognise 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.

4. Your hair products are wreaking havoc on your skin. The sulfates (cleansing agents), heavy moisturising 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: 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.

5. You’re scrubbing your skin too hard. A lot of people with acne think that the more you scrub your skin with a washcloth, rough exfoliants (like crushed apricot seeds), or cleansing brushes, the smoother your skin will be, but in reality, the problem will only inevitably get worse. What happens when you do that is you scrub the active acne and the blemish bacteria gets spread across the skin, worsening the condition.

What you can do differently: Gently wash and moisturise your face with a gentle yet effective system (cleanser, toner, moisturiser) that contains pore-clearing ingredients, like alpha hydroxy acids and glycolic and lactic acids. That way you keep the scrubbing to a minimum. Wright recommends Obagi Foaming Gel, Toner and Exfoderm Lotion, her favourite system to suggest for Dangene’s acne-prone clients.

6. You’re a make out bandit and your boyfriend has a beard. Sure, some dudes look hot with a beard (i.e. Ryan Gosling in The Notebook) or even a five o’clock shadow, but your BF’s facial hair isn’t doing your pretty face any favors when it comes to breakouts. So what gives? Well, as you and your guy hook up, your smooth face rubs against his hairy one, creating friction, which causes his prickly hair to stimulate oil production on your face, causing blemishes and even beard burn. (Tip via Jeanine Downie, M.D., a cosmetic dermatologist and founder of Image Dermatology in Montclair, New Jersey.)

What you can do differently: Kindly ask him to shave his beard in the name of flawless skin. Or beg him to condition his beard with coconut oil, so it doesn’t feel like tiny swords stabbing your face every time you kiss and leave you with acne.

7. You smoke. Every time you light up a cigarette, you decrease the amount of oxygen that goes to your face. This not only predisposes you to cancer, and causes the breakdown of collagen and elastin that leads to wrinkles and increased pore size, but the carcinogens in the smoke also irritates your skin and dries it out, triggering your skin to produce more oil and possibly more breakouts. (Tip via Dr. Downie.)

What you can do differently: Don’t smoke. It’s as simple as that. You’ll live longer and have clear skin.

8. You can’t stop picking at your pimples. It’s tempting in the moment, but it’s never a good idea to play dermatologist, because it’s impossible to pick your own pimple and not make a red mark that could turn into a scar. Even worse, when you try to press the plug or oil or puss out of your pore, you run the risk of pushing the bacteria deeper or spreading it around underneath your skin, multiplying your pimples.

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 leaves your skin scar-free. (Tip via Wright.)

9. 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.

via GIPHY

10. You’re using the wrong detergent. Some chemicals in laundry detergent can be too harsh for your skin, and once you slip on your clothes or lie on your pillow, your skin might react to the residue that’s left on the fabric, resulting in breakouts on your face, back, butt, chest, etc. (Tip via Dr. Downie.)

What you can do differently: Choose a detergent that’s fragrance- and dye-free and dermatologist-tested for sensitive skin, like Tide Free and Gentle High Efficiency Liquid Laundry Detergent.

11. You’re wearing a lot of hats or constantly touching your face. Anything that can trap sweat and bacteria against your skin and clog your pores, like the lining of a tight hat, can cause zits to crop up. Also, touching your face or resting your chin in your hand while you’re sitting at your desk can transfer bacteria from your hand onto your face and brew blemishes. (Tip via Dr. Downie.)

What you can do differently: Yes, hats are fashionable, but switch up your style and go without wearing one for a bit to see if that’s the root of your pimple problem. Also, keep your hands away from your face. Seriously, it’s super easy to do.

via GIPHY

12. You’re not washing your face/body after you work out. Skipping the shower right after working out or not washing your face, at the very least, allows the makeup, dirt, bacteria, and oil that was already on your skin mix with sweat — all of which will find a nice home in your pores, settling into your warm skin and causing breakouts to brew.

What you can do differently: Wipe your face, chest, and back down before you work out with facial wipes, like Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes, to remove your makeup. Then, if you don’t have time to shower immediately after the gym, use another fresh facial wipe to clear away any sweat and bacteria on your skin to minimize the chance of new pimples popping up.

13. You’re still a sun-worshipper. You’re probably already aware that lying out in the sun and going to tanning beds cause skin cancer, but if that still hasn’t stopped you from hitting the beach without sunscreen or the proper protective gear (aka that chic sun hat), perhaps this will. Contrary to popular belief, the sun isn’t healing your acne, it’s actually making it worse. What happens is, as your face gets red from the sun, it makes any breakouts you might already have blend in, creating the appearance of clearer skin. But what’s really going on is the sun causing your skin to dry out and triggering more oil production, which can lead to more zits.

What you can do differently: For starters, stop going to tanning beds. Period. And if you are in the sun, make sure to slather on a titanium dioxide- or zinc-based sunscreen (these are natural sun protectants and their formulations usually contain fewer chemicals, so they won’t break you out as easily), and wear a sun hat or ball cap to shield your facial skin from harsh rays.

H/T Cosmo US

##life Tips ##reasons For Breaking Out ##breaking Out

So you do all the right things (regularly wash your face, exfoliate, moisturize, and even wear sunscreen!), but your skin still breaks out. I hear you. The sad, sad truth is you can be diligent about your skincare routine, but if you’re not addressing all of the possible acne causes, you’ll still be Googling “why am I breaking out?!” every single night.

Though every skin type is different, breakouts are mainly triggered by hormones and the overproduction of oil. Basically, hormones ramp up your oil under the skin, which clogs your hair follicle, which leads to the growth of the zit-causing bacteria known as P. acnes. Although genetics play a big role in how your body reacts to acne-stimulating hormones, there are certain patterns you could be repeating on a daily basis that could be the culprit behind your breakouts—or, at the very least, make them worse.

To shed light on all the acne-causing things we had no idea we were doing, we turned to two top dermatologists and an aesthetician for their clear skin tips. If you’re a skincare overachiever and are still screaming at the mirror every time you wake up with a zit, keep scrolling to find out 15 common but surprising acne triggers. This one goes out to you.

Why Am I Breaking Out? #1: You’re Sleeping on a Dirty Pillowcase

During the day, dirt, oil, makeup, and grime build up on the skin. If you don’t wash your face before you go to sleep, all of that garbage then gets transferred to your pillowcase, which gets transferred back to your face again. Board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, says long-term exposure of your skin to this type of soiling, along with the friction of the face rubbing against the pillowcase, may promote inflammation and acne breakouts. But that’s not all! An oily environment may be a breeding ground for bacteria that can infect the skin if there are any raw or open areas—one of the many acne causes.

The fix:

Wash your pillowcases every few nights. Oh, and if you haven’t yet, switch to a silk pillowcase to reduce friction (your hair will thank you, too).

Why Am I Breaking Out? #2: You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep

Not to bore you to sleep, but our bodies undergo daily circadian rhythms, in which certain activities occur in the morning, and others occur while we’re snoozing. “Sleep is a time of rest and repair, and cortisol levels decrease,” Dr. Zeichner explains. “Not getting enough sleep means that our body is exposed to continuously high levels of cortisol, which can trigger breakouts.” Similar to what happens during stressful moments, cortisol-releasing hormones can actually bind to your oil glands, which sends them into overdrive and causes acne.

The Fix:

Sleep. It’s that simple (ish). Get off your phone (it causes blue light damage anyway) and get your eight hours.

Why Am I Breaking Out? #3: You’re Using Too Much Zit Cream

Raise your hand if at the first sight of a bump, you load up the area with spot treatments (hi, me). But Samantha Wright, a licensed aesthetician at the Dangene Institute, suggests not overreacting by over-treating. Topical salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or sulphur over-the-counter treatments can dry out your skin and trigger it to produce even more oil and, in turn, zits. Additionally, the active ingredients can slightly burn the top layer of your skin, making it look red and raw if you’re using all the things and far too often.

You don’t have to toss your usual spot treatment—just don’t overdo it. Two to three times a week or every other night on your zit should do the trick. And if you have a reaction, switch to over-the-counter 1 percent hydrocortisone cream, like Aveeno One Percent Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream, to calm the inflammation in the pimple and take down the redness.

Why Am I Breaking Out? #4: You’re Using an Abrasive Face Scrub

Not regularly exfoliating is one of the acne causes, yes, but if you’re of the mindset that the more you scrub your skin—whether with a washcloth, rough exfoliants (like a face scrub), loofahs, or cleansing brushes—the smoother it will be, I’m here to tell you that your breakouts are only gonna get worse. The idea here is to repair your skin’s protective barrier to keep bacteria out, not cause further trauma by scrubbing the sh*t out of it.

Wash and exfoliate your face with a mild yet effective formula that contains chemical exfoliators and don’t require scrubbing, like glycolic and lactic acids.

Lactic Acid Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment sephora.com $105.00 Glycolic Acid BeautyRx Advanced 10 Percent Exfoliating Pads amazon.com $70.00 Salicylic Acid Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA dermstore.com $29.50 BHA + AHA Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial amazon.com $80.00

Why Am I Breaking Out? #5: You’re Using the Wrong Ingredients

If you’re frustrated because unlike your friends with perfect complexions you actually do take care of your skin, your acne trigger could be the sneaky ingredients in your products. According to cosmetic dermatologist Jeanine Downie, MD, mineral oil, for example, is a super-heavy moisturizing agent found in some face moisturizers and creams that’s known to clog your pores and cause you to break out. Additionally, fragrance (especially irritating for sensitive skin) and sodium lauryl sulfate (an oil-stripping surfactant) can be found in many products and are common acne causes.

“Read your labels” is easier said than done if you don’t know what to look for, but a good place to start is by getting rid of any products that contain the aforementioned common irritants, and when in doubt, Dr. Downie says to shop for products marked as noncomedogenic. If you’ve tried all the above and your breakouts continue to worsen, make an appointment with your dermatologist to see if you could be allergic to another ingredient.

Why Am I Breaking Out? #6: You’re Trapping Sweat With Hats

Anything that can trap sweat and bacteria against your skin and clog your pores, like the lining of a tight hat or a headband, can cause zits to pop up.

Hats are cute, yes, but try not to wear them when you’re working out or sweating indoors or loosen the band so it doesn’t fit so snug against your skin. And always wash your face after a sweat sesh.

Dermalogica UltraCalming Cleanser dermstore.com $62.00 First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser ulta.com $21.00 Fresh Soy Face Cleanser sephora.com $38.00 Avene Extremely Gentle Cleanser Lotion dermstore.com $24.00

Why Am I Breaking Out? #7: You’re Clogging Your Pores With Hair Products

Those same pore-clogging moisturizing agents and sulfates that sneak their way into your skincare products can also be found in your shampoo, conditioner, and hairstyling formulas. And similar to how they can cause breakouts on your face, the ingredients can seep into the pores on your body and clog them, resulting in chest acne, back acne, and even pimples along your hairline or scalp acne, says Wright.

First and foremost, switch to a sulfate-free shampoo already. Once you’ve moved on to the conditioning step, clip your hair up and off your back while you let the formula sit. When you rinse, tilt your head over and to the side to keep the potentially pore-clogging and acne-causing residue off your face, chest, and back.

Why Am I Breaking Out? #8: You’re Sweating During Workouts

Skipping the shower right after working out or not washing your face allows the mixture of makeup, dirt, bacteria, oil, and sweat to find a nice little home in your skin and cause breakouts and clogged pores.

Before you start sweating, always wash your face to remove your makeup. After you’ve finished your workout, shower (whoa, revolutionary). If you don’t have time, use a facial wipe, like Simple Micellar Cleansing Wipes, to clear away any pore-clogging oil and bacteria.

Why Am I Breaking Out? #9: You’re Using the Wrong Detergent

Per Dr. Downie, some of the chemicals in certain laundry detergents can be too harsh for your skin. And once you slip on your clothes or use your towels, your complexion might react to the residue that’s left on the fabric, resulting in breakouts on your face, back, butt, chest, etc. If you recently switched to a new detergent because it was on sale (no judgement) and noticed a few breakouts ever since, that might be your problem.

Choose a detergent that’s fragrance-free, dye-free, and dermatologist-tested for sensitive skin, like Seventh Generation Concentrated Free & Clear Unscented Laundry Detergent.

Why Am I Breaking Out? #10: You’re Tanning in Beds or Outside

By now, you know that baking in the sun and in tanning beds causes skin cancer, but if that still hasn’t stopped you from hitting the beach without sunscreen, maybe this will: Contrary to popular belief, the sun isn’t healing your acne, it’s actually making it worse. On top of all the other damage, the sun dries out your skin and triggers excess oil production, which, hi, is one of the acne causes.

For starters, stop going to tanning beds. Period. And if you are in the sun, make sure to slather on a titanium dioxide- or zinc-based sunscreen—(these natural sun protectants are less likely to cause irritation than traditional chemicals), and wear a hat to shield your face from harsh rays.

Badger SPF 35 Sport Sunscreen Cream amazon.com $13.49 Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30 sephora.com $34.00 MyChelle Dermaceuticals Replenishing Solar Defense dermstore.com $27.00 Coola Mineral Face Matte Moisturizer SPF 30 Matte Tint dermstore.com $36.00

Why Am I Breaking Out? #11: You’re Eating the Wrong Foods

According to Dr. Downie, tomatoes and peppers, two common ingredients in spicy foods, contain acidic lycopene—a somewhat common irritant that can throw off the skin’s pH levels and trigger breakouts around the mouth. But it isn’t just spicy foods that are acne causes. Some people have a reaction to dairy, gluten, or other types of foods. How diet affects the skin is totally dependent on the person.

Talk to your dermatologist or make an appointment with a gastroenterologist to see if the food you’re eating is the source of your problem or if something more serious is going on in your gastrointestinal tract. And while you’re at it, you could always try incorporating a few healthy foods for clear skin into your diet.

Why Am I Breaking Out? #12: You’re Making Out With Your Dude

One of the most surprising acne causes? Your dude’s beard. Sure, some guys look hot with a beard (I see you, Ryan Gosling), or even a five o’clock shadow, but your BF’s facial hair isn’t doing your pretty face any favors when it comes to breakouts. Long story short: As you two hook up, your smooth face creates friction against his prickly one, which stimulates your skin’s oil production. And an increase in oil = an increase in blemishes.

Kindly ask him to shave his beard in the name of flawless skin. Or you know, be more careful when you’re making out.

Why Am I Breaking Out? #13: You Smoke

Smoking is ruining you in more ways than one, my friend. Every time you light up a cigarette, you decrease the amount of oxygen that goes to the skin on your face, Dr. Downie explains. Smoking not only predisposes you to cancer, but it also causes the breakdown of collagen and elastin that leads to wrinkles and increased pore size. The carcinogens in the smoke also irritate your skin and dry it out, triggering it to produce more oil and, possibly, more breakouts.

Don’t smoke. It’s as simple as that. You’ll live longer and have clearer skin. Boom.

Why Am I Breaking Out? #14: You’re Stressed Out

Stress causes acne, and acne results in more stress—ah, the very vicious cycle. When you’re under pressure, your skin produces stress hormones, including cortisol, that can stimulate your oil glands to make testosterone, Dr. Downie explains. This then increases your oil production and clogs your pores.

Work out regularly, meditate, get that essential oil diffuser going, and take time out of your busy schedule to focus on yourself, whatever that means to you. All these things will help you release stress so your body doesn’t continue to release hormones that are trying to wreak havoc on your skin.

Why Am I Breaking Out? #15: You’re Touching Your Face Too Much

It’s tempting in the moment, but it’s never a good idea to play dermatologist, because it’s nearly impossible to pick your own pimple and not make a red mark that could turn into a scar. Even worse, when you try to press the blackhead or pus out of your pore, you run the risk of pushing the bacteria deeper and making the problem worse. Oh, yeah, and you know when you rest your chin in your palm while you’re sitting at your desk? That action of touching your skin also can transfer bacteria from your hand onto your face, Dr. Downie adds.

Challenge yourself not to pick or even touch your face for unnecessary reasons. If you need to physically put something over your pimple to keep your hands off of it (and to prevent more bacteria from getting to the zit), try a pimple patch, like the Mighty Patch Hydrocolloid Acne Absorbing Spot Dot, a flat, flexible, drug-free patch that protects your spot and allows it to heal faster.

And when all else fails—or ideally, before all else begins—head to your dermatologist to find out which of the acne causes is wreaking havoc on your skin. It’s almost like they went to school to fix this kind of thing. Weird.

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1. Keep your face clean. Whether or not you have acne, it’s important to wash your face twice daily to remove impurities, dead skin cells, and extra oil from your skin’s surface. Washing more often than twice daily is not necessarily better; it may do more harm than good. Use warm, not hot, water and a mild facial cleanser. Using a harsh soap (like deodorant body soap) can hurt already inflamed skin and cause more irritation.

Avoid scrubbing your skin harshly with a washcloth, an exfoliating glove, or loofah (a coarse-textured sponge). Gently wash it with a very soft cloth or your hands. Always rinse well, and then dry your face with a clean towel. (Toss the towel in the laundry hamper, as dirty towels spread bacteria.) Also, use the washcloth only once.

2. Moisturize. Many acne products contain ingredients that dry the skin, so always use a moisturizer that minimizes dryness and skin peeling. Look for “noncomedogenic” on the label, which means it should not cause acne. There are moisturizers made for oily, dry, or combination skin.

3. Try an over-the-counter acne product. These acne products don’t need a prescription. Most of them have ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or lactic acid, which curb bacteria and dry your skin. They may cause drying or peeling so start with a small amount at first. Then you can adjust how much you use and how often. Another option is a new OTC topical retinoid gel (Differin 0.1% gel). It works to actually keep the acne from forming. Use these products with caution if you have sensitive skin.

4. 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.

5. Watch what you put on your hair. 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.

Adults outgrow quite a few things. You’d think breakouts would top the list.

But, as many of us have learned (the hard way), adult acne can pop up, regardless of how old we are. It’s unsightly. It’s unpleasant. And it can make you cripplingly insecure.

It’s likely due to a combination of hormonal changes, stress and what we’re eating. Dr. Whitney Bowe, a New York dermatologist, calls it an “epidemic.” According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne has the dubious distinction of being the most common skin condition in this country.

While you might want them gone, if zits don’t clear up overnight, don’t panic. Most treatments take about 4-6 weeks to work.

Here are some tips for keeping pimples at bay.

1. Don’t use the same washcloth twice

You’ll simply transfer the bacteria you removed from your face earlier in the day back onto your skin, said Dr. Debra Jaliman, a dermatologist in New York. To avoid morning breakouts, grab a fresh towel every time.

2. Sleep on a clean pillowcase

Dirt, dust and oil from your hair can collect on your pillowcase. Add some possible night drool (eek!) and your pillowcase becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. Change the cover at least once a week, more if you continue waking up to breakouts, said Dr. Julie Russak, a New York-based dermatologist. And, use a satin pillowcase — this weave won’t absorb moisture like cotton and will reduce chaffing on the skin.

3. Don’t take charge of the TV remote

Remotes are loaded with bacteria, which can easily transfer to your fingers and then to your face, putting you at risk for blemishes, said Jaliman. Wash your hands after handling a remote and remember to wipe it down with an antibacterial wipe at least once a week.

4. Don’t reach for that late-night snack

Sweets or even a sugary cocktail before bed can spike blood sugar levels and create inflammation, worsening conditions such as acne, said Russak. They can also increase energy levels, affecting your sleep. The less sleep you get, the more your body releases glucocorticoid — a steroid that can exacerbate breakouts.

5. Do switch up your cleanser before your period

A spike in hormones the week before your period can put oil glands into overdrive, predisposing skin to breakouts, said Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Switch to a salicylic acid cleanser during this time to help reduce excess oil. Leave it on your face for a minute so it has time to work.

6. Do switch up your diet

Your protein bar or shake might be the source of your acne. Whey-based protein supplements have been linked to severe acne, Bowe noted. “I encourage my patients to make the switch to plant-based protein supplements,” she said. “Foods that have what’s called a high glycemic index are known to trigger acne. These are processed, packaged foods that are loaded with refined carbs and sugars — things like white bread, white chips, bagels, pretzels and muffins. So, you want to swap out those foods and replace them with foods that have a low glycemic index, like steel-cut oatmeal, quinoa, veggies, proteins and healthy fats.” Also, add lots of anti-oxidants to your diet, including blueberries, red kidney beans, cranberries, artichoke and strawberries.

7. Don’t take stress to bed with you

Easier said than done, but stress can increase the oil production in your skin and promote inflammation. Meditation, yoga and calming music before bed will relieve stress and help avert morning breakouts, said Zeichner.

8. Don’t bring your cell phone to bed

Bacteria found on cell phones can put your skin at risk for breakouts, especially around the mouth and cheeks, said Jaliman. If you must use your cell phone before bed, give the screen a swipe with an alcohol-based wipe.

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9. Do sleep in a cool room

A warm room causes pores to contract and expand. Once sweat gets in, pores can become clogged and prone to blackheads and breakouts. They’ll also become more visible in the morning, said Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, director of the Fifth Avenue Dermatology Surgery and Laser Center in New York City. The ideal room temperature is 65 to 68 degrees.

10. Don’t be tempted by Netflix

You add stress to your body when you lose hours of sleep, which can increase glucocorticoid production and lead to breakouts, said Dr. Meghan O’Brien, a doctor at Tribeca Park Dermatology. Aim to get at least 7-8 hours of shut-eye every night.

11. Wash your face twice a day

As simple as it sounds, washing your face twice allows you two opportunities to remove bacteria and prevent breakouts, noted O’Brien.

12. Don’t pick that pimple

Resist the urge to squeeze a blemish. It will likely look worse in the morning and can lead to scarring, said O’Brien. Take a warm compress to any lesion that contains pus (no squeezing!), and apply a drying or spot treatment containing salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide or sulfur.

13. Invest in a nighttime retinoid

A prescription retinoid or an over-the-counter retinol will encourage overnight cell turnover of the skin’s outer layer while also thickening the middle layer of skin over time, says Dr. Candace Spann, a dermatologist in Las Vegas. Loss of collagen in the middle layer can lead to the formation of wrinkles.

14. Don’t be overly aggressive with your skin care products

Abrasive scrubs, harsh cleansers or alcohol-based toners can actually cause sebaceous glands to go into overdrive and lead to more morning breakouts. A better choice is a gentle cleanser with salicylic acid to help open pores and remove trapped dirt and oil, said Dr. Michael Lin, a dermatologist in Los Angeles.

15. Exfoliate at least once a week

You have two options: a physical exfoliator (such as a face scrub or an electronic brush) or a chemical exfoliator (a topical cream or lotion that contains salicylic or glycolic acid). Either will lighten brown spots and clear clogged pores, leading to better looking skin in the morning, says Dr. Omar Torres, a dermatologist in New York.

When buying products to treat acne, look for the following buzzwords, per the American Academy of Dermatology:

  • Won’t clog pores
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Non-acnegenic
  • Oil free

Here are some of our favorite zit-zappers:

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial

This blend of glycolic, tartaric, lactic, citric and salicylic acids gently exfoliates skin.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Foaming Face Wash

This cleanser, great for oily skin, helps tighten pores.

Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Spot Gel

Just one small, targeted dab of this spot gel works quickly. A little goes a very long way!

DERMAdoctor Kakadu C Intensive Peel Pads

No, these aren’t cheap. But, in this case, they’re worth every penny. They leave your skin feeling refreshed without irritating it.

Pacifica Coconut Probiotic Water Rehab Cream

This vegan cream is particularly formulated for stressed skin.

Marie Veronique Pre + Probiotic Daily Mist

This helps maintain your skin’s optimal microbiome balance.

What can cause your face to break out

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