Whether you’re a long-time breakout sufferer (same), or your spots have popped up out of nowhere and you’re new to the club (welcome) – it can sometimes be pretty impossible to figure out why on earth you’re breaking out.
Of course, (disclaimer here) – sometimes they’re pretty much unavoidable. Hormones, stress, age, genetics, and good old Aunt Flo can all lead to your skin just not playing ball. And that’s okay!! It’s totally natural, and we’ve all been there.
But, that said, there are a few everyday things that might be causing, or at least adding, to the issue. And, (coming from a long-time sufferer of breakouts) that’s sometimes good to know. After all, getting to grips with a cause is the first step to finding a solution, right? As self-confessed skincare addicts, we’ve taken a deep dive into the world of spots and breakouts – specifically, the things we could be doing every day to cause them.
From your makeup to your pillowcase, and even your fave glass of wine (sorry), the list of possible culprits (and thus, possible solutions), is surprisingly long. So, without further ado – here are the things you should be considering – and perhaps avoiding – when it comes to breakouts. Get the lowdown here. ➡️
1 Not changing your pillowcase enough
When you think about it, this one makes total sense. We spend around 8 hours a day with our face pressed against our pillow (sometimes less, sometimes much *much* more). And, without wanting to scare you, it might be a real ‘sleeping with the enemy’ situation. Yep, your pillow can be a big ol’ hub of bacteria – the dirt accumulated on our skin, hair, and hands can spread over your pillow during the night, and is transferred to the face. Which, of course, leads to clogged pores and breakouts.
The same goes for bath towels, and any material that comes into contact with our faces on the reg – (looking at you, face mask). The solution? Wash your pillowcases as often as possible: ideally once a week.
2 Too much sun exposure
There’s nothing like a bit of sun to lift the spirits, especially when you’re used to the grey skies of blighty. Unfortunately, as much as we *love* the sun, the same can’t be said for our skin. As well as the risk of burning, sun damage, premature ageing of the skin, and cancer, UV rays can also be a prime suspect for causing breakouts. To protect itself from the harmful effects of the sun, the skin produces melanin (the substance that gives us a tan) and also thickens. Add to that the heat and humidity of sunny days, both of which contribute to the generation of bacteria, and voila: the pores become clogged due to an overproduction of sebum, and chaos (read: breakout) ensues.
To combat this:
- Protect your skin by always wearing a high factor sunscreen (even on cloudy days).
- Avoid sun exposure when possible, especially for long periods of time.
- Research which sunscreen is best for you – consider opting for an oil-free sunscreen to avoid breakouts.
3 Not getting enough sleep
They don’t call it ‘beauty sleep’ for nothing – getting a good night’s sleep (around 8 hours) is one of the best things you can do, both for your mind and body. When you lack sleep, the body secretes more cortisol – a hormone responsible for the production of sebum. This can lead to clogged pores, and (you guessed it), breakouts. So, fewer sleepless nights and more time spent under the duvet can help to avoid spots and breakouts – win, win, really.
4 Is your makeup causing spots and breakouts?
It might be our greatest ally when trying to hide the mount Vesuvius that has mysteriously appeared right before that first date, but your makeup could also be the underlying cause of your breakouts. Applying foundation, concealer, blush, and powders can clog pores and cause pimples and inflammation – particularly for those with oily or sensitive skin. And that’s not all – makeup brushes can also be a significant factor in breakouts if they’re not cleaned properly. To combat this, make sure to thoroughly remove your makeup each evening (the double-cleansing method is a great way to do this). You should also aim to clean your make-up brushes and sponges every 2 weeks to avoid dirt and bacteria building up.
PS – if you’re a make-up lover, opt for light and non-comedogenic products which won’t clog your pores to avoid spots and breakouts.
5 Too much alcohol
A couple of drinks in a pub garden with your pals? Bliss. But, aside from just a horrendous hangover, overindulging in alcohol can also cause some pesky repercussions for your skin. Yep, having a few too many drinks could be causing your breakouts and spots. Alcohol secretes toxins that the body – particularly the liver – will have to eliminate later. Busy doing a little detox – the balance of the skin is no longer your body’s priority. It’ll also slow down the process of elimination of certain hormones such as oestrogen, which, if not properly ejected, can cause breakouts of spots and acne. So, it’s super important to be extra rigorous with your pre and after party cleansing. And, of course, make sure to drink plenty of water to help hydrate your skin and eliminate those toxins.
6 Touching your face too much
We might not necessarily realise it, but most of us touch our faces pretty consistently throughout the day without noticing. The transition of bacteria and dirt accumulated by everything we touch on a daily basis (the train, bus, coffee machine, restaurant menu etc. etc.) is inevitably passed on to our faces, thus clogging pores and causing more spots, pimples, and breakouts. Remember to wash your hands regularly throughout the day (a lesson well-learned over the last couple of years) and keep your hands away from your face as much as possible.
7 Consuming refined sugars
If you’re suffering from spots, it may be worth considering a change in diet. Specifically, if you’re prone to breakouts, you should avoid foods with a high glycemic index as much as possible. Sweet foods such as chocolate, biscuits, fizzy drinks (and so on), which are rich in refined sugars, cause insulin spikes. These unbalance the body and can lead to inflammatory reactions. Instead, opt for nuts or fruit as a snack.
8 Consuming dairy products can lead to spots
Again, diet can be key in causing spots and breakouts. As a die-hard cheese-lover, this one hurts, but the reduction of dairy product consumption can help to avoid breakouts. Milk, yoghurt, and cheese are all rich in fatty acids and can promote the inflammation of comedones – leading to the appearance of pimples and a general hormonal imbalance. Instead, try plant-based products as an alternative.
9 Not keeping your skin hydrated
Dehydrated skin causes a weakness in the skin barrier, which is what protects the epidermis against bacteria and dirt. A weakened skin barrier can no longer do its job properly, which causes breakouts to quickly appear. So, what’s the number one secret to glowing, hydrated skin? (All together): drinking lots of water. Try to drink between 1.5 to 2L of water per day to keep your body and skin well and truly quenched.