Whether it’s the occasional big honker of a zit or chronic breakouts, there’s no way around it — blemishes are no freaking fun. And sure, while you can treat problem skin in all kinds of different ways, as with many things in life, the best offense is a good defense. In other words, if you can figure out what’s causing your breakouts, you can address the root cause and (hopefully) prevent pimples from popping up in the first place. There are of course the common culprits — hormones, excessively oily skin, sleeping in makeup, sometimes even genetics — but there are also some sneaky saboteurs that may be responsible for your complexion imperfections. Ahead, five surprising reasons you are breaking out.
The hair products you’re using
Believe it: It’s not just skin care that can be problematic. Many hair products are laden with pore-clogging ingredients, particularly conditioners and styling products which can contain heavy silicones, oils, and waxes. If you are breaking out around your hairline or on your chest and back, these can be telltale signs that hair care is the problem. (Think about it: shampoo and conditioner gets rinsed off onto these areas when you shower.) Opt for hair products labeled as non-comedogenic whenever possible (we’re big fans of SEEN, a hair care line designed specifically to help keep skin clear), and make sure to wash your body after shampooing and conditioning to ensure you’re thoroughly removing any lingering residue.
Damaging blue light, tech neck…add breakouts to the list of possible pitfalls that can come with regular phone use. Are your blemishes clustered on your cheek? Like, right where your phone’s screen gets pressed up to your face? Makeup, dirt, oil, bacteria, you name it, can all stick to the screen, and then get transferred back onto your skin with every use. Get into the habit of wiping down your screen after every call. Or, maybe consider this a good excuse to invest in a pair of Air Pods? Just saying.
A grimy yoga mat
We love a good child’s pose as much as anyone, but it requires your forehead to be pressed directly into your mat. And if that mat isn’t clean, then — you guessed it — all those nasties and the sweat can lead to an unwanted zit situation. One easy fix is laying a towel over your mat (and washing it after every use). Or, be more diligent about wiping down your mat post-class. Just be sure you’re not using a harsh, chemical-based cleanser, since that also won’t do your skin any favors; opt for all-natural, anti-bacterial wipes like these by Seventh Generation instead. Namaste and keep pimples away.
The consensus among most experts is that you should wash your bedding at least weekly. If that’s not happening (is it just us, or does that seem like a lofty goal?) your pillowcase may be causing pimples. Any kind of makeup that’s left on your skin, coupled with residue from bedtime skin care products and dead skin cells, can get trapped in the fabric and end up getting redeposited onto your skin as you snooze, which could be to blame if your face is breaking out. Along with regular sheet washing, consider this yet another reason to always thoroughly wash your face before you hit the sack. Applying your PM products a few hours before bedtime is also a good move; it allows them more time to soak into your skin, rather than simply rubbing off onto your pillowcase.
Constantly touching your face
We all touch our face — a lot and often times without thinking. But trust us, if you adopt a conscious, hands-off approach, your skin will thank you. If you have an existing pimple, resist the urge to pop it, which can spread bacteria — not to mention up the likelihood of scarring and discoloration. If you just can’t do it, try a pimple patch, like Peace Out Acne Healing Dots ($19; sephora.com). This will keep your fingers off the blemish and treat it simultaneously. And if your skin is clear, keep it that way by not touching your face. Every time you do so, you’re transferring germs, dirt, oil, and who knows what else directly onto your skin.
If all else fails and you are consistently breaking out, consider scheduling an appointment with a dermatologist ASAP.
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