Breakouts are tricky. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what causes acne flare-ups and exactly what we can do — or avoid doing — to prevent them. You've heard the big ones: you’re not washing your face, you’re not moisturizing enough, or you’re too stressed out.
In addition to these, here are less obvious things that may be inadvertently causing pimples AND fixes for all of them.
The culprit: Your hands
Why they’re to blame: Breakouts are caused by dead skin cells, sebum (our skin’s oil), and P. acnes bacteria combining in our pores. Simply touching your face with your hands won’t cause breakouts, but the germs and bacteria on them could — especially if you’re acne prone. Picking, squeezing, and scratching counts.
The solution: If you're having a hard time keeping your hands off, cover the area with a bandaid, or better yet, apply an acne spot treatment. A dollop of SLMD BP Spot Treatment right over the pimple or the red bump will remind you to stop touching the breakout and simultaneously reduce the size of it.
The culprit: Your skincare routine
Why it’s to blame: You might be overdoing it, whether it's by over-exfoliating or applying too many skincare products. Scrubbing your face too much, like with a motorized cleansing brush, can cause clogged pores to swell and spread bacteria across your face and into other pores. Using too much and too many products can irritate your skin and dry it out to the point that it over-produces oil, causing even more breakouts.
The solution: Skip the expensive electronic face-scrubbers, and stick to an acne-fighting cleanser, like SLMD Salicylic Acid Cleanser. Formulated with salicylic acid —it will exfoliate and prevent the formation of acne, without irritating or drying out your complexion. Follow your face wash with a treatment lotion like BP Lotion (kills acne-causing bacteria) or Sulfur Lotion (stops the growth of acne-causing bacteria/good for those sensitive to benzoyl peroxide) and a moisturizer. These products can be found in SLMD Acne System and Sensitive Skin Acne System. Don't wash your face more than twice, less is more!
The culprit: Sweaty Clothes
Why it’s to blame: Post workout, walk, or simply after sweating because it's hot out makes the clothes you're wearing sweaty, and in turn, they become occlusive (meaning they bind to your skin and trap bacteria). Staying in these clothes creates opportunity for breakouts and irritation.
The solution: If you can, change out of those clothes, take a shower as soon as you’re done sweating, and use a good acne-fighting body wash like SLMD BP Body Wash. If you don’t have time to rinse off, having a body spray on hand like SLMD Salicylic Acid Body Spray to spritz your skin, along with Step Zero: Cleansing Wipes cleansing wipes will set you up for success and keep your skin less susceptible to breakouts.
The culprit: Your diet
Why it’s to blame: SLMD Skincare founder and board-certified dermatologist believes It’s actually a myth that greasy foods cause acne. However, according to her, dairy can be an exacerbating factor when it comes to acne because of elevated hormones in milk.
The solution: Consider taking a break from lots of cheese and dairy products if you are noticing that your skin is flaring up. You may also consider going to a specialist to see if you have any specific food allergies that could be triggering breakouts.
The culprit: Your cellphone
Why it’s to blame: Your phone screen collects bacteria from pretty much everything you touch each day. On top of coming in direct contact with your face as you talk on the phone, pressing the screen against your face causes sweat and oil to absorb back into your skin.
The solution: Try making it a habit to wipe down your screen with alcohol or disinfectant wipes regularly and avoid putting too much pressure on your face when you talk on the phone. Using headphones or speaker phone is also a good alternative to avoid contact between your phone and face when you’re making calls regularly.
The culprit: Your towels & pillowcases
Why they’re to blame: It’s easy to forget just how much bacteria these everyday items come in contact with, and how much they hold onto! Seventy percent of the stuff that makes laundry dirty is invisible oil, dead skin, soap residue, excess moisturizers, bodily fluids, and all sorts of other pore-clogging junk.
The solution: Ideally, you should be washing your towels after just three uses, your sheets at least once a month, and your pillowcases once a week. Refuse the urge to be lazy and stick to taking care of your wash consistently! It's for a good cause.
The culprit: Your hair products
Why they’re to blame: Ingredients like sulfates and silicons may be in your hair products, and could be responsible for clogging your pores, making you more prone to breakouts and irritation.
The solution: Check the ingredient lists of your go-to products to see if they contain silicones or sulfates. If they do, try switching to products that leave them out!
The reason we breakout varies greatly from person to person, so don’t be discouraged if changing one of these habits doesn’t immediately cure your acne. Be patient and continue to be aware of these culprits, so there's less potential for your skin to flare up!