You’ve tried everything under the sun to combat your stubborn acne. And yet you still wake up each morning with a zit — or multiple zits — glaring from your face.
You already know that washing your face and applying acne medication are good ways to prevent acne from appearing. Sometimes, though, there are things you’re doing — or not doing — that can contribute to acne breakouts. Read on for five things you may not realize are causing your acne.
1. Using Your Acne Treatment Incorrectly
This may seem like a no-brainer. However, if you’re using an acne treatment, you need to ensure you’re applying it correctly. You’ll want to add topical treatments to your face when it is clean and free from makeup. Smooth the cream or gel over the specific treatment areas at the recommended times of day.
If you are taking an oral prescription, such as an antibiotic, spironolactone, or Accutane, read the instructions beforehand. You may only be prescribed the medication for a limited time, so make sure you are taking all doses religiously.
Should you have questions, ask your healthcare professional or dermatologist. They will be able to give you the guidance you need to get the best results from your medication. After all, you can’t expect something to actually work if you aren’t giving it the proper chance to do so.
2. Sleeping on Dirty Bedding
When was the last time you changed your sheets? Be honest. The Sleep Foundation recommends washing your sheets every week, but the reality is, we’re all guilty of skipping a week here or there. Dirt buildup, along with body oils, sweat, and dead skin cells, will stay on the surface of bedding. This means that bacteria-laden particles are up against your skin for seven or more hours each day.
Along with changing your sheets weekly, consider the type of laundry detergent you are using. Some detergents, particularly scented ones, can be irritating to those with sensitive skin.
Look for a detergent that is hypoallergenic. These brands focus on removing dirt and buildup without adding harsh chemicals to their products. You can fall asleep knowing your bedding is clean and non-irritating.
3. Exposing Your Skin to Grimy Electronic Devices
Think of the number of times you touch your phone each day. Then think of the number of times you’ve actually cleaned it. Your phone is covered with germs, dust, and bacteria. With each phone call, you’re pressing those particles onto the surface of your skin.
One way to avoid skin contact is to use Bluetooth for all your phone calls. You can also disinfect your devices with a mixture of water and isopropyl alcohol. There are also plenty of cleaning products out on the market made to sanitize devices.
Of course, you’ll want to be gentle and avoid products that may scratch your screen. Electronic devices are fragile and aren’t made to be scoured like everyday home items.
4. Eating Acne-Causing Foods
Your skin is the largest organ in your body. It’s also the body’s first line of defense and can become inflamed when hostile invaders try to enter. This is why what’s on your plate matters when it comes to your skin.
Foods high in refined carbohydrates (e.g., white bread, soda, sugary snacks) have been linked to a greater incidence of acne flare-ups. Dairy products are also common triggers. Eating these types of foods regularly promotes the secretion of insulin in the body, which in turn stimulates sebum production and therefore acne.
Try to focus on a whole foods diet filled with plenty of fruits and vegetables. If you think dairy may be contributing to your acne, swap it out with a nut-based milk. For instance, try your morning coffee or smoothie with almond or coconut milk instead.
5. Using a Lot of Makeup and Hair Products
Lastly, your beauty routine may be to blame. Look through your medicine cabinet and determine how many products you use on your face and hair each day. If you experience a breakout, think about what you recently introduced that could be wreaking havoc on your skin. In general, less is more when it comes to clean skin. Try to eliminate unnecessary products from your regular routine.
That said, you don’t need to forgo your beauty rituals entirely. Fortunately, there are more clean beauty products available than ever before. These products typically include nature-derived ingredients and can be better for sensitive skin.
However, because “clean” beauty products aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, it’s still important to do your homework. Check labels and avoid ingredients (e.g., parabens, coconut oil, cocoa butter) that can clog pores and cause blemishes. Search online for products that can heighten your skin’s appearance rather than diminish it.
The Bottom Line
When faced with acne, know that you are certainly not alone. Figuring out what could potentially be causing your breakouts can be a challenge. Think about what you are putting on your skin as well as what is touching it. Also, look at your daily eating habits and see whether there could be a potential offender lurking in your pantry.
No matter what, remember that beauty is only skin deep. Your value as a person doesn’t depend on the state of your complexion, and fretting about your acne won’t help in the long term.