If your face has left you frantically looking for reasons why you're breaking out, then listen up, ladies! Whether it be hormones, food intolerance, food allergies, stress, or environmental factors, almost anything can cause you to break out these days. As a teen, acne was my arch enemy. I was always trying to cover up a blemish, conceal a pimple, or find the latest cosmetic product that promised to fix all my face issues. Needless to say, nothing I ever purchased at the drugstore worked, because I wasn't addressing the core issue. I'll be honest; my diet was a train wreck at the exact time my acne was the worst. I was either not eating, or eating junk. Think sugar, bread, refined foods, way too many carbs, and not enough healthy fats or protein. Vegetables were also something I just claimed I didn't like. After adopting a healthy lifestyle, and using lifestyle options to support my hormones, I'm free of acne, and have more face confidence than I've ever had in my life. To find out the reasons why you're breaking out like I used to, check out these possible factors. Then, make the necessary changes in your life so you can feel fabulous in your beautiful skin again!
1. You Wash Your Face Too Often
This point was submitted by one of our lovely readers. Thank you Mimi!
Sometimes it might seem hard to not constantly wash your face. This however dries your skin out even more, which can irritate it and cause to break out. You should try to stick to washing your face a maximum of two times a day.
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2. Your BFF is Sugar
One of the most important reasons why you're breaking out could possibly be that you can't go a day without some form of sugar in your system. Now, first things first. Refined sugar in processed foods, and even excess healthy sugars like honey and agave, are all forms of sugar, and in people sensitive to sugar, they will cause breakouts. Anything that has sugar, even fruit, will raise your glycemic index a bit. Of course, fruit is better than any other form of sugar, but your body sees it all the same. If you notice that you break out when eating eating sugar of any kind, even fruit, back off of it for a week to see if your acne improves. Sugar causes insulin to spike in the body, and can make you break out due to fluctuations in your hormones. Even though fruit has fiber, for some people like myself, it causes acne. Others of you may just react to refined sugars, like those found in junk food. Either way, experiment with reducing your sugar intake and see if things improve. Sugar actually causes a breakdown of collagen in the skin, which triggers inflammation that leads to acne, so reducing it however you can will most likely take care of your acne issues, and even help you look a little younger too!
3. You're Allergic or Sensitive to Gluten
Most refined grains contain gluten, and if you're consuming refined foods, most likely you're eating some form of it. Even if you don't have a proven gluten allergy, gluten can trigger acne because it causes inflammation to a high degree. Whole grains, such as whole wheat breads that contain gluten, are obviously healthier choices than white bread or refined grains, however gluten can still cause acne if you're sensitive to it. To determine if gluten is the reason for your acne, eliminate all forms of it for a week to see if things improve. You'll have to be extremely adamant about reading labels, and don't stock up on all the processed gluten-free cookies and chips, which are mostly refined grains in some form as well. Instead, opt for whole, delicious foods like oatmeal, quinoa and brown rice as your source of carbs instead of gluten-containing products. An even better choice are carbs like sweet potatoes and butternut squash, which actually help fight acne due to their high Vitamin A content. Anything you can do to reduce your glycemic index by cutting your carbohydrate intake will help reduce acne. I've lived it and know many people who now have clear skin thanks to this one change in their diet. Give it a try, and see how it works for you!
4. Your Hormones Are Changing
Even if you're eating healthy, you could still be breaking out if you're going through a hormonal change in your body. When I hit menopause at a very early age, I found that no matter what I had done in the past to combat acne, I saw small flares again. I realized this was hormonal, and within a year, the issue had straightened itself back out, leaving me acne free again. If you're eating a low-glycemic diet, avoiding excess stress, and not using products that may be breaking your face out, it could be hormone related. You'll also probably feel different internally if it is hormone related. You might be more tired than normal, suffer excess sweating or moodiness, and overall just feel less than stellar. If you suffer severe symptoms, feel free to see your OBGYN to see if there are any medications that may help, or lifestyle changes you can adopt to ease symptoms.
5. You're Super Stressed
Stress will give you acne just as much as anything else that I've mentioned here. Stress triggers the hormone cortisol in the body, and all hormones influence your acne issues. The more cortisol you have, the more insulin your body pumps out, and the more you'll gain weight, have acne and have trouble sleeping. If you're especially suffering high levels of stress, do whatever you can to combat this issue. If it is work related, considering altering your situation at work to remove the stress, confronting someone who is causing the stress, or getting help regarding the issue. In your personal time, it is more important than ever to eat a clean diet, eat regular meals, get 8 hours of sleep and do stress-reducing exercises like yoga, walking and meditation to reduce cortisol production. Herbal teas and green tea are also wonderful for reducing inflammation and stress to the body, and are very soothing as well.
6. Your Diet Needs a Tweak or Two
I noticed a year ago that although I was eating healthy, something was missing. I felt anxious a good bit of the time, which led to a few breakouts here and there due to stress. I turned to my diet and quickly realized I wasn't eating enough calcium-rich foods and magnesium-rich foods, which both combat stress and fatigue in the body. They also aid in bone-health, sleep, nervous system function, mood, and more. Due to their beneficial effects on the body, internal and external sources of stress are reduced just by eating them. To get the healthiest sources of these foods, be sure to include dietary sources such as nonfat plain Greek yogurt, unsweetened almond milk, leafy greens, raw almonds, raw walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, fish such as salmon, and even pure 100% dark chocolate into your diet. Each of these foods have wonderful anti-stress properties to offer the body, and are some of the most beneficial foods to eat for acne as well. If you have a dairy intolerance, opt for dairy-free sources of yogurt instead.
7. You're Not Getting Enough Shut-eye
Sleep isn't only important for your weight, but also your skin. It is also extremely important for preventing depression and stress. Be sure to get at least 8 hours sleep a night, or you'll suffer dry skin, which can lead to breakouts, or breakouts due to higher levels of stress from reduced sleep. Your skin cells actually repair and regenerate themselves overnight as well, which makes sleep important for this process. Give your body and face a boost by getting some good old shut eye and wake up more beautiful naturally!
8. You're Using the Wrong Products
No matter what you eat, if you're putting something on your face that doesn't agree with your skin, you will get acne. You don't necessarily need to buy anti-acne products, but you may just need to change the products you're using. Case in point? I was using natural products on my face awhile back, and still breaking out. So, recently, I switched to a sea salt soap bar to wash my face with, coconut oil to remove my makeup, and switched to an oil-free moisturizer by Neutrogena, which is actually an anti-aging and SPF product as well, called Helioplex Ultra Sheer moisturizer. Now, I'm acne free again, and don't own any of those special anti-acne products filled with chemicals that might irritate my skin. Investigate your products to see if your breakout could just be a reaction to something you're using.
9. Your Hair Products Are All over the Place
Even if you pay careful attention to what products are going on your face, you could still be getting breakouts. It might be because your hair products are coming into contact with your skin. Next time you style your hair, be sure that you aren't getting hairspray or mousse, or anything else, on your face. If you do, make sure you rinse it off so that you don't have to worry that those products are clogging your pores and causing your skin to breakout.
10. You're Lazy about Cleansing
I'll be the first to admit that sometimes washing up before bed is too much to handle. We're all super busy and falling into bed at the end of the day is sometimes all you can do. Stop! Forgetting to wash your face or only doing a quick swipe means that your face is stewing in cosmetics, debris, bacteria, dirt and other junk all night long. By giving your face a good wash with a facial cleanser designed for your skin type, you get rid of all that stuff, clearing out your pores and keeping your skin clean and healthy while you sleep. You'll quickly find that your breakouts will dissipate as you make more of an effort to keep your face clean.
11. You Exercise Regularly
No, you shouldn't stop working out every day. However, it's important to know that getting sweaty can contribute to breakouts, both on your face and on your body. Exercise is a vital part of staying healthy. It boosts blood flow and leaves your skin glowing. However, allowing sweat to sit on your skin too long means clogged pores and possible breakouts. When you finish your session, be sure you take a warm shower and suds up to remove sweat, bacteria and germs so that you don't have to worry about any of that stuff getting into your pores and clogging them.
12. You Use Hair Removal Products
No woman wants to deal with unwanted hair of her face. You don't have to with all the waxing, shaving and plucking options available today. However, experts say that using these methods to remove facial hair increases inflammation in your skin, which makes it easier for bacteria and germs to work their way into your pores. To lower the risk, make sure you wash your face well before starting your hair removal technique. You can also apply hydrocortisone cream afterward to keep swelling at bay.
13. Your Cosmetics Aren't the Right Kind
If you're prone to breakouts, you should be looking for cosmetics that are non-comodogenic. That means they are made with ingredients that won't clog pores. By choosing these items, you help keep your pores clean and clear, reducing the chances that you'll wind up with pimples and blackheads. This includes any make-up you put on your face, as well as your make-up remover and other facial products. There are lots of options and most will say "non-comodogenic" right on the package, making it easy to choose items that work best for you.
14. The Weather Changes Where You Live
Some people notice skin changes with extreme weather fluctuations. If you live in a place that sees this, you might notice breakouts as a result. This is also true if you travel and spend time in a place that is a lot more humid, dry or wet than where you live. The fix for this includes washing your face with bottled water and avoiding harsh cleansing products.
15. You Have Dry Skin
You've probably lived your entire life thinking that oily skin causes acne. Don't worry - that's true for many women. What you might not know (I didn't) is that very dry skin can also lead to acne. According to skincare experts, dry skin can crack, which allows the bacteria and germs that cause breakouts to get into your facial skin. Also, if your dry skin flakes, it can clog pores, another thing that can lead to acne on your face. Make sure that you are using a moisturizer designed for dry skin. If the problem persists, talk to a dermatologist about specialized treatments that can help.
16. You Talk on Your Cell Phone
We all do, right? You don't have to give up your cell, but you should be aware of it's acne risk. Every time you press the phone against your face and ear, you leave behind cosmetics and facial oil. At the same time, every time you set it down in public or even at home, it picks up all sorts of germs and bacteria. All of that combined can lead to clogged pores and breakouts along your jawline and on your cheek. Swipe your cell with a disinfectant wipe once a day to get rid of all that stuff.
Even if you eat healthy and do most everything right, sometimes the issue is as simple as one of the things above. Do you have regular breakouts and wonder what is causing them?
This article written in collaboration with editor, Eliza Martinez