Wondering why you're breaking out but don't know why? Here are 15+ reasons you're breaking out and how to treat it.
Do you find yourself breaking out
even after taking so much care of your skin?
Breaking out can happen even to the best of us, for some it might not be a big deal but for others it can ruin their entire day.
We're in a time where breakouts are not appealing but the worse part is that they can be very painful.
You have probably tried everything to stop breaking out but have failed.
If this sounds familiar, keep scrolling to find out what's causing your breakouts.
15+ Reasons You're Breaking Out
Here are 15+ reasons you didn't know off that contribute to breaking out:
1. You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep.
The quality and length of your sleep has an effect on the overall health of your skin so when you don't get enough sleep your skin suffers in many ways; including breaking out.
Sleeping helps the body carry essential functions of the skin and helps it heal, restore and eliminate toxins.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that different ages sleep a certain amount of hours, however, despite age most adults between the ages of 18 to 64 need to sleep 7 to 9 hours.
First 3 Hours Of Sleep
During the first 3 hours of sleep the body produces hGH, also known as human growth hormone, which stimulate growth, cell reproduction and regeneration and type 1 collagen.
Human growth hormone deficiency causes severe dry skin, which if not taken care of can lead to atopic dermatitis (eczema) and thin skin, which bruises, cuts and scrapes easily.
According to a study, hGH has been linked to reduced wrinkles and younger complexion.
Middle 2 Hours Of Sleep
During the 2 middle hours of sleep the body’s melatonin production increases which plays an important role for regulating the circadian rhythm and protecting the skin from free radicals by acting as an antioxidant.
An irregular circadian rhythm leads to circadian rhythm sleep disorder which results in inconsistent sleep, this causes difficulty sleeping and excessive daytime sleepiness.
When an excessive amount of free radicals are produced without being neutralized, it damages DNA, lipid membrane and collagen and causes photo aging and skin cancer.
Final 3 Hours Of Sleep
During the last 3 hours of sleep, cortisol levels decrease which help control:
- Sugar levels: prevent premature skin aging and acne.
- Metabolism: regulates the rate of cell turnover and collagen production and repairs damaged skin.
- Inflammation: allows healing and prevents irritation.
If you have difficulty falling asleep, here are 10 simple tips that will help you fall asleep quickly:
- Get on a schedule.
- Avoid naps throughout the day.
- Limit your caffeine intake.
- Practice yoga, meditation and mindfulness.
- Make sure to exercise.
- Watch what and when you eat.
- Turn off all electronics devices.
- Adjust your sleep position.
- Try aromatherapy.
- Try sleep-enhancing supplements.
2. You're Sleeping on a Dirty Bedding.
Not washing your bedding regularly causes build up of oil, dirt, dead skin cells, bacteria and fungi that rubs against the skin when we sleep which causes irritation, infection and acne.
Lab tests found that a swab sample from a toilet seat had 17,000 times less colonies of bacteria than a swab sample from pillowcases that were unwashed for over a week.
To avoid breaking out, it's recommended you wash your bedding at least once a week, but if you have oily or acne prone skin, it's suggested to do it 2 to 3 times a week.
3. You're Using the Wrong Detergent.
Detergents have ingredients, such as sodium lauryl sulfate and fragrances, that leave residue on clothes, towels and sheets which cause breakouts because it clogs pores.
Use detergents that are hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic and free of harsh chemicals, fragrances and dyes.
Here's a list of safe detergents to avoid breaking out:
- Tide - Free & Gentle
- Charlie's Laundry Soap
- Babyganics 3x Laundry Detergent (Fragrance Free)
- All Stainlifters Free and Clear
4. You're Using The Wrong Fabric Softener.
The Allergy and Environment Health Association found that the most toxic household product was fabric softener.
Fabric softeners help fabric retain scent by leaving a waxy residue that causes pores to be clogged which lead to breakouts.
Here's a list of safe fabric softeners to avoid breaking out:
- Downy Ultra Plus Free & Gentle Liquid Fabric Conditioner
- Presto! Premium Fabric Softener Free & Clear
- Ultra Snuggle Liquid Fabric Softener
- All Liquid Fabric Softener
- Botanical Origin Plant-Based Fabric Softener
5. You're Eating Unhealthy.
A research conducted by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics showed that, diets high in processed sugars and carbohydrates are associated with acne.
A diet that's high in refined sugars and carbohydrates consists of processed foods, starches and sugary drinks which are broken down or converted into glucose and absorbed into the bloodstream.
Insulin helps glucose travel into tissue cells in our muscles and organs to be converted into energy.
When glucose builds up in the bloodstream because the body is not using correctly or producing insulin, aka hyperglycemia, it causes a rise in your blood sugar levels signaling your pancreas to produce and release more insulin to clear the glucose from the bloodstream.
Having excess insulin in your blood increases your risks of acne because the sebaceous glands produce more sebum.
Also, high blood sugar levels damages the skin and lead to all of the following skin conditions:
- Itchiness: high blood sugar levels cause dehydration and poor circulation which lead to itchiness. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends short baths and natural fragrance-free soaps and moisturizers to avoid drying out the skin.
- Acanthosis Nigricans: causes darkening and thickening of the skin.
- Bacterial infections: high blood sugar levels prevent the body from protecting and healing itself which causes bacterial infections.
- Bullosis Diabeticorum: also known as diabetic blisters, are blisters that develop to people with diabetes.
- Necrobiosis Lipoidica: is a rash on the lower legs caused by changes in the blood vessels.
- Diabetic Dermopathy: affects blood vessels causing scaly patches to appear throughout the body.
- Eruptive Xanthomatosis: are firm and pea-like bumps on the skin that appear when the levels of blood glucose are out of control and the levels of triglycerides are extremely high.
- Digital Sclerosis: The skin on your toes, fingers and hands become thick and tight.
- Disseminated Granuloma Annulare: are reddish or skin-colored bumps in a ring pattern.
- Fungal infections: are skin diseases caused by fungus.
If you suffer from any of these skin conditions, visit your doctor or a health care provider because they can lead to infenctions that could threaten your overall health.
6. You’re Dehydrated.
Dehydration negatively impacts essential functions of the skin.
Being overly exposed to the sun and not hydrating properly causes dehydration because the body loses water content and essential body salts.
It prevents the body from eliminating waste and toxins leaving the skin vulnerable to various skin conditions and disorders.
The kidneys use water to remove waste and toxins from the blood through urine.
A lack of hydration causes dead skin cells to accumulate on the surface of the skin which results in clogged pores, congested skin and a dull complexion; read more about why drinking water is important here.
To prevent dehydration you need to drink plenty of water (check out this water bottle, it will help you stay hydrated throughout the day), moisturize and wear sunscreen.
7. Hormonal Imbalance.
When the level of hormones your body produces fluctuates, a type of acne caused by hormonal imbalance forms.
Hormonal imbalance affects 80% of women, it's so common that it's referred by doctors as “acne” which is the result of male hormones that cause breakouts by stimulating sebum production and clogging hair follicles.
Hormonal acne ranges from mild to severe and tends to happen in the T-zone which consists of the forehead, nose and chin, jawline, cheeks and around the lips.
Depending on how severe are your breakouts, the treatment options for hormonal acne vary.
If you have mild hormonal acne then it’s treatable without medication, however, if you have severe hormonal acne then it needs to be treated with acne medication.
To take control of hormonal acne and minimize breakouts, you need a combination of:
- Over-the-counter products: Retinoids control hormonal acne by speeding up skin cell turnover which unclogs pores reducing acne outbreaks.
- Antibiotics: Hormonal acne consists of equal parts sebum and bacteria, as a result, consuming antibiotics is effective in reducing bacteria to control and prevent breaking out.
- Hormonal Medication: The most common hormonal medication is the birth control pill which contains ethinyl estradiol to balance the effects of androgens and prevent your skin from breaking out. Make sure to talk to your doctor to see what type of oral contraceptive they recommend for you.
- Small Lifestyle Changes: Making small modifications to your lifestyle improves hormonal acne, avoid picking your acne, using harsh skin care products and spending too long in sweaty weather, don’t wash your face more than twice a day, limit using too much makeup and maintain a good hygiene.
8. Certain Medications
Medications such as corticosteroids, lithium, anticonvulsants, barbiturates, androgenic steroids, DHEA and medications that contain bromides or iodides are know to cause and aggravate breakouts.
9. You’re Very Stressed
Stress increases cortisol levels that:
- Increase corticotropin-releasing hormone production, which stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum that lead to breaking out.
- Cause dehydrated skin because the skin is unable to retain water.
- Produce internal free radicals that cause oxidative stress.
- Break down collagen and elastin, which are structures of the skin that maintain firmness and elasticity.
- Decrease hyaluronic acid synthesis, which keeps tissues moist and lubricated by retaining water.
Here are 10 simple ways to either prevent or relieve stress:
- Practice deep breathing.
- Take supplements.
- Reduce the amount of caffeine you consume.
- Try aromatherapy.
- Spend time with family and friends.
- Learn to say no.
- Start writing.
- Chew gum.
- Avoid procrastination.
10. You Smoke
A study by the British Journal of Dermatology, demonstrated that smokers have more severe acne than non-smokers.
Smoking increases sebum peroxidation which causes breakouts because it's highly comeodogenic and inflammatory and reduces vitamin E which increases bacterial infections that cause acne.
Here are 5 methods to help you quit smoking:
- Willpower: You have made the decision to be mentally prepared and committed to stop smoking without any help.
- Read self-help books: Allen Carr's Easy Way To Stop Smoking is a #1 bestseller and people claim that after reading the book, they have stopped smoking immediately; it's worth a try if you are serious about quitting.
- Nicotine Replacement Therapy: NRT reduces the symptoms of withdrawal by delivering small and controlled amounts of nicotine into your bloodstream.
- Acupuncture: Helps reduce nicotine cravings, eases anxiety and clears phlegm, tar and nicotine out of the lungs.
- Hypnosis: Helps smokers restrain from nicotine cravings and cope with addiction and nicotine withdrawal.
11. You're Using Too Many Skin Care Products
Using too many skin care products worsens the skin because it results in irritation, dryness and breakouts.
12. You're Using the Wrong Ingredients
Using the wrong ingredients can irritate and cause breakouts on your skin, here are a few of the most important ingredients you want to avoid:
- Synthetic Fragrances: The biggest issues with fragrances is that manufacturers are not required to list their fragrance ingredients on the label of the product. This results with the term “fragrance” being used to hide all the toxic ingredients in the product. According to the IFRA (International Fragrance Association), natural fragrances can be as toxic and allergenic as synthetic fragrances because they don't have official regulation.
- Essential Oils: Essential oils can irritate the skin if they are too concentrated and clog pores because they contain high levels of saturated fats.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: SLS causes irritation and inflammation, disrupting the skin barrier and making active breakouts worse.
- Isopropyl Myristate and Isopropyl Palmitate: clog pores and cause non-inflamed closed comedones.
- SD Alcohol 40, Denatured Alcohol, Ethanol and Isopropyl Alcohol: these forms of alcohol are drying and irritating to the skin.
- Sodium Chloride: also known as sea salt or salt maris, can dehydrate the skin and lead to swelling which makes healing acne more difficult.
- Coconut Oil and Cocoa Butter: are highly comedogenic.
13. You’re Cleansing Too Much
Cleansing your skin too much causes breakouts because the skin is being stripped from oil which diminishes the skin’s acid mantle.
The acid mantle provides the skin with a barrier against bacteria, meaning, that if the acid mantle is compromised the skin is susceptible to infection and oil imbalance.
As a result, the skin will attempt to rebuild the barrier by producing more sebum which will lead to clogged pores and acne.
14. You're Touching Your Face Too Much
A research conducted by The University of Colorado at Boulder, confirms that we carry 4,700 bacteria from 150 different species on our hands.
Meaning that touching your face spreads dirt, oil, and bacteria which can clog pores and cause breakouts. Instead, apply your products with a skincare spatula to avoid contamination and the spread of dirt, oil, and bacteria.
The AAD recommends you only touch your face when cleansing, moisturizing or applying sunscreen or makeup.
15. Excess Sebum Production
Sebum is a waxy an oily substance that protects and moisturizes the skin.
However, when sebum is produced in excess because of genetics, hormone changes or stress, it leads to clogged pores and acne.
If you're looking for ways to help you control excess sebum production, here are 25+ of the best oil control products to help you do so.
16. You're Clogging Your Pores With Hair Products
It has been long believed that oily hair was the cause of breakout but a study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information suggests otherwise, oily hair doesn’t have any effect on acne.
It turns out, hair products are the culprit behind your breakouts because specific ingredients in hair products clog pores which lead to acne.
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) states that shampoos, conditioners and styling products cause whiteheads and other types of acne.
Here's a list of ingredients that are breaking you out:
17. You're Sweating During Workouts
Excessive sweating, as well as, oil, dirt and bacteria buildup clog pores causing breakouts.
Working out doesn’t cause acne, it’s your hygiene before, during and after your workouts that impacts your skin.
18. You're Trapping Sweat With Hats
Acne mechanica is the result of items being tightly pressed against the skin, such as headbands, hats and helmets.
These items cause friction with sweat and bacteria against your skin causing you to break out.
Make sure to use breathable fabrics, which allow sweat to evaporate, keep them clean and wipe off accumulated sweat with makeup-removing wipes or facial cleansing wipes.
19. You're Tanning in Beds or Outside
Tanning dries out your skin which reduces sebum production.
However, after you finish tanning your skin will try to compensate for the oil and produce too much sebum which will aggravate acne breakouts.
It's better to avoid tanning because it causes pigmentation, actinic keratosis, skin cancer and premature aging.
If you're set on achieving a sun-kissed glowy look, using self-tanners is a much safer option.
20. You're Making Out with a Guy That Has a Beard
When you are kissing a guy that has a beard, his beard rubbing against your skin creates friction resulting in an increased oil production, acne, blemishes and beard burn.
Frequently Asked Questions
Breaking out suddenly can be because of the following reasons:
- Not Getting Enough Sleep
- Sleeping on a Dirty Bedding
- Using the Wrong Detergent
- Using The Wrong Fabric Softener
- Eating Unhealthy
- Being Dehydrated
- Hormonal Imbalance
- Certain Medications
- Using Too Many Skin Care Products
- Using the Wrong Ingredients
- Cleansing Too Much
- Touching Your Face Too Much
- Excess Sebum Production
- Hair Products Clogging Your Pores
- Sweating During Workouts
- Trapping Sweat With Hats
- Tanning in Beds or Outside
- Making Out with a Guy That Has a Beard